Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Article excerpt

Briefly Noted

Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House). In this contemporary version of "Pride and Prejudice," Liz Bennet, a journalist, and her older sister, Jane, a yoga instructor, travel from New York back to their family, in Ohio, where they meet a neurosurgeon named Fitzwilliam Darcy and his friend Chip Bingley, a star on a reality television show resembling "The Bachelor." At times closely following the Austen template, at times departing from it, the book mixes details that evoke Austen with ones that are studiously modern. The fun lies in Sittenfeld's acute sensitivity to social negotiations and conventions, as when she dissects the women's "elaborate fitness rituals and fakely scented lotions and the hours--nay, years--they devoted to making some man see them in a particular way."

The Rope, by Kanan Makiya (Pantheon). Set in Iraq soon after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, this novel follows an unnamed Shiite soldier in one of many militias jockeying for power. As he strives to understand the complex political, spiritual, and military world around him, he confronts convoluted loyalties and gruesome betrayals within his own family. This is the first novel by Makiya, an academic and former adviser to the provisional Iraqi government, who had significant influence on U.S. policy in Iraq. The book sometimes strains under the heft of its material, but it succeeds in its passionate dramatization of a mind-set still poorly understood by the American reader.

The Silk Roads, by Peter Frankopan (Knopf). …

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