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    Dorothy Chan! Erik Larson! Aimee Nezhukumatathil! 20 new books out today.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    April 30, 2024, 4:42am

    It’s nearly May, and, to usher in the warmer weather to come, I’ve compiled a list of twenty new books out today to consider taking with you to a park bench, a beachfront, a bedside table (with space for more books, unlike mine), or wherever else you might like to read. Below, you’ll find a dynamic range of fiction, poetry, and especially nonfiction, the latter of which dominates today’s list.

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    There’s highly anticipated fiction from Rachel Khong, Emet North, Abraham Chang, and Brydie Lee-Kennedy; if you’re more in the mood for sequential art, you’ll also find graphic short stories from Aidan Koch and a graphic memoir/no-advice-offered guidebook on motherhood from Liana Finck. The poet Dorothy Chan is back with a new collection, and the poet and nonfiction writer Aimee Nezhukumatathil is back, as well, with new material in the form of a lyrical essay collection. Fans of The Devil in the White City and immersive nonfiction in general may be excited to hear that Erik Larson is back with a new book, this one focused on the lead-up to the Civil War. Alice Wong has a new collection of essays focused around disability, desire, and intimacy; Alexander Kriss shares life with borderline personality disorder; Karen Valby highlights the story of Black ballerinas in a world privileging whiteness; and much, much more.

    There’s so much to love here. Read deeply, and then read some more. It’ll be worth it.

    *Real Americans - Khong, Rachel

    Rachel Khong, Real Americans

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    “Rachel Khong’s gripping second novel explores how biology, our parents’ abstract hopes for us, sheer luck, and the forces of history itself make us who we are. Real Americans is both a tender story of the intimate relationships between people and a sharp examination of very big questions of ethics, politics, and fate.”
    –Rumaan Alam

    In Universes - North, Emet

    Emet North, In Universes

    “Daring, brilliant, and revelatory, In Universes scatters its characters’ stories across the multiverse, showing us every one of the infinite lives we might live. It’s a miracle of physics and art, filled with wonder and grief, hope and regret, survival and romance and loss. By its end, we know: the best of all possible worlds is this one where we get to read Emet North’s writing.”
    –Julia Phillips

    888 Love and the Divine Burden of Numbers - Chang, Abraham

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    Abraham Chang, 888 Love and the Divine Burden of Numbers
    (Flatiron Books)

    “An ecstatically written, sensory feast with a depth, range and inventiveness that perfectly encapsulates that period of your life where every time you look up your name is written in the stars. Expect to fall in love with this vibrant, powerful and memorable debut that will bowl you over—and leave your heart full.”
    –Courtney Summers

    Mean Boys: A Personal History - Mak, Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Mak, Mean Boys: A Personal History

    “No one before Geoffrey Mak has so well described the ‘feeling’ of the Millennial era that ended with the pandemic—or acknowledged the absolute vanishing of this ‘feeling’ ever since, along with the alienation and exquisite spiritual longing left in its wake. This book is a rare comfort, a companion, a book that makes you say: yes, that is exactly how it is.”
    –Torrey Peters

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    Disability Intimacy: Essays on Love, Care, and Desire - Wong, Alice

    Alice Wong, Disability Intimacy: Essays on Love, Care, and Desire

    “[A] witty, vulnerable, and insightful collection that highlights a diverse roster of disabled writers….This anthology is not only a joy to read but also a welcome introduction to innovative, intensely liberating approaches that are sure to change the way readers feel about traditional notions of intimacy. A poignant anthology about ability and intimacy that espouses a gorgeously original worldview.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees - Nezhukumatathil, Aimee

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Bite by Bite: Nourishments & Jamborees
    (Ecco Press)

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    “Over the years, Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s writing has fed me in ways I didn’t even know were possible. So it is appropriate, then, that she has now turned her attention to the world of food, which she writes about with such remarkable dexterity. Bite by Bite is a book about memory, pleasure, regret, and celebration. It uses food to talk about what it means to be human—to love, to learn, to laugh, to lose….I love this book.”
    –Clint Smith

    Return of the Chinese Femme - Chan, Dorothy

    Dorothy Chan, Return of the Chinese Femme
    (Deep Vellum)

    “Our favorite Triple Sonnet Heroine does indeed reawaken our desires for ‘dishing’ and ‘decadence….’ In their latest dazzling collection, Dorothy K. Chan guides us through sumptuous frolic and feasting….Never without humor, Chan takes on political and social inhibitions, turns them inside out and upside down, with a playfulness unique to the very mantra: ‘and oh, I crave and I crave and crave and crave.’ Return of the Chinese Femme won’t leave you wanting.”
    –Rosebud Ben-Oni

    Spiral and Other Stories - Koch, Aidan

    Aidan Koch, Spiral and Other Stories
    (New York Review of Comics)

    “Across the main title story and three shorter stories, artist and graphic novelist Koch contemplates nature and relationships via sparse, impressionistic art and laconic narration and dialogue….Koch gorgeously captures the poignancy of facial expressions (anchored by soulful eyes and wriggled brows) and the poetry of a body’s pose. This keen eye for kinesiology runs through all four stories…[they are] boldly meditative and enriching.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Go Lightly - Lee-Kennedy, Brydie

    Brydie Lee-Kennedy, Go Lightly
    (Harper Perennial)

    “Debut novelist Lee-Kennedy deftly presents Ada’s misconceptions over how she is received in this throwback novel of [queer] female recklessness, like Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote or The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, only now with lives further muddied by texting and social media….[T]he book highlights the hilarity and melancholy of living life to the fullest and yet not feeling fulfilled.”

    Crow Talk - Garvin, Eileen

    Eileen Garvin, Crow Talk

    “In Garvin’s beautiful novel, Frankie and Anne retreat to Beauty Bay hoping to find healing in nature, but it is their unexpected new friendship that offers each a path away from alienation and grief. This is the deep wisdom of Crow Talk, that caring for others—children, friends, crows—is a way to learn (or remember) how to care for ourselves.”
    –Claire Boyles

    How to Baby: A No-Advice-Given Guide to Motherhood, with Drawings - Finck, Liana

    Liana Finck, How to Baby: A No-Advice-Given Guide to Motherhood, with Drawings
    (Dial Press)

    New Yorker cartoonist Finck (Passing for Human) depicts her pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood in the form of a facetious guidebook with no definitive answers or advice but plenty of gentle snark….She touches lightly but acerbically on political issues surrounding childbirth and childcare, including the infuriating bureaucracy of the American healthcare system….Parents will find plenty here that’s both familiar and funny…all…presented with a refreshing lack of judgement.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Intertwined: Women, Nature, and Climate Justice - Kormos, Rebecca

    Rebecca Kormos, Intertwined: Women, Nature, and Climate Justice
    (New Press)

    “A passionate sociological survey, Intertwined outlines how addressing the ‘feminist crisis’ within the climate change movement might improve ecocultural balance and planetary well-being.”
    Foreword Reviews

    Borderline: The Biography of a Personality Disorder - Kriss, Alexander

    Alexander Kriss, Borderline: The Biography of a Personality Disorder
    (Beacon Press)

    Borderline is a gripping, humane, brilliantly prismatic inquiry into the peculiarities of the mind, at once a case study, an intellectual history, and a reckoning with the education of a therapist. Alexander Kriss treats every subject he takes up—his patients, his field, himself—with penetrating rigor and scrupulous honesty.”
    –Adam Ehrlich Sachs

    Colton Gentry's Third ACT - Zentner, Jeff

    Jeff Zentner, Colton Gentry’s Third Act
    (Grand Central Publishing)

    “Country music was born to tell stories and so was Jeff Zentner. Colton Gentry’s Third Act is fueled by a broken heart, and a determination to heal through hard work, forgiveness, and grit—just like the very best country songs. Keep this one on repeat.”
    –Steven Rowley

    Asian American Is Not a Color: Conversations on Race, Affirmative Action, and Family - Poon, Oiyan A.

    Oiyan A. Poon, Asian American Is Not a Color: Conversations on Race, Affirmative Action, and Family
    (Beacon Press)

    “While Asian Americans have been central to the debate over affirmative action in education, we have also been all but silenced in it. Here, finally, Poon—one of our leading scholars—restores the record. With courage and rigor but most of all bottomless empathy and heart, she debunks the false narratives and reveals the complexities of how Asian Americans actually feel about race and the future. An intimate, indispensable portrait of Asian America.”
    –Jeff Chang

    The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War - Larson, Erik

    Erik Larson, The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War
    (Crown Publishing Group)

    “The bestselling author is back with an intriguing tale….In his latest appealing historical excavation, Larson, author of The Splendid and the VileDead Wake, and other acclaimed books of popular history, examines the run-up to the Civil War during the six months between Lincoln’s November 1860 election and the surrender of Fort Sumter: a dismal period when bumblers, not excluding Lincoln, and fanatics dominated….A welcome addition to any Civil War buff’s library.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    The Swans of Harlem: Five Black Ballerinas, Fifty Years of Sisterhood, and Their Reclamation of a Groundbreaking History - Valby, Karen

    Karen Valby, The Swans of Harlem: Five Black Ballerinas, Fifty Years of Sisterhood, and Their Reclamation of a Groundbreaking History
    (Pantheon Books)

    “These five original Dance Theatre of Harlem ballerinas fell in love with an art form that most of America believed was white and should remain so. Upon Arthur Mitchell’s founding of an all-Black company in 1969, they eagerly took their places at the barre and challenged themselves to the utmost….They showed that Blacks could not only excel at classical ballet but could also shape the art….Karen Valby weaves their stories together as a choreographer would….It’s thrilling.”
    –Margo Jefferson

    Final Verdict: The Holocaust on Trial in the 21st Century - Buck, Tobias

    Tobias Buck, Final Verdict: The Holocaust on Trial in the 21st Century

    “In this informed, thoughtful work [Buck] skillfully weaves together his investigation into his own family’s Nazi past—and their attempts to disguise it—with broader themes of historical justice and culpability….Buck is strong on untangling the legal chicanery that allowed so many murderers to escape with the lightest of sentences….[A] masterly account.”
    The Times (U.K.)

    Silk: A World History - Prasad, Aarathi

    Aarathi Prasad, Silk: A World History
    (William Morrow)

    “The story of silk—a material simultaneously familiar and exotic—is more than an eye-opening history, more than a meditation on humans’ complex relationship to nature. It is the very story, rich and deeply interwoven, of ourselves. There is no better guide to weave us through its science, its narrative, and its deeply human revelations than Aarathi Prasad.”
    –Brian Christian

    The Age of Grievance - Bruni, Frank

    Frank Bruni, The Age of Grievance
    (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster)

    “It can be a pleasure to read about how terrible things are when the writer is Frank Bruni. He gives us a catalogue of absurdities, sparing neither left nor right, along with some explanations of why our current wave of grievance is more dangerous than earlier waves. He also gives us great ideas for making our country less absurd. This is a wise and humane book for our foolish and cruel era.”
    –Jonathan Haidt

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