KATRINA: AFTER THE FLOOD
By Gary Rivlin
Published by Simon and Schuster, $27
Book review: The affecting new memoir Just Mercy is rooted in understanding that "being broken is what makes us human."
Book review: David Dow's engaging new memoir, Things I've Learned from Dying, dispenses wisdom gleaned from observing three deaths.
EXILES: A NOVEL
By Ron Hansen
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 240 pages, $23
Imagine it otherwise. That line from Ron Hansens new novel Exiles is a good departure point to discuss it. Thats because Exiles ultimately leaves readers wistful about the unfulfilled promise of lives tragically cut short. The aforementioned line is written about 19th-century Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, but it could have just as easily been said of the novels other protagonists: five German Franciscan nuns who perished in 1875 when the ocean vessel the Deutschland was shipwrecked.
The historical and spiritual have always figured prominently in Mr. Hansens fiction. His historical novels have focused on the notorious: Jesse James and Adolf Hitler. And Mr. Hansen explored spiritual themes in Mariette in Ecstasy, which examined the fine line between madness and mysticism, and Atticus, a contemporary meditation on the Prodigal Son parable.