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 2021. Links to reviews are included when available.
The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove, Mar.) - Nguyen follows his Pulitzer-winning The Sympathizer with a sequel about a Vietnamese refugee in 1980s Paris who becomes a drug dealer on his path to assimilation. The novel earned a starred review from PW.
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June) - Widow herbalist Katharina gets slapped with an accusation of witchcraft in 1618 Germany by a neighbor whom she calls “the Werewolf” in Galchen’s novel of a small town feverish with fear.
Long Island Compromise by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Random House, June) - An upscale part of Long Island becomes the scene of businessman Carl Fletcher’s 1982 kidnapping. Though the Fletchers soldier on after Carl’s return to his family following a ransom payment, the crime reverberates well into the present day.
My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee (Riverhead, Feb.) - A New Jersey college kid learns more from a year traveling through China with a shady entrepreneur than he did in school, in Lee’s sprawling picaresque, starred by PW.
The Removed by Brandon Hobson (Ecco, Feb) - Hobson returns with a portrait of a resilient Cherokee family whose middle child was unjustly killed by a cop. The novel earned a starred review from PW.
The Turnout by Megan Abbott (Putnam, June) - Set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio, Edgar Award winner Abbott’s taut and unnerving psychological thriller dissects issues of sexuality, femininity, and power.
Widespread Panic by James Ellroy (Knopf, June) - In this engrossing thriller, MWA Grand Master Ellroy explores the seedy underbelly of 1950s Los Angeles through the eyes of Freddy Otash, a former cop turned shakedown artist and strongman for Confidential magazine. The story of the real-life Otash has obsessed Ellroy for years.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (Celadon, June) - From the best-selling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense about a charismatic professor of Greek tragedy at Cambridge University who’s accused of murdering one of his students.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo. (Tor.com, June) - Vo’s full-length debut, a speculative riff on The Great Gatsby, reimagines golfer Jordan Baker as a queer, Asian American adoptee navigating the Jazz Age while learning to control her elemental magic.
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (Orbit, June) - Suri launches the Burning Kingdoms trilogy as an exiled princess joins forces with a powerful servant who wields forbidden magic to reshape an empire.
The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury, May) - Amnesiac Joe Tournier’s quest to remember his identity takes him across 19th-century France, England, and Scotland and may alter the future in Pulley’s time-bending alternate history.
Machinehood by S.B. Divya. (Saga, Mar) - In a dystopian vision of 2095, pharmaceutically enhanced humans compete with artificial intelligences in a dog-eat-dog gig economy—until a terrorist group demands that pill production be halted.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (Ballantine, May) - Astronaut Ryland Grace is all that stands between humankind and extinction after his crew dies mid-mission, in the latest sci-fi thriller from bestseller Weir.
An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley (Zebra, Apr.) -- Riley follows A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby with this Regency about a Jamaican maid who arrives in London with amnesia. Her efforts to uncover her identity lead to unexpected love.
Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez (Forever, Apr.) - Carefree Vanessa Price’s wanderlust is curtailed when her sister saddles her with taking care of her niece for the foreseeable future. Luckily, help arrives in the form of a handsome, detail-oriented neighbor. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (Griffin, June) - McQuiston follows her breakout Red, White, and Royal Blue with a Sapphic rom-com infused with magic. August has a crush on a woman she sees every day on the New York City subway—but what happens when she realizes that her fellow commuter is displaced from the 1970s?
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton. (Berkley, June) - Holton’s Victorian-era debut introduces a secret sorority of lady thieves, as one among their number finds love with a dashing assassin while she works to take down a dastardly pirate.
Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Mar.) - An aspiring actor agrees to help a New Orleans media personality prepare for her onscreen debut and falls in love along the way in this standalone contemporary from Loren.
The Essential June Jordan by June Jordan, edited by Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller. (Copper Canyon, May) - The late Jordan’s vital body of work addressed police brutality, sexism, and solidarity with marginalized voices. This selection showcases her finest poems from 1971 to 2001.
Parallel Movement of the Hands: Six Unfinished Longer Works by John Ashbery (Ecco, June) - This posthumous collection features Ashbery’s trademark playfulness with language and range of tones and styles, gathering book-length projects and long poems written between 1993 and 2007.
Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson. (Norton, June) - A sequence of poems in the first half of Benson’s collection imagines Zeus as a rapist preying on women, while the second half of the book offers a meditation on depression, family life, and motherhood.
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May) - Bechdel’s eagerly anticipated first original memoir in eight years revs up on her fitness obsessions and drives through America’s fascinations with the (often consumerist) commitment to keeping fit.
Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest by Nate Powell (Abrams ComicArts, Apr.) Powell (the March series) collects comics essays spanning the 2016 election and the Covid pandemic, promoting civil engagement as a parent passing on the legacy of “good trouble.”
Factory Summers by Guy Delisle, trans. by Helge Dascher. (Drawn & Quarterly, June) - Known for his keen-eyed comics travelogues, Delisle trains his witty reportage on his hometown, recalling a teenage summer laboring at a Quebec factory simmering in class tensions.
Stone Fruit by Lee Lai (Fantagraphics, May) - Lai’s electric debut centers on a trio (a queer couple and a single mother) who adore the same child, and find their family and romantic ties stretched and transformed, remaking them all.
Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martínez (Simon & Schuster, June) - Originally crowdfunded, researcher Hall’s hybrid of history, activism, and speculative fiction unearths and honors stories of enslaved women who rose up in rebellion.
Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson (Holt, Apr.) - The ever-entertaining Lawson is back with a series of unflinching and hilarious essays addressing mental illness, living with chronic health conditions, and the absurdities of life and dealing with health insurance companies.
Churchill & Son by Josh Ireland (Dutton, Mar.) – Even those who think they know Winston Churchill will be surprised by some of the revelations in this unique take on his life, which focuses on his difficult relationship with his son, Randolph, who was “too often angry, too often drunk, too often gratuitously offensive.”
Refugee: A Memoir by Emmanuel Mbolela, trans. by Charlotte Collins (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr.) – Mbolela connects neocolonial capitalism, African kleptocracy and wars, and the inhumane treatment of refugees in this bracing account of his flight from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the fraught path he took to settling in the Netherlands.
Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life by Juliana Margulies (Ballantine, May) - The ER and Good Wife star reflects on the unlikely path she took from her unsettled childhood to the red carpet. She is a frank and insightful narrator, and her fans will love this look behind the curtain.
Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House, Mar.) In this collection, which received a starred review, Abdurraqib delivers another show-stopping work of criticism, mixing in memoir and lyricism along the way.
Philip Roth: The Biography by Blake Bailey (Norton, Apr.) This definitive, highly anticipated account brings the iconic novelist Roth to vivid life and earned a starred review.
Spilt Milk: Memoirs by Courtney Zoffness (McSweeney’s, Mar.) Fans of the personal essay need look no further than this debut collection on motherhood, family, and inheritance from Zoffness, which earned a starred review.
Burning Man: The Trials of D.H. Lawrence by Frances Wilson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May) Acclaimed biographer Wilson takes on the many tales surrounding Lawrence’s life and art in this revelatory account.
Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told by Jenny Diski (Bloomsbury, Apr.) This posthumous collection of 33 essays pays tribute to Diski as a bold master of the form.
The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights by Dorothy Wickenden (Scribner, Mar.) - Starred by PW, this excellent group biography casts Harriet Tubman in a new light and pays tribute to the radicalism of her friends and collaborators Martha Wright, the young sister of Lucretia Mott, and Frances Seward, the wife of secretary of state William Henry Seward.
Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown (Viking, May) - From the author of The Boys in the Boat, this virtuoso history weaves together the experiences of Japanese-American soldiers fighting in Europe and their interned families back in the U.S. to create "an illuminating and spirited portrait of courage under fire," according to the starred PW review.
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (Little, Brown, June) - Smith, a poet and staff writer for the Atlantic, visits Blandford Cemetery in Virginia, Angola prison in Louisiana, the House of Slaves in Senegal, and other monuments and landmarks to examine how the story of American slavery is told, or not.
American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850 by Alan Taylor (Norton, May) - Pulitzer winner Taylor returns (after American Revolutions) with an incisive look at the turbulent decades following American independence. Starred by PW, "this elegantly written and thoughtfully argued study shows how rickety and explosive the American project was from the start."
The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale (Penguin Press, Apr.) - According to PW's starred review of this "mind-bending historical investigation," Edgar winner Summerscale (The Wicked Boy) recounts the events surrounding a British woman's 1938 allegations that her home was haunted by a poltergeist "with sensitivity and a novelist's gift for narrative."
Children Under Fire: An American Crisis by John Woodrow Cox (Ecco, Mar. ) - Washington Post reporter Cox surveys the devastating toll gun violence takes on American children and makes a persuasive case for how to end the crisis in this hard-hitting and impeccably researched account starred by PW.
The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War by Louis Menand (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr.) - New Yorker contributor Menand's study of American politics and culture during the Cold War is rife with "his usual mix of colorful portraiture, shrewd insight, and pithy interpretation," according to PW's starred review.
We Need New Stories: The Myths that Subvert Freedom by Nesrine Malik (Norton, May) - Guardian columnist Malik debunks six political myths (e.g. free speech is under attack; political correctness is a problem) employed by those in power to maintain the status quo and forestall the progress of marginalized groups
Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response by Andy Slavitt (St. Martin's, June) - Slavitt, who led the relaunch of healthcare.gov after its botched rollout in 2013 and recently joined the Biden administration as a senior advisor on Covid-19, looks at where America's pandemic response has gone wrong, and what can be done to fix it.
We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto by Alice Waters (Penguin Press, June) - The renowned chef and owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., makes the case that food is at the core of many of today's social problems, including economic inequality and chronic disease rates, and outlines how changing the way one eats can help change the world.
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Bold Type, Mar.) - Starred by PW, this survey by particle cosmologist Prescod-Weinstein is at one an ode to the wonder of the universe and a treatise on injustice in her field.
Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering How the Forest Is Wired for Intelligence and Healing by Suzanne Simard (Knopf, May) - Renowned ecologist Simard debuts with an exploration of her fascinating findings on tree communication and behavior.
Genesis: The Story of How Everything Began by Guido Tonelli, trans. from the Italian by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr.) - This survey of the beginning of the universe is already an Italian best-seller, and mixes lyricism, mythology, and physics.
Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth by Tony Hiss (Knopf, Mar.) - Protecting half of North America can “stave off the mass extinction crisis,” writes Hiss, author of Long Road from Quinto. His carefully reported survey of movements already at work on that goal, which received a starred PW review, offers a moving bit of optimism for the future of the planet.
Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji (Worthy, May) - Orji, Emmy-nominated comic actor from HBO's Insecure, shares 25 life lessons infused with the wisdom of the Bible aimed at helping readers pursue ambitious goals.
The Truth at the Heart of the Lie: How the Catholic Church Lost Its Soul by James Carroll (Random House, Mar.) - National Book Award winner Carroll relates his crisis of faith as a former priest and traces the roots of the Catholic sex abuse scandal back to the history and power structure of the church.
Woman Evolve: Break Up with Your Fears and Revolutionize Your Life by Sarah Jakes Roberts (Thomas Nelson, Apr.) - Pastor Jakes Roberts draws lessons from scripture and from her own life to demonstrate how women can use past mistakes to overcome new challenges.