The End of Manners

Heartbroken after the demise of her relationship, Italian photographer Maria Galante has stopped taking chances. But she surprises herself by accepting a risky assignment: travel to Afghanistan to photograph women refusing to enter arranged marriages. In Kabul, Maria gently describes her surroundings as ?brown,? but her companion, Imogen Glass, the journalist writing the article, is more outspoken, calling the city "the place where all good manners have come to an end." Accompanied by Hanif, a local ?fixer? paid what is to him an enormous sum to act as their guide, Maria concedes that no matter how long one has been in the country, no foreigner is entirely aware of what?s going on. Her task -- to capture ?a strong image of a beautiful, suffering woman? -- appears impossible in the face of the custom that burqas should only be removed for husbands. After taking the perfect photo, of Hanif?s ailing wife, Maria realizes with horror that she had been ?holding the lens so close to Leyla?s face, I hadn?t even checked to see whether she was breathing.? With the acute and subtle poignancy that ran through her first novel, Rules of the Wild, Francesca Marciano raises questions about global politics and romance, and the role that risk plays in both. Maria doesn?t fall in love with a man but with Afghanistan. Still, in the messy, sweeping manner of all great affairs, her passion catches her off guard and also saves her life.

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.