Jane Smiley! Judi Dench! Amy Tan on birding! 24 new books out today.

Gabrielle Bellot

April 23, 2024, 4:55am

Ah, another Tuesday in April, a month (apparently) of earthquakes and eclipses, thunderstorms and thunderous yells about filing taxes. (Or was that just me?) Whatever the month in 2024 may mean to you, this particular Tuesday signifies something special: a host of new books to check out.

You’ll find novel work from big names, including Amy Tan’s reflections on birdwatching, a new novel from Jane Smiley about the wild life and times of a folk musician, Judi Dench and the actor Brendan O’Hea on Shakespeare, and a collection of essays spanning the career of Nell Irvin Painter. And you’ll also find some much heralded fiction debuts, including Joe Fassler’s darkly atmospheric The Sky Was Ours and Alana S. Portero’s novel of trans life in Spain, Bad Habit. There are exciting new poetry collections from Alison C. Rollins and Melissa Kwasny. There’s Danielle Dutton’s Prairie, Dresses, Art, Other, which, to my delight, defies simple genre categorization. And nonfiction, oh my: there’s much to explore today, from memoirs of war and explorations of hypochondria to powerful reflections on the ancient world and much, much more.

Read deeply, Dear Readers. It’s a grand day to.


Lucky - Smiley, Jane

Jane Smiley, Lucky

“Spellbinding….Smiley neatly reverses the usual story of a 1970s singer [and then] orchestrates a seismic twist of staggering magnitude….Every novel by Smiley is a surprise.”

Better by Far - Hayes, Hazel

Hazel Hayes, Better by Far

“Heart-wrenching and healing in equal measure, Better by Far offers a double-edged (and incredibly poignant) look at what it means to grieve—stinging one moment and soothing the next. Hazel Hayes’ characters and prose have that innate capacity to make the reader feel truly seen, tackling themes like love and loss with immense grace, warmth, and nuance.[T]his story is…engulfing, wrapping itself around you until the very last chapter.”
–Genevieve Wheeler

The Sky Was Ours - Fassler, Joe

Joe Fassler, The Sky Was Ours
(Penguin Books)

The Sky Was Ours is an immersive fever dream of a novel, beautifully written and boldly imagined. It’s a dark fairy tale with a gripping human pulse; attuned to global crisis but also rooted deeply in the psyches of its characters, animated by their grief and most of all by their longing—longing for wonder, escape, transcendence, hope for our profit-rotted world; a longing that soars through these pages with an energy and tenderness utterly its own.”
–Leslie Jamison

I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays - Painter, Nell Irvin

Nell Irvin Painter, I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays

“Painter…gathers more than forty previously published essays, framed by a new introduction and coda, reflecting her shrewd analyses of issues including race, class, and gender; history and historiography; police brutality and poverty; art, education, and politics….A vibrant, insightful collection from an indispensable voice.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Backyard Bird Chronicles - Tan, Amy

Amy Tan, The Backyard Bird Chronicles

“This is one of the most infectious and convincing books about nature I’ve read. For the bird-watcher, the would-be bird-watcher, or for the bird-watching skeptic, this offers great delight and unexpected intrigue. Through Tan’s ecstatic eyes, what could be a dry treatise on ornithological happenings becomes something far more fun and much more profound. It’s really a book about seeing.”
–Dave Eggers

Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent - Dench, Judi

Judi Dench, Brendan O’Hea, Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent
(St. Martin’s Press)

“A literary demonstration of how the iconic actor has lost none of her energy, flair, and fiery intelligence….Dench’s memoir of the roles she has loved is a witty, thoroughly entertaining romp through the Shakespearean world.”

The Cloud Path: Poems - Kwasny, Melissa

Melissa Kwasny, The Cloud Path: Poems

“[L]ush, wise poems that grieve both a dead mother and a dying Mother Earth. A meditation on aging in a fragile global moment, Kwasny’s The Cloud Path is essential reading for anyone who cares about our planet and its inhabitants, for those enduring loss, for those who value the creaturely as well as the eternal…[A] transcendent how-to, a guide and a treasure to read alongside contemporary literary naturalists such as Terry Tempest Williams, Camille Dungy, and Kerri ní Dochartaigh.”
–Kathy Fagan

Black Bell - Rollins, Alison C.

Alison C. Rollins, Black Bell
(Copper Canyon Press)

“The astute second collection from Rollins (Library of Small Catastrophes) delivers an unsettling encounter with American history and its reverberations into the present. Taking its title from the practice of enslavers attaching iron bells on rods to enslaved people to prevent them from escaping, the collection plumbs the relationship between sound, Blackness, and performance as possible avenues for ongoing resistance and liberation….an unflinching and incisive compilation.”
Publishers Weekly

Prairie, Dresses, Art, Other - Dutton, Danielle

Danielle Dutton, Prairie, Dresses, Art, Other
(Coffee House Press)

“A shimmering and perplexing work that challenges the constraints of traditional prose….Highbrow while remaining mischievously playful, reminiscent of the form-smashing thrills of writers like Lydia Davis and Anne Carson.”
Kirkus Reviews

Reboot - Taylor, Justin

Justin Taylor, Reboot
(Pantheon Books)

“Taylor’s fluency, intellectual nimbleness, and playful sense of humor call to mind the work of David Foster Wallace; the reader can easily imagine David Crader’s video game adaptation of Infinite Jest. An affecting character study and excoriating indictment of the way we live now.”
Kirkus Reviews

Bad Habit - Portero, Alana S.

Alana S. Portero, Bad Habit (trans. Mara Faye Lethem)

“At once brutal, tender, and vulnerable, Bad Habit is told in gorgeous, poignant vignettes that paint a portrait of a trans girl’s coming of age in working-class Madrid. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down….I would follow Portero’s charming and resilient narrator anywhere. There is violence, yes, but there is also beauty, warmth, and care. Full of unforgettable characters, mothers, and connections, Portero has written a masterpiece, an ode, a life-giving story of trans affirmation.”
–Marisa Crane

A Body Made of Glass: A Cultural History of Hypochondria - Crampton, Caroline

Caroline Crampton, A Body Made of Glass: A Cultural History of Hypochondria
(Ecco Press)

“Moving and fascinating. By combining her own experiences with a reflective and insightful study of hypochondria’s history, Crampton has created a unique exploration of the condition. Hypochondria, and the plight of those who live with it, has long deserved more attention. A Body Made of Glass is a surprising, uplifting, and compelling book that will, I hope, put that right.”
–Michael Brooks

Water on Fire: A Memoir of War - El-Ariss, Tarek

Tarek El-Ariss, Water on Fire: A Memoir of War
(Other Press NY)

“How do we live with war or recover from war? And what if there is more than one war, or even a lifetime of war? There’s an erudition that almost hides itself in this dazzling memoir as El-Ariss takes on these questions, and the result is an adventure among the myths that rule us, an education in Freud, and a dive into the idea of what it could mean to be traumatized and to heal. Deeply moving, funny, erudite, each page is honed to a careful edge—not an extra word. I was dazzled.”
–Alexander Chee

The White Bonus: Five Families and the Cash Value of Racism in America - McMillan, Tracie

Tracie McMillan, The White Bonus: Five Familes and the Cash Value of Racism in America

“Finding hidden systems that enrich a few at the expense of the many is Tracie McMillan’s superpower. Armed with an ethnographer’s sensitivity, a journalist’s instinct, a scholar’s capacity to see the value of both forests and trees, and a poet’s gift for turning words into feelings, she combines deep investigative research with personal stories to reveal that ‘whiteness’ is America’s most lucrative fiction, the intangible asset that keeps on giving—and taking.”
–Robin D. G. Kelley

Days of Wonder - Leavitt, Caroline

Caroline Leavitt, Days of Wonder

“As compassionate as it is complex, Days of Wonder is a completely absorbing story of loss, injustice, and the canyons of misconception left behind. Both a coming-of-age love story and a tale of motherhood, the emotional resonance will stay with you long after the final page.”
–Jamie Ford

Divided Island - Tarazona, Daniela

Daniela Tarazona, Divided Island (trans. Lizzie Davis and Kevin Gerry Dunn)
(Deep Vellum)

“This is a novel about the electricity that inhabits us, sometimes predictably, sometimes like a lightning storm in the brain. It is also about a writer’s relationship with her mother and about how fragile memory and language are. But above all it is about the terrible lucidity that comes with being abnormal, and how poetry is the only science that allows us to understand what someone like that sees.”
–Yuri Herrera

Your Presence Is Mandatory - Vasilyuk, Sasha

Sasha Vasilyuk, Your Presence Is Mandatory

“An absorbing historical drama that spans from WWII to the current Russian-Ukraine conflict. Vasiluk is tender and caring with her characters and her setting. Fans of All The Light We Cannot See will find the perfect historical novel with this book.”

Double Exposure: Resurveying the West with Timothy O'Sullivan, America's Most Mysterious War Photographer - Sullivan, Robert

Robert Sullivan, Double Exposure: Resurveying the West with Timothy O’Sullivan, America’s Most Mysterious War Photographer

“A large-hearted, wide-angled book, gutsy in the extreme, that cinches the reader tight to some of the most powerful landscapes in America. Robert Sullivan follows the nineteenth-century footsteps of photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, reports with artistry and passion on what they both saw, and makes you love the country in its darkness as well as its light. The double story—Sullivan’s and O’Sullivan’s—and the pinpoint details drew me in so I couldn’t put it down.”
—Ian Frazier

The Rulebreaker: The Life and Times of Barbara Walters - Page, Susan

Susan Page, The Rulebreaker: The Life and Times of Barbara Walters
(Simon & Schuster)

“Page’s brilliantly written and researched biography breaks new ground in conveying a fascinating new portrait of an American icon in a book that is impossible to put down. Simply put, as a friend—and sometime competitor—of Barbara Walters, Susan Page’s biography is a triumph.”
–Andrea Mitchell

Women and the Piano: A History in 50 Lives - Tomes, Susan

Susan Tomes, Women and the Piano: A History in 50 Lives
(Yale University Press)

“Women were not able to pursue professional music careers for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, no matter how musically gifted they were….Anyone interested in learning about these hidden musical figures will find much to appreciate in this concise and carefully composed work.”

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: An Extraordinary New Journey Through History's Greatest Treasures - Hughes, Bettany

Bettany Hughes, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: An Extraordinary New Journey Through History’s Greatest Treasures

“Taking us on a truly fascinating journey through the ancient world, Bettany Hughes not only rebuilds the wonders themselves in the reader’s imagination, but also vividly conjures up the culture and environment in which they existed. It is a tale of people as well as places, and I loved learning about what the wonders meant to those who built and visited them, their stories told by Bettany Hughes with trademark passion and humor.”
–Elodie Harper

A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages: The World Through Medieval Eyes - Bale, Anthony

Anthony Bale, A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages: The World Through Medieval Eyes

“A Lonely Planet book for the medieval traveler, full of tips, conversion rates, and lists of what to pack. In this deeply researched but witty and readable guide, Anthony Bale brings us face-to-face with medieval travel—the sights and smells, the thrill and the homesickness—in a way that feels instantly recognizable even at so many centuries’ distance.”
–Dennis Duncan

Minority Rule: The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People--And the Fight to Resist It - Berman, Ari

Ari Berman, Minority Rule: The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People—And the Fight to Resist It

“[A] deeply researched and deftly argued treatise….Berman rings a clarion call about the current state of political influence to shed light on the steady erosion of democratic norms.”

The Everything War: Amazon's Ruthless Quest to Own the World and Remake Corporate Power - Mattioli, Dana

Dana Mattioli, The Everything War: Amazon’s Ruthless Quest to Own the World and Remake Corporate Power
(Little Brown)

Wall Street Journal reporter Mattioli debuts with a blistering exposé of how Amazon used its ‘size, leverage, and access to data across industries to choke competition.’ Mattioli’s impressive reporting—which draws on internal documents and hundreds of interviews with employees, senior executives, and government officials—recreates the company’s conquests in disturbing detail….This is investigative journalism at its finest.”
Publishers Weekly

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top