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Astray by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown and Company, $26)

The characters in Emma Donoghue’s solid collection Astray are on the move and similarly are sure to move readers. Donoghue, author of the best-seller Room, provides a historical source for each of the 14 stories about people who have come or gone in some capacity. “Last Supper at Brown’s” was inspired by an 1864 newspaper clipping about a slave who ran off with his dead master’s wife. “The Gift,” based on the New York Children’s Aid Society’s records, paints a poignant portrait of a girl through letters from her birth mother in New Jersey and her adoptive parents in Iowa. Donoghue, a two-time émigré from her native Ireland, contributes an afterword about travel as a search for “room for reinvention.”

Selected Letters of William Styron
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Edited by Rose Styron, with R. Blakeslee Gilpin
(Random House, $40)

“I will write until my knuckles are worn and my brain bewildered, but I will write on and on, and if it can be done by a feckless soul like myself it can be done by the human race: this eternal creation and recreation, even in the face of the bleakest future. You have given me the chance and I’ll not let you down.” — From a 1951 letter to his father, page 94