Culled from PW's Spring Announcements issue (on newsstands January 28), we asked our reviews editors to pick the most notable books publishing in Spring 2013. Links to reviews are included when available.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (Riverhead, June 4) - This debut novel from a young Floridian writer sold for a bundle and has tremendous pre-pub support from the likes of Lauren Groff (“sexy, smart, and vividly drawn”) and Prep author Curtis Sittenfeld (“sexy, suspenseful, gorgeously written”).
You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt (Penguin Press, May 30) - From a Pushcart Prize–winning writer who New York magazine has called a literary “star of tomorrow,” this debut novel is set in America in the ’80s and present-day Moscow. Holt has tremendous pre-pub support, from Darin Strauss, A.M. Homes, Kevin Wilson, Hannah Tinti, and Lauren Groff, who calls Holt “graceful, sharp, and super-smart.”
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth, May 7) - Talk about credentials: among other achievements, Marra is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, has an M.F.A. from Iowa, and won the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Atlantic’s Student Writing Contest. Ann Patchett came on board early, calling the book “simply spectacular. Not since Everything Is Illuminated have I read a first novel so ambitious and fully realized.”
The Son by Philipp Meyer (Ecco, May 8) - The author of American Rust returns with an epic, multigenerational novel of power, blood, and land that follows the rise of one Texas family from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century. American Rust won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a book of the year pick in a number of publications. Meyer is one of the New Yorker’s “20 under 40” writers.
The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom (Grove, June 4) - A vivid portrait of ambition and political machinations in a young America where anything is possible. Grove is very much behind the book, calling it “one of the most powerful and impressive debuts” it’s ever published.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Harper, Apr. 23) - Harper is really getting behind this debut in the vein of The Night Circus and The Discovery of Witches. The novel combines historical fiction with a magical fable about two supernatural creatures in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City.
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs (Knopf, February 12) - Five years after a failed heist, the protagonist, identified only by the alias “Jack Delton,” is leading an anonymous existence, but not enough of one to prevent his former boss from summoning him at a moment’s notice. The latest heist, of an armored car delivering $1.2 million to an Atlantic City casino, has gone badly, bloodily wrong, with one henchman dead and the other in hiding with the loot. Jack must find the survivor in the next 48 hours before an ink bomb hidden in the cash goes offHobbs’s supremely confident storytelling should leave readers eagerly anticipating his antihero’s future felonies.
Joyland by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime, June) - Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, King's novel tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder.
Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman (Minotaur, March 12) - Resist any temptation to bail after the creepy prologue—a sexual predator’s-eye-view of the woman he’s about to attack—because then you’ll miss one of the most memorable FBI agents since Clarice Starling as well as a killer debut thriller.
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy (Grand Central, May 7) - Exploring one of the oldest themes in weird fiction—the werewolf—Percy (The Wilding) delivers a stunning alternate history epic that transcends its genre trappings to read as a provocative reflection on the contemporary zeitgeist. At a point where many other writers would flinch, Percy follows through on the direst possibilities of his premise, building to a shocking denouement and even more shock climax in the final pages.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (Tor, February 5) - This book has been getting a ton of anticipatory attention, and rightly so. This memoir of a Victorian lady's adventures as a naturalist studying mythical beasts hits all the sweet spots: plausible alternate history, proto-feminism that's true to the setting, and that elusive sense of wonder that keeps SF/F fans coming back for more. Plus it's gorgeously illustrated.
Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist (Harper Voyager, May 14) and Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (May 7, Ace) - These books wrap up two major fantasy series. Obviously they'll be of interest to series fans, and the conclusion of a series also means that readers who have been waiting until they can inhale the whole thing from start to finish will be able to dive in at last.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow, June 18) - Poised to make a major splash; Gaiman hasn't come out with a new book for adults since 2005's Anansi Boys, and in the meantime his star has continued to rise with the success of the Newbery Medal- and Hugo-winning The Graveyard Book and other books for younger readers. Advance buzz is starting to build and will undoubtedly be enormous by the time the book comes out in June.
Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (William Morrow, July 9) - The season's hotly anticipated romance debut. Stephanie Evanovich is Janet Evanovich's niece, which is enough to get people interested, and the book itself looks to be a fun chick-lit-ish exploration of love and body image issues.
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins (HQN, March) - A new Kristan Higgins book is always good news for fans of contemporary romance, and The Best Man is her best yet. Higgins is known for romantic comedies, but she gives this one real depth as well as hilarity and sweetness.
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch (Candlewick, February 12) - Gardner’s story of a boy taking a stand against a totalitarian government was one of the much-discussed titles at last year’s Bologna Book Fair. While dystopian YA novels are a dime a dozen these days, Gardner’s (alternate) historical setting and dyslexic narrator set this book apart.
Requiem by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, March 5) - Oliver concludes her bestselling trilogy that began with 2011’s Delirium, in which a teenager named Lena rebels against a world where love has been “cured.” Though the series is ending, fans can take heart: a TV pilot based on the books is in the works.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Little, Brown, April 2) - Both Snicket and Klassen are known for bringing a wicked and subversive sense of humor to their work. Add in the fact that their first collaboration takes on a quintessential childhood fear, and this one should be at the top of picture-book lovers’ “to buy” lists this spring.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Putnam, May 7) - Yancey’s smart and grisly Monstrumologist series earned him a cult following (and a Printz Honor). This spring, he strikes out in a new direction, launching a SF trilogy (which the publisher paid a rumored seven figures for) about a teenage girl on the run from extraterrestrial killers.
The Property by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly, June 25) - Modan made a splash with Exit Wounds a few years ago and this follow up may be even better. As an old woman returns to Warsaw to look up an old flame, her daughter learns about her heritage and an friendly cartoonist may be a love interest..or a threat. Modan keeps a sense of mystery but she uses a Tintin-influenced art style to present devastating emotions in all their clarity. You won't be able to put it down.
New School by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics, June 1) - Shaw uses a mind-bending collage of images and printing techniques to tell the story of a teenaged boy who becomes disillusioned with a strange island civilization. The art disorients the reader and brings you right inside the troubled protagonists’ mind.
The Astor Orphan by Alexandria Aldrich (Ecco, April 16) - There's not much that's more fascinating than an inside look at an American Royal family with all its accompanying debaucheries and dysfunctions. Here, Alexandria Aldrich, whose branch of the family was left penniless, traces the Astor fortunes from the gilded age to her own deprived childhood.
Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, February 12) - Terrifyingly stalked electronically by a former student, Lasdun turns to literature and his father's experiences with anti-semitism to see past the attacks and into the heart of his tormentor.
Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens by Lauren Scheuer (Atria, March 19) - Anyone can coo at a wet nosed dog or a fluffy blue eyed kitten, but chickens? Don't they belong in organic salads? Scheuer's blog evolved into this delightful barnyard saga, a case for all of God's creatures as she finds the humanity in her flock of chickens.
Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me by Patricia Volk (Knopf, April 2) - Stylish, difficult women; Mrs. Volk and Ms. Schiaparelli both qualify and the author compares them to tell a story of becoming a woman under the gaze of two especially influential models.
Visitants by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's, March 12) - Eggers travel essays over a fifteen year period, both published and not, documenting his adventures from Cuba to China including the Saudi Arabia where he set his last novel, A Hologram For the King.
Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West by Peter Hessler (Harper Perennial, April 16) - A collection of articles covering history, politics and culture from the New Yorker correspondent who deconstructed China in his first three books, won a MacArthur genius award, and decamped to Egypt.
The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 7) - A travel memoir by Theroux is always an event but one set in Africa, the continent where his taste for what would become his career began, when he served in the Peace Corps in 1963 is a major happening.
Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers by Janet Malcolm (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 7) - Malcolm devotees, as well as those interested in the art of writing about art, will appreciate having decades of her essays (many from The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books) in one volume.
How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields (Knopf, February 5) - Though of course many books on this list are for book lovers, this one is for those who love a little more intensely. Shields (author of the much-discussed and celebrated Reality Hunger) analyzes the practices of reading (including Blaise Pascal’s Pensées, Renata Adler’s Speedboat, Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past) and writing in a blend of criticism and autobiography, that promises to be formally inventive.
Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder (Harper, April 16) - Plath’s life story and surrounding myth have always threatened to drown out her actual work, but biographer Winder boldly returns to seemingly familiar territory: Plath’s month in New York, the inspiration for her novel, The Bell Jar.
The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel (Grand Central, Jun. 11) - NASA’s first crew, the Mercury Seven, comprised the best, fittest, and smartest pilots the United States Armed Forces had to offer. While they were busy going were no man had gone before, their earthbound wives became the source of fascination for an American public eager to get a glimpse into the lives of the Astronaut Wives.
American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms by Chris Kyle (Morrow, May 14) - Chris Kyle is infamous at home and abroad. Stateside, the Navy SEAL is known as the most lethal sniper in American military history, with 160 confirmed kills. For those same achievements, insurgents in Iraq dubbed him “Al-Shaitan Ramad”—The Devil of Ramadi. His autobiography, American Sniper, went on to become a #1 New York Times bestseller. In his newest, he tracks the parallel developments of the United States and gun technology by profiling 10 famous firearms, from the musket to the M16.
The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard Rubin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 28) - Given the staggering levels of violence that characterized the 20th century, and which have defined nearly all of the 21st so far, it’s easy to forget that the First World War was once known as the War to End All Wars. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Ten years ago, Richard Rubin set out to talk with the last surviving veterans of WWI—back then, there were a few dozen, all between the ages of 101 and 113. Today, they’re all gone. Using those interviews—the last of their kind—Rubin tells their truly remarkable stories.
The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies by Jonathan Alter (Simon & Schuster, May 7) - Are we ready to read about the election? Simon & Schuster is betting yes, and the book’s laydown suggests that journalist Alter, author of the bestseller The Promise, will turn the 2012 presidential campaign into a satisfyingly juicy narrative.
The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power by Kim Ghattas (Henry Holt, March 5) - This biography of Hillary Clinton benefits from BBC correspondent Ghattas’s access: she traveled with Clinton around the world, witnessing just how the Secretary of State got her job done. PW commends the author’s “perceptive reportage.”
Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East by David Rohde (Viking, April 18) - It’s hard to argue with Rohde’s pedigree: a Pulitzer Prize, and 11 years of reporting on these issues for The New York Times, Reuters, and The Atlantic Monthly. Here Rohde critiques America’s war on terror (especially what he sees as misguided defense spending), and suggests that American consumerism, technology, and investment would be better tools for change.
I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography by Richard Hell (Ecco, March 12) - Richard Hell, the iconoclastic writer and musician-progenitor of American and British Punk Rock, charts the coming-of-age, as a penniless 17-year-old runaway from Kentucky, of an artist and an indelible era in rock and& roll history.
Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville by Michael Streissguth (It Books, June 4) - The definitive look at the outlaw country music movement, Outlaw follows the stories of three legendary icons: Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson as they redefined country music in the late 60s and early 70s.
Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (Bantam, March 19) - Fagin, director of NYU’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program, exposes long-term environmental disasters in New Jersey wrought by toxic industrial plants, corporate greed, and government neglect. This science-centered detective story also demonstrates the power of citizen activists in countering the powerful interests that contaminated their communities.
Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre (FSG/Faber and Faber, February 5) - A journalist and physician, Goldacre focuses his ire on the pharmaceutical industry’s deceptive practices from the research laboratory to the doctor’s office. Writing for laypersons, he shows how research is faked, statistics are twisted, and doctors are compromised by a horribly disfigured web of money and political influence.
Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson (Liveright, April 15) - Wilson channels Rilke in this epistolary series meant to inspire future generations of creative, curious scientists. He articulates why good science is so necessary to civilization and how aspiring scientists can best take advantage of their own research interests. Wilson’s own personal anecdotes from a long, distinguished career add richness and depth.
Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson (Clarkson Potter, February 12) - Bestselling author and food celebrity Nigella Lawson produces her first Italian cookbook, with 120 simple, fast recipes, from pasta to dessert, and beautiful full-color photographs, that celebrates the ease, straightforwardness, and authenticity of Italian cuisine.
Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee (Artisan, May 1) - From the three-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef comes his first cookbook, which offers an ingenious technique for juicy fried chicken at home, plus more than 130 other recipes.