Verbal combat in 1990’s Kansas

Ben Lerner's new novel "The Topeka School" takes us back to the 1990s with the return of Adam Gordon, the protagonist in Lerner's first novel, "Leaving from the Atocha Station." Adam is a graduating high school senior and debate champion, but Lerner is up to much more than a good story about a Kansas boy.

It’s fiction, but true.

Two absorbing novels about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Syrian civil war illustrate how the region's politics and trauma affect the daily lives of citizens. One a story of friends, the other a story of family, these memorable novels make the news headlines human.