Paperback Picks -- The latest books from Alec Wilkinson, Anita Shreve, and Allan Gurganus

Big Sugar
Alec Wilkinson
This report on the migrant workers of South Florida’s sugarcane fields reveals a system of exploitation so brutal you have to remind yourself that the events in Wilkinson’s book did not take place in some other era, some distant country. A

Eden Close
Anita Shreve
Twenty years ago, Eden Close was raped and her father murdered. Now Andrew, her old neighbor, is back to pick up the pieces. Shreve’s gothic love story is a reliable page-turner, but probably too pallid for Stephen King fans. B

Russian Blood
Alex Shoumatoff
There’s a Chekhovian gentleness in Shoumatoff’s family sketches. Taken together, they form a remarkable record of the Americanization of his Russian clan. Like his description of his grandmother’s portraits, Shoumatoff gives his subjects ”a radiance and a graciousness that they might only have had once a year.” A+

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
Allan Gurganus
Lucy Marsden, 99, widow of the Civil War’s last surviving soldier, tells two centuries of Southern stories in this eccentric epic. Gurganus is a master of Southern dialogue, but readers may be disconcerted by his loquacious belle’s digressive tendencies. A-