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    Robert Lowell! W.E.B. Du Bois on WWI! Black spies! 27 books out in paperback this April.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    April 1, 2024, 4:32am

    April, remarkably, is here already—remarkable only, I suppose, because my internal calendar is still stuck on January all too often—and that means that warmer weather and wonderful blooms are also here, both of which I love. (And a solar eclipse on the 8th!) And what better to usher in the spring with a new book?

    Below, you’ll find no less than twenty-seven ones to consider, all being released in paperback this month, many of which were highly anticipated when they first appeared, and which remain powerful. There’s a wide array of novels, memoirs, histories, and more, including buzzed-about novels by Chana Porter, Tyriek White, Paterson Joseph, Christine Grillo, and many others; a career-spanning collection of the poet Robert Lowell’s autobiographical prose; Chad L. Williams on W.E.B. Du Bois’ complicated relationship to the First World War; striking memoirs from Omer Aziz, Leta McCollough Seletzky, Julia Lee, J. Nicole Jones, and others; and much, much more.

    If you missed these in hardcover, you’ve got another chance to pick up these scintillating titles and enjoy them in the (hopefully) lovelier weather. As Jean-Luc Picard might say on the Enterprise bridge, make it so.

    *

    The Thick and the Lean - Porter, Chana

    Chana Porter, The Thick and the Lean
    (S & S/Saga Press)

    The Thick and the Lean flips our known world inside out and, in doing so, exposes familiar seams of subjugation—from purity culture to capitalist exploitation. Chana Porter is a brilliant engineer of speculative societies and vivid far-flung realms, but she is also an author who reminds us what matters most in our real lives: the urgency of living our highest truth. This novel is a feast of ideas I didn’t want to end.”
    –Allegra Hyde

    We Are a Haunting - White, Tyriek

    Tyriek White, We Are a Haunting
    (Astra House)

    “A gorgeous novel about loss, survival and community….This is a stunningly original and beautiful novel of devotion, a book that gives and gives as it asks us what it means to be part of a family, of a community. Early novels like this don’t come around very often; this one brings to mind titles like Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine. It’s an absolute triumph.”
    NPR

    The Weeds - Smith, Katy Simpson

    Katy Simpson Smith, The Weeds
    (Picador)

    The Weeds is the story of secrets in plain sight—plants in the cracks of a monument, women’s lives rooted in spaces that provide them no sunlight or water—but this novel is anything but quiet or secretive. It is explosive and prismatic. I will be recommending this novel to everyone forever.”
    –Ramona Ausubel

    Brown Boy: A Memoir - Aziz, Omer

    Omer Aziz, Brown Boy: A Memoir
    (Scribner)

    “A brilliant and moving memoir of, among other things, class migration and the choices made by outsiders. Aziz writes with sensitivity and honesty about the tensions between growing up in a working class immigrant home and the worlds of elite education and politics. This book will surely make it onto any reading list exploring the twin preoccupations of our time: race and class.”
    –Zia Haider Rahman

    My Father's Brain: Life in the Shadow of Alzheimer's - Jauhar, Sandeep

    Sandeep Jauhar, My Father’s Brain: Life in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s
    (Picador)

    “In this propulsive memoir, [Jauhar] delivers an aching account of ‘the hardest journey [he has] ever taken’ as he witnessed his father, Prem’s, health, personality, and cognition get subsumed by Alzheimer’s….The author’s brutal honesty—about his father’s decline and his own inability to fully reckon with it—is expertly complemented by his medical rigor. Every family who’s ever faced an Alzheimer’s diagnosis will see themselves in this exceptional work.”
    Publishers Weekly

    The Kneeling Man: My Father's Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. - Seletzky, Leta McCollough

    Leta McCollough Seletzky, The Kneeling Man: My Father’s Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
    (Counterpoint)

    “An absorbing memoir….Seletzky’s detailed yet fluid prose shapes her father’s story into a compelling narrative arc—beginning with his birth in Mississippi and ending with his 1999 retirement from the CIA—while holding space for her to grapple with Mac’s history as a Black man spying on Black Power activists for the police….The Kneeling Man will enlighten generations to come about a pivotal, disturbing moment in our nation’s history.”
    BookPage

    The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho - Joseph, Paterson

    Paterson Joseph, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho
    (Holt)

    “Paterson Joseph’s Sancho is a joy to read as much for the riveting and full portrait of a historical figure’s interior life as for the page-turning tale. Joseph navigates this wonderfully entertaining story with intelligence and verve. The real Sancho composed a life of music and service; Joseph renders his life as art.”
    –Brendan Slocumb

    A History of Present Illness - DeForest, Anna

    Anna DeForest, A History of Present Illness
    (Back Bay Books)

    “This book destroyed my heart, and then restored it. The raw eloquence of the language, the wisdom spiked with gallows humor, the young woman who transcends an early life of damage—the tension and triumph come from how easily the narrator’s life could have gone the other way. She wonders: ‘To get over what you’ve come from but to stay who you are. What would that even look like?’ It looks like this novel, and it is beautiful.”
    –Amy Hempel

    Hestia Strikes a Match - Grillo, Christine

    Christine Grillo, Hestia Strikes a Match
    (Picador)

    “Extremely wise and deeply funny, this debut gives us a riotously irreverent, effortlessly firecracking pair of Socratic dialogues: one between generations debating how to find love or whether to seek it at all, and the other between citizens trying to figure out how to save their country.”
    –Carlene Bauer

    Memoirs - Lowell, Robert

    Robert Lowell, Steven Gould Axelrod (editor), Grzegorz Kosc (editor), Memoirs
    (Picador)

    “In an exceptionally gifted generation of American poets, Robert Lowell was, in his lifetime, number one….Memoirs publishes, mostly for the first time, the prose Lowell composed—chiefly in two spells between 1954 and 1957—and allows the reader to see it not only as origin story for the poems, but as a graceful, stately work in its own right.”
    The Observer

    Biting the Hand: Growing Up Asian in Black and White America - Lee, Julia

    Julia Lee, Biting the Hand: Growing Up Asian in Black and White America
    (Holt)

    “An awe-inspiring memoir that traces Julia Lee’s search for her place in America. Lee sheds light on nuances of the Asian American experience that will ring familiar to anyone who has ever struggled to know where they stand. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of Korean Han, the Asian American experience, and the power of resilience.”
    –David Chang

    David Smith: The Art and Life of a Transformational Sculptor - Brenson, Michael

    Michael Brenson, David Smith: The Art and Life of a Transformational Sculptor
    (Picador)

    “An essential account of America’s greatest sculptor….[A] magnum opus….Brenson’s meticulously researched and detailed account of the life is an important contribution to our understanding both of Smith and of his time….Essential reading.”
    –Marjorie Perloff

    Juno Loves Legs - Geary, Karl

    Karl Geary, Juno Loves Legs
    (Catapult)

    “An unforgettable portrait of two young misfits bound together by hard Dublin childhoods. It’s an ode to love, to the salvation of friendship, and to the families we build when our own families fail us. Filled with loss and longing, it is by turns brutal and tender, and in the end, utterly devastating. The characters are so real, so desperate to be loved, that the reader will want to reach through the pages and hold them….[E]xtraordinary. Juno Loves Legs broke my heart. I never wanted it to end.”
    –Douglas Stuart

    The End of Drum-Time - Pylväinen, Hanna

    Hanna Pylväinen, The End of Drum-Time
    (Holt)

    “A monumental feat of melodic prose and astute observation, Hanna Pylväinen’s historical fiction novel The End of Drum-Time transports readers to the otherworldly tundra of Scandinavia, circa 1851, where minister Lars Levi is ‘always after’ the ‘heart’ of the native Sámi reindeer herders, whom he seeks to convert. When one of these Sámi falls for Lars’s own daughter, the resulting adventure is one as powerful and profound as the book’s awe-inspiring setting.”
    Elle

    The East Indian - Charry, Brinda

    Brinda Charry, The East Indian
    (Scribner)

    “Marvelous….Richly imagined characters and keen explorations of identity, place, and the power of imagination drive this luminous achievement. Readers of Esi Edugyan and Yaa Gyasi will be enthralled.”
    Publishers Weekly

    J. Nicole Jones, Low Country: A Southern Memoir
    (Catapult)

    “With her memoir, Low Country, Jones has succeeded in the role of family archivist, imploring us to see that the story of the Jones family is the story of South Carolina, and the story of J. Nicole Jones is the story of the women who preceded her. Low Country teaches the ways family is born out of place, and the ways we are born out of each other.”
    –Ray Levy Uyeda

    The Wounded World: W. E. B. Du Bois and the First World War - Williams, Chad L.

    Chad L. Williams, The Wounded World: W. E. B. Du Bois and the First World War
    (Picador)

    “Chad L. Williams wisely refrains from…judging his subject, instead allowing W. E. B. Du Bois’s biography to unfold in all its messy, captivating, inspiring complexity. Specialists and general readers alike will profit from Williams’s sensitive reconstruction of the most challenging period, ethically and politically, of Du Bois’s long life.”
    The Washington Post

    Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America's Legendary Racehorse - Wickens, Kim

    Kim Wickens, Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America’s Legendary Racehorse
    (Ballantine Books)

    “Best Racehorse Book Ever…a First-Place Blue-Ribbon of a book, full of engrossing, surprising, and sometimes startling detail about how American horse racing got its start…a must-have classic for every equestrian’s shelf.”
    –Wendy Williams

    A Most Agreeable Murder - Seales, Julia

    Julia Seales, A Most Agreeable Murder
    (Random House)

    “An utterly delightful murder mystery….A Most Agreeable Murder reads as if a giggly Jane Austen dipped her pen in blood. (Not too much blood, mind you; it’s all quite decorous)….I loved every page of this very silly romp.”
    The Seattle Times

    The Half Moon - Keane, Mary Beth

    Mary Beth Keane, The Half Moon
    (Scribner)

    “Deft, satisfying….Keane writes in a realist vein—the vivid, domesticated world of Anne Tyler, of William Trevor, of Elizabeth Strout—but her insights into matters of the heart, longing and restlessness especially, have astonishing delicacy.”
    Vogue

    You Know Her - Jennett, Meagan

    Meagan Jennett, You Know Her
    (Picador)

    “A fierce, funny, incredibly timely, cathartic, gonzo feminist thriller. This book will be the talk of the genre. If you read one thriller this year, read this one.”
    –Chelsea Cain

    My Cousin Maria Schneider: A Memoir - Schneider, Vanessa

    Vanessa Schneider, My Cousin Maria Schneider: A Memoir (trans. Molly Ringwald)
    (Scribner)

    “With devastating power and great originality of style, this gorgeous memoir shows the film industry’s brutality toward young women and the ways in which shame can waft into a sensitive girl’s bedroom….In Molly Ringwald’s luminous translation, Vanessa Schneider’s love letter to her famous actress cousin—and to her own 1970s French bohemian childhood—delivers the emotional impact of great fiction while also faithfully telling an important true-life story about misogyny in our time.”
    –Ada Calhoun

    The Sixth Extinction (10th Anniversary Edition): An Unnatural History - Kolbert, Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (10th Anniversary Edition)
    (Holt)

    “Kolbert accomplishes an amazing feat in her latest book, which superbly blends the depressing facts associated with rampant species extinctions and impending ecosystem collapse with stellar writing to produce a text that is accessible, witty, scientifically accurate, and impossible to put down.”
    Publishers Weekly

    In Search of Amrit Kaur: A Lost Princess and Her Vanished World - Manera Sambuy, Livia

    Livia Manera Sambuy, In Search of Amrit Kaur: A Lost Princess and Her Vanished World (trans. Todd Portnowitz)
    (Picador)

    “A luminous portrait of Amrit Kaur first beguiled Livia Manera in a dusty museum in Mumbai….This beautiful Indian princess, she learned, had escaped her family, leaving behind an unfaithful husband, young children, and a feudal world….It took Manera years to reconstruct her story….And the result…is an even more luminous portrait—of both Amrit Kaur, and Livia Manera—two exceptional women who had to question their assigned fates…in order to define themselves.”
    –Judith Thurman

    Rogue Justice: A Thriller - Abrams, Stacey

    Stacey Abrams, Rogue Justice: A Thriller
    (Vintage)

    “Former Georgia representative Abrams parlays her political knowledge into a complex and highly entertaining thriller…stuffed with genuinely surprising twists….Political junkies and thriller fans alike will eagerly anticipate the next installment.”
    Publishers Weekly

    George VI and Elizabeth: The Marriage That Saved the Monarchy - Smith, Sally Bedell

    Sally Bedell Smith, George VI and Elizabeth: The Marriage That Saved the Monarchy
    (Random House)

    George VI and Elizabeth is a vivid history that captures the courage of a couple whose actions saved a monarchy. It is also a largely unknown love story. Sally Bedell Smith’s reputation rests on her commitment to scholarship and access to previously undiscovered information. But it’s not enough to find it—you have to bring wisdom to it. This book is a deeply moving marvel.”
    –Peggy Noonan

    Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing - Clark, Roy Peter

    Roy Peter Clark, Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing
    (Little, Brown Spark)

    “In a world with too much propaganda, confusion, and misinformation, Roy Peter Clark offers us a kind of North Star. His indispensable new book makes an urgent case for clarity, honesty, and conviction. Clark once again teaches us something crucial. We should all be aiming to write with purpose, for the public good. Now more than ever, we need this book.”
    –Diana K. Sugg

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