Picks and Pans Review: Best of the New Books...by Michael Cunningham

UPDATED 03/10/2003 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/10/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours shares his picks among recent releases.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Eugenides uses a sensationalistic subject to speak profoundly and movingly about life on Earth.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. If Gibson's books weren't in the science fiction section, he'd be much better known. His vividly imagined cyberspace-dominated worlds are peopled by rich characters. He makes the rest of us novelists feel like antiques.

The Ecstatic by Victor LaValle. In his first novel, LaValle, who understands that comedy and tragedy can't always be separated, tells the story of an African-American family struggling to survive in the wilds of New York.

Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott. Like all her novels, this is a marvel of insight and compassion. McDermott writes about love with the precision of a jeweler.

Tourmaline by Joanna Scott. One of the most gifted writers at work today, Scott is brilliant, huge-hearted, devastating. In her seventh novel, about a family exiled to the island of Elba, she's at the top of her form.

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