• The Hub

    News, Notes, Talk

    Percival Everett! Téa Obreht! Michael Ondaatje! 25 new books out today.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    March 19, 2024, 4:55am

    It’s March 19th, the weekend after St. Patrick’s Day, and whether you’re already back in the swing of things or find yourself still nursing a hangover from a weekend of bacchanalian (but saintly) celebrating, you’ll have something new to celebrate: a day of great new books aplenty, with a bevy of novels, poetry collections, memoirs, and nonfiction accounts from both new and established names. I’ve selected a whopping twenty-five for you to consider.

    If you enjoyed American Fiction and are now on a quest to read more Percival Everett, or simply already were a fan of his distinctive fiction, you’re in luck: he has a provocative new novel, James, which boldly retells Huckleberry Finn from the perspective of Jim (James). Téa Obreht and Lisa Ko both also have exciting new novels out today, and, if that was all, it would already be a grand day. But there’s more! You’ll also find new poetry collections from Michael Ondaatje, Armen Davoudian, Saúl Hernández, and Jessica Fisher. And then there’s a range of scintillating nonfiction, including pointed essays and critiques from Lauren Oyler; expansive memoirs by Jamie Figueroa, Heather McCalden, and Cameron Russell; Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with a roving consideration of Black writers and thinkers; a collection of writing about James Baldwin from Jamaica Kincaid, Teju Cole, Barry Jenkins, and others; and much, much more.

    If the weather is lovely where you are, I hope you’ll curl up somewhere outside for a bit with one of these intriguing new books below.

    *

    James - Everett, Percival

    Percival Everett, James
    (Doubleday)

    “In an astounding riposte, the much-lauded Everett (Dr. No, 2022) rewrites [Huck Finn] as a liberation narrative, told from Jim (or rather James’) point of view…. An absolutely essential read.”
    Booklist

    The Morningside - Obreht, Téa

    Téa Obreht, The Morningside
    (Random House)

    “Imagine a Ballardian dystopia injected with a double dose of magic realism, so that the pages seem to glow….An ideal novel in which all is invented and everything is true. I loved it.”
    –Ed Park

    Memory Piece - Ko, Lisa

    Lisa Ko, Memory Piece
    (Riverhead)

    “Wild and wonderful, punk and propulsive, Memory Piece is about three friends growing from girlhood into a sinister new world. It is about authenticity, surveillance, capitalism, queerness, and the internet. It is about—it is—everything.”
    –Julia Phillips

    No Judgment: Essays - Oyler, Lauren

    Lauren Oyler, No Judgment: Essays
    (HarperOne)

    “Oyler is one of our sharpest and most fearless cultural critics….Opining on gossip and anxiety, autofiction and vulnerability, and much, much more, [her] caustic wit and penetrating voice shine through every essay.”
    The Millions

    Mother Island: A Daughter Claims Puerto Rico - Figueroa, Jamie

    Jamie Figueroa, Mother Island: A Daughter Claims Puerto Rico
    (Pantheon)

    “Figueroa enchantingly shifts and sifts through her memories…her exceptional command of her craft builds narrative tension while granting force to the way her personal history mirrors geopolitical devastation and imbuing her voice with the power of one no longer unclaimed by, but ready to lay claim to. A searching and lyrical memoir packed with nuance and depth.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    The Observable Universe: An Investigation - McCalden, Heather

    Heather McCalden, The Observable Universe: An Investigation
    (Hogarth)

    “An extraordinarily intimate record of grief in connected times, The Observable Universe is poetic and precise, tracing the spiraling connections but also the empty spaces, the mysteries, and the emotional complexities that the past leaves behind. This book is haunted, and will haunt its reader, too.”
    –Roisin Kiberd

    A Year of Last Things: Poems - Ondaatje, Michael

    Michael Ondaatje, A Year of Last Things: Poems
    (Knopf)

    “Each new book of Michael Ondaatje’s is a literary event, but that is particularly true for his books of poetry. In A Year of Last Things he comes close to writing something like a timeless poem, ‘a memory poem’ that reflects outside and inside time at the same moment, recording the mercurial, mysterious feeling of being alive. The poems become intimate, unresolved stories…the lyricism of dreams applied to narratives of lives and landscapes….[A] remarkable, incomparable new collection.”
    –Terrance Hayes

    The Palace of Forty Pillars - Davoudian, Armen

    Armen Davoudian, The Palace of Forty Pillars
    (Tin House)

    “These are songs of adolescence and love, of migration and history, brilliant and deft and heartfelt. Under the tutelary gaze of ancestral poets, Davoudian honors his queer amalgam of sources and makes of English sonnets and Persian ghazals something musical, memorable, and new. A magisterial book—reading it, I felt enchanted and transformed.”
    –Richie Hofmann

    Daywork: Poems - Fisher, Jessica

    Jessica Fisher, Daywork: Poems
    (Milkweed)

    “What are the poet’s responsibilities in regards to witnessing and rendering violence? Arriving, like all of us, in the middle of history, Fisher’s speaker reaches toward the fresco and other forms of art in search, if not of answers, then of language that is alive enough to survive its encounters with grief. It is precisely Fisher’s masterful command over the line that allows Daywork to revel in unruliness and to confront, one frame at a time, the beauty and uncertainty of ‘what it is to be alive now.'”
    —Franny Choi

    The Tree Doctor - Mockett, Marie Mutsuki

    Marie Mutsuki Mockett, The Tree Doctor
    (Graywolf)

    “Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s luminous new novel provides the hope and beauty we need after the isolation and disillusionment of the pandemic….This coming-of-middle-age novel—a rarely dramatized but radically important stage in women’s lives—will leave me thinking for a long time.”
    –Celeste Ng

    The Waves Take You Home - Barrios Vélez, María Alejandra

    María Alejandra Barrios Vélez, The Waves Take You Home
    (Lake Union Publishing)

    “It’s hard to put down an international love triangle, especially one featuring ghosts and a quest to save a family’s legacy set along the Caribbean coast! Every page in The Waves Take You Home sizzles with life and lush descriptions. I grew nostalgic as I read for the sights and smells of Colombian street food and culture. It’s a love story, deeply invested in all the ways love defines us—love for family, childhood crushes, tradition, and especially a well-cooked meal.”
    –Adriana E. Ramírez

    Jaded - Lee, Ela

    Ela Lee, Jaded
    (Simon & Schuster)

    Jaded is a sharp, bold and compulsively readable story of power, money, sex-and survival. Ela Lee writes with utter clarity and heartbreaking insight about the cost of survival in cut-throat corporate environments and about the gray space between complicity and compromise. Urgent and necessary, this is a book that will take up space in your heart and mind long after the last page.”
    –Cecilia Rabess

    The Black Box: Writing the Race - Gates, Henry Louis

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Box: Writing the Race
    (Penguin Press)

    “Gates tracks questions of class, language, aesthetics, and resistance in a many-faceted, clarifying, era-by-era chronicle propelled by vivid considerations of such influential Black writers as Phillis Wheatley, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Toni Morrison….A call to protect the free exchange of ideas in the classroom and beyond.”
    Booklist

    God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin - Best, Stephen

    Stephen Best (editor), Hilton Als (editor), God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin
    (Dancing Foxes Press/Brooklyn Museum)

    “The…book [which features contributions by Teju Cole, Jamaica Kincaid, Barry Jenkins, and others]…honor[s] Baldwin’s legacy by exploring the many facets of his identity and interests….For Stephen Best, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who contributed to the book, it means encouraging people to deepen their understanding of Baldwin.”
    The New York Times

    A Chance Meeting: American Encounters - Cohen, Rachel

    Rachel Cohen, A Chance Meeting: Encounters Between American Writers and Artists
    (New York Review of Books)

    “Cohen is besotted with the cross-pollination of talent, with the way creative people flit in and out of each other’s orbits…like a portraitist, Cohen turns her subjects this way and that, refracting a moment until the light catches it just right…the effect can be dazzling.”
    NPR

    How to Kill a Goat and Other Monsters - Hernández, Saúl

    Saúl Hernández, How to Kill a Goat and Other Monsters
    (University of Wisconsin Press)

    “The mouth, tongue, and hand feature prominently in Hernández’s collection. Indeed, these compelling poems kiss and bite, tell startling secrets and whisper with affection. They sometimes caress and sometimes strike. What he so eloquently calls ‘the language of grief’ pulses at the body’s intersection of language and desire, ethnicity and sexuality, vulnerable youth and empowered adulthood. What a stunning debut.”
    –Rigoberto González

    Rainbow Black - Thrash, Maggie

    Maggie Thrash, Rainbow Black
    (Harper Perennial)

    “I’ve loved Maggie Thrash’s work for years, and Rainbow Black is going to set so many new hearts aflame—murder, intrigue, queer love, dark humor AND satanic panic? Welcome to the Maggie Thrash Fan Club, world!”
    –Emma Straub

    Nearly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad: Stories - Kuku, Damilare

    Damilare Kuku, Nearly All the Men in Lagos Are Mad: Stories
    (Harpervia)

    “With this singular debut collection, Nigerian author Kuku digs into the trials and tribulations of dating and married life for women in Lagos….Kuku finds both hideousness and humor in her precise details and candid, voice-driven characterizations. Readers who have had their own share of bad romances will appreciate the realness on display.”
    Publishers Weekly

    The Mars House - Pulley, Natasha

    Natasha Pulley, The Mars House
    (Bloomsbury)

    “Readers will appreciate all the delightful details of worldbuilding, character arcs, and slow romantic tension. Exquisitely layered and entertaining, Pulley’s latest novel is a queer tale of planetary refugees, politics, and populist views (and mammoths).”
    Library Journal

    How to Make Herself Agreeable to Everyone: A Memoir - Russell, Cameron

    Cameron Russell, How to Make Herself Agreeable to Everyone: A Memoir
    (Random House)

    “Cameron Russell’s How to Make Herself Agreeable to Everyone is…unforgettable….Fiercely intellectual, deeply vulnerable, and unapologetically honest, Russell reads through the layers of gender, race, capital, and exploitation in the fashion industry. Through her personal journey, she unpacks how inheritances, commitments, and dreams can both inspire and distort our paths. A voracious reader and critical thinker, Russell reveals the complex dance of an industry that punishes even as it rewards.”
    –Imani Perry

    Molds, Mushrooms, and Medicines: Our Lifelong Relationship with Fungi - Money, Nicholas P.

    Nicholas P. Money, Molds, Mushrooms, and Medicines: Our Lifelong Relationship with Fungi
    (Princeton University Press)

    “With an encyclopedic knowledge, a contagious curiosity, and a great sense of humor, Nicholas Money has written another wonderful guide to the fantastic world of fungi. Yet this time, we look within and upon the human body to explore the teeming fungal diversity that shapes our daily existence in ways that remain powerful yet mysterious.”
    –Michael J. Hathaway

    Anxiety: A Philosophical Guide - Chopra, Samir

    Samir Chopra, Anxiety: A Philosophical Guide
    (Princeton University Press)

    “Unlike the stacks of books promising to allay the anxieties of jittery readers, Chopra has composed a graceful account of the intrinsic relationship between philosophy and anxiety—and how it compels us to question the very meaning of our existence. The aim of this unique book is not to calm our inner seas, but to provide tools for reinterpreting our relation to the anxiety that drives us to the clinic and the medicine cabinet. Chopra has hit the bull’s eye.”
    –Gordon Marino

    The Hebrew Teacher - Arad, Maya

    Maya Arad, The Hebrew Teacher (trans. Jessica Cohen)
    (New Vessel Press)

    “Meticulously observed, with remarkable shades of subtlety and nuance. What could have easily become a political screed is, instead, a gentle inquiry into aging, what it means to be relevant, academic ambition, and, most particularly, the morality of Zionist politics….The quiet subtlety of Arad’s prose only pulls the strength of her insights into higher relief.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Illiberal America: A History - Hahn, Steven

    Steven Hahn, Illiberal America: A History
    (Norton)

    “An instant classic….Steven Hahn transforms our understanding of the multiple traditions embedded in the American past, including a deeply rooted disdain for the ideals of democracy and equality. If you want to understand the historical origins of our present condition, this is the place to start.”
    –Eric Foner

    Soldiers and Kings: Survival and Hope in the World of Human Smuggling - de León, Jason

    Jason de León, Soldiers and Kings: Survival and Hope in the World of Human Struggling
    (Viking)

    “Anthropologist and MacArthur fellow De Leon offers a staggering view of the people who help move asylum seekers. His conversations with participants in a vast migration put human faces to a shadowy concept, and his story is illuminating and often heartrending in its telling.”
    Booklist

  • %d bloggers like this: