Male Bonding, Jane Austen, and the Vietnam War: Spring 2016 Fiction Preview

Male Bonding, Jane Austen, and the Vietnam War: Spring 2016 Fiction Preview

Spring may not have sprung just yet, but we here at Bookish are hopeful. In the meantime, while we’re all waiting for the nice weather to start, why not pick up a great spring novel? Whether you’re in the mood for some thought-provoking short stories from Boy Snow Bird’s Helen Oyeyemi, or you are as excited as we are about the buzzy release of The Nest, we’ve got just the thing to keep you reading until the daffodils finally bloom.

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

Lock and key

If you’ve been clamoring for more Helen Oyeyemi ever since the 2014 release of Boy Snow Bird, you should know two things: One, you’re definitely not alone. Two, March 8 is your lucky day. The stories in this collection are loosely connected, and thematically united by the appearance of keys in each one. Readers will encounter characters ranging from tyrants to psychologists, with lots in between. Some tales take on the characteristics of fables and fairy tales, while others remain more grounded in realism. This is certainly one of the most highly anticipated short story collections of 2016, and we couldn’t be more excited to dive on in.

On shelves: March 8

The Throwback Special

Touchdown

Whether you are a man, or you just happen to know some, this new novel from Chris Bachelder is sure to be a lot of fun. Something magical happened back in 1985—a particularly dramatic football play where Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann broke his leg on live TV. Twenty-two very different men in this novel meet each year to reenact the play at a hotel and connect over the memory. Maybe you hate football, or you’re just ambivalent, but skipping this book for those reasons would be a mistake. Bachelder tells a funny, moving story about what it means to get older and how our rituals—however bizarre—and relationships keep us going.

On shelves: March 14

The Nest

Penny pinching

There’s that famous first sentence from Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This certainly seems to be the case in The Nest, the hugely buzzy debut from Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. A family’s inheritance disappears, and the siblings must grapple with their disappointment and resentment. There are few subjects as fraught as money, and the members of the Plumb family all had plans for the fortune that they believed would be theirs. Now, it’s time to make other plans. New York City looms large in this book, and Sweeney renders the famous metropolis with love and accuracy.

On shelves: March 22

The Little Red Chairs

War crimes

We don’t need to tell you how great Edna O’Brien is: Her reputation precedes her. In this new novel, O’Brien weaves a vivid tale set in Cloonoila, a small town in western Ireland. A new man moves to town, and his past comes with him—he is a war criminal with ties to the the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The newcomer, Vlad, offers his services as a healer to a woman in town, Fidelma, who happily accepts his help. But then, Vlad’s past catches up with him. Both evil and warmth coexist on the pages of this striking novel.

On shelves: March 29

Alice & Oliver

In sickness and in health

Alice got the diagnosis that no one wants. She has cancer, and she and her husband Oliver are learning to cope. They may have promised to stick together through sickness and in health, but cancer isn’t easy on anyone. Her life, and her husband Oliver’s life, are going to be different from now on. Author Charles Bock had a similar set of experiences with his own wife, and writes this wrenchingly honest tale straight from the heart. As this couple navigates the ups and downs of a leukemia diagnosis and the ensuing treatment, readers will see how a marriage can survive a difficult time—both for Alice’s health and for the relationship. This tale will make you laugh, shake your head, and blink back some tears.

On shelves: April 5

Eligible

Pride and prejudice and paleo

Who doesn’t love Jane Austen? We sure do. This is the fourth book in the Austen Project, which pairs beloved contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s masterpieces. Curtis Sittenfeld takes her love of Austen to a new level in Eligible, where she incorporates Crossfit and reality television into the familiar plot of Pride and Prejudice. Eligible has the thematic resonance to please longtime fans of both Sittenfeld and Austen, and will also delight newcomers to both authors. You may know Sittenfeld best as the author of Prep, but we think she’ll win you over with this tale of the Bennets, a certain Mr. Darcy, and a little thing called love.

On shelves: April 19

Hystopia

History reimagined

What would have happened to U.S. history if John F. Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated? David Means explores this question and more in his new novel. In Hystopia, JFK is alive, but the Vietnam War is still taking an incredible toll on the psyches of Americans at home and overseas. Returning veterans are supposed to have their memories wiped by an agency called the Psych Corps to enhance their assimilation back into civilian life. But this doesn’t mean that coming home is easy. Readers will meet Eugene Allen, a young veteran writing about his experiences in Vietnam, and watch him process his own feelings about war on the page. Means is known for his short stories, but his first novel makes it clear that he knows how to write incredibly compelling longer form stories, too.

On shelves: April 19

My Struggle: Book Five

A college man

Karl Ove Knausgaard is at it again in the latest installment in his massive, autobiographical six-volume series My Struggle. If you aren’t already on the Knausgaard bandwagon, here’s the scoop: These are seriously addictive novels that take on everyday life in a way that is oddly enthralling. In this book, Karl Ove is off to college and is just discovering his identity as a writer through a writing workshop he’s enrolled in. Romantic foibles and existential despair ensue, as is the case in any good Knausgaard tale. Plus, we heard a rumor that in one scene, he throws up in an apartment belonging to none other than Björk.

On shelves: April 19

The Adventurist

OK computer

Henry Hurt is a software engineer, and while he has a good job, he’s a little awkward. His mother has died recently, and his life has been tinged with sadness since then. Instead of dwelling, however, he channels his feelings into making sure his business succeeds. His inner life is rendered richly on the page, and readers will find themselves rooting for Henry at every turn. Kirkus raves over J. Bradford Hipps’ prose: “The writing is just about perfect: incisive, eloquent, philosophical, and witty by turns…” We think that’s pretty hard to argue with, and suggest you pick up this exciting debut, stat.

On shelves: April 26

Born on a Tuesday

Tuesday, Tuesday

This novel follows the story of Dantala Ahmad, whose name literally means “born on a Tuesday.” Dantala is growing up in Nigeria in the early-mid 2000s, at a time when his country is being wracked by violence. He left home to study the Islamic faith, but he quickly becomes embroiled in political chaos and brutality. How does a boy decide what kind of man he will become when surrounded by so much death and destruction? Elnathan John tells this wrenching tale which is based on a true story with assurance and grace. This is one heck of a debut novel, and we are confident you will be moved.

On shelves: May 3

Zero K

Ice, ice, baby

Brace yourselves, Don DeLillo fans: He’s back. And this time, he’s taking on a cryogenic freezing facility and the clients who travel to eastern Europe to have themselves preserved. The facility is known as Convergence, and it promises to freeze clients until medical advances allow doctors to thaw them back out and solve their health problems. A father and son’s relationship is thrown into stark relief when the two find themselves at Convergence to discuss the failing health of their wife and stepmother, respectively. This is a dark tale (it is DeLillo, after all) that is sure to please existing fans and newcomers alike.

On shelves: May 3

Sweetbitter

Order up!

This is the first novel from Stephanie Danler, who, the story goes, pitched her manuscript to an editor whose table she was waiting. In it, a young waitress named Tess works at a very hierarchical and persnickety restaurant in Manhattan that some say sounds an awful lot like the Union Square Cafe. Cocaine and alcohol abound, and intrigue lurks around every corner. Danler’s descriptions are good enough to eat, and we think you’ll want to devour this delicious book one page at a time.

On shelves: May 3

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