The Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline Miller I loved The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s brisk, graceful reimagining of the Iliad. The narrator is Achilles's companion Patroclus, a minor character in Homer’s original who makes for a surprisingly appealing protagonist. Miller’s book is a feat of storytelling: her take on the love affair between Achilles and Patroclus gives the epic tale of the Trojan War new emotional specificity.
There is a very short shelf of indelibly great works of American narrative nonfiction. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Armies of the Night reside there. So do Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff and J. Anthony Lukas's Common Ground.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityBy Katherine Boo (Random House, 256 pp., $27) Early in Katherine Boo’s unforgettable book, a boy from Annawadi, a Mumbai slum, rushes into his makeshift school, bleeding. The classroom is nothing more than a single room in a neighbor’s hut, but it is the only place he can go for medical attention after being hit by a car. No sooner has the teacher begun treating his wound than his mother surges into the hut, wielding a large piece of scrap metal and screaming: “No car will kill you! No god will save you!
The fairy tale began to unravel in the most unlikely of locations: The electronics aisle at Target. It was late September, the day after the Anderson family, as they had come to be known, first made their journey from a shelter in Houma, Louisiana, to a home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The family, all of them refugees from Hurricane Katrina, had relocated to the Midwest at the invitation of a Catholic church group based in Kalamazoo.