One of these books won the 2009 National Book Award for fiction, the others were finalists, and all three are now in paperback.
American Salvage (Norton) by Bonnie Jo Campbell is a short story collection, mostly set in rural Michigan, peopled with sometimes desperate characters who can fix cars, shoot game and cook meth but have trouble coping with the 21st century.
Lark & Termite (Vintage Paperback) by Jayne Anne Phillips is a luminous, magical novel, set in West Virginia in 1959 and Korea in 1950, that tells the moving story of a pair of fiercely devoted siblings and the parents they never knew.
Let the Great World Spin (Random House Trade Paperbacks) by Colum McCann won the National Book Award for its dazzling, symphonic portrait of New York City, its diverse cast revolving around Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the then-new twin towers.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor