As we careen headlong into the season of spring, the weather is growing warmer, the trees are growing greener, and new books are continuing to make their way into the world. April in particular abounds with essay and short story collections that have caught our eye, from debut works to collected editions that span the arc of a career. This isn’t to say that collections make up the entirety of the list you’re about to read; you’ll also find fiction and nonfiction in abundance. As the season lends itself to it, here are a few books that might be ideal for outdoor reading.
Marlena, Julie Buntin
(April 4, Henry Holt)
Julie Buntin’s debut novel has attracted a host of attention in the months leading up to its publication. It follows its protagonist as she grapples with her memories of a long-departed friend (the title character), and encompasses questions of belonging, community, and the way the past can’t quite let us go.
A Little More Human, Fiona Maazel
(April 4, Graywolf)
Longtime Vol.1 Brooklyn favorite Fiona Maazel’s fiction eschews easy categorization, and frequently features memorably flawed characters in tense situations. So it’s probably not that surprising that her latest novel features a protagonist with a side career as a superhero, a tendency to get blackout drunk, and a tumultuous personal life.
Dreamlives of Debris, Lance Olsen; introduction by Lidia Yuknavitch
(April 4, Dzanc Books)
When we talked with Lance Olsen about his latest novel, he called it “an exploration of how the past is always infected with our present, our present with the past.” It includes a striking riff on the idea of the Minotaur, and a structure that brings ancient myths together with contemporary concerns.
Too Much and Not the Mood, Durga Chew-Bose
(April 11, FSG Originals)
Durga Chew-Bose’s debut collection takes its title from a Virginia Woolf quotation, which is never a bad thing. Too Much and Not the Mood brings together a group of essays and works that incorporate prose poetry, making for a stylistically bold debut.
Sunshine State, Sarah Gerard
(April 11, Harper)
Whether she’s charting the fractured inner life of fictional characters or chronicling harrowing episodes from her own life, Sarah Gerard’s command of prose and tone is never less than impressive. Sunshine State is her first collection of essays, covering a host of topics, including (as the title suggest) Florida.
Kingdom of the Young, Edie Meidav
(April 11, Sarabande Books)
After a series of acclaimed novels, Edie Meidav’s latest book is the collection Kingdom of the Young, which features stories spanning the globe. It doesn’t hurt that work in this collection first appeared in Conjunctions, one of our favorite journals out there.
Tender, Sofia Samatar
(April 11, Small Beer Press)
Sofia Samatar’s imaginative novels have floored us as we’ve read them, and we’ve also been greatly impressed by her short fiction whenever we’ve encountered at. So we were quite excited when news of Tender, Samatar’s first collection of stories, emerged–and we’re even more excited that it’ll be in the world this month.
The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch
(April 11, Harper)
Whether she’s reimagining the birth of psychoanalysis or rigorously examining her own life, Lidia Yuknavitch’s vibrant prose makes for compelling reading. The fact that her latest novel is a futuristic take on the story of Joan of Arc definitely got our attention: bringing together the familiar and the new is one of the things she does best.
Entropy in Bloom, Jeremy Robert Johnson
(April 18, Night Shade Books)
Jeremy Robert Johnson’s fiction blends horror with stranger elements, following characters into the depths of strange obsessions and stranger transformations. This collection brings together highlights from his career, along with a haunting new novella; it’s a terrific introduction to his work.
The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin
(April 18, Penguin Classics)
Over the course of his life, Nick Joaquin wrote an abundance of stories, essays, and novels–and was considered to be one of the greatest Filipino writers working in English. This new omnibus brings some of his best-known work to American audiences.
Imagine Wanting Only This, Kristen Radtke
(April 18, Pantheon)
We’ve been following Kristen Radtke’s work in comics for a while now and, needless to say, we’ve been looking forward to her full-length debut ever since it was announced. It brings together the deeply personal with a scope that’s international, leaving the reader with a powerful sense of place and of the artist documenting those spaces.
Borne, Jeff VanderMeer
(April 25, MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Jeff VanderMeer’s follow-up to his acclaimed Southern Reach trilogy is the story of a woman named Rachel encountering a bizarre creature named Borne in a futuristic city. Given VanderMeer’s skill at making the uncanny feel lived in, this should be another welcome excursion into the surreal.
The Complete Short Stories of Leonora Carrington, Leonora Carrington; introduction by Kathryn Davis
(April 28, Dorothy, a Publishing Project)
Outside of the cult classic novel The Hearing Trumpet, Leonora Carrington’s prose isn’t as well-known as her art. Perhaps this month–which brings with it a new edition of her collected stories, along with her nonfiction book Down Below (on NYRB Classics)–will do something to change that. These are strange, unsettling, and deeply readable stories.
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