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TWELVE Nick McDonell (Grove, $12) How's this for an intimidating author bio? ''Nick McDonell was born in 1984 in New York City.'' He was just 17 when he wrote this praised first novel about a teen drug dealer on the Upper East Side.

HALF IN LOVE Maile Meloy (Scribner, $12) Meloy is on fire. Last year, she debuted with this story collection -- EW gave it an A -- and now her first novel, Liars and Saints, is picking up buzz even before its publication next month.

MEET JOHN TROW Thomas Dyja (Penguin, $14) A sad-sack adman grows a beard, dons some vintage underwear, and ultimately finds himself when he joins a group of Civil War reenactors in Dyja's masterful modern-day Babbitt.

''A PROBLEM FROM HELL'': AMERICA AND THE AGE OF GENOCIDE Samantha Power (Perennial, $17.95) Power won big prizes -- including the ol' Pulitzer -- for her all-stops-out investigation of America's failure to prevent mass murder.

Originally posted May 30, 2003 Published in issue #712 May 30, 2003 Order article reprints