With works from a Pulitzer winner and a debut novelist, this spring’s fiction features ghosts, a retelling of Clytemnestra’s tale, sinister VHS tapes, and much more. Links to reviews are provided when available.
Mohsin Hamid. Riverhead, Mar. 7
Fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed meet in a country teetering on the brink of civil war. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city.
Nickolas Butler. Ecco, Mar. 7
Friendships and families intersect across generations in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a popular Boy Scout summer camp.
House of Names
Colm Tóibín. Scribner, May 9
In Tóibín’s retelling of Clytemnestra’s tale, Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war.
George Saunders. Random House, Feb. 14
On Feb. 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery alone and visits the crypt to spend time with his son’s body.
Men Without Women
Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen. Knopf, May 9
Murakami focuses on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. These seven stories feature vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball, and the Beatles.
Our Little Racket
Angelica Baker. Ecco, June 20
A debut about wealth, envy, and secrets: the story of five women whose lives are dramatically changed by the downfall of a financial titan.
Viet Thanh Nguyen. Grove, Feb. 7
Pulitzer-winner Nguyen’s story collection features a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, and a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
Hannah Tinti. Dial, Mar. 28
A young girl moves back to the New England fishing village where her father, Hawley, finds work on the docks. But lurking over this family are mysteries, including the mother who died and the ghosts of Hawley’s past.
John Darnielle. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb. 7
When mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut, life in the small town of Nevada, Iowa, takes a dark turn.
Hari Kunzru. Knopf, Mar. 14
Two ambitious young musicians are drawn into the dark underworld of blues record collecting. A murder mystery, a meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music.
Literary Fiction Listings
Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani (Feb. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-496-8). Firmly anchored in the African storytelling tradition, Kimani reimagines the rise and fall of colonialism in Africa by telling the story of the birth of Kenya’s railroad.
The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister (Feb. 7, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-61620-474-7). When Hunter Cady’s beloved wife dies, he heads west and takes her ashes with him. They had always meant to travel. Soon enough, he finds himself in encounters with characters even quirkier than he is: an overzealous Renaissance Faire worker; a raucous yet sympathetic troop of bachelorettes; a Chicago couple and their pet parrot, Elvis.
Wolf Hunt by Ivailo Petrov, trans. by Angela Rodel (Apr. 18, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-914671-70-1). Published in 1986, Petrov’s novel centers on an ill-fated winter hunting expedition of six neighbors whose history together is long and interwoven. The shifting perspectives places the calamitous history of 20th-century Bulgaria into a human context of helplessness and desperation.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman (May 2, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-5011-6076-9). From the bestselling author of A Man Called Ove comes a novel about a forgotten town fractured by scandal, and the amateur hockey team that might just overcome that.
Ill Will by Dan Chaon (Mar. 7, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-345-47604-3). A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his 40s when he hears the news: his adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thanks in part to Dustin’s testimony, 30 years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle.
Large Animals by Jess Arndt (May 16, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-936787-48-7). Arndt’s debut collection confronts what it means to have a body. In “Jeff,” Lily Tomlin confuses Jess for Jeff, instigating an identity crisis. In “Together,” a couple battles a mysterious and unnamed STD that slowly undoes their relationship, while outside a ferocious weed colonizes their urban garden.
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (June 13, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-56689-464-7). A troubled college wrestler in North Dakota falls in love and becomes increasingly unhinged during his final season, when every practice, every match, is a step closer to greatness and a step further from sanity. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings by Juan Rulfo, trans. by Douglas J. Weatherford (May 16, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-941920-58-9). This work presents Rulfo’s second novel in English for the first time, alongside several stories never translated at all. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (Mar. 28, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8129-8988-5). Loo is 12 when she moves back to the New England fishing village of her early youth. Her father, Hawley, finds work on the docks. But lurking over Loo are mysteries, including the mother who died and the ghosts of Hawley’s past.
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler (Mar. 7, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-246968-7) is a novel of intertwining friendships and families set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a popular Boy Scout summer camp, from the author of Shotgun Lovesongs. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Our Little Racket by Angelica Baker (June 20, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-264131-1). A debut about wealth, envy, and secrets tells the story of five women whose lives are dramatically changed by the downfall of a financial titan. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami, trans. by Allison Markin Powell (June 6, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-60945-399-2). Objects for sale at the Nakano Thrift Shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets, and Hitomi, the inexperienced young woman who works the register, has fallen for her coworker, the oddly reserved Takeo.
The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder (June 6, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-09520-6). A fractured family from the Chicago suburbs gathers in London for the eldest daughter’s marriage to an upper-crust Englishman, proving that the harder we strain against the ties that bind, the tighter they hold us close.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Answers by Catherine Lacey (June 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-10026-1). Mary scours Craigslist for fast-cash jobs and finds herself applying for the “Girlfriend Experiment,” the brainchild of an eccentric and narcissistic actor, Kurt Sky, who is determined to find the perfect relationship—even if that means paying different women to fulfill distinctive roles.
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (Feb. 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-374-28210-3). Life in the small town of Nevada, Iowa, takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut.
Lover by Anna Raverat (Mar. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-19365-2). Kate, a senior executive at a multinational hotel company, has devoted her life to her job and her family. Catering to the needs of others comes easily to her, but now, after 10 years of marriage and two children, Kate discovers e-mails from her husband to another woman.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Feb. 7, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-4555-6393-7) follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Encircling by Carl Frode Tiller, trans. by Barbara J. Haveland (Feb. 21, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-762-7). David has lost his memory. When a newspaper ad asks his friends and family to share their memories of him, three respond: Jon, his closest friend; Silje, his teenage girlfriend; and Arvid, his estranged stepfather. This first book of a trilogy is a psychological portrait of a man by his friends.
So Much Blue by Percival Everett (June 13, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-782-5). Kevin Pace, working on a painting that he won’t allow anyone to see, had an affair 10 years earlier with a young watercolorist in Paris. As the events of the past intersect with the present, Kevin struggles to justify the sacrifices he’s made for his art and the secrets he’s kept from his wife.
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Feb. 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-8021-2639-9). A collection of stories by Pulitzer-winner Nguyen explores questions of immigration, identity, love, and family—including a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, and a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover.
Often I Am Happy by Jens Christian Grøndahl (Apr. 11, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-1-4555-7007-2). Ellinor is 70. Her husband, Georg, has just died, and Ellinor is struck with the need to confide in someone, picking Anna, her long-dead best friend, who was also Georg’s first wife. Ellinor divulges long-held secrets and burdens of her past. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (Apr. 18, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-238327-3). In the near future, world wars have transformed the world into a battleground. Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader, turns the planet into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule, galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor (May 2, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-266109-8). Out for a hike one scorching afternoon in Sycamore, Ariz., a newcomer to town stumbles across what appear to be human remains. As news of the discovery makes its way around town, Sycamore’s longtime residents fear the bones may belong to Jess Winters, the teenage girl who disappeared suddenly some 18 years earlier. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Marlena by Julie Buntin (Apr. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-62779-764-1). Fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. The story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life and define the other’s for decades.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (Mar. 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-544-82424-9). Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Mother Land by Paul Theroux (May 9, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-618-83932-2). To those in her Cape Cod town, Mother is an exemplar of piety, frugality, and hard work. To her husband and seven children, she is the selfish, petty tyrant of Mother Land. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn (Mar. 28, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-4967-0829-8). When Connor Larkin boards a late night bus in downtown L.A., he’s not sure where he’s going. Putting his acting career—and his fiancée—on hold, he finds himself stepping into the sleepy seaside town of Miramar Bay—where one woman inspires him to rethink all of his choices.
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen (May 9, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-451-49462-7). Across seven tales, Murakami focuses on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles.
White Tears by Hari Kunzru (Mar. 14, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-451-49369-9). Two ambitious young musicians are drawn into the dark underworld of blues record collecting, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past, in a murder mystery, a meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music.
The Reminders by Val Emmich (May 30, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-316-31699-6). The Rosie Project meets Tell the Wolves I’m Home in this debut novel about what happens when a little girl who can’t forget befriends a man who’s desperate to remember. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar (Mar. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-316-27343-5). Jakub Procházka has risen from smalltime scientist to become the country’s first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him both the chance at heroism he’s dreamt of, and a way to atone for his father’s sins as a Communist informer, he ventures into the vast unknown.
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (Mar. 14, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-944211-30-1). Helen Moran is 32 years old, single, childless, college-educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She’s accepting a delivery from Ikea in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead.
First Love by Gwendoline Riley (Mar. 21, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-61219-626-8). Neve is beset by financial anxiety and isolation, but can’t quite manage to extricate herself from her volatile partner, Edwyn. At the peripheries, Neve’s stunted father and self-absorbed mother offer their own forms of cruelty toward their daughter. Neve is caught between withdrawal and self-assertion, depression and rage.
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff (Feb. 21, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-1981-8) is a novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during WWII, introducing two women and their stories of sacrifice and survival. 300,000-copy announced first printing.
I Am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy, trans. by Gini Alhadeff (July 25, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2598-4). Whether these stories involve famous writers (Calvino, Ingeborg Bachmann, Joseph Brodsky) or baronesses, 13th-century visionaries or tormented siblings growing up in elite Swiss boarding schools, Jaeggy’s signature intensity and precision mark these tales.
The Underworld by Kevin Canty (Mar. 7, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-393-29305-0) begins with a disastrous fire inspired by a true incident in an isolated silver mining town in Idaho in the 1970s. Everyone in town had a friend, a lover, a brother, a husband killed in the fire. The novel imagines the lives of a handful of fictional survivors and their loved ones.
Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin, trans. by Bonnie Huie (May 2, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-076-7) is set in the post–martial-law era of 1990s Taipei and depicts the coming-of-age of a group of queer misfits discovering love, friendship, and artistic affinity while hardly studying at Taiwan’s most prestigious university.
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán, trans. by Will Vanderhyden (May 16, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-940953-56-4). An aging writer, disillusioned with the state of literary culture, attempts to disappear in the most cosmically dramatic manner: traveling to the Large Hadron Collider, merging with the God particle, and transforming into an omnipresent deity—a meta-writer—capable of rewriting reality.
Autumn by Ali Smith (Feb. 7, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-101-87073-0). The first installment in a quartet, Smith explores what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.
The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink, trans. by Joyce Hackett and Bradley Schmidt (Mar. 14, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-101-87071-6). A missing painting, a mysterious woman, her husband and her lover come together in a story about obsession, creativity, and love.
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag, trans. by Srinath Perur (Feb. 7, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-0-14-311168-9) is a novel about a young man’s close-knit family splintered by success in rapidly changing present-day Bangalore, India.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman (Mar. 14, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-59420-561-3). Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She begins corresponding with Ivan, and with each email they exchange, the act of writing takes on new and increasingly mysterious meanings. At the end of the school year, Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English.
The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge (Mar. 7, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-101-98108-5). Marina’s husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular Lovecraft’s summer of 1934, when he lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow. Were they friends—or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he’s solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears.
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (Feb. 7, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-250-12457-9). Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbors. One is black, the other white. Both have recently been widowed, and are living with questions, disappointments, and secrets that have brought them shame. And each has something that the woman next door deeply desires.
Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin (Mar. 7, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-68144-245-7). Sir John Franklin’s 1845 campaign in search of the Northwest Passage ended in tragedy. Nothing from the expedition was retrieved, but when one of the chronometers appears a century and a half later in London, crudely disguised as a Victorian carriage clock, new questions arise about what really happened on that expedition.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Feb. 14, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8129-9534-3). On Feb. 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery, alone, and visits the crypt to spend time with his son’s body.
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki (May 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-101-90425-1). When Lady decides to take a break from her husband, she hires a live-in nanny so she can finish her book—but also possibly to avoid her children. S, a young artist/student, arrives on her doorstep to interview for the job and instantly connects with both her sons. But she soon begins to act in a way that causes Lady to question her reason for being there.
Random/Spiegel & Grau
The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico (Mar. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-399-58865-5) centers on a group of wealthy girls, their parents, teachers, the maids who serve them, and the guerrilla fighters who surround them, in a jigsaw puzzle of a debut novel set in Colombia during the continuing civil war.
Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan (Mar. 14, trade paper, $17.99, ISBN 978-1-63206-142-3). In the United Arab Emirates, foreign nationals constitute more than 80% of the population. Brought in to construct the towering monuments to wealth that punctuate the skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, these workers have no rights of citizenship and endure miserable living conditions. Unnikrishnan delves into their histories, myths, struggles, and triumphs.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Mar. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-7352-1217-6). In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city.
House of Names by Colm Tóibín (May 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-4021-1). “I have been acquainted with the smell of death.” So begins Tóibín’s retelling of Clytemnestra’s tale. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war.
Live from Cairo by Ian Bassingthwaighte (July 11, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-4687-9) is a debut novel about an impulsive American attorney, a methodical Egyptian translator, and a disillusioned Iraqi-American resettlement officer trying to protect a refugee who finds herself trapped in Cairo during the turbulent aftermath of the revolution.
Simon & Schuster
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (Feb. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-4441-7). A debut novel set in 1987—at once a romance and a coming-of-age story—about what happens when a 14-year-old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy, but then discovers she is his computer-loving soul mate.
Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister (Mar. 21, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-3522-2). For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not. In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin, unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.
The Standard Grand by Jay Baron Nicorvo (Apr. 25, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-10894-4). When an Army trucker goes AWOL before her third deployment, she meets a Vietnam vet and widower who inherited a tumbledown borscht belt resort. Converted into a halfway house for homeless veterans, the Standard—and its 2,000 acres over the Marcellus shale formation—is coveted by a Houston-based multinational company. Three violent acts are at the center of this debut.
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (July 11, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0-7352-2171-0). Raised in Pennsylvania, Clemmons’s heroine, Thandi, views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg, South Africa, as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love.