This spring’s selection of literary fiction features popular authors venturing into tantalizing new directions. Don DeLillo explores body preservation, Curtis Sittenfeld retells Pride and Prejudice, Lionel Shriver imagines a near future in which America is wracked by a fiscal crisis, and Annie Proulx releases her 800-page epic, 10 years in the making.
Literary Fiction Top 10
Annie Proulx. Scribner, June 14
In the late 17th century, two illiterate woodsmen make their way to New France to seek a living. There they suffer extraordinary hardship. Proulx’s epic is 800 pages and 10 years in the writing.
Curtis Sittenfeld. Random House, Apr. 26
In this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, a magazine writer in her late 30s and her yoga instructor older sister return to their childhood home in Cincinnati. There the sisters meet handsome new-in-town Chip Bingley and neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Yann Martel. Random/Spiegel & Grau, Feb. 2
In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history.
Louise Erdrich. Harper, May 10
It’s North Dakota, late summer, 1999: Landreaux Iron hunts a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own but after he fires realizes he’s hit something else.
The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047
Lionel Shriver. Harper, June 21
In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families, including the Mandibles, whose inheritance has turned to ash.
The Mirror Thief
Martin Seay. Melville House, May 10
This globe-trotting, time-bending epic in the tradition of Cloud Atlas is set in 16th-century Venice; Venice Beach, Calif., circa 1958; and the modern-day Venice casino in Las Vegas.
The Noise of Time
Julian Barnes. Knopf, May 10
In 1936, Dmitri Shostakovich, age 30, fears for his livelihood and his life. Stalin has taken a sudden interest in the Soviet composer’s work and denounced his latest opera. Now, certain he will be exiled to Siberia or killed, Shostakovich reflects on his predicament and his past.
Lydia Millet. Norton, May 2
In this blend of domestic thriller and psychological horror, a young mother flees her cold, unfaithful husband with her daughter and is chased from Alaska to Maine, where they hide in a run-down motel.
Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith. Random/Hogarth, Feb. 2
Han’s debut, which received a starred review from PW, tells the story of a Korean woman who suddenly decides to stop eating meat after having vivid, violent dreams. Gradually, her body undergoes a strange transformation.
Don DeLillo. Scribner, May 10
Ross, a billionaire in his 60s who is married to a younger woman, travels to a secret compound where death is controlled and bodies are preserved so that his ailing wife can surrender her body.
Literary Fiction Listings
The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden (May 10, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-446-3). During WWII, two African-American musicians are captured by the Nazis in Paris and imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp, in the latest from the author of Sugar and Loving Donovan. 15,000-copy announced first printing.
We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Mar. 8, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-61620-467-9). Frustrated by the limitations of cross-race communication in her predominantly white town, Laurel, a young African-American girl, teaches herself to sign—a skill she later imparts to her two daughters. This ability eventually leads Laurel to uproot her husband and daughters from their overeducated and underpaid life in the South End of Boston for the bucolic Massachusetts countryside, where her family takes part in an experiment.
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My Struggle, Book Five by Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. by Don Bartlett (Apr. 19, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-914671-39-8). In the fifth book of Knausgaard’s My Struggle series, 19-year-old Karl Ove moves to Bergen and invests all of himself in his writing. But his efforts get the opposite effect—he wants it so much that he gets writer’s block.
The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest (May 3, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-62040-901-5). At a party in London, Becky meets a woman named Harry. They connect, they part, and they reconnect when Becky starts, coincidentally, dating Harry’s brother. When Harry is forced to go on the lam, Becky goes with her. But are they meant for each other? Or no good for each other at all? This is the debut novel from Tempest, a poet, playwright, and rapper. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (July 12, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-62040-669-4). Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s idiopathic illness. She and her mother travel to the arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant, hoping he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
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Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton (Mar. 15, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-936787-35-7) is based on the life of Margaret Cavendish, a 17th-century duchess, who wrote poems, philosophy, and even utopian science fiction at a time when almost no women were “writers.” At the dawn of daily newspapers, she was a celebrity, as well as the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London—a mainstay of the scientific revolution—and the last for another 200 years. This is the intimate story of a woman whose modern sensibility was out of step with her times, one whose work as a philosopher has recently drawn the attention of the academy. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir by Susan Daitch (June 7, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-700-0). A series of archaeological expeditions unfolds through time, each one looking for the ruins of a fabled underground city-state that once flourished in a remote province near the border of present-day Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Indiana Jones meets Italo Calvino in an absurdist blend of social satire, adventure, invented history, and mythology.
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Brightfellow by Rikki Ducornet (July 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-440-1). In this new novel by the author of Netsuke, a child nomad claims a college campus as his territory and lives a transient life among the intellectuals. Keenly observant, imaginative, and curious, he grows up to infiltrate the lives of those he’s watched for years, posing as (or perhaps more aptly, becoming) Charter, a Fulbright scholar with a predilection for fire.
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Grace by Natashia Deon (June 14, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-61902-720-6). For a runaway slave in the 1840s South, life on the run can be just as dangerous as life under a sadistic massa. That’s what 15-year-old Naomi learns after she escapes the brutal confines of life on an Alabama plantation in Deon’s debut novel. Striking out on her own, she takes refuge in a Georgia brothel run by a freewheeling, gun-toting Jewish madam.
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Seeing Red by Lina Meruane, trans. by Megan McDowell (Feb. 16, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-941920-24-4). This autobiographical novel describes a young Chilean writer recently relocated to New York for doctoral work who suffers a stroke that leaves her blind and increasingly dependent on those closest to her.
Smoke by Dan Vyleta (May 24, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54016-2). This page-turning debut novel is set in an alternate historical England, in which the emission of Smoke marks the sinful and poor; for fans of Shadow of the Wind, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, and The Magicians. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney (Feb. 2, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-11381-0). Jed—young, gay, black, out of rehab and out of prospects in his hometown of Chicago—flees to the city of his fantasies, a museum of modernism and decadence: pre-1989 Berlin. The paradise that tyranny created, the subsidized city isolated behind the Berlin Wall, is where he’s chosen to become the figure that he so admires, the black American expatriate.
The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal, trans. by Sam Taylor (Feb. 9, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-374-24090-5). Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. Returning home, a car accident leaves one of boys declared brain-dead although his heart is still beating. The novel takes place over the 24 hours surrounding his heart transplanted into a young woman.
Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski (Mar. 8, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-23044-9). When Terry White, a failed politician, goes broke in the 2007–2008 financial crisis, he takes a job working for the U.N., helping to train the Haitian police. He’s sent to the remote town of Jérémie, where there are more coffin makers than restaurants, more donkeys than cars, and the dirt roads all slope down sooner or later to the postcard sea.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (May 31, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4555-6178-0). On a foggy summer night, 11 people board a private airplane and depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean, and only two survive. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (June 7, trade paper, $14, ISBN 978-1-55597-741-2). A London man, along with his two sons, is adrift after his wife’s sudden, accidental death. Then they are visited by Crow—antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. Porter’s debut is part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief.
The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel (May 3, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-8021-2489-0). Set in the vibrant coastal and Caribbean communities of Miami; the Florida Keys; Havana, Cuba; and Cartagena, Colombia, Engel’s novel is the story of one woman’s devotion to her brother on death row and her journey away from a painful past.
LaRose by Louise Erdrich (May 10, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-227702-2). It’s North Dakota, late summer, 1999: Landreaux Iron hunts a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own but after firing realizes he’s hit something else.
The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047 by Lionel Shriver (June 21, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-232824-3). In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families, and the Mandibles’ inheritance has turned to ash.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits by Mark Binelli (May 3, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-62779-535-7). Author of Detroit City Is the Place to Be (named one of the 10 best books of 2012 by PW) retells the outrageous life of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, a bluesman with one hit and a string of inflammatory guises.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (Feb. 2, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-618-663-02-6). Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett (May 3, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-544-63424-4). In one moment, two lives will be changed forever... and forever... and forever. A tale of possibilities and consequences rings across the shifting decades, from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and on to the present, showing how even the smallest choices can define the course of our lives. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
GodPretty in the Tobacco Field by Kim Michele Richardson (Apr. 26, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-61773-735-0). Nameless, Kentucky, in 1969 is a hardscrabble community where jobs are few and poverty is a simple fact. Richardson’s novel follows RubyLyn Bishop through the course of one blazing summer, as revelations and life-changing decisions propel her toward a future her fortune tellers never predicted.
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes (May 10, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-101-94724-1). 1936: Dmitri Shostakovich, age 30, fears for his livelihood and his life. Stalin has taken a sudden interest in the Soviet composer’s work and denounced his latest opera. Certain he will be exiled to Siberia or killed, he reflects on his predicament, and his past.
Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo (May 3, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-307-270-64-1) returns to North Bath, upstate New York, and the characters of Nobody’s Fool, his third novel. Sully, who in the intervening years has come by some unexpected good fortune, is now staring down a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he only has a year or two left, and he’s busy keeping the news from the most important people in his life.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (May 24, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-101-875-94-0). A debut about a year in the life of a young woman is set in the wild, alluring world of a famous downtown New York restaurant. This is a story about discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment.
Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (May 3, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-316-26135-7). In the latest from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression, and she faces a choice: carry on with their plans, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him, and this is the story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
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The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay (May 10, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-61219-514-8). A globe-trotting, time-bending epic in the tradition of Cloud Atlas is set in 16th-century Venice; Venice Beach, Calif., circa 1958; and the modern-day Venice casino in Las Vegas.
Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard (Feb. 23, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-225764-2). Alcohol cost Helen her marriage and custody of David, her seven-year-old son. Though she once had aspirations to be an art photographer, she makes ends meet taking pictures of grade-school children and working society parties for a catering company. Recovering from her addiction, she meets magnetic philanthropists Ava and Swift Havilland, and the vulnerable Helen is instantly enchanted. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet (May 2, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-28554-3). In a blend of domestic thriller and psychological horror, a young mother flees her cold, unfaithful husband with her daughter, and is chased from Alaska to Maine, where they hide in a run-down motel.
Hold Still by Lynn Steger Strong (Mar. 28, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-168-9). When Maya Taylor sends her daughter to Florida to look after a friend’s child, she does so with the best of intentions; it’s a chance for Ellie, 20 and spiraling, to rebuild her life. But Ellie fears she’ll only disappoint again, and in the sprawling hours of one humid afternoon, she makes a mistake that she can’t take back.
Abahn Sabana David by Marguerite Duras, trans. by Kazim Ali (June 14, trade paper, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-940953-36-6). Available for the first time in English, this is a late-career work from Duras. Late one evening, David and Sabana—members of a Communist group—arrive at a country house where they meet Abahn, the man they’ve been sent to guard and eventually kill for his perceived transgressions. Similar in tone to a Beckett play, the characters of this novel spend the night discussing violence, communism, and revolution.
Mon Amie Américaine by Michèle Halberstad, trans. by Bruce Benderson (Apr. 12, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-59051-759-8). When two colleagues become close friends, they believe their friendship will last forever. But when one of them suffers a devastating illness, the bond between them is stretched to the breaking point.
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The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester (Mar. 7, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-68177-110-6). Amid the drama of the suffragette movement in Edwardian London, the disappearance of a famous trapeze artist in the middle of her act leads a young Fleet Street reporter to an underworld of circus performers, fetishists, and society columnists.
Siracusa by Delia Ephron (July 12, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-399-16521-4). A novel about marriage and deceit from bestselling author Ephron follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed.
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase (Feb. 9, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-399-17412-4). For fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Waters, here is a debut novel of family secrets, forbidden love, and heartbreaking loss housed within the grand gothic manor of Black Rabbit Hall in the Cornish countryside—a place that unites two women separated by decades.
A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin (Feb. 16, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4000-6826-5). Milo Andret is born with an unusual mind, a lonely child who grows up to be a mathematical genius. But Milo’s brilliance is inextricably linked to a dark side that threatens to unravel his work, his son and daughter, and his life.
The Girls by Emma Cline (June 14, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8129-9860-3). In Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s and at the start of a summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (Apr. 26, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4000-6832-6). In this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Liz is a magazine writer in her late 30s who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. They return to their childhood home in Cincinnati, where they meet handsome new-in-town Chip Bingley and neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith (Feb. 2, hardcover, $21, ISBN 978-0-553-44818-4). Han’s debut, which received a starred review from PW, is the story of a Korean woman who suddenly decides to stop eating meat after having vivid, violent dreams. Gradually, her body undergoes a strange transformation.
Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore (Feb. 9, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-101-90326-1). From a dingy bar in coastal California to a cramped apartment in a brownstone in Brooklyn, a poverty-stricken village, and a monastery in Sri Lanka, Elsie meets men and women who challenge her to varying degrees. novel. This debut is a portrait of a young woman’s search for meaning and purpose in an indifferent world, and received a starred PW review.
Random/Spiegel & Grau
The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel (Feb. 2, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8129-9717-0). In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi (Mar. 8, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-59463-463-5). From the author of Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox comes a collection of intertwined stories built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side.
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You Should Pity Us Instead by Amy Gustine (Feb. 9, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-941411-19-3) is a debut story collection, which received a starred PW review. It explores love in its many guises—family, romance, friendship—through the lens of religion, international conflict, and complicated relationships.
Zero K by Don DeLillo (May 10, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-3539-2). Ross, a billionaire in his 60s and married to a younger woman, travels to a secret compound where death is controlled and bodies are preserved so his ailing wife can surrender her body.
Barkskins by Annie Proulx (June 14, hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-0-7432-8878-1). In the late 17th century two illiterate woodsmen make their way to New France to seek a living and suffer extraordinary hardship. Proulx’s epic is 800 pages and 10 years in the writing.
Simon & Schuster
Two If by Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Mar. 15, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-5011-1557-8). Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, Australia, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed.
All the Winters After by Seré Prince Halverson (Feb. 16, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-1535-4). The Snow Child meets The Shipping News in this novel about a man who returns to his Alaska hometown after 20 years away to find a mysterious young woman hiding in his abandoned house.
Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax (Mar. 1, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-61695-653-0). A novel of passion and ambition based on the life of one of the most controversial scientists—and mothers—of the 20th century, Rosalie Rayner, the woman behind the Little Albert experiment of emotional conditioning.
The Children by Ann Leary (May 24, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-04537-9). Charlotte and Sally Maynard grow up in a rambling Connecticut country house that belonged to their stepfather, Whit Whitman. Perry and Spin, Whit’s sons from his unhappy first marriage, are welcomed as weekend guests. Bestselling author Leary’s novel contemplates how four adult stepchildren must come to terms with their legacy and the family myths they’ve built their lives upon.
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Alibi Creek by Bev Magennis (Mar. 15, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937226-55-8). Following a two-year prison stint, charming and wily Walker returns to his family’s New Mexico ranch, where his pious older sister, Lee Ann, is busy caring for their mother, raising two sons, and grappling with unethical workplace demands. Walker’s illegal activities quickly incite chaos in the town and Lee Ann’s marriage, leading to drastic transformations of beliefs, identities, and relationships.
Two Dollar Radio
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The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga (May 3, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-937512-43-9). The winner of the PEN International New Voices Award offers the story of Lindanathi, a young HIV-positive man grappling with the death of his brother, for which he feels unduly responsible. He and his friends work low-paying jobs and sell anti-retroviral drugs. In between, they huff glue, drift through parties, and traverse the streets of Cape Town, South Africa.
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Quiet Creature on the Corner by João Gilberto Noll, trans. by Adam Morris (May 10, trade paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-1-931883-51-1). When an unemployed poet finds himself thrown in jail after raping his neighbor, his time in the slammer is mysteriously cut short when he’s abruptly taken to a new home—a countryside manor where his every need is seen to. All that’s required of him is to... write poetry. Just who are his captors?
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The Storyteller: Tales Out of Loneliness by Walter Benjamin (Apr. 19, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-78478-304-4). This is the first major collection of short stories from the legendary German-Jewish critic and philosopher Benjamin, with forms that include novellas, fables, histories, aphorisms, parables, and riddles.
Hard Red Spring by Kelly Kerney (Mar. 29, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-42901-2). An epic novel that spans 100 years of Guatemala’s tumultuous history as experienced by four American women who are linked by the mysterious disappearance of a little girl.