18 New Works of Fiction to Read This Spring – The New York Times
New novels from Jennifer Egan, Ali Smith and Hernan Diaz; debuts from Aamina Ahmad and Jenny Tinghui Zhang; posthumous stories and a novel by Tove Ditlevsen; and plenty more.
This season, watch for new books by Emily St. John Mandel, Chris Bohjalian, Monica Ali and Douglas Stuart; a literary vampire story by Claire Kohda; and new novels in translation.
‘The Candy House,’ by Jennifer Egan
A follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” this story picks up with familiar characters, including the friends and descendants of the music producer Bennie Salazar and his protégé, Sasha, who is now an installation artist of renown. But you don’t need to be familiar with “Goon Squad” to enjoy this book, which opens with the “tech demi-god” Bix Bouton, who has created technology that allows people to upload their memories to an external consciousness and browse the experiences other users have shared.
Scribner, April 5
‘Young Mungo,’ by Douglas Stuart
Stuart follows his debut novel, “Shuggie Bain,” which won the Booker Prize and earned praise for its portrayal of working class Scottish life, with a love story set in a Glasgow housing project. Two young men, Mungo and James, fall in love and imagine a brighter future for themselves while protecting their secret.
Grove, April 5
‘The Return of Faraz Ali,’ by Aamina Ahmad
As a young boy, Faraz is taken from his mother, who works in Lahore’s red light district, and sent to live with distant relatives in a more respectable part of the city. Years later, his father — a political operator with connections throughout the city — asks him to return to the neighborhood to help contain the fallout of a young girl’s murder.
Riverhead, April 5
‘Companion Piece,’ by Ali Smith
Smith has a notably fast literary metabolism: Her most recent novels, referred to as the Seasonal Quartet, incorporated contemporary political and social events — Brexit, immigration debates, climate change — practically in real time. Her latest opens when Sandy receives a mysterious call from a former classmate. The ingredients? An antique lock and key, a puzzling interaction with border control, and a bit of wordplay that could explain it all.
Pantheon, May 3
‘Love Marriage,’ by Monica Ali
Ali’s 2003 novel, “Brick Lane,” centered on a young Bangladeshi woman who enters an arranged marriage and lives in Britain, and later discovered her own desires and strengths. Now, Ali focuses again on a marriage — between Yasmin, a 26-year-old of Indian ancestry studying to be a doctor, and Joe, a middle-class white man whose mother is an outspoken feminist. As the families prepare for the wedding, their beliefs and traditions evolve, a betrayal threatens to derail the marriage and a years-old secret comes to light.
Scribner, May 3
TIME TRAVELING NOVELS
‘Sea of Tranquility,’ by Emily St. John Mandel
The lives of characters living centuries apart converge in this time-traveling novel. They include an aristocrat’s son on a trans-Atlantic journey, a grieving composer and a writer visiting Earth from her interstellar colony while on her book tour. During the visit, the writer faces endless questions from readers about the imaginary disease she wrote about — perhaps a sly reference to Mandel’s own experience talking about her earlier novel, “Station Eleven,” which took on new resonance during the pandemic.
Knopf, April 5
‘Four Treasures of the Sky,’ by Jenny Tinghui Zhang
This debut follows Daiyu, a Chinese girl in the 1880s, who reinvents herself to survive a string of tragedies. As a child, she is kidnapped and taken from China to the United States in the 1880s, sold into prostitution and escapes from California to Idaho. Later, she lives as a man, and deals with both external threats — including the rising tide of anti-Asian sentiment — and her private longings.
Flatiron, April 5
‘Trust,’ by Hernan Diaz
In Gilded Age New York, Benjamin and Helen Rask have risen to the top of society. The couple is the object of fascination: He is a successful Wall Street trader, she is the daughter of offbeat socialites, and together they amass a huge fortune. As the book progresses, readers get glimpses of their story, with each new perspective peeling back layers of intrigue and suppressed history.
Riverhead, May 3
BOOKS IN TRANSLATION
‘The Faces,’ by Tove Ditlevsen. Translated by Tiina Nunnally.
‘The Trouble With Happiness: And Other Stories,’ by Tove Ditlevsen. Translated by Michael Favala Goldman.
Ditlevsen’s collected memoirs, released last year in English as “The Copenhagen Trilogy,” were among the Book Review’s 10 best books of 2021, earning praise for “stunning clarity, humor and candidness.” Two works of fiction from the Danish writer will come this year, including “The Faces,” a novel about a children’s book author in 1960s Copenhagen grappling with creative frustrations, marital infidelity and the specter of insanity. “The Trouble With Happiness,” too, unfolds in midcentury Copenhagen, following all manner of unhappy people. But if you know Ditlevsen’s writing, you know she finds a way to make even misery luminous.
The Faces (Picador, April 19)
The Trouble With Happiness (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, April 19)
‘All the Lovers in the Night,’ by Mieko Kawakami. Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd.
Kawakami has been a feminist voice in her home country, Japan, with novels that tackle the interior lives of women. In this book, she follows Fuyuko, a solitary proofreader in her 30s whose connections with the outside world are a tenuous friendship with a colleague and her annual walks on her birthday. But when she meets a physics teacher in Tokyo, their shared fascination with light helps draw Fuyuko out, helping her confront her past — and her desire to change her life.
Europa, May 3
‘Paradais,’ by Fernanda Melchor. Translated by Sophie Hughes.
Long listed for the International Booker, this novel follows two miserable teenagers who meet at a gated community in Mexico. Franco Andrade is consumed by thoughts of his neighbor, the wife of a TV personality, and has an unhealthy appetite for pornography, while Polo, the community’s gardener, is desperate to escape his own circumstances. Together, they concoct a plan that quickly spirals into violence and risk.
New Directions, April 26
‘Lessons in Chemistry,’ by Bonnie Garmus
In Garmus’s debut novel, a frustrated chemist finds herself at the helm of a cooking show that sparks a revolution. Welcome to the 1960s, where a woman’s arsenal of tools was often limited to the kitchen — and where Elizabeth Zott is hellbent on overturning the status quo one meal at a time.
Doubleday, April 5
‘Woman, Eating: A Literary Vampire Novel,’ by Claire Kohda
We’ve seen sexy vampires, scary vampires and psychic vampires, but never one quite like the one in this ambitious debut. Lydia is a 23-year-old, mixed-race artist whose appetite can only be sated with a tall serving of blood. With wit and a poet’s eye, Kohda examines cravings, desire and emptiness.
HarperVia, April 12
‘The Fervor,’ by Alma Katsu
The author of “The Hunger” and “The Deep” — two hair-raising, twisty novels with deceptively simple titles — returns with “The Fervor.” Having mined the Donner Party and the high seas for suffering and trauma, Katsu sets “The Fervor” in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II. The conditions there are hellish enough … and then a mysterious disease begins to spread among the imprisoned.
Putnam, April 26
‘The Hacienda,’ by Isabel Cañas
Hacienda San Isidro is the house of your worst nightmares. As we learn on the first page of Cañas’s supernatural suspense story (think “Mexican Gothic” meets “Rebecca”), “white stucco walls rose like the bones of a long-dead beast jutting from dark, cracked earth.” A young bride finds herself pulled into the clutches of this creepy place after being abandoned there by her new husband.
Berkley, May 3
‘The Lioness,’ by Chris Bohjalian
If you’re getting on a long flight and have no idea what book to bring, Bohjalian’s novels are always a safe bet. If you’re going on a safari, you may want to approach his latest with caution: It’s the story of a lavish expedition in Tanzania in 1964 gone very wrong. The travelers are Hollywood A-listers; wildebeest and zebras abound; and Bohjalian steers this runaway Land Rover of a story into some wildly entertaining territory.
Doubleday, May 10
‘The Cherry Robbers,’ by Sarai Walker
In Walker’s long-awaited follow-up to “Dietland,” a renowned artist living under an assumed identity is contacted by a hungry journalist — and now finds herself face-to-face with her past. This feminist Gothic thriller whisks readers from New Mexico in 2017 to Connecticut in 1950, straight into the bull’s-eye of a firearms dynasty.
Harper, May 17
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