New & Noteworthy, From Y.A. Dystopia to the Lives of Stoics

A WILD WINTER SWAN, by Gregory Maguire. (Morrow/HarperCollins, $27.99.) Maguire, who made his name with “Wicked,” the retcon riff on “The Wizard of Oz,” here adapts a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale into a coming-of-age story set in 1960s New York.

A SERIES OF FORTUNATE EVENTS: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You, by Sean B. Carroll. (Princeton University, $22.95.) The role of happenstance in determining the fate of the world may seem a matter for philosophy more than science, but Carroll, a biologist, shows how central the idea is to everyday existence.

LIVES OF THE STOICS: The Art of Living From Zeno to Marcus Aurelius, by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. (Portfolio, $28.) With its emphasis on individual success and perserverence, stoicism is seeing an American renaissance. The authors offer brief instructional biographies of its major ancient practitioners.

A MEASURE OF BELONGING: Twenty-One Writers of Color on the New American South, edited by Cinelle Barnes. (Hub City, paper, $16.95.) These essays — from Kiese Laymon, Toni Jensen and Aruni Kashyap, among others — challenge the idea of a monolithic Southern culture.

HUSH, by Dylan Farrow. (Wednesday Books, $18.99; ages 14 and up.) Farrow’s debut is a dystopian young adult thriller, set in a world where people live in fear of a deadly disease spread by ink.

As a reporter in Silicon Valley, I deal with my share of young men designing products for other young men in hopes of digital dominance: boy-kings worshiped for their dreams of changing the world. Mieko Kawakami’s novel BREASTS AND EGGS is very unlike Silicon Valley. The stakes seem lower, the relationships are messy and there are no tidy paths to victory — that’s the appeal, for me. Kawakami explores the inner lives of three women in contemporary Japan as they navigate their roles in the world. She doesn’t shy from the most intimate subjects: a first period, a pregnancy, the decision to get breast augmentation surgery. Mark Zuckerberg these women are not. I mean that as a compliment.

This is Kawakami’s first novel to be translated into English. I hope it is not her last. If men in the Valley read her, they might better understand everyone, not just half the population.

—Mike Isaac, technology correspondent

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