Familiar and much-admired voices will share shelf space this season with introductions to less familiar authors, along with considerations of the sometimes-fraught subject of literary friendship and the first-ever “biography” of one of the 20th century’s most important books.
The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age
Leo Damrosch. Yale Univ., Mar. 26 (hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-300-21790-2)
Damrosch, known for his biographies of John Milton and Jonathan Swift, takes on an entire cast of literary and intellectual all-stars, including Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, and Adam Smith, as well as the titular duo.
Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative
Jane Alison. Catapult, Apr. 2 (trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-948226-13-4)
Novelist Alison’s stylistic primer promises to stand apart, among the many writing guides publishing next year, in its tightly focused attention to the nuts and bolts of technique.
The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
Dorian Lynskey. Doubleday, June 4 (hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54405-4)
Lynskey aims to be the first writer to examine every aspect of Orwell’s ever-more-relevant classic, from its literary roots to its tortured creation in post-WWII Britain, and its long cultural afterlife.
Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of Filth Elder John Waters
John Waters. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 4 (hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-21496-8)
Cult filmmaker Waters now eschews the silver screen, but fans still flock to new offerings of his subversive wit—such as this look at the threat of late-life respectability—on the printed page.
Of Me and Others: 1952–2019
Alasdair Gray. Canongate, July 2 (trade paper, $24, ISBN 978-1-78689-520-2)
A Glaswegian literary iconoclast equally acclaimed for his novels and large-scale murals shares the life experiences and political principles that influenced his work in his first essay collection.
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
Toni Morrison. Knopf, Feb. 12 (hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-525-52103-7)
One of the most respected voices in modern American letters, Morrison assembles a four-decade-spanning collection of reflections on politics and art.
A Tradition of Rupture
Alejandra Pizarnik., trans. by Cole Heinowitz. Ugly Duckling, June 1 (trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-
Admirers of the late Argentinian writer Pizarnik have included Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortázar, and Octavio Paz. While her poetry is now mostly available in English, much of her critical writing has not been—until this collection.
What I Stand On: The Collected Essays of Wendell Berry 1969–2017
Wendell Berry. Library of America, Apr. 2 (hardcover, $75, ISBN 978-1-59853-610-2)
Celebrating a six-decade writing career, this two-volume edition traces Berry’s prescient and still-evolving thinking as a farmer, activist, and environmental philosopher.
What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About
Edited by Michele Filgate. Simon & Schuster, Apr. 30 (hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-982107-34-5)
Expanding on Filgate’s Longreads essay “What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About,” contributors including Alexander Chee, Leslie Jamison, and Lidia Yuknavitch reflect on the same theme.
Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal
Yuval Taylor. Norton, Mar. 26 (hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24391-8)
Continuing the trend of reexamining the Harlem Renaissance, after Jeffrey C. Stewart’s National Book Award–winning The New Negro, Taylor looks at the friendship, and eventual bitter split, between two of the movement’s leading lights.
Essays & Literary Criticism Listings
The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay (Feb. 12, hardcover, $23.95, ISBN 978-1-61620-792-2). Gay, winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry, assembles a collection of short lyric essays. Written over the course of a year, the pieces find causes for wonder in everyday life.
I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Mary Laura Philpott (Apr. 2, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-982102-80-7). The essayist and bookseller opens up about dealing with a personal crisis during which she felt outwardly successful but inwardly anxious and unsatisfied.
Don’t Read Poetry: A Book about How to Read Poems by Stephanie Burt (May 21, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-465-09450-9). A critic and poet helps newcomers to poetry appreciate a sometimes challenging art form, dispelling common misconceptions and giving reading recommendations that range from Shakespeare’s sonnets to contemporary offerings on Tumblr and Twitter.
Black Dog & Leventhal
Booked: A Traveler’s Guide to Literary Locations Around the World by Richard Kreitner (Apr. 30, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-316-42087-7) provides full-color photographs of 80 famous literary locations, including To Kill a Mockingbird’s courthouse in Monroeville, Ala.; the inspiration for Pride and Prejudice’s Pemberley; and Memoirs of a Geisha’s Kyoto Bridge.
Hard to Love: Essays and Confessions by Briallen Hopper (Feb. 5, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-63286-880-0) argues for the importance of accommodating multiple forms of love and friendship in a culture oriented toward couples and the nuclear family. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through by T Fleischmann (June 4, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-547-7). Fleischmann, a PW reviewer, meditates on the relationship between art and the body, framing the subject through the work of artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
Shakespeare’s Library: Unlocking the Greatest Mystery in Literature by Stuart Kells (Apr. 2, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-183-2). In four centuries of searching, not a single trace of Shakespeare’s personal library has ever been found. Kells follows the trails of the hunters and explores different theories about the library, and by extension Shakespeare himself.
Solid Seasons: The Friendship of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson by Jeffrey S. Cramer (Apr. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-131-3) presents a dual biography of two renowned American writers, drawing on their letters and journals, as well as their contemporaries’ accounts, to chronicle their 25-year friendship.
How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide for Readers Afraid of Poetry by Adam Sol (Mar. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-77041-456-3). Derived from the author’s blog, this assemblage of 35 short essays takes the poetry-unversed through a number of contemporary works, aiming to demonstrate the pleasures to be found in reading poetry.
A Summer with Montaigne by Antoine Compagnon, trans. by Tina Kover (May 21, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-60945-530-9) sets out to prove the famed author’s relevance to the modern era, addressing timeless themes of the Essays—such as religion, war, power, friendship, and human fallibility—over the course of 40 short chapters.
Faber & Faber
The Poem by Don Paterson (Apr. 16, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-571-20662-9). Drawing on linguistics, metaphysics, psychology, and cognitive science, as well as literary analysis, the professor of poetry at the University of St. Andrews and poetry editor at Picador Macmillan looks at how and why poems are written.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A Desert Harvest: New and Selected Essays by Bruce Berger (Mar. 12, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-22057-0) spans the course of Berger’s writing career with a collection of his writings on the American desert, including previously unpublished pieces and essays from his desert trilogy, The Telling Distance, There Was a River, and Almost an Island.
Mr. Straight Arrow: The Career of John Hersey, Author of Hiroshima by Jeremy Treglown (Apr. 23, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-28026-0) reevaluates the writing of John Hersey, best remembered for Hiroshima, showing how this frank account of the 1945 atomic bombing typified a body of work devoted to truth and social change.
Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays by Janet Malcolm (Feb. 19, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-27949-3). The acclaimed nonfiction writer presents an array of previously published writings, most from the New Yorker or the New York Review of Books, on such varied subjects as Rachel Maddow, Russian literature translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, and concert pianist Yuja Wang.
Whatever Gets You Through: Twelve Women on Life After Sexual Assault, edited by Stacey May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee (Apr. 16, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-77164-373-3). Twelve female writers, including Juliane Okot Bitek, Alicia Elliott, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, and Heather O’Neill, share personal essays about life in the wake of sexual trauma.
Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker by Kathleen Hale (June 4, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-8021-2909-3). Over the course of six essays, the debut essay collection from YA author Hale takes on themes of predators and trauma, to both humorous and confrontational effect.
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying: Essays by Bassey Ikpi (Aug., trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-06-269834-6). Ikpi discusses navigating bipolar II and anxiety throughout her life, from her move from Nigeria to Stillwater, Okla., at four years old, to her career as a spoken-word artist, and her diagnosis and embrace of mental health advocacy.
John Williams’ Stoner: Bookmarked: William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life by Steve Almond (June 21, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-63246-087-5). In this installment of Ig’s Bookmarked series, Almond takes a personal look at John Williams’s 1965 novel Stoner, a surprise early 2000s bestseller after its originally muted reception.
The Scandal of the Century: Journalistic Writings by Gabriel García Márquez (May 14, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-525-65642-5). García Márquez considered his journalism—his original avocation—even more integral to his legacy than his fiction. This collection gathers together pieces from the late 1940s to the mid-’80s. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
White by Bret Easton Ellis (Apr. 16, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0-525-65630-2). The controversial and outspoken novelist’s nonfiction debut denounces censorship, including self-censorship, and the premium placed on likability in the social media age. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
Library of America
Walt Whitman Speaks: His Final Thoughts on Life, Writing, Spirituality, and the Promise of America, edited by Brenda Wineapple (Apr. 2, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-59853-614-0), selects key insights from Whitman’s late-life conversations with a young admirer, originally published in nine volumes, that convey the continuing power and relevance of the poet’s thought.
Little, Brown UK
The Audacity of Hype: Bewilderment, Sleaze and Other Tales of the 21st Century by Armando Iannucci (Apr. 16, trade paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-63149-305-8). The creator of HBO’s Veep applies his satirical perspective to various targets, including feckless political elites, disaster movies, WMDs, and celebrity culture.
Writing to Persuade: How to Bring People Over to Your Side by Trish Hall (June 11, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-4087-0197-3). A former New York Times Op-Ed editor, Hall—who has worked with Nobel Prize winners, Vladimir Putin, and Angelina Jolie, among others—dispenses advice on effective written communication to an audience that includes students, aspiring authors, and job seekers.
This One Will Hurt You by Paul Crenshaw (Mar. 18, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-8142-5521-6). Ranging in subject from meth addiction in the South to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, this collection combines humor and pathos in a series of essays about existing in a violent and unstable world.
The Writer’s Practice: Building Confidence in Your Nonfiction Writing by John Warner (Feb. 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-14-313315-5). Drawing on his personal experience as a teacher, as well as up-to-date research in composition studies, Warner lays out a step-by-step framework for teaching writing.
How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency by Akiko Busch (Feb. 12, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-101-98041-5) explores the idea of invisibility in nature, art, and science. Busch searches for a way out of the constraints of a contemporary culture disdainful of privacy and insistent on self-exposure.
How the Classics Made Shakespeare by Jonathan Bate (Apr. 16, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-691-16160-0). Though in Ben Jonson’s words Shakespeare had “small Latin and less Greek,” Bates shows how, on the contrary, the Bard was steeped in the Greek and Roman classics, from his grammar school days to his London theatrical career.
Widows’ Words: Women Write on the Experience of Grief, the First Year, the Long Haul, and Everything in Between, edited by Nan Bauer-Maglin (Apr. 12, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8135-9953-3). In this collection, 43 women recount losing an intimate partner and share feelings of pain and renewed hope.
All the Fierce Tethers by Lia Purpura (Mar. 19, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-946448-30-9). A National Book Critics Award finalist presents a new essay collection, which applies her observational style to, among other topics, America’s national bird, the modern preoccupation with irony, and the racial divisions in her own Baltimore neighborhood.
Love Drones by Noam Dorr (July 9, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-946448-38-5). Israeli-born Dorr reflects on the country’s conflicts through his military service as a cryptographer. His continuing interest in pattern recognition informs such stylistic choices as sectional essays laid out according to the number of bombs exploded, and a catalogue of different kinds of guns.
Macbeth: A Dagger of the Mind by Harold Bloom (Apr. 2, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-5011-6425-5). Concluding a series of five short books about Shakespearean protagonists—previously, Falstaff, Cleopatra, Lear, and Iago—literary scholar Bloom looks at the title character of Macbeth as one of the playwright’s most compelling antiheroes.
Appendix Project: Talks and Essays by Kate Zambreno (Apr. 16, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-63590-076-7) serves as an addendum to Zambreno’s 2017 Book of Mutter, a meditation on her mother’s death. Her new work, written during the first year of her daughter’s life, reflects on memory, the maternal, and death in daily life.
On Cussing by Katherine Dunn (Mar. 26, trade paper, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-947793-26-2) gives a concise account of expletives and assembles a field guide to usage and type, from threats (“I’ll squash you like a shithouse mouse”) to portmanteau intensifiers (“Fan-fucking-tastic”).
Seasons: Desert Sketches by Ellen Meloy (Apr. 16, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-948814-01-0) collects 25 essays from the late Meloy, an NBCC Award finalist, about the human relationship with nature; foreword by Annie Proulx.
Univ. of Nebraska
Be with Me Always: Essays by Randon Billings Noble (Mar. 1, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-4962-0504-9). Influenced by Wuthering Heights, Noble considers the theme of being haunted, whether by the death of an English queen, the gaze of a nude model, or a near-death experience.
Univ. of Nevada
Two-Buck Chuck and the Marlboro Man: The New Old West: Essays: America’s True West by Frank Bergon (Mar. 6, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-948908-06-1) presents intimate portraits of residents of California’s San Joaquin Valley, including controversial vintner Fred Franzia and real-life Marlboro Man Darrell Winfield, in the process revealing continuities between the Old and New West.
Univ. of North Carolina
Mothers and Strangers: Essays on Motherhood from the New South, edited by Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith (Apr. 1, trade paper, $22, ISBN 978-1-4696-5167-5), shows 28 writers looking at notions about motherhood and asking what they do and don’t know about their own mothers. Contributors include Belle Boggs, Hal Crowther, and Stephanie Elizondo Griest.
Univ. of Pennsylvania
Paper Monsters: Persona and Literary Culture in Elizabethan England by Samuel Fallon (June 11, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-0-8122-5129-6) charts the emergence, in early 17th-century London, of a new kind of textual entity: semifictional personas who migrated between different texts and authors, in the process coming to seem like realistically unpredictable, multidimensional people.
The Poet and the Antiquaries: Chaucerian Scholarship and the Rise of Literary History, 1532–1635 by Megan L. Cook (Feb. 20, hardcover, $59.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-5082-4) discusses Chaucer as the first English author subjected to serious historical inquiry, particularly in terms of the 16th-century antiquarians who put out folio editions of his work.
A Delicate Aggression: Savagery and Survival in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop by David O. Dowling (Mar. 26, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-21584-7) follows the Iowa Writers’ Workshop since its early 1940s rise to prominence. With 28 Pulitzer winners and six U.S. poet laureates among its alumni and faculty, the program is shown to have a huge influence on American literature and creative writing pedagogy.
Snapshots by Claudio Magris, trans. by Anne Milano Appel (Feb. 26, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-300-21849-7), reflects on life and culture from 1999 to 2013 in a series of brief pieces. Topics include both moments from Magris’s personal life and subjects of controversy in the public sphere.
Who Wants to Be a Jewish Writer? And Other Essays by Adam Kirsch (Mar. 19, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-300-24013-9). Asking what defines Jewish literature, critic Kirsch looks at poetry, religion, and the linkages between them. He considers Jewish-American writers who have resisted being labeled as such, spirituality’s place in contemporary poetry, and literary reputation in the internet age.
This article has been updated with new bibliographic information.