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CHICAGO — Cynthia Clampitt thinks well of the Midwest region. So much so that “Destination Heartland: A Guide to Discovering the Midwest’s Remarkable Past,” is the food and travel writer’s third book focused on the region. The Pittsburgh native who grew up in the Chicagoland area has traveled to 37 countries on six continents while following her love for the “history of everything.” “The ...

FICTION: Nell Zink's sixth novel in seven years is about a woman's rise from dire beginnings. "Avalon" by Nell Zink; Knopf (224 pages, $27) ——— Over six novels in seven years, Nell Zink has honed a talent for prose that's assertive, even breezy in the face of ostensibly sad subjects: toxic relationships and environmental destruction, racism and prejudice, dysfunctional families and poverty, ...

FICTION: Written over a 30-year-period, this engrossing novel focuses on an apparent crime and its ruinous effect on two families. "All the Secrets of the World" by Steve Almond; Zando (416 pages, $28) ——— Steve Almond's first novel is about a missing-persons case, a subgenre that tends to present a writer with a very 21st-century challenge: How to explain a character's disappearance in an age ...

FICTION: A Korean War survivor-turned-obstetrician must confront his past when corporate ownership closes the Minnesota community hospital where he works. "The Evening Hero" by Marie Myung-Ok Lee; Simon & Schuster (432 pages, $28.99) ——— Marie Myung-Ok Lee's sweeping novel, "The Evening Hero," opens with a depiction of an eventful day for Dr. Yungman Kwak, who for decades has delivered the ...

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