Spring 2019 Fiction: New Novels from Helen Oyeyemi, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and More

Spring 2019 Fiction: New Novels from Helen Oyeyemi, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and More

spring 2019’s must-read fiction

There’s nothing like diving into a novel while you wait for spring. Whether you’re excited about Helen Oyeyemi’s “Hansel and Gretel” retelling or plan to dive into Taylor Jenkins Reid’s super buzzy new novel, there’s a book here to keep you enthralled until the snow has melted and the trees are budding. Read on for spring 2019’s must-read fiction!

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

You already know Helen Oyeyemi as the author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Now she’s back with Gingerbread, which introduces readers to Harriet Lee and her teenage daughter Perdita. The Lees live in London, where Perdita attends school and Harriet bakes spicy gingerbread. Harriet has never been especially forthcoming with Perdita about her past, and this secrecy begins to wear on Perdita. When these tensions finally boil over, Harriet tells Perdita everything and Perdita goes on a journey in search of Harriet’s old friend, Gretel Kercheval. This novel is inspired by the story of “Hansel and Gretel” and is the perfect pick for readers interested in fairytale retellings.

On shelves: March 5

Instructions for a Funeral by David Means

Looking for a new short story collection to pick up this spring? Check out David Means’ new book Instructions for a Funeral, which has generated a lot of buzz prior to its release. In one story, a father considers the complexity of parenting while watching his son enjoy a crisp fall day. In another, an elderly man leaves (as the title of this collection suggests) a set of requests concerning his own funeral. In a starred review, Kirkus raved: “In this magnificent book, we find the stories of every one of us: absent and present, dislocated and connected, at the mercy of our history, our narratives.” You won’t want to miss this one.

On shelves: March 5

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This new novel from Taylor Jenkins Reid is certainly one of the season’s most highly anticipated releases. The story follows a rock band called Daisy Jones and the Six in 1970s Los Angeles. The band is formed when a talented young singer named Daisy Jones gets paired up with a rock band called The Six by a producer who thinks they would make great music together. The producer is right: The new band becomes a sensation almost immediately. But despite their new rock-star status, tensions simmer beneath the surface. Readers will be utterly gripped as they read about the events leading up to the band’s last-ever concert.

On shelves: March 5

The Dragonfly Sea by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Munira and young Ayaana are mother and daughter, and they live on the island of Pate near the coast of Kenya. Ayaana has lived her entire life without knowing her father, which has left a palpable hole in her life. Then, Muhidin arrives on Pate, and things begin to change. Ayaana immediately decides that the sailor will be her father figure, although Munira isn’t thrilled with this idea. Pate undergoes many changes in the ensuing years, and eventually Ayaana will discover a kernel of truth about her heritage from a visitor to the island.

On shelves: March 12

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

In The Old Drift, readers will watch as a single incident in a hotel lobby in what was then North-Western Rhodesia in 1904 ties the lives of three people together. The events of that day will ripple into the future for multiple generations. Over the course of the story, readers will learn more about the history of Zambia, its journey to gaining independence in 1964, and even travel into the future. The scope of this novel is truly vast, and its characters are vividly rendered and memorable. Multiple reviews and blurbs (including a glowing recommendation from Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties) have compared this book to the works of Gabriel García Márquez.

On shelves: March 26

Stay Up With Hugo Best by Erin Somers

Meet June Bloom. She’s nearly 30 and she works as a writers’ assistant on a late-night show called Stay Up with Hugo Best until suddenly, her professional life comes crashing down around her. Seemingly out of nowhere, the show’s host Hugo Best decides that he’s done with late-night TV, and that he’ll be retiring. After Hugo’s announcement, June and Hugo bump into one another at a comedy bar, and Hugo invites June to his house in Greenwich, Connecticut for the weekend. June agrees (not without some trepidation) and embarks on the mini getaway. Both the weekend and Hugo turn out to be quite different from what June had imagined.

On shelves: April 2

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

In Miriam Toews’ buzzy new novel, demons are attacking the women of the Molotschna Colony of Mennonites. At least, that is what the women initially believed. Little by little, however, they discover a deeply disturbing truth: The wounds that they are discovering on themselves upon waking are being inflicted by men they know. They are being drugged and sexually assaulted by men from their own community. This book tells the story of the women’s meetings in the wake of this earth-shattering discovery. Women Talking is based on the true story of a series of similar attacks in a Mennonite group in Bolivia, and will appeal to readers who devoured The Handmaid’s Tale.

On shelves: April 2

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

High schoolers David and Sarah have had a crush on each other for months, and their romance finally blossoms the summer after their freshman year. They attend the same performing arts academy, and it seems like their new relationship is meant to be. That is, until it isn’t. The lovebirds break up at the start of their sophomore year, and Sarah eventually finds herself dating someone new. The story then jumps into the future and unravels much of what the reader has been led to believe about the events of the first part of the book. In Trust Exercise, the truth is complicated, and this makes for a riveting reading experience.

On shelves: April 9

Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg

Readers who love books about the art world and about motherhood won’t want to miss this new novel from Myla Goldberg. Feast Your Eyes is the story of a photographer named Lillian Preston, told through documents, letters, and catalogue entries. Lillian lives in New York City with her young daughter, Samantha. Lillian’s world is turned upside down when an exhibit opens featuring partially clad photos that she took of Samantha when she was six. Both mother and daughter find themselves at the center of a scandal, and the unwanted negative attention creates enormous strain. This story speaks to the challenges of pursuing a career in the arts and of being a mother.

On shelves: April 16

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney’s Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018, so you know it’s going to be good. Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron had a casual and under-wraps relationship in high school, and connect again while both are pursuing degrees at Dublin’s Trinity College. Readers will delight in watching this on-again-off-again relationship grow and fizzle repeatedly over the years for a variety of reasons. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly gushed: “Rooney crafts a devastating story from a series of everyday sorrows by delicately traversing female and male anxieties over sex, class, and popularity. This is a magnificent novel.”

On shelves: April 16

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Joanne Ramos’ novel takes readers to an extravagant estate called Golden Oaks up the Hudson River from New York City where surrogate mothers are pampered and paid to be pregnant. All of this comes at a price, however: The cost is total isolation from the outside world and a lack of privacy. This is extremely difficult for the Hosts—particularly those with their own families with whom they’re not allowed to communicate—and life at Golden Oaks is somewhat less idyllic than it initially seems. Not everyone is happy with this arrangement, and readers will be utterly riveted by the events on “The Farm” (a less glamorous name one Host uses for Golden Oaks) as they unfold.

On shelves: May 7

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

The Guest Book doesn’t come out for months, but readers and reviewers are already talking about it with excitement. Readers will meet multiple generations of the Miltons, a staggeringly wealthy American family with their own private island. The story opens in 1935 and follows the Miltons into the near-present when the family’s fortunes have changed and they can no longer afford the island they’ve held onto for so long. Along the way, author Sarah Blake reckons with issues of privilege and multiple forms of prejudice. For readers who love historical fiction, this may be one of the most-talked about books of the spring. Can’t wait to get started? Bustle has an excerpt.

On shelves: May 7

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