New in Paperback: ‘The King of Confidence,’ ‘The Cold Millions’ and More

By Tina Jordan

THE KING OF CONFIDENCE: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch, by Miles Harvey. (Back Bay, 416 pp., $18.99.) This “wonderfully digressive” tale of James Jesse Strang — an early American con man — “is littered with thumbnail histories of 19th-century cross-dressing, John Brown, John Deere, the Brontës, bloomers, the Underground Railroad, mesmerism, newspaper exchanges, the Illuminati and much else,” our reviewer, Chris Jennings, wrote.

THE COLD MILLIONS, by Jess Walter. (Harper Perennial, 352 pp., $17.) Walter, a novelist who has “made a major career out of the minor character,” as Joshua Ferris noted in our pages, here delves into the labor conflicts and street riots that roiled early-20th-century Spokane.

BEHELD, by TaraShea Nesbit. (Bloomsbury, 288 pp., $17.) Was there a murder aboard the Mayflower? That’s one of the possibilities explored in this quiet, affecting historical novel about daily life in Plymouth Colony, told through the prism of the women there. Our reviewer, Samantha Harvey, praised “the equable plainness of its language, a plainness that is nevertheless impressionistic and light-filled.”

THE DEAD ARE ARISING: The Life of Malcolm X, by Les Payne and Tamara Payne. (Liveright, 656 pp., $21.95.) The journalist Les Payne worked for almost 30 years researching and writing this biography of the civil rights activist, which was finished by his daughter after his death in 2018. Brimming with insight and new details, it won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.

BLACK FUTURES, by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. (One World, 544 pp., $25.) “With contributions from Black creators like Kiese Laymon and Solange Knowles, Samantha Irby and Hanif Abdurraqib, ‘Black Futures’” — curated by Drew, the former social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum, and Wortham, a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine — “succeeds in answering the incredibly heady question it poses for itself: What does it mean to be a Black person around the world?” Scaachi Koul wrote here.

DETRANSITION, BABY, by Torrey Peters. (One World, 368 pp., $18.) There are many different ways to be a parent. This novel, which “challenges traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like,” is “delivered with heart and savvy,” Ginny Hogan said in her review.

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