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The Most Anticipated Chicago Books of 2023, Part Two

The Most Anticipated Chicago Books of 2023, Part Two

  • More of our most anticipated books from Chicago authors coming out in 2023.

We’re nearly halfway through the year, and 2023 is looking like a landmark year for books written by Chicago authors. There certainly has been plenty to celebrate, including new releases from Rebecca Makkai, Catherine Lacey, and Jac Jemc just to name a few. But there’s plenty more where that came from!

Maybe you’re here because you saw our most anticipated Chicago books from the first half of the year and you’re ready for the update, or you just love to be in the know of what’s coming out in the coming months. Either way, you’ve come to the right place! From page-turning thrillers and much anticipated follow-ups to captivating poetry collections and social histories, here’s everything to look forward to in the world of Chicago literature through the end of 2023.


The Best Possible Experience
By Nishanth Injam
Pantheon Books
July 11, 2023

Alive with vivid, vibrant, and affecting writing, Nishanth Injam has created a powerful portrait of contemporary India and its American diaspora. Injam’s stories question what it means to have a home, return to home, and show, above all, that home is not a place so much as people ready to accept you as you are. For lovers of short stories, this collection is truly a can’t-miss release. 

Everybody’s Favorite: Tales from the World’s Worst Perfectionist
By Lillian Stone
Del Street Books
July 18, 2023

Calling all perfectionists! From one of Paste magazine’s 15 Best Humorists Writing Today comes Everybody’s Favorite, a hilarious essay collection about a relentless pursuit of perfection. Lillian Stone delves deep into her evangelical upbringing and struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder while exploring what it means to pick yourself when the world is telling you otherwise. Complete with plenty of laugh-out-loud (and sometimes cringey) stories, Everybody’s Favorite is sure to be an unforgettable summer read.  

What We Leave Behind
By Christine Gallagher Kearney
She Writes Press
July 25, 2023

In 1947, war bride Ursula arrives in Minneapolis torn between guilt over leaving loved ones behind and her desire to start a new life—and a family—in this promised land. But the American dream proves elusive—she is struck with polio, and then shocked by the sudden death of her GI husband. When she finds herself pregnant with his child, she is faced with a dilemma: how to reconcile her dream of motherhood with an America that is so different from what she imagined.


Puerto Ricans in Illinois
By Maura I. Toro-Morn and Ivis Garcia
Southern Illinois University Press
August 1, 2023

As the first book to document the experiences of Puerto Ricans in the state of Illinois, this inviting book maps the little piece of home that many Puerto Ricans have carved from the bitter hardships faced in Illinois. Puerto Ricans in Illinois tells the story of the community, the history of migration, and the cultural, economic, and political contributions of the Puerto Rican women, men, and families that call Illinois home.

Bride of the Tornado
By James Kennedy
Quirk Books
August 15, 2023

Stephen King’s The Mist meets David Lynch’s Twin Peaks in this inventive, mind-bending horror-thriller about a town engulfed by a mysterious plague of sentient tornadoes. This audacious novel is filled with page-turning action and existential dread, which makes for a propulsive read that strikes at the heart of the myth of the American Midwest. 

Nobody Needs to Know: A Memoir
By Pidgeon Pagonis
Topple Books & Little a
August 15, 2023

From intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis comes a candid and life-affirming true story of identity, lies, family secrets, and the healing power of truth. Pagonis always felt like their life was a constant attempt to fit in with other girls—a feeling that was only exacerbated when puberty failed. It wasn’t until college that they pieced together the puzzle of their identity: they’d been born intersex but raised as a girl, their life shaped by lies that left them physically and mentally scarred. This inspiring memoir is for everyone whose body and spirit defy expectations and a fierce challenge to a system design to enforce binary definitions.

I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times
By Taylor Byas
Soft Skull
August 22, 2023

Taylor Byas’s I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times is one of our team’s most anticipated poetry collections of 2023. Inspired by The Whiz, this impressive debut is a celebration of Chicago’s South Side, telling the story of a Black woman’s quest for self-discovery. Every poem is alive with the beauty and intimacy of growing up in the city, from a Wendy’s drive-thru and Sunday services to the local corner store and the speaker’s grandmother’s house. I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times is a stunning achievement whose lyricism echoes some of Chicago’s greatest poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks and Eve L. Ewing. 


From Dust to Stardust
By Kathleen Rooney
Lake Union Publishing
September 5, 2023

In our 2020 interview with Kathleen Rooney, she let us know that she was working on a project about a silent movie star working in Chicago’s famed movie scene. After much anticipation, the wait is finally over! Set in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood in 1916, From Dust to Stardust follows Doreen O’Dare, whose trademark bob and insouciant charm make her the preeminent movie flapper of the Jazz Age. Rooney has already set herself apart as one of the preeminent writers of historical fiction with novels, and this latest release is one of her most impressive yet: a sprawling and fully realized portrait of Chicago and America in the turbulent twentieth-century. 

Strange Attractors: The Ephrem Stories
By Janice Deal
New Door Books
September 12, 2023

In Janice Deal’s linked story collection Strange Attractors, everyday people navigate the uncertainties of life in the American heartland, seeking order in chaos with a very human mix of resilience and folly. At first glance, the fictional Ephrem, Illinois, seems a friendly familiar town. But as you come closer, you discover people who are complex and unpredictable and trauma that lingers. These extraordinary tales offer a masterful snapshot of life in today’s small-town America.

By Nathan Hill
Knopf Publishing Group
September 19, 2023

The New York Times best-selling author of The Nix is back in 2023 with an exciting new novel about the pursuit of health and happiness set amidst the art scene of ’90s Chicago. When Jack and Elizabeth meet as college students, they quickly become eager to claim a place in Chicago’s thriving underground art scene. But years later they find themselves barely recognizable to one another, as they encounter cults disguised as mindfulness support groups, polyamorous would-be suitors, Facebook wars, and something called Love Potion Number Nine. Funny, heartfelt, and insightful, Nathan Hill’s latest is a release to be excited for.

The Burning of the World: The Great Chicago Fire and the War for a City’s Soul
By Scott W. Berg
Pantheon Books
September 26, 2023

Many of us know the basic details of the Great Chicago Fire, but the aftermath at times remains unexplored. In The Burning of the World, Scott W. Berg explores one of the city’s most consequential moments and the new political order that arose from it. As he argues, as quickly as the firefight ended, another battle for the future of the city began between the town’s business elites and the poor and immigrant working class, setting the stage for what Chicago would become today—for good and for bad.

See Also


Keep Your Mouth Shut: Graffiti Art & Street Culture in Chicago and Beyond
Schiffer Publishing
October 28, 2023

Keep Your Mouth Shut combines more than 350 photographs and previously untold firsthand stories to offer readers a rarely seen look into graffiti art, a subculture that has grown seemingly without boundaries. In addition to providing an uncompromising look into the artistic process, FLEX | KYM tells the story of Chicago and its growth into a city that is internationally recognized for live-action urban painting. 

By Garnett Kilberg Cohen
University of Wisconsin Press
October 31, 2023

Opening with “hors d’oeuvres” and closing with a “Feast,” the stories in Cravings pulse with longing, missed opportunities, recriminations, and joy. Longtime Chicagoan Garnett Kilberg Cohen leads readers through acutely crafted explorations of the way events shape and change our lives, sometimes for the better and sometimes in ways that haunt us forever.


Hot Springs Drive
By Lindsay Hunter
Roxane Gay Books
November 4, 2023

A new book from Lindsay Hunter is always an event, and Hot Springs Drive is no different. The third title in Roxane Gay Books’ inaugural list, Hot Springs Drive is an urgent novel about a shocking betrayal and its aftermath, asking just how far you’ll go to have everything you want. Jackie Newsome is an ex-emotional eater and mother of four who carries the grief of her deceased best friend Theresa. But as she tries to leave her old self behind, a new hunger chases her, and motherhood threatens to subsume what little is left of her. Hunter has created a heart-pounding and emotionally astute exploration of a woman’s deepest desire and the secrets that lie under the supposed stability of the suburban family dynamic.

Correction: Parole, Prison, and the Possibility of Change
By Ben Austen
Flatiron Books
November 7, 2023

Ben Austen’s 2018 High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing quickly became one of the most important book-length works of journalism in Chicago, and we’re excited to see that he’s back in November with Correction: Parole, Prison, and the Possibility of Change. Told through the portraits of two men imprisoned for murder and the parole board that holds their freedom in the balance, Austen brings his skills for unflinching storytelling to take aim at mass incarceration and America’s deeply flawed justice system. This illuminating work of narrative nonfiction challenges readers to consider for ourselves why and who we punish and how we might find a way out of an era of mass imprisonment. 

The Quail Who Wears the Shirt
By Jeremy T. Wilson
Tortoise Books
November 7, 2023

Tuesday night is trivia night, a night for produce market owner Lee Hubbs to swing by the bar with his cop friend, a night to down a few shots and avoid all the folks who’ve mysteriously been turning into quails. But when Lee accidentally hits and kills a “quail-human ne’er-do-well,” his life is quickly upended. Jeremy T. Wilson, a former winner of Chicago Tribune’s famed Nelson Algren Award, is both a deeply talented writer of satire and a Chicago author to watch, and The Quail Who Wears the Shirt proves why. This strange, surreal, and utterly satisfying meditation of guilt and karma is sure to be one of your favorite works of black humor in recent memory.

The New Naturals
By Gabriel Bump
Algonquin Books
November 14, 2023

2020 Chicago Review of Books Award (CHIRBy) finalist Gabriel Bump follows up his stunning work about growing up in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood with The New Naturals, a moving and darkly funny novel about an attempt to found a Black Utopia. After losing their child and looking hard for a safe place, a young husband and wife begin to construct a separate society where love is centered, where children learn America’s true history, and where all the Spike Lee movies play. Bump continues to be one of our team’s most revered young writers, and The New Naturals perfectly highlights his literary talent. Perfect for readers of Paul Beatty or Percival Everett, this is a novel you need to have on your radar come November. 

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