Out of Oz (William Morrow, $26.99), the eagerly awaited conclusion to the Wicked Years, has arrived. A battle for the future of the Thropp dynasty is under way, as Elphaba and Nessarose’s younger brother, Shell, the Emperor Apostle, increases his influence; and the political power struggle continues in the Emerald City and spreads into a civil war, as the witch Mombey, who changes her heads as others change hats, challenges his ambitions. A former acting ruler of Oz, Glinda is placed under house arrest; the Lion, Candle, and Liir are on the run to protect the otherworldly Grimmerie. As always, the future depends on children: Rain, a broom girl from Glinda’s entourage; a young street urchin named Tip; and the legendary Dorothy. Gregory Maguire has an amazing knack for honoring the L. Frank Baum tradition while integrating new characters who both complicate and deepen that magical reality.
The Surrendered begins forcefully, revealing the traumatic suffering inflicted on children attempting to flee the advancing war in Korea. Throughout the novel—over the course of the century— Chang-rae Lee explores the residual impact of the lingering loss and emotional damage for three principal characters: a young girl, a missionary, and a soldier. As it did with Franklin and Henry in A Gesture Life and Native Speaker, respectively, the past continues to restrict June, Sophie, and Hector, and prevents them from fully engaging with those to whom they long to relate. A grippingly powerful and tragically beautiful story, this is Lee’s most evocative and compelling book yet.
What would be worth organizing your entire life around for the slimmest chance of success? In Brezhnev-era Russia, a rumor spreads that the celebrated composer Selinsky is returning from the West for a single concert. Waiting for endless months in the faint hope of obtaining a precious ticket powerfully affects the lives of one family and those they meet while standing in The Line. As in The Dream Life of Sukhanov, Olga Grushin here reveals her gift for emotive and beautiful language. This time she evokes the mood of the Thaw, with its cautious hope and lingering suspicion, its artistic appreciation, and its harsh and sometimes brutal pragmatism.