This season’s offerings feature career-spanning works and collections by up-and-coming essayists. Several also use classic literature as a means to examine personal experiences.
The Anthropocene Reviewed
John Green. Dutton, May 18 ($28, ISBN 978-0-525-55521-6)
Bestseller Green adapts his podcast of the same name into a collection of essays that survey the current geological age.
Blueberries: Essays Concerning Understanding
Ellena Savage. Text, Mar. 16 ($16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-922268-56-3)
These essays from Savage mix reportage with personal writing. The work spans countries and explores art and the female body.
The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000–2020
Rachel Kushner. Scribner, Apr. 6 ($26, ISBN 978-1-9821-5769-2)
Novelist Kushner’s first work of nonfiction features new, previously published, and expanded works of criticism and personal essay.
Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons
John Paul Brammer. Simon & Schuster, June 8 ($26, ISBN 978-1-9821-4149-3)
LGBTQ advice columnist Brammer writes of his experience growing up queer and biracial and answers life’s questions for readers.
Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
Hanif Abdurraqib. Random House, Mar. 30 ($27, ISBN 978-1-9848-0119-7)
Abdurraqib, author of Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, returns with a study of Black performance in America.
Lolita in the Afterlife: On Beauty, Risk, and Reckoning with the Most Indelible and Shocking Novel of the Twentieth Century
Edited by Jenny Minton Quigley. Vintage, Mar. 16 ($16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-9848-9883-8)
Featuring work from such writers as Roxane Gay, Lauren Groff, Victor LaValle, and Cheryl Strayed, these essays examine Nabokov’s Lolita and its lasting impact.
The Letters of Robert Frost, Vol. 3: 1929–1936
Edited by Mark Richardson et al. Belknap, Apr. 1 ($39.95, ISBN 978-0-674-72665-9)
This volume of Frost’s letters finds the poet at the height of his writing career as the Great Depression begins and his daughter Marjorie dies.
North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard’s Work
Michael Blanding. Hachette, Mar. 30 ($30, ISBN 978-0-316-49324-6)
At the heart of this investigation is scholar Dennis McCarthy, a Shakespeare devotee who believes that a man named Thomas North was the inspiration for all of Shakespeare’s classics.
Taking a Long Look: Essays on Culture, Literature and Feminism in Our Time
Vivian Gornick. Verso, Mar. 16 ($26.95, ISBN 978-1-78873-977-1)
This collection from prolific essayist and critic Gornick spans four decades of her career. Our review calls it “a parade of greatest hits.”
Elissa Washuta. Tin House, Apr. 27 ($26.95, ISBN 978-1-951142-39-1)
Washuta centers this collection on Native spiritual practices and how they’ve been transformed into modern trends, weaving her own experience and connection to the occult with cultural criticism.
Essays & Literary Criticism Listings
The Golden Age of the American Essay: 1945–1970, edited by Phillip Lopate (Apr. 6, $17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-525-56733-2), collects essays from some of the 20th century’s best-known writers and critics, including James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Vladimir Nabokov, and Susan Sontag.
The Artful Dickens: The Tricks and Ploys of the Great Novelist by John Mullan (May 11, $28, ISBN 978-1-4088-6681-8) looks into how Dickens named and killed his characters, and the joy of reading his work aloud, among other topics.
Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told? Essays by Jenny Diski (Apr. 20, $28, ISBN 978-1-5266-2190-0). Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor at London Review of Books, selects essays by the late English writer Diski.
Wild Belief: Poets and Prophets in the Wilderness by Nick Ripatrazone (May 18, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-5064-6463-3). A contributing editor at The Millions surveys representations of nature and wilderness across literary genres.
Broken Ground: Poetry and the Demon of History by William Logan (May 11, $35, ISBN 978-0-231-20106-3). Critic Logan covers classic poets such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, and contemporary ones, including James Franco and Johnny Cash, in his latest collection.
To Write as If Already Dead by Kate Zambreno (July 6, $20 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-231-18845-6). This meditation on Herve Guibert’s novel To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life is a hybrid work in essay form, both literary criticism and memoir.
Lost in Summerland: Essays by Barrett Swanson (May 18, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-418-5). In Swanson’s first collection, he wonders what it means to be an American, specifically in the Midwest.
This Is How We Come Back Stronger: Feminist Writers on Turning Crisis into Change, edited by Feminist Book Society (Apr. 6, $25.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-952177-90-3). These works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction focus on the cracks in society exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Big Reader: Essays by Susan Olding (May 1, $22.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-988298-81-8). Olding uses literature as a window into her own life—she writes of Anna Karenina and her own marriage, and muses on Doris Lessing and what it means to be a writer—in this ode to books and reading.
Black Nerd Problems by William Evans (July 6, $27, ISBN 978-1-9821-5023-5). These essays on pop culture from the creator of the website of the same name span such topics as media representation and Mario Kart.
See/Saw: Looking at Photographs by Geoff Dyer (May 4, $20 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64445-044-4) focuses on the history of photography from the early 20th century to the present, in essays that cover such artists as Roy DeCarava and Alex Webb.
The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture by Grace Perry (June 1, $16.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-250-76014-2). A contributor to the Onion trains her gaze on the early aughts in this collection of criticism and personal writing.
The Window Seat: Notes from a Life in Motion by Aminatta Forna (May 11, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-5858-1) collects new and previously published work from novelist Forna, covering trauma, memory, and love.
Goodbye, Again: Essays, Reflections, and Illustrations by Jonny Sun (Mar. 23, $19.99, ISBN 978-0-06-288085-7). The author of Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too matches his illustrations with essays and poems that use humor to address loneliness and happiness.
Song of Ourselves: Walt Whitman and the Fight for Democracy by Mark Edmundson (Apr. 13, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-23716-2) uses Whitman’s work, specifically the poem “Song of Myself,” to show what the poet can teach modern readers about democracy.
James Baldwin’s Another Country: Bookmarked by Kim McLarin (Feb. 9, $14.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-63246-121-6). In this installment of IG’s Bookmarked series, essayist and novelist McLarin shows how Baldwin’s 1962 novel has inspired her work.
A Whole World: Letters from James Merrill, edited by Langdon Hammer and Stephen Yenser (Mar. 16, $40, ISBN 978-1-101-87550-6). Pulitzer-winning poet James Merrill was an avid letter writer, and this volume highlights a wide range of both his personal and professional correspondence.
Spilt Milk: Essays by Courtney Zoffness (Mar. 2, $22, ISBN 978-1-952119-14-9). Zoffness debuts with a collection about motherhood and inheritance.
New York Review Books
Gallery of Clouds by Rachel Eisendrath (Apr. 13, $18.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68137-543-4). Critic Eisendrath introduces readers to Arcadia, a 16th-century romance by Philip Sidney that influenced the likes of Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf, yet has been lost to history.
Appropriate: A Provocation by Paisley Rekdal (Feb. 16, $15.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-324-00358-8). Poet Rekdal addresses the history and implications of cultural appropriation in art.
Henry James: A Very Short Introduction by Susan L. Mizruchi (June 1, $11.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-19-094438-4) offers an entry point to the work of Henry James and analyzes some of his best-known novels, among them Daisy Miller, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Turn of the Screw.
Pen & Sword History
The Dark Side of Alice in Wonderland by Angela Youngman (May 30, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-5267-8581-7) shines a light on the grimmer parts of a children’s classic and surveys modern references to the tale.
Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery and Abolition, edited by Michelle Commander and Kevin Young (Feb. 9, $18 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-14-313608-8). The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center pairs with Penguin Classics for this anthology of the writings of well-known abolitionists, as well as lesser-known works that date from the era of transatlantic slavery through Reconstruction.
Billy Wilder on Assignment: Dispatches from Weimar Berlin and Interwar Vienna, edited by Noah Isenberg, trans. by Shelley Frisch (Apr. 27, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-691-19494-3), collects early works by screenwriter and director Billy Wilder from his time as a freelance reporter in Europe, translated into English for the first time.
Nabokov and the Real World: Between Appreciation and Defense by Robert Alter (Mar. 16, $19.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-691-21193-0). While critics have accused the Lolita author’s work of being detached from reality, Alter makes a case that Vladimir Nabokov was deeply concerned with the world around him.
Languages of Truth: Essays 2003–2020 by Salman Rushdie (May 25, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-13317-0). These new and revised essays from Rushdie cover language and literature; he writes of such authors as Toni Morrison and Samuel Beckett and wonders about truth and censorship.
The Poet and the Publisher: The Case of Alexander Pope, Esq., of Twickenham versus Edmund Curll, Bookseller in Grub Street by Pat Rogers (May 17, $25, ISBN 978-1-78914-416-1). Alexander Pope, a poet, and Edmund Curll, a publisher, had a notoriously adversarial relationship in 18th-century London. This account highlights its absurdity and touches on its significance in the world of copyright.
Simon & Schuster
Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature by Angus Fletcher (Mar. 9, $30, ISBN 978-
1-9821-3597-3). Fletcher’s study of innovation in literature puts writers right up there with scientists in terms of technical discoveries. Though these were on the page and include such literary devices as the plot twist and tragic character flaws, Fletcher makes the case that they are nonetheless crucial advancements.
Thames & Hudson
Building for Hope by Marwa Al-Sabouni (Apr. 13, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-500-34372-2). Al-Sabouni follows up Battle for Home with this collection of essays that examines how urban planning influences conflict around the world.
Migratory Birds by Mariana Oliver, trans. by Julia Sanches (June 8, $15.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-945492-52-5). Oliver travels the globe to track migrating cranes, question language and desire, and ruminate on what to make of the familiar and the unfamiliar.
Two Dollar Radio
Night Rooms: Essays by Gina Nutt (Mar. 23, $15.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-953387-00-4). Poet Nutt uses horror films as a way to study grief and loss.
Univ. of Chicago
The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination by Philip Ball (Apr. 23, $30, ISBN 978-0-226-71926-9) makes a case that myths are not things of the past. Modern myths, Ball posits, are still being written and are just as crucial and revelatory as ancient ones.
Univ. of Georgia
Southbound: Essays on Identity, Inheritance, and Social Change by Anjali Enjeti (Apr. 15, $24.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-8203-6006-5). Journalist and activist Enjeti tackles politics in the South, voter suppression, the AIDS epidemic, and her own reckoning with feminism and racism.
Univ. of Massachusetts
White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, and Writing by Jennifer De Leon (Mar. 26, $19.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-62534-567-7). YA novelist De Leon makes her nonfiction debut with an essay collection concerning her return to her parents’ native Guatemala and the lessons she learned there.
Univ. of Minnesota
Outward: Adrienne Rich’s Expanding Solitudes by Ed Pavlic (June 1, $24.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-5179-1078-5). Drawing on his interactions with poet Adrienne Rich, Pavlic draws attention to different forms of solitude in Rich’s work, and makes a case that the poems on interpersonal relationships are her most poignant.
Univ. of Pennsylvania
Ghosts, Holes, Rips and Scrapes: Shakespeare in 1619, Bibliography in the Longue Durée by Zachary Lesser (Mar. 26, $49.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-5294-1) analyzes a collection of Shakespeare’s work produced in 1619, four years before the First Folio. Many of the works were fraudulent, which was only discovered in the early 20th century.
Abolition Geography: Selected Essays and Interviews by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, edited by Brenna Bhandar and Alberto Toscano (June 8, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-83976-170-6). This collection is the first from prison abolitionist and scholar Gilmore, whose writing and interviews on incarceration and race span 20 years.
Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays by Lauren Hough (Apr. 13, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-593-08076-4). Hough debuts with a collection of essays that cover her childhood as a member of the Children of God cult to her roving adulthood.
Love Letters: Vita and Virginia by Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf (Mar. 30, $14.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-78487-672-2). The years-long relationship between Sackville-West and Woolf is documented in their letters and diary entries; introduction by Alison Bechdel.
The Craft of Poetry: A Primer in Verse by Lucy Newlyn (Apr. 20, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-25191-3). The poet uses her own original work to break down a variety of forms in the genre.
How the Just So Stories Were Made: The Brilliance and Tragedy Behind Kipling’s Celebrated Tales for Little Children by John Batchelor (May 25, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-23718-4) breaks down Rudyard Kipling’s life and work in this study of the author’s Just So Stories.