January 03, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

THE TIME OF OUR SINGING Richard Powers (FSG, $27, on sale Jan. 22) Born to an African-American mother and a Jewish physicist father, three biracial siblings cope with civil-rights-era upheavals in different ways: Jonah tries for a classical-music career, Ruth embraces militant black activism, and Joseph narrates another huge, huge novel from the brainiac author of The Gold Bug Variations.

WHEN THE MESSENGER IS HOT Elizabeth Crane (Little, Brown, $21.95, on sale Jan. 8) What happens when the messenger is hot? We dunno yet, but when the buzz is as hot as it’s been for Crane’s debut stories, we’re sure to find out.

DANCER Colum McCann (Metropolitan, $26, on sale Jan. 6) This is a ”fictional reimagination” of the title character. No, not the reindeer — Nureyev.

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