Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five of the books we’re most excited about.
You Made Me Love You by John Edgar Wideman (April 6, Scribner)
We’d be on board even if this were solely a reprinting of Damballah. John Edgar Wideman’s 1981 short story collection, one third of the writer’s Homewood trilogy that follows a family through slavery to their eventual life in Pittsburgh, spoke with a vital multitudinous voice and often explored the nature of storytelling itself in its connected tales. You Made Me Love You, the writer’s selected short stories, begins here and goes up to and includes pieces from his most recent collection, 2018’s celebrated American Histories. “Stories are letters,” Wideman writes. “Letters sent to anybody or everybody.” You Made Me Love You at last assembles the best of Wideman’s—rich, strange, and deeply felt—for anybody or everybody to read.
Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer (April 6, MCD x FSG)
Jeff VanderMeer’s latest novel has one hell of a hook. After a short intro, mysterious narrator Jane ends her greeting with a promise: “I’m here to show you how the world ends.” From there, readers go tumbling down the rabbit hole as the Annihilation author pulls out trick after trick to keep readers guessing while he sends them on an adrenaline-fueled race against time (though how much time, and to what end, is anyone’s guess) in search of the explanation for a strange taxidermied bird left in the possession of digital security consultant “Jane Smith”—one that just might hold the key to that world-ending promise. To say more would be to spoil the fun of this inventive and surprising page-turner, maybe the purest demonstration yet of VanderMeer’s knack for dressing up fascinating philosophical conundrums in the clothing of a taut, breakneck thriller.
The Man Who Lived Underground by Richard Wright (April 20, Library Of America)
Yes, that’s the Richard Wright—author of Native Son and Black Boy, and one of the most influential writers of the last century. Originally rejected by Wright’s publisher in 1942, possibly for its bold views on racial injustice, the previously unpublished short novel is this month resurrected by The Library Of America. The Man Who Lived Underground follows Fred Daniels, a Black man in an unnamed American city who’s arrested, beaten, and coerced into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit. While being held by police, Fred escapes into a manhole and embarks on a surreal, allegorical journey through the city’s sewers. In an essay accompanying the book, Wright writes, “I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration, or executed any piece of writing in a deeper feeling of imaginative freedom, or expressed myself in a way that flowed more naturally from my own personal background, reading, experiences, and feelings than The Man Who Lived Underground.”
Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner (April 20, Knopf)
Jubilee isn’t the only full-length that Michelle Zauner will be putting out this year. Before releasing her third album as Japanese Breakfast in June, the woman behind the indie-pop outfit will publish her first book, Crying In H Mart. The book expands upon many of the themes Zauner explored in her viral New Yorker essay of the same name, in which she details how her favorite Asian market and foods connected her to both her Korean identity and her grief over the loss of her mother to cancer. A memoir of self-exploration and becoming, Crying In H Mart traces Zauner’s life from Seoul to Eugene, Oregon, to Pennsylvania, from a struggling adolescent to a powerful musician on the rise.
Terminal Boredom by Izumi Suzuki (April 20, Verso)
There’s nothing boring about the short stories in Terminal Boredom. While these seven dystopic science fiction tales may display certain trappings of the genre—surveillance states, totalitarian governments, overpopulation, pollution—and their setups are likewise familiar, they never go quite where you expect. In one, a girl living in a queer matriarchal society, in which men have been all but eradicated, sees a boy outside her window. In another, two idle, TV-obsessed teens become violent with blasé ease. Nihilistic and also humorous, Terminal Boredom is the first English-language publication by the cult Japanese writer Izumi Suzuki, who began her career as an actor and model, appearing in “pink films” and classics of 1970s Japanese film, before turning to writing. She died by suicide in 1986, and in 1995, she and her husband, jazz musician Karou Abe, were the subjects of the 1995 biopic Endless Waltz. A second collection, Love<Death, will be published next year.
More in April: I’m Waiting For You by Kim Bo-Young (April 6, Harper Voyager); The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner (April 6, Scribner); Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (April 6, Riverhead); Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins (April 6, Harper); Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles Of An American Troubadour by Rickie Lee Jones (April 6, Grove); First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami (April 6, Knopf); Philip Roth: The Biography by Blake Bailey (April 6, W.W. Norton); Subdivision by J. Robert Lennon (April 6, Graywolf); Let Me Think by J. Robert Lennon (April 6, Graywolf); Permafrost by Eva Baltasar (April 6, And Other Stories); A Perfect Cemetery by Federico Falco (April 6, Charco); Blow Your House Down: A Story Of Family, Feminism And Treason by Gina Frangello (April 6, Counterpoint); Something Unbelievable by Maria Kuznetsova (April 13, Random House); The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken (April 13, Ecco); Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (April 13, Black Cat); The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz (April 13, Metropolitan); Trafik by Rikki Ducornet (April 13, Coffee House); Family And Borghesia by Natalia Ginzburg (April 13, NYRB Classics); Death And So Forth by Gordon Lish (April 13, Dzanc); An Apprenticeship, Or The Book of Pleasures by Clarice Lispector (April 13, New Directions); The Twelve Lives Of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy Of The Master Of Suspense by Edward White (April 13, W.W. Norton); Aquarium by Yaara Shehori (April 13, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story Of The Founding Mothers of NPR by Lisa Napoli (April 13, Abrams); Leaving Isn’t The Hardest Thing by Lauren Hough (April 13, Vintage); Popisho by Leone Ross (April 20, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal (April 20, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Three-Martini Afternoons At The Ritz: The Rebellion Of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton by Gail Crowther (April 20, Gallery); Are You Enjoying? by Mira Sethi (April 20, Knopf); I Am A Girl From Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro (April 20, Scribner); We Are Bridges by Cassandra Lane (April 20, The Feminist Press at CUNY); Why Solange Matters by Stephanie Phillips (April 20, University Of Texas Press); Don’t Call It A Cult by Sarah Berman (April 20, Steerforth Press); Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told? by Jenny Diski (April 21, Bloomsbury); Begin By Telling by Meg Remy (April 21, Book*hug); Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (April 27, Knopf); The Life She Wished To Live: A Biography Of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Author Of The Yearling by Ann McCutchan (April 27, W.W. Norton); A Natural History Of Transition by Callum Angus (April 27, Metonymy); White Magic by Elissa Washuta (April 27, Tin House); Worsted by Garielle Lutz (April, Long Flight/Short Drive); Exit, Carefully by Elizabeth Ellen (April, Long Flight/Short Drive); Her Lesser Work by Elizabeth Ellen (April, Long Flight/Short Drive); Nudes by Elle Nash (April, Long Flight/Short Drive)