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 2020. Links to reviews are included when available.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf, Mar.) - Mandel’s first novel since Station Eleven has earned a starred review and tells the story of a brother and sister as they navigate heartache, loneliness, wealth, corruption, drugs, ghosts, and guilt. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan (Ballantine, Mar.) - The latest from McMillan, which received a starred PW review, is about 68-year-old Loretha Curry, whose happy life is upended following an unexpected loss and the strength she must summon to heal old wounds and move forward.
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Riverhead, Apr.) - Zhang’s debut, which received a starred PW review, is set during the American gold rush and follows two orphaned siblings, 11 and 12, who resolve to bury their father.
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, trans. by Ann Goldstein (Europa, Jun.) - This is Ferrante’s first novel since finishing her four-book Neapolitan series. Saying it’s eagerly awaited is an understatement.
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell (Random House, Jun.) - Mitchell charts the steep price of fame in this novel that follows the travails of fictional British band Utopia Avenue, which emerged from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967.
Broken by Don Winslow (Morrow, Apr.) – On the heels of the conclusion of his monumental Cartel trilogy, Winslow delivers six intense short novels linked by the themes of crime, corruption, vengeance, justice, loss, betrayal, guilt, and redemption.
The Golden Cage by Camilla Läckberg (Knopf, July) – The scorned wife of a billionaire plots her revenge in this sexy, over-the-top psychological thriller from Sweden’s best-selling “queen of crime.”
Hid from Our Eyes: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur, Feb.) – In 1972, Episcopal priest Clare and her husband, Millers Kill, N.Y., police chief Russ Spencer-Fleming’s investigate murders linked to a 1952 homicide in which Russ was the chief suspect.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit, Mar.) - Jemisin launches a new series with this outstanding urban fantasy adventure about the boroughs of New York taking human form to fight off an ancient evil.
The Mother Code by Carole Stivers (Berkley, May) - Stivers’s sweeping, cinematic debut imagines a near-future Earth that has been devastated by climate change where genetically engineered human children are raised by robot mothers.
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Saga, May) - An elk-shaped demon seeks vengeance on four childhood friends, members of the Blackfeet Nation, for distancing themselves from their culture in prolific horror author Jones’s sharp, shiver-inducing latest.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (Tor, Mar.) - Klune’s queer, quirky fantasy follows a case worker from the Department in Charge of Magical Youth who must determine whether six unusually gifted orphans are likely to cause the apocalypse.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com, June) - Muir continues her saga of lesbian necromancers in space that began with Gideon the Ninth in this murder-and-mayhem-filled sequel.
How to Catch a Queen: Runaway Royals by Alyssa Cole (Avon, June) - Cole launches her Runaway Royals series with this contemporary about an arranged royal marriage and a new queen struggling for her people’s acceptance.
Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai (Avon, May) - Rai handles her protagonists’ mental health issues with incredible care in this fun, flirty romance about a camera-shy former model, her handsome bodyguard, and a hashtag that spreads like wildfire.
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (Berkley, May) - A Hollywood screenwriter and her personal assistant are mistaken for a couple on the red carpet leading the pair to reevaluate their relationship in the face of media frenzy in Wilsner’s queer debut romance.
A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon (Dafina, Mar.) – Weatherspoon manages to make an amnesia plotline believable in this sexy cowboy romance about a television chef reconnecting with a rancher from her past.
An Inconvenient Duke by Anna Harrington (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Mar.) – In the sparkling Regency romance that opens Harrington’s Lords of the Armory series a duke on a mission to avenge his sister’s murder falls for a lady who secretly runs a charity for abused women.
After Callimachus by Stephanie Burt (Princeton Univ., Apr.) - Burt’s translations and adaptations of the works of the ancient Greek poet Callimachus introduce new readers to the poet’s lyric writing, whose topics range from sex and gender to technology. Modern readers will find this voice stirring and relevant to the 21st century.
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (Graywolf, Mar.) - Diaz interrogates America’s violent past and looks unflinchingly at the statistics related to marginalized groups living in the U.S. today.
In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forche (Penguin, Mar.) - Forche sifts through history’s aftershocks and repercussions in her first new collection in 17 years. These poems investigate borders and migration, delivering a lasting record of witness and arguing for the responsibility all humans share toward one another.
Stranger by Night by Edward Hirsch (Knopf, Feb.) - In a sequence of poems about the memories that have and continue to sustain him, Hirsch casts his eye back through the decades to reckon with the good and bad, exploring life’s many powerful joys and offering elegies—notably, in this collection, to his fellow poets.
Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf (Abrams ComicArts, Apr.) - Backderf (My Friend Dahmer) inspects the tragedy at Kent State in May 1970, when the Ohio National Guard shot a group of unarmed college protesters. PW’s starred review called it an “expertly crafted chronicle of this defining moment in U.S. history.”
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly, May) - Awkward and cringe-inducing moments on the fringes of growing literary fame haunt Tomine (Killing and Dying) as the popular indie cartoonist (and frequent New Yorker cover artist) looks back at his life’s trajectory.
Paying the Land by Joe Sacco (Metropolitan, May) - American Book Award–winning Sacco (The Great War) delves, in his dense and detailed cartooning style, into fracking on Native land, with on-the-ground reporting of the Dene people in the Canadian Mackenzie River Valley.
I Know You Rider by Leslie Stein (Drawn & Quarterly, May) - Stein (Present) juxtaposes the story of her abortion against her encounters with mothers (including her own) and children (of her friends and strangers) as she processes a hard experience, relevant to many, that few talk about, in her trademark impressionistic watercolors.
Child Star by Brian “Box” Brown (First Second, June) - Brown’s canny portrayals of lives changed by fame (including those of Andy Kaufman and Andre the Giant) reach a zenith in this composite character portrait of a 1980s child star.
Magdalena by Wade Davis (Knopf, Apr.) - Anthropology Davis journeys the length of Colombia’s Rio Magdalena in this rich and fascinating study of how nature and a people shape each other.
Wine Girl by Victoria James (Ecco, Mar.) - In a narrative that is simultaneously gritty and elegant, James, once the country’s youngest sommelier at age 21, guides readers through her career in the sexist restaurant business.
On All Fronts by Clarissa Ward (Penguin Press, Apr.) - In what is ultimately an affecting insider view of international reporting, CNN chief international correspondent Ward writes of career covering the events in Baghdad, China, and Syria.
Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollet (Celadon, May) - Jollett, frontman of the indie band Airborne Toxic Event, tells of his early life in the California Synanan cult with his mentally unstable mother and older brother.
Final Draft: The Collected Work of David Carr edited by Jill Rooney Carr (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Apr.) - Carr, widow of David Carr, presents a selection of around 100 of his articles, allowing admirers to revisit her husband’s acclaimed reportage.
Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose by Kay Ryan (Grove, Apr.) - Acclaimed poet Ryan presents her first prose collection, the contents of which span 30 years, and include essays, book reviews, and private, previously unpublished reflections on famous poems and poets.
Letters from Tove edited by Helen Svensson and Boel Westin, trans. by Sarah Death (Univ. of Minnesota, Mar.) - Six decades of letters relate the life story of Tove Jansson, author and illustrator of the beloved Moomin children’s book series, about the whimsical exploits of a family of hippo-like creatures.
Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick (Penguin Press, Apr.) – Starred by PW, this eye-opening book chronicles the economic, social, political, and agricultural transformation of El Salvador during the 20th century as plantation owners including British expat James Hill sought to meet the demands of American coffee drinkers.
Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South by Matthew Van Meter (Little, Brown, May) – This unique history of the civil rights era reveals how the arrest of a black man for allegedly slapping a white child in 1966 Louisiana led to a groundbreaking Supreme Court decision and a better chance at justice for poor and minority defendants across the U.S.
The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World—and Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen (Scribner, Apr.) – This lucid, revelatory history, which received a starred review from PW, cites Viking voyages to North America; the Byzantine Empire’s demand for Eastern European slaves; and the arrival of Malaysian sailors in Madagascar as proof that the first age of exploration began 500 years before Christopher Columbus set foot in the New World.
The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America by Eric Cervini (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June) – Illuminating an underappreciated chapter in the battle for gay rights, this groundbreaking work chronicles astronomer Frank Kameny’s campaign to overturn his 1957 dismissal from a government job on the basis of suspected homosexuality.
Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War, Volume I: July 1937–May 1942 by Richard B. Frank (Norton, Mar.) – According to the starred PW review, this definitive account of the early years of WWII in the Pacific—from the first skirmishes between Japanese and Chinese Nationalist forces to the Bataan Death March—“sets a new gold standard for histories of the conflict.”
In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth About America’s “Deep State” by David Rohde (Norton, Apr.) – Accusations that the U.S. government is being run by a secret cabal of unelected officials have been lobbied by both the Right and the Left, according to this timely account that takes readers from the Cold War to the Trump era and seeks to determine whether or not the “deep state” really exists.
Show Them You’re Good: A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College by Jeff Hobbes (Scribner, June) – Hobbes (The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace) returns with an intimate account of four L.A. teenagers, including an undocumented immigrant aiming for the Ivy League, as they try to find their place in America’s higher education system.
After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America by Jessica Goudeau (Viking, Apr.) – Starred by PW, this sterling account interweaves the history of America’s refugee policy with indelible portraits of Mu Naw, from Myanmar, and Hasna al-Salam, from Syria, as they and their families attempt to build new lives in Austin, Tex.
The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare 1945–2020 by Tim Weiner (Holt, June) – CIA expert Weiner (Legacy of Ashes) chronicles the 70-year history of Russian-American political warfare and examines what U.S. intelligence agencies are and aren’t doing to defend against Russian influence in the 2020 elections.
Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami (Pantheon, May) – Immigrants who become U.S. citizens still aren’t treated as “equal member[s] of the America family,” according to novelist Lalami (The Other Americans). Her eloquent indictment of racism and sexism in her adopted country, which received a starred PW review, combines the personal and political to powerful effect.
Odetta by Ian Zack (Beacon, Apr.) - Music writer Zack expertly narrates the life of guitarist-vocalist-lyricist Odetta Holmes in what is first full-length biography of the influential musician.
Brother Robert by Annye C. Anderson (Da Capo, June) - Anderson, stepsister of legendary blues musician Robert Johnson, paints a colorful picture of the bluesman while attempting to debunk the myths surrounding him.
Dave Brubeck by Philip Clark (Da Capo, Feb.) - Die-hard fans jazz of of bandleader Dave Brubeck need look no further than this comprehensive biography by music journalist Clark.
Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA by Neil Shubin (Pantheon, Mar.) - Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish, gives a new view of the evolution of life, informed by both ancient fossil evidence and cutting-edge discoveries about DNA.
Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens by Muhammad H. Zaman (Harper Wave, Apr.) - Zaman warns of the rising number of antibiotic-resistant diseases and lays out how both personal and collective decisions have made a public health cataclysm more likely.
The Dream Universe: How Fundamental Physics Lost Its Way by David Lindley (Doubleday, Mar.) - Physicist Lindley declares that his field, which in recent decades has delved increasingly far into purely theoretical realms, has drifted too far away from its roots in observable and measurable phenomena.
Chasing Vines: Finding Your Way to an Immensely Fruitful Life by Beth Moore (Tyndale Momentum, Feb. 4) - Evangelist and Bible teacher Moore uses the work of a vinedresser and the cultivation of grape vines as a metaphor for living a fruitful and meaningful life through, also contains many personal stories and scriptural close readings.
Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson, Apr) - Bestselling author and speaker Hatmaker helps Christians go beyond people pleasing with five self-reflective categories—who I am, what I need, what I want, what I believe, and how I connect—to help readers think about their identities, convictions, and communities.
Grace from the Rubble: Two Fathers’ Road to Reconciliation After the Oklahoma City Bombing by (Zondervan, Apr) - Bishop, a public defender, tells the powerful tale of how the father of a young woman killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the father of her killer found an unlikely friendship and forgiveness.