Books of the Month: April 2023 Edition

April 2023 book recommendations

Hi. We heard you liked books! We like books, too. We have some we’d like to recommend. All of them are newly out this month. We know, right? What a coincidence! Some new fiction from old friends, some experimental books by writers we’re meeting for the first time. It’s shaping up to be a banner year for books, and our April recommendations are keeping that theme going.

"Bookworm: cover
Michael Silverblatt, Bookworm: Conversations with Michael Silverblatt
(Apr. 1, The Song Cave)

Between the title and the cover of this book, you probably have a solid idea of what you’re in store for. This book compiles a series of interviews that Michael Silverblatt conducted over the years for the KCRW show Bookworm. Toni Morrison, Susan Sontag and John Berger are among the literary personages that Silverblatt chats with here, making for an insightful look into how a host of acclaimed writers see the world.

"House of Cotton" cover

Monica Brashears, House of Cotton
(Apr. 4, Flatiron Books)

At the center of Monica Brashears’s first novel is another storyteller — a woman named Magnolia, whose life abounds with ghosts and fairy tales. “Magnolia’s imagined fairytales stem from coping strategies she turned to as a child and because she’s carried them into adulthood, her trauma still lives in that humor,” Brashears said in an interview with Pages of Julia earlier this year — and that suggests a fascinating spin on all things gothic.

"Cursed bread"

Sophie Mackintosh, Cursed Bread
(Apr. 4, Doubleday)

Upon its release in the U.K., Sophia Mackintosh’s Cursed Bread was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Now, it’s set for release on this side of the Atlantic, where it seems set to find a new group of readers. Mackintosh drew on a real-life crime as a source of inspiration for this book — a town-wide poisoning that took place in 1951. It’s an unsettling event that should add to the sense of the unnerving.

"A Safe Girl to Love"

Casey Plett, A Safe Girl to Love
(Apr. 4, Arsenal Pulp Press)

When the first edition of this collection was published in 2014, Lambda Literary wrote, “Plett addresses the ever-present themes of connection, isolation, and betrayal, and asks the reader to ponder what keeps people together despite the ways that they fail each other.” Plett’s fiction meticulously traces the unexpected connections between people — and, sometimes, the ways they fail one another. This new edition of A Safe Girl to Love is a reminder of her skills as a writer.

"All of Us Together in the End" cover

Matthew Vollmer, All of Us Together In the End
(Apr. 4, Hub City Press)

When we interviewed Matthew Vollmer seven years ago, he told us, “I’m also toying with the idea of writing a work of creative nonfiction that explores the glorious strangeness that is my family.” This appears to be that very book of which he spoke, a memoir that’s equally at home detailing the loss of a parent as it is chronicling unexplained phenomena in rural North Carolina. It’s an intriguing and compelling combination.

"The Butter House" cover

Sarah Gerard, The Butter House
(Apr. 18, Conium Press)

We’re tremendous admirers of Sarah Gerard’s work to date, and we’re thrilled to see that this month brings with it the release of a new book from them — in this case, the chapbook The Butter House. New York and Florida — two locales that have featured prominently in Gerard’s work to date — show up here, as does a feral cat colony. Also, at AWP there was an event for this chapbook located at a cat cafe, which is just amazing.

"Return" cover

Emily Lee Luan, 回 / Return
(Apr. 23, Nightboat)

Some of the most interesting poetry emerging today takes place when contemporary poets find new spins on older poetic forms. That’s certainly the case for Emily Lee Luan’s 回 / Return, which takes the concept of a reversible poem and uses it to inspect memories and concepts of home. And hey, the Poetry Foundation called it “dazzlingly multidirectional”! That’s very promising.

"By the Rivers of Babylon" cover

Antonio Lobo Antunes, By The Rivers of Babylon; translated by Margaret Jull Costa
(Apr. 25, Yale University Press)

Over the course of his long career, Antonio Lobo Antunes has written fiction about a host of subjects — from Portuguese colonialism in Angola to his own childhood. With this novel, he ponders memory and mortality via the perspective of a character recovering from major surgery and losing himself to the reverie of the past. It’s a haunting and lyrical work by one of Portugal’s most acclaimed writers.

"Make It Stop" cover

Jim Ruland, Make It Stop
(Apr. 25, Rare Bird)

A new book by Jim Ruland, you say? Whether he’s recounting punk history or telling a harrowing tale of a haunted casino, Ruland’s work immerses you in a specific place and time. Make It Stop heads into speculative territory, with a near-future setting in which the costs of going to rehab or a detox center have taken on a surreal increase — and a secret society rises up to push back against it.

"The Merry Dredgers" cover

Jeremy C. Shipp, The Merry Dredgers
(Apr. 25, Meerkat Press)

Jeremy C. Shipp’s fiction — including the books Bedfellow and The Atrocities — tapped into a surreal Gothic sensibility that threatens to give way into something even more menacing. Their new book is set in and around an amusement park that’s become the home of a cult — and that’s only the beginning of an especially bizarre quest into the unknown.


Note: all artwork and release dates are subject to change.

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