Masculinity, Record Collecting, and Startups: Spring 2017 Fiction Preview

Masculinity, Record Collecting, and Startups: Spring 2017 Fiction Preview

The snow is starting to melt, and maybe you need a new book to put the spring back in your step (see what we did there?). Never fear: Bookish has you covered. This season boasts an impressive bunch of brand new releases from exciting debut authors and old favorites alike. Whether you feel like enrolling at Harvard in The Idiot, traveling to Camp Chippewa in The Hearts of Men, or you just want to spend some quality time with your old friend Haruki Murakami, there’s a book on this list for every reader. What are you waiting for?

The Hearts of Men

Boys becoming men

In this buzzy new novel from Nickolas Butler, readers will meet Nelson Doughty and his friend Jonathan. The story begins when these two start out as Boy Scouts together at Camp Chippewa in Wisconsin, and Butler tells their life stories and the stories of their children and their children’s children. War, loss, love, and loneliness are threaded into the fabric of this novel, and will inspire readers to think about big questions: What does it mean to grow up, and to have a family? This book focuses on the promise and joys of masculinity, but also its dark side. By the end, readers will feel like they, too, attended Camp Chippewa.

On shelves: March 7

The Lucky Ones

Trouble at home

Julianne Pachico’s debut novel takes readers inside the lives of well-to-do high school girls during a dark time in Colombia’s history. Drugs and violence loom large here, and characters—even those who leave the country—are unable to insulate themselves from the raging conflict and the marks it leaves on their psyches. This book could almost be considered a collection of linked short stories, as each chapter feels self-contained enough to stand on its own. Taken together, though, the novel is sure to haunt readers with its vividly imagined characters and menacing undercurrents.

On shelves: March 7


BUY

Rabbit Cake

Somnambulist

Elvis Babbitt may only be 12 years old, but she is wise beyond her years. She has a father and a sister named Lizzie, but she no longer has a mother. Her mother died while sleepwalking one evening; she drowned. This is a lot for anyone to handle, let alone a 12 year old, and so Elvis has to develop coping strategies—particularly because her father and Lizzie aren’t doing very well. Lizzie has some dangerous sleepwalking habits of her own, and Elvis worries she will lose her sister just like she lost her mother. Readers will laugh and cry in turn at this touching novel about a little girl with a big heart.

On shelves: March 7


BUY

The Idiot

Meet me on the quad

In Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot, readers meet Selin, a freshman at Harvard. It is 1995, and email is just catching on. This is fateful, because Selin will use this new medium of communication to get to know Ivan, a math major and potential romantic interest. Beginning college is a fraught time of self-discovery for anyone, and Selin is no different. She will navigate love, new friendships, and the power of language while trying to find her place at Harvard and in the world. For readers who relish campus novels, this is an ideal book to pick up this spring.

On shelves: March 14


BUY

White Tears

Sweet tunes

If you aren’t already a fan of Hari Kunzru, it’s time to get on the bandwagon. Kunzru’s new novel takes on race, cultural appropriation, and the fascinating world of record collecting. Seth (who readers may remember from Kunzru’s Gods Without Men) and Carter are audiophiles who are really into collecting vinyl. They especially appreciate blues 78s. When the two pals fake a vintage recording and put it on the internet, however, it quickly becomes apparent that the joke has racial implications that aren’t to be overlooked. But what if Charlie Shaw, the made-up name Seth and Carter gave the musician in the recording, is real after all?

On shelves: March 14


BUY

No One Is Coming to Save Us

Old sport

If you’ve been hankering for a Great Gatsby retelling, then April 4 just might be your lucky day. Stephanie Powell Watts’ novel recasts the beloved Jazz Age tale in a small town in North Carolina in the present day. JJ Ferguson moves back to Pinewood to live out his dream of building a new home and winning the love of the girl he adored in high school, Ava. Sound familiar? Readers will quickly recognize that JJ and Ava are Watts’ Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, but will appreciate the ways in which this story deviates from the original.

On shelves: April 4


BUY

American War

Not again

The barbed wire on the cover of Omar El Akkad’s new novel probably tipped you off to the fact that this story is pretty dark. American War offers a very bleak vision of America’s future, in which disease and civil war have torn the country apart: literally, into the North and South. Yes, again. A second American Civil War is raging, and it is horrific. Readers will meet Sarat Chestnut, who lives in Louisiana and was born just a few years before the war began. Sarat will find herself deeply involved in the conflict, with everything—her life, her family, and her country—at stake.

On shelves: April 4


BUY

Music of the Ghosts

Take me home

In this unique novel, author Vaddey Ratner brings the Cambodian art of smot to an American audience. Smot is a kind of chanting that is traditionally practiced at funerals in memory of the dead. Music of the Ghosts takes this as its inspiration in telling the story of a young girl and her aunt who manage to flee Pol Pot’s brutal rule in Cambodia. When the aunt dies years later, the girl returns to Cambodia to get in touch with her roots and remember her aunt. This is a moving book about family, forgiveness, and the enduring power of music.

On shelves: April 11


BUY

Marlena

Best friends forever

Marlena opens with what some might consider a massive spoiler: the revelation that the titular character is going to die. This might sound like a pretty depressing start for a book, but what follows is a gripping and intimate portrait of female friendship in rural Michigan. Cat has always been a bit of a nerd, but Marlena offers her an intoxicating friendship riddled with drinks and drugs and going out with boys. Readers will ache for Cat as she tries, desperately, to move on from the tragedy of Marlena’s death and the utter devastation of losing a best friend.

On shelves: April 4


BUY

Startup

Silicon Alley

Doree Shafrir’s new novel gets to the heart of New York City startup culture in a way that will be recognizable to anyone who has worked in it, but entertaining to everyone. Katya Pasternack has a tech reporting job in NYC, and she wants the dirt. Mack McAllister is at the top of his game, as the founder of TakeOff, a hot new health app. They work in the same building, and their paths are about to cross in a big way. In a starred review, Kirkus raved, “Exacting, though not without empathy—Shafrir renders even the most infuriating of her characters with unexpected humanity—the novel is a page-turning pleasure that packs a punch.”

On shelves: April 25


BUY

There Your Heart Lies

Finding your path

Marian is nearly a century old, and living with her granddaughter, Amelia, in Rhode Island. Amelia is a little lost in life, and so, without much time left, Marian decides to tell the younger woman her life story in hopes that it might give her some direction. Decades earlier in the 1930s, Marian left her family to lend her services however she could during the Spanish Civil War. Having heard her story, Amelia knows that she must go to Spain herself. For readers who love inspiring historical fiction, this is the perfect book to pick up this season.

On shelves: May 9


BUY

Men without Women

Table for one

Haruki Murakami fans: Prepare yourselves. The beloved author is back with seven stories about lonely men (as the title of the collection not-so-subtly suggests), told in Murakami’s signature voice. Originally published in Murakami’s native Japan, these tales have been translated into English by Ted Goossen and Philip Gabriel. If you’ve been longing for Murakami’s usual antics—say, some solid Beatles references and maybe a cat that doesn’t ever appear quite where you expect it to—then these short stories are guaranteed to delight and enthrall you.

On shelves: May 9

3 COMMENTS

  1. I could spend all day on here and then I’d be reading constantly for years! Doesn’t sound like too bad of thing though. I have been into Crime fiction lately, reading The Testimony of a Villain by Aaron Harrell (testimonyofavillain.com). It’s very hard to read, but well worth it. I recommend it if anyone likes realistic stories pulled right out of the news today.

Leave a Reply to Kelly Gallucci Cancel reply