5 Hot Books: Sliding Toward Big Brother, and a Novel About Brooklyn That's Now a Major Motion Picture

This article first appeared in The National Book Review.

5 books people are talking about this week -- or should be.

1. Power Wars: Inside Obama's Post-9/11 Presidency by Charlie Savage (Little, Brown)

Pulitzer Prize winner-Savage, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, delves deeply into the inner workings of Obama's national security team and Bush's "global war on terror." He shows how NSA surveillance, indefinite detentions and drone strikes have led to a vast expansion of the American security state in last three decades - a rise that has continued under both Democratic and Republican Presidents.

2. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (Scribner)

This week, the movie Brooklyn hits the theaters, with a screenplay by About a Boy author Nick Hornsby, and starring Saorise Ronan, of Atonement and Grand Budapest Hotel fame. The movie--which got a standing ovation at Sundance - will no doubt send people back to Toibin's beloved novel. Set in both Ireland and New York in the 1950s, the emotionally rich story deals with a young woman torn between her new life (and love) and the one she thinks she has left behind.

3. Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Harper Perennial)

In a twist on the blog-to-book phenomenon, this novel is spawned from a popular public radio podcast from the surreal, entirely imaginary desert town of Night Vale. The story is a mash up of the styles of Twin Peaks, Stephen King, the Sims and Garrison Keillor, with citizens like a pawnshop owner who has been 19 for decades and a PTA mom whose son morphs into different forms - or as one critic called it, Lake Wobegon on LSD

4. The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami (Pantheon)

Lalami took a footnote from history and crafted a robust novel told from the perspective of a 16th century Moroccan slave, one of the survivors of an ill-fated expedition from Spain to the New World. Her book was widely praised when it was released last year, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Last week, it got more recognition: the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award.

5. Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and 1950s: A Library of America Boxed Set edited by Sarah Weinman (Library of America)

There were many great women-authored suspense novels before Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Now thriller authority Weinman (editor of the anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense) has rescued a fine collection of these nightmarish, stylish dramas, whose concerns range from serial killers to psychotic babysitters.

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