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Sunday books: Oscar Hijuelos, donning the veil and more

July 31, 2011 |  2:01 pm


In Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Hector Tobar finds Oscar Hijuelos' memoir "Thoughts Without Cigarettes" "deeply affecting." The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love" revisits his multicultural New York childhood and later literary blossoming.

Leila Lalami reviews "A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence From the Middle East to America" by Leila Ahmed. "The resurgence of the veil is all the more puzzling, Ahmed argues, because it re-appeared first among educated women (the group that, several generations earlier, had been the first to discard it) and because the process seemed to be largely voluntary, taking place in countries where no laws coerced women to cover," writes Lalami, who saw her classmates in Morocco begin to wear veils in the '80s. "This apparent conundrum, Ahmed explains, is the result of a combination of radical ideology and vast amounts of money."

Book critic David L. Ulin looks at "Stolen Pleasures," a collection of short fiction from Gina Berrieult, who died in 1999. "[S]he is a chronicler of small moments, for whom the best life has to offer is often not enough. Read her spare fictions -- most set in the Bay Area, where she spent much of her adult life -- and you begin to see a world in which joy is fleeting, and even the most engaged of us are guilty, if only of 'the guilt of sight.' "

Susan Carpenter looks at the 13-and-up historical fiction "Cleopatra's Moon," based on the teenage life of Cleopatra's only daughter, "a beautiful new novel for young adults."

The novel "Love Child" might not be the best thing to weigh down your beach towel, Carolyn Kellogg writes, and Susan Salter Reynolds looks at three books in Discoveries.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Oscar Hijuelos in 2007. Credit: Ulf Andersen / Getty Images