The Age of Infidelity and Other Stories, Valerie Sayers (Slant Books). The 11 stories in this new fiction collection by the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English offer themes of faith and betrayal, hope and despair. In one, long-ago high school cheerleaders take to Facebook, speculating on the fate of their former homecoming queen and recalling the early days of integration. “All our stories are unresolved high school stories,” the narrator declares. With a style The Washington Post has described as “distinctive brutal elegance,” Sayers is the author of six novels and numerous stories, essays and reviews.
Trust: America’s Best Chance, Pete Buttigieg (Liveright Publishing). Building trust in order to bolster democracy is the focus of this book by the former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate. The challenge includes restoring faith in U.S. institutions, in each other and, around the world, in America itself. The author combines history and personal reflection in this exploration of government — a project he’s taking further as a 2020-21 faculty fellow at Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Study while teaching an interdisciplinary undergraduate course and conducting research on trust in political institutions and forces shaping the 2020s.
Women Intellectuals and Leaders in the Middle Ages, edited by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Katie Ann-Marie Bugyis and John Van Engen (D.S. Brewer). While the title suggests an anomaly, the volume makes the case for why that simply isn’t so. Most girls and women in medieval Europe were denied access to education and leadership opportunities, but the scholars in this volume, drawing from manuscripts and archival sources as well as manuscript illuminations, stained glass, fabric and jewelry, show that more medieval women used their education to exercise professional or communal leadership than is commonly known. The editors are Notre Dame scholars: Kerby-Fulton is a professor emerita of English; Bugyis, an assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies; and Van Engen, a professor emeritus of medieval history.
The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times, Anthony DePalma (Viking). Five ordinary Cubans in the post-Castro era are the stars of this new book by DePalma, a former visiting faculty member and regular contributor to this magazine. These varied personalities in Guanabacoa, a neighborhood across the harbor from Old Havana — “Hot. Smelly. Noisy. Raw,” the author writes — illustrate new opportunities and overwhelming challenges facing the island nation today. The New York Times describes its former foreign correspondent’s work as a “thoroughly researched and reported book, replete with human detail and probing insight” that would take readers to “a Cuba few tourists will ever see.”
Margaret Fosmoe is an associate editor of this magazine.