We don’t know how you’re feeling, but it’s been a long and difficult winter here in Chicago. Good reading weather, perhaps, but we’re looking forward to the warmer days and longer hours of light just ahead, when we can start shedding our layers and knocking the snow off our boots and maybe sit outside with a book somewhere without dirtying the pages. If you’re hoping to do the same, we have twelve excellent new titles to recommend this month. Happy spring!
Seeking Fortune Elsewhere
By Sindya Bhanoo
O. Henry Prize-winner Sindya Bhanoo makes her much-anticipated debut with this short story collection that gathers together intimate portrayals of South Indian immigrants grappling with what it means to leave and be left behind, particularly for women. Written with a roving curiosity, Bhanoo’s characters live and breathe like real people, their paths branching off the page and twining into your heart.
By Rae Armantrout
Wesleyan University Press
The newest collection from Pulitzer Prize-winner Rae Armantrout is a double delight for readers, bringing together her two latest projects into one sprawling book. Never one to shy away from difficult subject matter, Armantrout grapples with some of the most complex issues of our times, including the pandemic, quarantine, and the wildfires devastating the American West, in immediate and vivid ways.
By Allegra Hyde
Allegra Hyde won the coveted John Simmons Award for her short story collection Of This New World in 2016. Now she expands her palette with this seductive and propulsive first novel that seeks to challenge our ideas of activism and mobilization in the face of climate change through the story of one woman whose quest for utopia leads to loss and danger, but also an audacious hope for the future.
The White Girl
By Tony Birch
Australia’s leading indigenous storyteller makes his long-awaited stateside debut with this immersive and disquieting novel that sheds some much-needed light on the country’s post-colonial past. Set in the 1960’s in the midst of the government’s racist Stolen Generation policy, The White Girl remixes the typical genre expectations of historical fiction and noir to spin a unique and profound tale all its own.
By Eloghosa Osunde
Nigeria has been having a literary moment of late and readers eager to embark on their next armchair journey to the nation shouldn’t miss Plimpton Prize-winner Eloghosa Osunde’s kaleidoscopic debut, which more than earns the grammatical exclamation of its title. For the characters vibrantly rendered here, life itself is a form of resistance and Osunde captures them all with a singular tenderness and vivacity.
Woman: The American History of an Idea
By Lillian Faderman
Yale University Press
A professor emerita at California State University, Fresno and award-winning gender and sexuality scholar, Lillian Faderman tackles an expansive subject with her latest cultural history that asks what it means to be a “woman” in America today. Spanning over 400 years from our country’s Puritanical roots to the rise of #metoo and Amy Coney Barrett, it’s a provocative and vital interrogation of a still-unsettled question.
When I Sing, Mountains Dance
By Irene Solà, Translated by Mara Faye Lethem
Winner of the European Union Prize and lyrically translated from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem, When I Sing, Mountains Dance is a spellbinding and polyphonic tale that reaches the same heights as the Pyrenees landscape in which it’s set. Featuring a section narrated by a clutch of chanterelles, it’s a giddy and fearlessly imaginative portrait of a land and its people that is sure to delight any adventurous reader.
By Elaine Hsieh Chou
Fans of blistering American satires like Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown won’t want to miss Elaine Hsieh Chou’s electrifying debut Disorientation, which turns the campus novel on its head with its portrait of a Taiwanese American PhD student lost in her own research. Taking on fraught topics like appropriation and the “model minority” in academia, it goes big in the best way, announcing an exciting new voice.
By John Elizabeth Stintzi
Two Dollar Radio
Winner of the Sator New Works Award, which recognizes an exemplary book-length work by a transgender or non-binary writer, My Volcano is a novel as bracing and fractured as its title. Part parable, part science fiction, part eco-horror, Stintzi takes readers on a whiplash-inducing ride from modern day New York and Greece to the ancient Aztec empire that’s not easily shaken off after the turn of the final page.
Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career
By Keith Phipps
Henry Holt and Co.
Hometown hero Keith Phipps, who joined the writing staff of the storied A.V. Club in 1997 and later launched The Dissolve in 2013, makes his debut with this compelling look at one of cinema’s most enigmatic and confounding stars, Nicolas Cage. Using the actor’s winding career as a touchpoint to explore Hollywood’s shifting landscape and written with a passion to match its subject, it is sure to delight longtime fans and rubberneckers alike.
By Kate Folk
Stegner Fellow Kate Folk first caught the CHIRB’s notice, and everyone else’s, when the titular story appeared in The New Yorker a couple years back which set up some big expectations for her debut collection. Luckily Folk’s ample imagination ably exceeds them with these eerily absurdist tales that offer a perfect encapsulation of our modern madnesses, like an Alice’s looking glass for our social media-obsessed age.
Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation
By Maud Newton
Maud Newton has long been a beloved figure in the literary scene, having started a widely read and respected blog back in 2002 before many online platforms for cultural criticism existed. Now she makes her eagerly awaited debut with this absorbing and inspiring excavation of her unconventional family history that’s sure to speak to anyone who’s dipped their toes into their own genealogy and struggled with what they found.