Spring doesn’t just mean new leaves on trees and flowers poking through the topsoil; It also means a hefty crop of impressive new fiction from some old favorites and newcomers. Toni Morrison is back with a new book that’s generating an unbelievable amount of buzz, and Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Volume 4 is finally being translated into English. But there’s much to look forward to from up-and-comers, too: Jill Ciment will capture your imagination with glowing fungus growing ominously in Brooklyn, and Keija Parssinen will trouble you with her dark tale about a Texas witch hunt. So pick a novel and go stake out the best park bench you can find—you won’t want to miss this season’s fiction.
A mold grows in Brooklyn
No one is ever happy to find mold growing in his or her apartment, whether it’s creeping up the shower curtain liner or languishing in an under-used drawer in the refrigerator. This is certainly the case when 60-something twins Edith and Kat find a strange-looking, iridescent mushroom growing in the closet of their mother’s home. Their landlord wants nothing to do with it, and as a result, the fungus spreads far beyond the closet, wreaking more havoc in Brooklyn than the sisters ever could have imagined. We think you’ll love this infectious read from Jill Ciment.
On shelves: March 3
You’re addicted to love
What do you do when you realize your husband is a sex addict? Hannah, Lizzy, Gail, Flavia, and Bridget are all faced with this question in Sylvia True’s debut novel, which is structured around the meetings of a support group for women with the same secret. The women slowly open up to the group, and share their gripping tales: Each, in some way, has found out that the man to whom she is married is addicted to sex, whether in the form of porn, chat rooms, or illicit extramarital encounters.This book treats addiction with the seriousness that it deserves, and will surely spark substantive conversations about sex addiction and the people that it affects.
On shelves: March 3
A lawyer, an architect, an actor, and a painter walk into a bar… Just kidding. Men from these four professions do, however, find themselves at the center of Hanya Yanagihara’s beautiful, tightly-wound novel about the lives of four friends. The novel spans decades and a wide range of life experiences: creation of art, finding love, and fighting to break free from a difficult childhood. This is the kind of book that the reader falls into, only to emerge hours and hundreds of pages later, totally moved. Kirkus raved, “The phrase ‘tour de force’ could have been invented for this audacious novel,” and we think you’ll agree.
On shelves: March 10
Deep in the heart of Texas
Port Sabine has seen better days, that’s for sure. This small oil refinery town is the perfect setting for Keija Parssinen’s winning Southern gothic novel about high school basketball star Mercy Louis. Wracked by a tragedy at the local refinery, the locals rally around this unlikely hero in a town full of dark secrets and deeply-held beliefs. But Mercy won’t stay atop her throne for long, and she has a very, very long way to fall in this community steeped in misogyny and superstition. This book may keep you up at night, but it’s worth it.
On shelves: March 10
The sincerest form of flattery
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you buy that, then Giovanni Bernini is flattering an awful lot of people. Giovanni, the hero of Jacob Rubin’s debut novel, has a knack for mimicry: Anyone he meets, he can imitate nearly flawlessly. As he is catapulted to stardom for his unusual talent, it slowly dawns on him that he may not have a strong personality of his own. An existential crisis ensues, and what begins as a book about Giovanni copying other people’s speech and actions, becomes a deeper story about trying to develop those very things for himself.
On shelves: March 17
Lady, Vee, and Delph are done.These three sisters have seen enough, and they’ve decided they’re going to end their lives, but not before the three of them write a joint suicide note. This note, it turns out, doubles as a sort of family history, and spans multiple generations and continents. Judith Claire Mitchell handles sensitive material with a sure and even hand, and ultimately writes a novel that is darkly funny and extraordinarily moving at the same time.
On shelves: March 24
California, here we come
What was the Silicon Valley like before it was the Silicon Valley? Just ask the Blair family, who first settled in the then-unremarkable area in 1954.They could not have known then how much the land would come to shape their family for generations to come, but as the years pass, the influence becomes unmistakable. Ann Packer elegantly portrays a family with fault lines that deepen as the relationships between siblings, children, and parents become more strained. Packer is known for her outstanding portrayal of complicated characters, and in her latest book, she doesn’t disappoint.
On shelves: April 7
There are places I remember
If you haven’t heard of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s wildly popular novelized-memoir series, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. The project is notable for its scale (Knausgaard isn’t that old, and yet he has enough memories for six volumes of material) and its execution: Knausgaard’s memories feel vivid enough to be the reader’s own. In this volume, we see the author set out as a young adult who often has sex and alcohol on the brain. As has been the case for the entire series thus far, it is the treatment of the material, more than the material itself, that sets this audacious project apart. English-language readers who’ve been dying for the translation of the fourth book, rejoice: It’s nearly here.
On shelves: April 28
Here comes Bride
She’s back! Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison has returned with another stunner. As always, Morrison tackles big questions related to race with her narratives. The protagonist, a girl who changes her name to Bride and will only wear white, grapples with the legacy of her traumatic childhood. She must learn how let her past inform her present without being consumed by it, and out of this seeming contradiction, a rich and haunting story is born. It’s hard to imagine a more hotly-anticipated book. As one Goodreads reviewer put it, “She still has it. She will always have it.”
On shelves: April 30
The cream of the crop
Edna O’Brien has had a long and successful career of short story-writing, there’s no doubt about that. This collection of 31 stories culls the highlights and assembles them in a winning package that is sure to garner some serious literary attention. O’Brien’s stories are filled with longing, and one might argue that her strongest work is written in the first person, which invites the reader to speculate about the degree to which the material is autobiographical. For a vivid portrait of Ireland, look no further than these outstanding stories.
On shelves: May 5
Time after time
You may remember Kate Atkinson for her very buzzy 2013 book, Life After Life, which found its way onto an impressive number of best-of lists that year. She’s back, and tackling some tough material (ie., the nature of time, no big deal) with the help of one familiar and beloved character: Ursula Todd. A God in Ruins, which is being billed as a companion book to Life After Life, focuses on Ursula’s younger brother, Teddy. Teddy is grappling with having survived World War II, and must find a way to make sense of his life after the war has ended. This is a must-read, particularly if questions of time and mortality make your heart beat a little faster.
On shelves: May 5
Flipping the script
This probably isn’t the book you were expecting Aleksander Hemon to write, but the surprise definitely isn’t an unpleasant one. Hemon, known primarily for The Lazarus Project, tackles more comic material in this new novel about a screenwriter living in Chicago, trying to make his best idea (a movie called Zombie Wars) into an actual movie instead of just a hopeful figment of his imagination. If you love laughing, the undead, and some seriously solid prose, look no further.
On shelves: May 12