Friday, July 25, 2014

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NY1 teams with the Huffington Post and Slate.com to review the latest books and book-related technologies.

The Book Reader: "The Mirage," "The Dinner," "Literary Rogues"

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Andrew Losowsky of The Huffington Post reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in NY1's newest living segment, "The Book Reader."

I get a lot of books in the mail, but I've never read a premise as insanely fascinating as that of "The Mirage" by Matt Ruff. In it, the United Arab States is the world's most powerful country, while the Christian States of America is a fragmented and violent nation, with Washington, D.C. as its Green Zone.

On September 11, 2001, Christian fundamentalists fly a jetliner into the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad. In this upside-down reality, Osama bin Laden runs the CIA, Saddam Hussein is a gangster and Donald Rumsfeld is head of a group of insurgents.

The plot unravels badly in its final third, but this topsy-turvy read is engagingly bonkers if you want something different. It's out now, in paperback and download, from Harper Perennial.

Family meals can be tense affairs, but you've never sat down to anything like "The Dinner," the new book by Dutch author Herman Koch. Set entirely around a meal in an expensive restaurant, this book grips you in a manner reminiscent of last year's smash hit "Gone Girl."

Like that book, "The Dinner" has complex, disturbing characters and a hideous crime at its heart. In fact, one of the book's blurbs comes from "Gone Girl" author Gillian Flynn, who calls "chilling, nasty, smart and shocking." She's not wrong.

"The Dinner" is out now in print and download from Hogarth.

Andrew Shaffer's "Literary Rogues," also from Harper Perennial, is a series of anecdotes about the unsavory addictions of some of literature's most famous names. From Lord Byron to Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote to the Marquis de Sade, this scandalous retelling is an entertaining yet bittersweet memorial to romantic self-destruction.

The moral of its tale? You don't have to be crazy to write here, but it helps.

You can read more about these and other scandalous reads at huffingtonpost.com/books.

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