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    10 new books to read this week . . . in the midst of everything.

    Katie Yee

    March 10, 2020, 10:44am

    Every week, the TBR pile grows a little bit more. It’s getting precarious. It’s taking up your whole nightstand. It’s threatening to crush you in your sleep. Well, what are you waiting for? Get cracking. What are you reading this week?

    Kate Elizabeth Russell, My Dark Vanessa

    Kate Elizabeth Russell, My Dark Vanessa
    (William Morrow)

    Despite the way the term gets bandied about, it’s rare that I ever actually find something “unputdownable”—I am unfortunately quite easily distracted. So believe me when I tell you that this novel had me hooked and good. It’s narrated by Vanessa, who has what she thinks of as a love affair with her teacher when she’s only 15—a love affair that she must re-evaluate years later, when he’s accused of sexually harassing other students. The writing is immersive, the plot swift, but the most impressive thing about this novel is that just where most narratives of this kind usually stop, Russell pushes onward, exploring the lives of her characters both immediately after and years after the events in question.

    –Emily Temple, Lit Hub Senior Editor

    Kevin Nguyen, New Waves

    Kevin Nguyen, New Waves
    (One World)

    Full disclosure: Kevin Nguyen is as sharp and funny (and a little mean) in person as he is on twitter, a consistency for which I have ABSOLUTE RESPECT, and that I’m confident will translate perfectly to his debut novel, New Waves. Billed as part page-turning heist story, part incisive critique of startup culture’s oblivious racism, Kirkus Reviews called New Waves, “A blistering sendup of startup culture and a sprawling, ambitious, tender debut.” Which sounds about right.

    –Jonny Diamond, Lit Hub Editor in Chief

    Therese Anne Fowler, A Good Neighborhood
    (St. Martin’s Press)

    When Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald came out in 2013, I devoured it. She had such a way of lifting the characters from the page (and, in that case, out of history). For other fans of Therese Anne Fowler, here’s the good news: she’s got a new novel coming out. This time, she turns her eye towards the American Dream. She sets two families living in an idyllic area over the course of a single summer under her microscope.

    –Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

    Hilary Mantel, The Mirror & The Light

    Hilary Mantel, The Mirror & the Light
    (Henry Holt)

    We’ve been waiting years for this, and now it’s finally (almost!) here. The Mirror & The Light follows Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies as the last novel in Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed trilogy exploring the life of Thomas Cromwell, which has so far garnered two Man Booker prizes for the author, making her the first woman and first Brit to win twice. Sir Peter Stothard, who chaired the Booker judge panel in 2012, said Mantel had “rewritten the book on writing historical fiction” with the series. Mantel herself added in May that the trilogy’s final installment “has been the greatest challenge of my writing life, and the most rewarding; I hope and trust my readers will find it has been worth the wait.” I’m sure we will.

    –Corinne Segal, Lit Hub Senior Editor

    Vanessa Hua, Deceit and Other Possibilities

    From novelist and columnist Vanessa Hua comes a reprint of her beloved story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities—this time with three timely new inclusions on self, community, and overlapping circles of identity. Most of the families and characters you’ll meet in these pages play on the concept of “the model minority” in a wonderful, surprising, relatable way. (Also, definitely check out her rapid-fire book recs in the Book Marks Questionnaire.)

    –Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

    Carolyn Forché, In the Lateness of the World

    Carolyn Forché, In the Lateness of the World
    (Penguin Press)

    It has been 17 years since Carolyn Forché published a book of poems, and In the Lateness of the World announces she is back. Coming fast on the heels of her memoir of last years this book is bursting with poems of migration, crossing, and looking back. It is as if the poet is standing, one foot in the river, wondering which way the next crossing will go. Drawing on her own travels and periods of reporting, on the world’s seemingly endless upheaval, these poems move beyond disquiet and creates the charged ethical field in which we all live, all the time, especially at that moment we move.

    –John Freeman, Lit Hub Executive Editor

    Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Nonexistence

    Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Nonexistence

    Over the past several years, Rebecca Solnit has established herself as a guiding light in these dark times. From Men Explain Things To Me to Call Them by Their True Names to the pieces here on Literary Hub dot com, she has written about almost everything. She’s a trusted voice. Whether she’s writing about feminism or the environment or politics, she often asks: how did we get here? In Recollections of My Nonexistence, she answers a different question, which is: how did you get here? This memoir tells the story of Rebecca Solnit against the backdrop of 1980s San Francisco and is a fascinating homage to the books and people who shaped her worldview.

    –Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor


    Thom Eagle, First, Catch: Study of a Spring Meal
    (Grove Press)

    A cookbook without recipes! First, Catch is an absolute delight from Thom Eagle, noted food writer, freelance chef, and expert fermenter. (Yes, fermenter.) In this beautifully bound book, you will not find step-by-step instructions on how to cook an impressive meal for your friends, but the knowledge you will glean from sitting with this active and inventive mind will undoubtedly liven the conversation. From slaughter to human connection, Thom Eagle will carry you through the unexpected aspects of food, and you will be hungry for more!

    –Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

    on shirley hazzard

    Michelle de Kretser, On Shirley Hazzard

    For a few years, now, the Australian publisher Black Inc. has been putting out a fantastic series in which the best contemporary writers spend 40,000-odd words investigating the work of a literary icon—past titles include the likes of Nam Le on David Malouf and Ceridwen Dovey on J.M. Coetzee. In the latest for the series, released in the US by Catapult, Miles Franklin award-winning novelist Michelle de Kretser ventures part criticism part biography on the absolutely brilliant Shirley Hazzard (do yourself a favor and read The Transit of Venus, if you haven’t). This is the kind of close reading—of a life and its writing—we should have more of.

    –Jonny Diamond, Lit Hub Editor in Chief

    MBS_Ben Hubbard

    Ben Hubbard, MBS
    (Tim Duggan Books)

    MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman is a deep dive into the life of a mysterious young prince, born into Saudi Arabia’s royal family. Ben Hubbard, through years of interviews with anonymous sources inside the kingdom, focuses on the prince’s ascent to power and how he managed to harness the economic and social power of the richest country in the Middle East for himself.

    –Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor


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