To no one’s surprise, many of this season’s titles are up-to-the-minute in their concerns, but others take a break from the headlines to look backward at the authors’ bodies of work or personal histories.

Top 10

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives

Edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Abrams, Mar. 27

In protest of President Trump’s executive orders blocking or limiting entry to the U.S., Nguyen assembles a group of original accounts of being forced to leave one’s country and seek refuge.

Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life

Peggy Orenstein. Harper Paperbacks, Feb. 27

Orenstein, who became a leading feminist voice with books such as Girls & Sex, offers her first essay collection, which consists of her most influential previously published pieces.

Feel Free: Essays

Zadie Smith. Penguin Press, Feb. 6

Reminding readers that Smith is not just a leading fiction writer but also a singular essayist, this compilation surveys recent pivotal events in culture and politics, and in Smith’s own life.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays

Alexander Chee. HMH/Mariner, Apr. 24

Chee, author of the acclaimed novel The Queen of the Night, traces his maturation as a writer and activist in his first book of essays.

Look Alive out There: Essays

Sloane Crosley. FSG/MCD, Apr. 3

Marking the 10th anniversary of Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake, Crosley has written another collection of witty essays, though these have a more serious tone.

Near-Death Experiences: And Others

Robert Gottlieb. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June

The famed book editor follows up his career memoir Avid Reader with this collection of his nonfiction writings, on subjects including authors, classic movies, and future U.S. presidents.

See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary

Lorrie Moore. Knopf, Apr. 3

The nonfiction debut from novelist and short story author Moore shares a broad swath of her essays, articles, and reviews, from 1983 to the present.

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion

Michelle Dean. Grove, Apr. 10

Critic Dean profiles 10 famous female writers—including Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, and Zora Neale Hurston—who shared the quality of “sharpness,” or precision in thought and wit.

Up Up, Down Down: Essays

Cheston Knapp. Scribner, Feb. 6

The managing editor of the short fiction powerhouse Tin House presents seven linked essays that coalesce into a coming-of-age chronicle.

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry. Counterpoint. May 8

Berry, a longtime advocate for a responsible human relationship to the natural world, shares a career survey that spans 50 years and a life spent in cultivation of the land.

Essays & Literary Criticism


The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Mar. 27, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-4197-2948-5). Pulitzer-winner Nguyen gathers stories from writers who, like him, have been refugees, as an indictment of President Trump’s executive orders restricting or limiting access to the United States.

Agate Midway

Half-Lights at Evening: Essays on Hope by David Masciotra (June 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57284-252-6). Presenting a series of personal essays, Masciotra describes being raised in a community that exemplifies the “white working class” widely discussed during the 2016 presidential election.


Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions, and Criticisms by Michelle Tea (May 8, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-936932-18-4.) Essayist Tea, in her first collection of journalism, profiles lives at the fringes of American society and considers memoir as a genre.

British Library

Science Fiction: A Literary History, edited by Roger Luckhurst (May 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-7123-5692-3), surveys the genre from the 19th century to the present and, through contributions from international scholars, reveals it as a world literature, with roots in numerous countries.

Coach House

Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life by Jenny Boully (Apr. 3, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-510-1). Drawing out a connection between the experience of falling in love and the life of a writer, Boully considers literary theory, philosophy, and linguistics alongside memories, dreams, and fantasies.


Criminals: Essays by Robert Anthony Siegel (July 17, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-037-8) tells the story of one family’s progress through the years, from Siegel’s childhood in New York City in the 1970s to his father’s death in 2002.

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry (May 8, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-028-6) calls for a harmonious relationship between humanity and nature in these prescient essays, drawn from his 50-year writing career.

Duke Univ.

Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France by Magdalena J. Zaborowska (Apr. 6, trade paper, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-8223-6983-7). The last 16 years of James Baldwin’s life were spent in the south of France. Drawing on new interviews and unpublished letters, Zaborowska explores Baldwin’s under-appreciated later works and sprawling house, “Chez Baldwin.”

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Near-Death Experiences: And Others by Robert Gottlieb (June, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-21991-8). Veteran editor Gottlieb (Avid Reader) presents a collection of his essays, written mostly for the New York Review of Books, on topics that include classic American authors, the movie star Mary Astor, the world of dance, and Donald Trump.

Sabers and Utopias: Visions of Latin America; Essays by Mario Vargas Llosa, trans. by Anna Kushner (Feb. 6, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-25373-8). A Nobel laureate shares his view of Latin America, considering the perils and possibilities facing a widely varied set of countries.

What Are We Doing Here? Essays by Marilynne Robinson (Feb. 20, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-28221-9). The latest nonfiction book from Pulitzer-winning novelist Robinson (Lila) discusses theological, political, and contemporary themes, in a collection PW’s review says “stands up for a compassionate faith, the value of education, and a sense of decency.”


Look Alive out There: Essays by Sloane Crosley (Apr. 3, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-27984-4). A new collection of essays combines the wit familiar to fans of Crosley (How Did You Get This Number) with a new emphasis on darker subject matter, such as the author’s struggle with a debilitating health problem.

FSG Originals

Acid West: Essays by Joshua Wheeler (Apr. 17, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-374-53580-3). A debut book of essays touches on American myths and the Southwestern landscape, depicting a treasure hunt for buried video games, a festival for UFO devotees, and the world’s first atomic blast, as witnessed by the author’s great-grandfather.

Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan by Ted Scheinman (Mar. 6, trade paper, $14, ISBN 978-0-86547-821-3). This work of frank memoir-cum-immersive journalism recounts how Scheinman ended up organizing the first UNC–Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Camp.

Feminist Press

Go Home!, edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Mar. 13, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-936932-01-6). In works of fiction, memoir, and poetry, Asian diasporic writers seek to move beyond the model minority myth and showcase varied perspectives on what it means to feel at home.


Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean (Apr. 10, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-2509-5). Mixing biography, literary criticism, and cultural history, critic Dean’s debut explores a group of brilliant women in 20th-century letters, including Hannah Arendt, Pauline Kael, and Janet Malcolm.


What to Read and Why by Francine Prose (July 3, hardcover, $23.99, ISBN 978-0-06-239786-7). Arguing for the value of reading in a distracted age, Prose invites rediscovery of literary greats like Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Jane Austen, as well as appreciation of contemporary writers such as Roberto Bolaño, Jennifer Egan, and Mohsin Hamid.

Harper Paperbacks

Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life by Peggy Orenstein (Feb. 27, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-06-268890-3). In the first collection of essays from Orenstein (Girls & Sex), the New York Times bestselling author compiles previously published pieces, alongside an original introduction and personal reflections on each piece. 30,000-copy announced first printing.

Harper Perennial

How to Read Poetry Like a Professor: A Quippy and Sonorous Guide to Verse by Thomas C. Foster (Mar. 27, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-06-211378-8). The author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor gives readers a primer to the reading of poetry. 40,000-copy announced first printing.

Harvard Univ.

The Annotated Prison Writings of Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel (May 7, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-674-98438-7). Wilde wrote two of his most acclaimed works, The Ballad of Reading Gaol and De Profundis, while imprisoned for “gross indecency.” Frankel presents these and other writings with historical illustrations and facing-page annotations.

Posthomerica by Quintus Smyrnaeus, trans. by Neil Hopkinson (June 1, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-674-99716-5). Composed in Greek between the late second and mid-fourth centuries C.E., this epic poem, newly translated into English, fills in the story of the Trojan War between the end of The Iliad and beginning of The Odyssey.


More Than True: The Wisdom of Fairy Tales by Robert Bly (Mar. 27, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-250-15819-2). Bly (Iron John), a National Book Award–winning poet, revisits selected fairy tales to examine how they capture human nature. Also included is some of Bly’s unpublished poetry.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Orwell on Truth by George Orwell (Apr. 3, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-1-328-50786-0). Quotations, with accompanying context, from across Orwell’s career show how his writing and worldview developed over the decades, informed by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War and later by WWII.


How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee (Apr. 24, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-328-76452-2). Novelist Chee (The Queen of the Night) focuses his first nonfiction collection on the intersection of his personal life, writing career, and political advocacy.


The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life by Richard Russo (May 8, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-5247-3351-3). In nine essays, Russo provides insight into his life as a fiction writer, teacher, friend, and reader.

The Rub of Time: Bellow, Nabokov, Hitchens, Travolta, Trump: Essays and Reportage, 1994–2017 by Martin Amis (Feb. 6, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-4000-4453-5). The latest nonfiction collection from the acclaimed novelist (The Zone of Interest) tackles a wide range of topics: politics, sports, celebrity, America, and, of course, literature.

See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary by Lorrie Moore (Apr. 3, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-5247-3248-6). Moore, celebrated for her novels and short stories, gathers over 50 essays, articles, and reviews written between 1983 and 2017, variously concerned with literature, politics, and pop culture.

Little, Brown

Eating My Heroes: On the Road and at the Table with America’s Finest Writers by Rick Bass (June 5, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-38123-9) recounts a years-long pilgrimage undertaken by Bass to thank his heroes and mentors as a writer. Bass describes the conversations and meals that ensued.


Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto by Mark Polizotti (Mar. 30, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-262-03799-0). The prolific literary translator of books by Patrick Modiano and Gustave Flaubert explores the nature of his craft, inviting readers to view the translator not as a “traitor” but as the author’s creative partner.


Kiss: Intimacies from Writers, edited by Brian Turner (Feb. 6, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-63526-3). In this diverse anthology of essays, stories, poems, and graphic memoirs, authors including Nick Flynn, Kristen Radtke, and Pico Iyer explore the act of kissing.

Penguin Press

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith (Feb. 6, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-59420-625-2). The latest essay collection from celebrated fiction writer Smith (Swing Time) collects previously unpublished work alongside well-known essays such as “Joy” and “Find Your Beach.”

Penguin Random House Australia

A Universe of One’s Own by Antonia Hayes (Apr. 1, trade paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-0-14-378249-0) describes how, after Hayes’s debut novel, Relativity, was published, she read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and gained new insights into the challenges facing female authors.


On the Fly! Hobo Literature and Songs, 1879–1941 by Iain McIntyre (July 1, trade paper, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-62963-518-7). The first anthology of its kind brings together dozens of stories, poems, songs, stories, and articles produced by hoboes, along with a glossary of the subculture’s vernacular and ample illustrations and photos.

Princeton Univ.

The Last Utopians: Four Late-Nineteenth-Century Visionaries and Their Legacy by Michael Robertson (July 31, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-15416-9). Delving into the biographies of four key figures—Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman—Robertson seeks to reintroduce today’s dystopia-saturated readers to the utopianism of the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

On Henry Miller: Or, How to Be an Anarchist by John Burnside (Mar. 20, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-691-16687-2) argues that Henry Miller, a writer whose critical reputation has been in steep decline since the 1970s, is still valuable, not for his often misogynistic writing on sex but for his anarchist sensibility.

Random House

Conan Doyle for the Defense: A Sensational British Murder, the Quest for Justice, and the World’s Greatest Detective Writer by Margalit Fox (June 26, hard cover, $27, ISBN 978-0-399-58945-4). This true-crime procedural describes how the creator of Sherlock Holmes helped overturn a wrongful murder conviction.


Essays on World Literature: Aeschylus—Dante—Shakespeare by Ismail Kadare, trans. by Ani Kokobobo (Feb. 20, trade paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-63206-174-4). The Man Booker International–winning author discusses three giants of world literature in relation to the theme of resisting totalitarianism.


Beyond Measure: Essays by Rachel Z. Arndt (Apr. 10, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-946448-13-2). Arndt, a healthcare reporter and former Iowa Review nonfiction editor, discusses the machineries and processes underlying modern life. Her topics include sporting competition weigh-ins, tedious daily commutes, dating apps, and elliptical machines.


Lear: The Great Image of Authority by Harold Bloom (Apr. 24, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-5011-6419-4). The famous Shakespeare scholar presents a portrait of King Lear in the third of five books on the playwright’s pivotal characters. PW’s review says Bloom’s work “has a depth of observation acquired from a lifetime of study.”

Up Up, Down Down: Essays by Cheston Knapp (Feb. 6, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-5011-6102-5). Seven linked essays from the managing editor of Tin House take on the nature of identity, the author’s own coming-of-age, and important life questions.


True Stories: The Collected Short Non-Fiction by Helen Garner (May 15, hardcover, $32.95, ISBN 978-1-925498-87-5). Celebrating the 75th birthday of Garner, this collection features the essays, stories, and diary entries of True Stories, The Feel of Steel, and Everywhere I Look, as well as new uncollected pieces.

Tin House

Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. Le Guin, with David Naimon (July 17, hardcover, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-941040-99-7). In a series of conversations with Between The Covers’s Naimon, Le Guin discusses her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.


An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton (June 26, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7908-5). Between 2010 and 2013, Walton (What Makes This Book So Great) wrote a series of posts for, surveying each year’s finalists for the Hugo Award. These writings, lightly revised, provide a survey of the science fiction genre at these points in time.

Univ. of California

The Odyssey: A New Translation by Peter Green by Homer (Mar. 28, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-520-29363-2). Intended for both general readers and students, this new rendition draws on Green’s command of ancient Greek and includes such useful features as a glossary, and chapter summaries.

Univ. of New Mexico

Mine: Essays by Sarah Viren (Mar. 1, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-8263-5954-4). This debut essay collection considers the theme of ownership, beginning with a selection about being given a man’s furniture while he’s on trial for murder.

Univ. of Notre Dame

Flannery O’Connor and Robert Giroux: A Publishing Partnership by Patrick Samway (Mar. 30, hardcover, $39, ISBN 978-0-268-10309-5) sheds new light on an area of O’Connor’s life—her relationship with her editors—previously underserved by critics and biographers.

Univ. of Pennsylvania

How the Anglo-Saxons Read Their Poems by Daniel Donoghue (Mar. 12, hardcover, $69.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-4994-1). Harvard professor Donoghue studies Old English poems, including Beowulf, The Wanderer, and The Dream of the Rood, in terms of a sophisticated collaboration between reader and scribe.

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

The Annotated Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, and Anthony Rizzuto (July 17, trade paper, $22, ISBN 978-0-8041-6888-5). The first fully annotated edition of Raymond Chandler’s 1939 classic bears an introduction by Jonathan Lethem and hundreds of notes and photographs.

Yale Univ.

Journeying by Claudio Magris, trans. by Anne Milano Appel (Mar. 20, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-21851-0), represents a selection of the well-traveled author’s writings during trips over several decades, to places including Australia, Iran, Norway, Spain, and Vietnam.

Name Me a Word: Indian Writers Reflect on Writing, edited by Meena Alexander (June 19, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-22258-6). Alexander, a poet and essayist, brings together leading 20th- and 21st-century voices from India and the Indian diaspora in this anthology.

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