Also: The shortlist for the 2014 Caine Prize was announced; Richard H. Hoggart, key witness in the obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover, has died.
Philip Short's new biography of French president Francois Mitterrand, A Taste for Intrigue, is a compelling, polished portrait of a slippery, contradictory figure who relished reinventing himself.
Also: a previously unpublished story by Shirley Jackson; tips to tell whether you are in a Charles Dickens novel.
Darryl Gregory's new novel, Afterparty, envisions a future where anyone with the right gear can make his own custom drugs. Critic Jason Sheehan calls it a juicy jumble of second-generation biopunk.
Alan Cheuse reviews the novel In Praise of Hatred, by Khaled Khalifa. The book, which was recently translated to English, features a young Muslim girl in 1980s Syria.
The strategy of going to the Supreme Court to challenge Proposition 8 was controversial within the gay-rights movement. Now, Jo Becker's new book is proving to be controversial as well.
Also: The battle over the word "literally," Claudia Rankine won the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize.
Francine Prose's new Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 concerns itself with the malleability of truth — but stumbles with characters who are flamboyantly quirky, rather than truly engaging.
Colson Whitehead's account of his anhedonic adventures at the World Series of Poker is tough and tasty — like a good piece of beef jerky.
The Ballad of a Small Player is set in the murky underworld of Macau's casinos. Reviewer Tash Aw calls the novel a masterful and thrilling collision of old Asia and 21st century glamour.