While attending the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute in Albuquerque last week, I sat down with a dozen publishers, each sharing their lengthy lists of great books coming out from now through this summer. Other noteworthy authors and their publishers filled a ballroom one evening. Here are twenty-one diverse and powerful books that got my attention!
BOWLAWAY by Elizabeth McCracken (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2/5/19)
A sweeping and enchanting new novel from the widely beloved, award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley.A February INDIE NEXT pick.
THE LAST ROMANTICS by Tara Conklin (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2/5/19)
The New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl explores the lives of four siblings in this ambitious and absorbing novel in the vein of Commonwealth and The Interestings. A February INDIE NEXT pick.
QUEENIE by Candice Carty-Williams (Scout Press/Simon & Schuster, 3/19/19)
Bridget Jones's Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly politicalm, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyoe who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place. Named on of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Woman's Day, Newsday, Publishers Weekly, Bustle, and Book Riot.
SAVE ME THE PLUMS by Ruth Reichl (Random House, 4/2/19)
Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the job (and the risk) of a lifetime when she entered the glamorous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet, during which she spearheaded a revolution in the way we think about food. This is trademark Ruth, complete with celebrity chefs and notable writers.
LIGHTS ALL NIGHT LONG by Lydia Fitzpatrick (Penguin Press, 4/2/19)
This remarkable debut novel is a coming-of-age narrative interwoven with a gripping mystery. Fifteen-year-old Ilya is torn between two worlds: the Louisiana deep South where he lives with his fundamentalist student exchange hosts and the drug-infested underworld that he left behind in his tiny Russian hometown. A rich tale of belonging and the pull of homes both native and adopted.
THE PARISIAN by Isabella Hammad (Grove Press, 4/9/19)
A richly-imagined debut novel by Plimpton Prize winner Isabella Hammad, this epic family saga illuminates a crucial period of Palestinian history through the journey and romances of one young man, from his studies in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the onset of its battle for independence.
TRUST EXERCISE by Susan Choi (Henry Holt/Macmillan, 4/9/19)
Publishers Weeklygave Pulitzer finalist Susan Choi's multi-part, narrative-upending novel a starred review and said: "the long reverberations of adolescent experience, the complexities of consent and coercion, and the inherent unreliability of narratives . . . are timeless and resonant."
NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney (Hogarth/Random House, 4/16/19)
From celebrated Irish author Sally Rooney, this novel has been called "the literary phenomenon of the decade" (The Guardian). Published in the UK last year and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this is a universal story of love, friendship, and growing up. It has been compared to A Little Lifeby Hanya Yanagihara.
COURTING MR. LINCOLN by Louis Bayard (Algonquin Books, 4/23/19)
From the prizewinning author of Mr. Timothy and The Pale Blue Eye comes Courting Mr. Lincoln, the page-turning and exquisitely told story of a young Abraham Lincoln and the two people who loved him best: a sparky, marriageable Mary Todd and Lincoln’s best friend, Joshua Speed. For anyone who loved Jane Austen or Hamilton. (GRAMERCY BOOKS hosts Louis Bayard on May 15. Stay tuned for more information!)
CAPE MAY by Chip Cheek (Celodon Books/Macmillan, 4/30/19)
A mesmerizing debut, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites. Called erotic and haunting, this novel will be a great discussion book.
THE SEVEN OR EIGHT DEATHS OF STELLA FORTUNA by Juliet Grames (Ecco/HarperCollins, 5/7/19)
Stella Fortuna is a survivor who lives a long and interesting life despite all of her brushes with death. Told through the lens of Stella’s granddaughter, the novel is a quintessential American immigrant story that delves into the transgressions and secrets of an Italian American family and the ways in which they persist through the generations. This is the lead summer read for Harper Collins.
NO VISIBLE BRUISES: WHAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CAN KILL US by Rachel Louis Snyder (Bloomsbury, 5/7/19)
An award-winning journalist's intimate investigation of the true scope of domestic violence, revealing how the roots of America's most pressing social crises are buried in abuse that happens behind closed doors. (GRAMERCY BOOKS hosts Rachel Louis Snyder on June 5. Stay tuned for more information!)
RABBITS FOR FOOD by Binnie Kirshenbaum (Soho Press, 6/7/19)
Known for her razor-edged literary humor, Binnie Kirshenbaum returns with her first novel in a decade, a devastating, laugh-out-loud funny story of a writer’s slide into depression and institutionalization. Richard Ford calls it “compulsive reading.” This is a LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2019
IN WEST MILLS by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (Bloomsbury, 6/4/19)
For readers of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and The Turner House, this is an intimately told story about a woman living by her own rules and the rural community that struggles to understand her. Set in an African American community in rural North Carolina from 1941 to 1987, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love.
ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane (Scribner/Simon&Schuster, 6/4/19)
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, and the power of forgiveness.This is Simon & Schuster’s lead fiction for summer.
NORMANDY ’44 by James Holland (Atlantic Monthly Press/Grove Atlantic, 6/4/19)
A stirring narrative by a pre-eminent historian, Normandy '44 sheds new light on one of history's most dramatic military engagements—and is considered the definitive book on D-Day and the retaking of Europe. A must read for anyone with interest in the military.
THE ELECTRIC HOTEL by Dominic Smith (Sarah Crichton Books/Macmillan, 6/4/19)
Dominic Smith’s The Electric Hotel winds through the nascent days of cinema in Paris and Fort Lee, New Jersey—America’s first movie town—and on the battlefields of Belgium during World War I. A sweeping work of historical fiction, it shimmers between past and present as it tells the story of the rise and fall of a prodigious film studio and one man’s doomed obsession with all that passes in front of the viewfinder.
THE LIGHTEST OBJECT IN THE UNIVERSE by Kimi Eisele (Algonquin Books, 7/9/19)
Evoking the spirit of such monumental love stories as Cold Mountain and the creative vision of novels like Station Eleven, The Lightest Object in the Universe tells the story of what happens after the global economy collapses and the electrical grid goes down.The novel is a story about resilience and adaptation, a testament to the power of community, where our best traits, born of necessity, begin to emerge.
THREE WOMEN by Lisa Taddeo (Avid/Simon & Schuster, 7/9/19)
For nearly a decade, Lisa Taddeo, an award-winning journalist and longtime contributor to New York magazine and Esquire, embedded herself with three everyday women to write this deeply immersive account of their erotic lives and longings. The result—shocking, powerful, and timely—reads like George Packer’s The Unwinding, but for the state of female desire.
TURBULENCE by David Szalay (Scribner/Simon & Schuster, 7/16/19)
From the acclaimed, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of All That Man Is, a stunning, virtuosic novel about twelve people, mostly strangers, and the surprising ripple effect each one has on the life of the next as they cross paths while in transit around the world. Written with magic and economy and beautifully exploring the delicate, crisscrossed nature of relationships today, Turbulence is a dazzling portrait of the interconnectedness of the modern world.
THE NICKEL BOYS by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday/Penguin Random House, 7/16/19)
In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
Written by Linda Kass
About the author: I began my career as a magazine writer and correspondent for regional and national publications and am now an assistant editor for Narrative, an online literary magazine. My debut novel, Tasa’s Song, was inspired by my mother’s early life in eastern Poland during the Second World War. It won a Bronze Medal for Historical Fiction from the Independent Publisher Award Program and was a 2016 Foreword INDIES Award Finalist. I am also the proud owner of Gramercy Books, central Ohio’s newest indie bookstore!
Learn more about me on my personal website.