Drawn from the 14,000+ titles in PW's Spring Announcements issue, we asked our reviews editors to pick the most notable books publishing in Spring 2019. Links to reviews are included when available.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Holt, Apr.) - Fifteen-year-old classmates Sarah and David have an intense sexual relationship the summer between their freshman and sophomore years at a performing arts high school. Then, after a string of decisive events, they become estranged. Choi’s novel, which received a starred PW review, shifts dramatically in its second part, casting most of what readers thought they knew into doubt.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (Riverhead, Feb.) - James’s first novel since winning the Booker for A Brief History of Seven Killings is the first in the Dark Star trilogy. A hunter who is hired (along with a group of others with their own secrets) to find a missing child undertakes a trek across a fantastical Africa.
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Hogarth, Apr.) - Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and starred by PW, Rooney’s novel depicts the on-again-off-again relationship between Connell and Marianne, students at Trinity College. They navigate social pressures and face personal crises and dissembling about feelings that push the pair together and apart.
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Knopf, May) - In Phillips’s debut, two sisters are kidnapped on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula. The novel tracks the impact of the sisters’ abduction on a multitude of characters over the course of the next year.
Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult, Apr.) - Starred by PW, Gainza's novel reveals the surprising inner life of a Buenos Aires woman through the artwork she observes, exploring the spaces between others, art, and the human soul.
Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward (Park Row, Mar.) – A long-ago tragedy, only slowly revealed, explains what happened to a married couple who suddenly disappear from their Kansas home in this harrowing psychological thriller.
Run Away by Harlan Coben (Grand Central, Mar.) – Jaw-dropping plot twists drive this domestic thriller, in which a New York married couple seek to find their missing, drug-addicted daughter, who’s a murder suspect.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon, Feb.) – In Michaelides’s superb debut, a London psychotherapist tries to cure his own emotional problems as he treats a patient, convicted of murdering her husband, who refuses to speak.
A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams (One World, Feb.) - In this outstanding anthology, 25 heavy hitters of speculative fiction offer dazzling and often chilling glimpses of an uncertain future in which America teeters on the brink.
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (Orbit, Feb.) - In this impressively crafted first epic fantasy from SF author Leckie (Provenance), the best-laid plans of gods and mortals collide, throwing a nation into turmoil and setting the stage for a divine conflict.
The Women’s War by Jenna Glass (Del Rey, Mar.) - Glass’s substantial epic fantasy novel stands out as both social commentary on contemporary issues of bodily autonomy, gender, and social power, and as feminist retribution fantasy, grounded in a carefully designed magic system.
Ancestral Night: White Space, Book 1 by Elizabeth Bear (Saga, Mar.) - Anyone who enjoys space opera will love this stellar novel, which digs into the nature of truth and reality, self-definition vs. predestination, and the calibration of moral compasses.
The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone, June) - Several residents of St. Thomas weather the storms of life before and after the occupation of the alien species Ynaa in Turnbull’s rich debut novel about family, love, and loyalty in turbulent times.
The Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski (Smitten Historical Romance, Feb.) - Extensive research and complex characters enliven this rich romance set in WWII France, where an American musician trapped in a village falls for a British spy who's infiltrated the occupying Nazi force.
The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros (Entangled, Mar.) - Thanks to Yarros’s beautiful, immersive writing, readers will feel every deep heartbreak and each moment of uplifting love in this tearjerker contemporary romance between a former soldier and a woman whose young daughter has cancer.
The Rose by Tiffany Reisz (Mira, Apr.) - Reisz transmutes spicy mythological tales from ancient Greeze into sensual fantasies and erotic romance in this magic-tinged romance, in which a sacred prostitute of Eros slowly seduces an unexpectedly shy escort agency madam.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Berkley, May) - Hoang’s touching contemporary romance explores what the American dream might mean to a young, mixed-race Vietnamese woman and the autistic Vietnamese-American man she’s matched up with.
The Doctor's Secret by Heidi Cullinan (Dreamspinner, Apr.) - Cullinan weaves themes of racism and Asian culture, family pressures, and the value of friends, home, and love into this deeply satisfying romance between a brilliant surgeon and a steadfast nurse.
Hybrida by Tina Chang (Norton, May) - In this timely, stirring collection, Chang confronts the complexities of raising a mixed-race child during an era of political upheaval in the United States.
The Tradition by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon, Apr.) - Brown details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal.
The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy (Knopf, Mar.) - Shaughnessy’s gaze turns to the future, imagining what follows the current age of environmental destruction, racism, sexism, and polarizing politics. (Shaughnessy is married to PW’s director of special editorial projects, Craig Teicher.)
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky (Graywolf, Mar.) - At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea, Kaminsky’s long-awaited second collection confronts our moment’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.
Magical Negro by Morgan Parker (Tin House, Feb.) - Parker connects themes of loneliness, displacement, grief, ancestral trauma, and objectification, while exploring troubling tropes and stereotypes of black Americans.
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversation by Mira Jacob (One World, Mar.) - In this graphic memoir of identity in America, novelist Jacob takes awkward questions from her six-year-old, half-Jewish, half-Indian son as a chance to recall her life’s most formative conversations about race, class, sex, and more.
BTTM FDRS by Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore (Fantagraphics, June) – Following a hip black designer and her ditzy friend in search of a cheap apartment, Daniels (Upgrade Soul, a PW Best Book of 2018) and Passmore offer a combination of comedy and afrofuturist horror that probes urban blight and gentrification.
When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll (Koyama, June) - A young woman journeys to the Countess’s castle and discovers the skin-crawling secrets within its walls in this erotically charged gothic horror story.
Cannonball by Kelsey Wroten (Uncivilized, Apr.) – Wroten’s first full-length graphic novel debuts with a vividly illustrated story about making of art and coming-of-age, featuring Caroline, a queer aspiring writer, alcoholic, art school graduate, and self-proclaimed tortured genius.
Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers (Drawn & Quarterly, May) - Flowers illuminates issues of race, class, and notions of beauty and identity in a series of pieces focused on the hair and the lives of black women.
Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football by John Urschel, with Louisa Thomas (Penguin Press, May) - Urschel, who was once a linesman for the Baltimore Ravens, writes of his career-changing decision to enroll in the PhD mathematics program at MIT.
Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations by William H. McRaven (Grand Central, May) - Admiral McRaven follows up his bestselling Make Your Bed with stories of his Navy SEAL accomplishments, such as orchestrating the killing of Osama bin Laden and the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer (Catapult, May) - Recounts the author’s experience competing in a wild pony race across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland at age 19.
All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr (Ballantine, Apr.) - Carr, a documentary filmmaker, reflects on life with her father, the late New York Times journalist and former addict David Carr.
Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene (Knopf, May) - Reflects on Greene and his wife’s lives in the years following the death of their two-year-old daughter in New York City.
Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brian Jay Jones (Dutton, May) - The bestselling biographer of Jim Henson and George Lucas looks at the life of Theodor Geisel and his influential career as a children’s book author under the pen name Dr. Seuss.
The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age by Leo Damrosch (Yale Univ., Mar.) – Damrosch (Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World) offers a lively account of “the Club,” an informal London literary society started in the 18th century which included Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson, and of course, Johnson’s ever-present companion and biographer, James Boswell.
Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative by Jane Alison (Catapult, Apr.) - Novelist Alison examines narrative structure, asking writers to consider options other than the “dramatic arc.” A starred review from PW praised this study for its “clarity and wit, underlain with formidable erudition.”
Mr. Straight Arrow: The Career of John Hersey, Author of Hiroshima by Jeremy Treglown (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr.) - Treglown examines the writing of John Hersey, the journalist and novelist best known for his 1946 nonfiction account Hiroshima, emphasizing the author’s principled regard for truth and commitment to social change.
What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About edited by Michele Filgate (Simon & Schuster, Apr.) – This collection expands on Filgate’s popular Longreads essay “What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About,” with new contributions from a starry lineup of writers, including André Aciman, Alexander Chee, Leslie Jamison, and Kiese Laymon.
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman (Norton, Feb.) – This rare history is a lyrical reconstruction of the lives of black female rebels in early-20th-century cities, illustrated with antique photographs that inspired the author.
Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson (Harper, Mar.) – This metahistory explores how the latter-day understanding of the ancient Polynesian migrations has changed over time, incorporating the knowledge of Polynesian tradition, archaeology, mathematics, and experimental voyagers.
The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library by Edward Wilson-Lee (Scribner, Mar.) – This isn’t only a biography of Christopher Columbus and his son Hernando; it’s also a paean to the family library, which at its peak contained 20,000 printed materials, including music and images, obsessively collected from all over Europe.
White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century by John Oller (Dutton, Mar.) – In this unusual look at the Gilded Age, a veteran of a white-shoe law firm traces their origins back to the turn of the 20th century, when lawyers switched from focusing primarily on courtroom advocacy to negotiation for corporations.
Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad by Gordon H. Chang (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May) – This history uncovers the little-discussed experiences of Chinese workers and their role in creating the industrialized United States.
How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb.) – This keen history looks under the rock of the U.S.’s anti-imperialist image and finds what’s hiding under it: colonies and territories, like Puerto Rico, whose residents don’t have the same rights as those who dwell in the States.
Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson (Crown, Feb.) – Challenging the much-hyped idea that Earth is facing an overpopulation crisis, this analysis convincingly argues that a population crash has already begun, with fewer children being born than will replace the current population.
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century by George Packer (Knopf, May) – This biography of larger-than-life diplomat Richard Holbrooke views him as emblematic of America’s post WWII-foreign policy: ambitious, driven, and sometimes overreaching.
Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration by Emily Bazelon (Random House, Apr.) – This analysis locates the mass incarceration problem’s causes in an imbalance of power between prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl (Basic, Mar.) – Metzl blows the lid off the “economic anxiety” theory, making a persuasive, evidence-based demonstration that, by voting for policies that promise to bolster their status, white Americans are harming thelseves (and others).
CSNY: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young by Peter Doggett (Atria, May) - Highlights the five-year span from 1969 to 1974 when Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young was at its pinnacle. Doggett then follows the various work and collaborations of the individual men in the following four decades.
Jimmy Page: The Definitive Biography by Chris Salewicz (Da Capo, Apr.) - An in-depth biography of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page by rock journalist Salewicz, based on his interviews with Page over the years.
Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain by Danny Goldberg (Ecco, Apr.) - Goldberg, Nirvana’s music manager from 1990 to 1994, takes readers inside the life of Kurt Cobain and discusses their work together.
This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division: The Oral History by Jon Savage (Faber & Faber, Apr.) - In this excellent oral history, Savage chronicles the short life of Joy Division, the band that married punk’s anger with hypnotic bleakness.
Eating the Sun: Small Musings on a Vast Universe by Ella Frances Sanders (Penguin, Apr.) - The bestselling author of Lost in Translation goes over various natural phenomena and scientific concepts in brief chapters, supplementing her poetic descriptions with her own colorful illustrations. Both her prose and artwork were singled out for praise in PW’s starred review.
Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales by Oliver Sacks (Knopf, Apr.) - The final essay collection from the late neurologist Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, shares his formative influences, professional experiences, and widely varied interests outside the mental health field.
Mama’s Last Hug: Animal and Human Emotions by Frans de Waal (Norton, Mar.) - De Waal, a leading primatologist, argues for the similarity between humans’ emotions and those of other animals, seeking to undermine our sense of being a unique species. PW’s starred review praised De Waal’s book as being simultaneously informative and moving.
The Four Horsemen: The Conversation That Sparked an Atheist Revolution by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens (Random House, Mar.) – Made up primarily of a transcript of a conversation between the four major New Atheists in 2007, this is also an outline of their ideas as well as a strong response to recent criticism.
Point of View: A Fresh Look at Work, Faith, and Freedom by Elisabeth Hasselbeck (WaterBrook, Apr.) - Former host of The View Hasselbeck shares her life story as a journey of faith. She details her marriage and career in television alongside her relationship with God, exploring the challenges she has overcome and how her faith has matured because of them.
In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with Helen Tworkov (Spiegel & Grau, May) - This intimate memoir from Mingyur Rinpoche, a Tibetan master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma traditions, recounts his decision to take an indefinite retreat and the near-fatal experience of food poisoning that inspires his ruminations on the Buddhist bardos.