Photo: Martha Pavlidou

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The Celestials
320 pages; Tin House
Morally, this is a challenging book. It takes you back in time to 19th-century North Adams, Massachusetts, where a group of Chinese laborers have been brought in to become unwitting strikebreakers. It's based on a true event I'd never heard of—I'd call it historical science fiction. The author excavates entire ways of seeing through her re-creation of a vanished landscape. There's also a moving love story.
— Karen Russell