"Milkman" by Anna Burns (Graywolf, December 2018)

"Milkman" by Anna Burns (Graywolf, December 2018) Credit: Graywolf Press

MILKMAN, by Anna Burns. In October, this strikingly enigmatic novel from Northern Ireland won the Man Booker Prize, the holy grail of international literary awards.Now American readers can see what the fuss is about. Set in an unnamed Irish city during the time of "the Troubles," it is narrated by an unnamed teen girl ominously pursued by an older paramilitary figure known only as "the milkman." (Graywolf Press, $16 paper)

ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS: A Biography of Rock Hudson, by Mark Griffin. The handsome star of "Pillow Talk" with Doris Day was a 1950s matinee idol par excellence — except that he was gay. This juicy biography explores Hudson's rise to Hollywood fame, the extraordinary efforts to keep his sexuality a secret and the bombshell news of his AIDS diagnosis in the 1980s. (Harper, $28.99)

BABEL: Around the World in Twenty Languages, by Gaston Dorren. A linguist and journalist takes readers on a global tour of the world's top 20 languages, from Mandarin, English and Arabic to Swahili, Tamil and Malay. How did these tongues come to prominence and what others are dying out because of them? Dorren explores the culture and the quirks of each language with infectious curiosity. (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25)

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