March looks like a particularly promising month for new books. There are exciting literary debuts, the latest books from a host of writers we admire tremendously, incisive and format-defying works of prose, and a lot more. These are books that will leave you floored, will leave you impressed with what prose can do, that will take you to new places or shine a new light on places you thought you knew. Here’s a look at some of the titles that have caught our eyes.
Book of Mutter, Kate Zambreno
(March 3, Semiotext(e)/Native Agents)
Kate Zambreno’s books, from Heroines to Green Girl, have made unlikely aesthetic connections and pushed at readers’ boundaries. No two of her books are the same, and her latest (and long-in-the-works) book, Book of Mutter, covers everything from the grieving process to reflections on a diverse array of artists.
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(April 7, Knopf)
We’re always up for an insightful book on politics and society, and the latest work from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie looks to be exactly that. This now her second book dealing with feminism, following 2015’s We Should All Be Feminists; it’s structured as letters to a friend of the author’s, adding another layer to the flow of the book.
All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg
(March 7, Houghton Mifflin)
The latest novel from perennial Vol.1 Brooklyn favorite Jami Attenberg follows the life of a woman in her late thirties, grappling with questions of her own identity. Last year, we heard Attenberg read from this at Popsickle, and what she read was fantastic–and wholly unlike anything else she’s written.
Exit West, Mohsin Hamid
(March 7, Riverhead)
Mohsin Hamid’s latest novel wrenchingly blends horrific realism that seems pulled from contemporary headlines with a classically magic realist premise. It follows a young couple living in a city collapsing under civil war and authoritarianism who seek a better life via a system of doors that lead to safer harbors across the globe.
The City, Awake, duncan b. barlow
(March 8, Stalking Horse Press)
The new novel from duncan b. barlow–his second book of the year–heads firmly into the “weird noir” territory, bringing together sinister doppelgängers, conflicting religious factions, hallucinatory perceptions, and more. It’s a narrative that’s both gripping and disorienting.
The Red Barn, Nat Baldwin
(March 14, Calamari Press)
Nat Baldwin’s first book is a dizzying collection of prose that leaves the reader unsettled and occasionally terrified. Baldwin has used the phrase “ambient horror” to describe the book, and that’s a memorable and singular way to dub his fiction–and a harbinger of more fine work to come.
The Idiot, Elif Batuman
(March 14, Penguin Press)
We are, here at Vol.1 Brooklyn, huge admirers of Elif Batuman’s debut The Possessed, which zeored in on people obsessed with Russian literature and chronicled Batuman’s own involvement in this community. Her followup is a novel about the bond between a pair of students in the mid-1990s and the birth of the consciousness of a writer. One suspects that it sharing a title with a Dostoyevsky book is probably no coincidence.
Sorry to Disturb the Peace, Patty Yumi Cottrell
(March 14, McSweeney’s)
Patty Yumi Cottrell’s first novel riffs on the structure of a procedural, following its narrator as she attempts to piece together the circumstances of her brother’s death in the city where they both grew up. Cottrell’s fiction frequently disarms the reader, and this memorably-titled novel promises to venture into emotionally intense places.
White Tears, Hari Kunzru
(March 14, Knopf)
Hari Kunzru’s fiction crosses the globe, exploring the flaws, fixations, and mysteries of his characters in meticulous and empathic detail. His latest book focuses on two blues-obsessed characters who become embroiled in a surreal mystery, raising questions of appropriation along the way.
The Vine That Ate the South, J. D. Wilkes
(March 14, Two Dollar Radio)
We are never not up for literary takes on cryptozoology, and the first novel from J. D. Wilkes looks to have that in abundance, along with surreal Southern landscapes, meditations on family, and panthers. All of that seems incredibly promising, doesn’t it?
Frontier, Can Xue; translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping; introduction by Porochista Khakpour
(March 14, Open Letter Books)
Can Xue’s surreal, indescribable fiction touches on elements of the speculative and flat-out weird, but resists being easily categorized. Her latest novel to be translated into English, Frontier, is set in a strange city on the side of a mountain, and makes use of a sprawling cast to explore the nature of everyday life there.
More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers, Jonathan Lethem
(March 21, Melville House)
Jonathan Lethem’s nonfiction is often as compelling as his fiction, whether he’s delving into the world of fine art, the music of Talking Heads, or the heyday of Marvel Comics. More Alive and Less Lonely is a collection of his writing on literature and the people responsible for it, and it looks to be an excellent and insightful exploration of his own literary obsessions.
Sonora, Hannah Lillith Assadi
(March 27, Soho Press)
Sonora is the highly-anticipated first novel by Hannah Lillith Assadi. It takes a surreal look at two characters coming of age in a strange and sometimes dangerous Arizona landscape, and their attempts to seek a better life elsewhere even as they struggle with their own demons.
Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions, Valeria Luiselli
(March 28, Coffee House)
As questions related to immigration become even more prominent on the national level, Valeria Luiselli’s new book seems to be arriving at exactly the right time. (The “forty questions” of the title is a reference to questions asked to children facing deportation.) Luiselli’s latest looks to be an insightful look at one of the most heatedly-debated issues of right now.