Motherhood, the classics, and the power of literature get the spotlight this season, as do the collected works of some literary lions.

Top 10

Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative

Melissa Febos. Catapult, Mar. 15 ($16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64622-085-4)

Febos follows up Girlhood with essays about the strength that can be found in memoir writing. According to PW’s review, it’s a “whip-smart” mix of personal essay, criticism, and craft.

Cost of Living: Essays

Emily Maloney. Holt, Feb. 8 ($27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-21329-7)

Medical technician Maloney investigates what it means to care and be cared for in her debut, which considers her career working in medicine after attempting suicide.

Girls Can Kiss Now: Essays

Jill Gutowitz. Atria, Mar. 8 ($17 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-9821-5850-7)

Journalist and humorist Gutowitz blends cultural criticism and memoir, offering her takes on Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black, Lindsey Lohan, and the paparazzi as she recounts the triumphs and tragedies of coming-of-age as a queer woman in the late 1990s.

I’ll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife and Motherhood

Jessi Klein. Harper, Apr. 26 ($26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-298159-2)

Emmy Award–winning comedian Klein spotlights the myths, expectations, trials, tribulations, and wonders of motherhood in this collection.

The Letters of Thom Gunn

Edited by Michael Nott, August Kleinzahler, and Clive Wilmer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 24 ($45, ISBN 978-0-374-60569-8)

In these correspondences, poet Thomas Gunn reflects on the loss of his mother, his friendships, and the drugs, love, and loss that informed his best-known works.

Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes

Jazmina Barrera, trans. by Christina MacSweeney. Two Lines, May 3 ($21.95, ISBN 978-1-949641-30-1)

Motherhood takes center stage in Barrera’s follow-up to 2020’s On Lighthouses. She investigates the power of the body, and draws on the works of Louise Bourgeoise and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Living and Dying with Marcel Proust

Christopher Prendergast. Europa Compass, June 7 ($17 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-60945-760-0)

Prendergast, who edited Lydia Davis’s 2002 translation of Swann’s Way, delves into a litany of Proustian miscellany, including insomnia, memory, addiction, and humor.

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times

Azar Nafisi. Dey Street, Mar. 8 ($26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-294736-9)

Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, considers the power literature has in moments of political strife, offering a reading list for times of tumult.

Serious Face: Essays

Jon Mooallem. Random House, May 17 ($28, ISBN 978-0-525-50994-3)

Twelve essays from journalist Mooallem touch on a bird-breeding farmer, a society with a love of clouds, and a hospice in San Francisco, among other topics.

The Written World and the Unwritten World: Essays

Italo Calvino, trans. by Ann Goldstein. Mariner, July 12 ($16.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-544-14699-0)

Essays, articles, and interviews feature in this collection from the late novelist Calvino, which showcases his musings on translation, the avant-garde, and the future of the novel.

Essays & Literary Criticism Listings


The Lonely Stories: 22 Celebrated Writers on the Joys and Struggles of Being Alone, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett (Apr. 19, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-948226-60-8). Lena Dunham, Jesmyn Ward, Peter Ho Davies, and Maggie Shipstead are among the contributors featured in this collection on solitude and isolation.

Deep Vellum

The Book of Explanations by Tedi López Mills, trans. by Robin Myers (May 10, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64605-125-0). Poet Mills mines the everyday for meaning in these essays that touch on names, language, time, and memory.


Streaming Now: Postcards from the Thing That Is Happening by Laurie Stone (May 10, $19.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-948340-52-6). In this genre-bending collection, critic Stone focuses on the pandemic. Memoir, cultural commentary, and a bit of fiction come together in an examination of life in quarantine.


Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004 to 2021 by Margaret Atwood (Mar. 1, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-54748-2). Curiosity runs through these essays from novelist Atwood. She wonders about storytelling, truth, fairness, climate change, the pandemic, and a litany of other topics.

The Crane Wife: And Other Essays by C.J. Hauser (July 12, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54707-9) expands the novelist’s viral 2019 essay of the same name. Here, she looks at love, relationships, exes, and happiness.

Duke Univ.

Discovering Fiction by Yan Lianke, trans. by Carlos Rojas (June 3, $23.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4780-1830-8). Novelist Lianke muses on realism, modernism, and what he calls “mythorealism,” offering readings of works by Leo Tolstoy, Franz Kafka, and Gabriel García Márquez.


In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing by Elena Ferrante, trans. by Ann Goldstein (Mar. 15, $20, ISBN 978-1-60945-737-2), collects four of the novelist’s essays on the value of literature.

Fordham Univ.

Reading Shakespeare Reading Me by Leonard Barkan (Apr. 5, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8232-9919-5) recounts the many ways that Shakespeare’s works have influenced the author’s life, and how the plays have taught him about beauty, truth, death, and the power of performance.


Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts (Feb. 1, $27, ISBN 978-1-9821-7655-6) counters stories of Black trauma and hardship with a series of lyric essays on joy and resilience.


The Tribe: Portraits of Cuba by Carlos Manuel Álvarez, trans. by Frank Wynne (June 21, $17 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64445-090-1). Álvarez uses Latin America’s cronica form, which features short reportage pieces that are often published as columns, in this survey of Cuba’s history, art, politics, and underground figures.

Voice of the Fish: A Lyric Essay by Lars Horn (June 7, $16 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64445-089-5). Horn debuts with writings on the trans experience, as told via themes of myth, water, and aquatic life.


The Search for the Genuine: Selected Nonfiction by Jim Harrison (May 10, $28, ISBN 978-0-8021-5721-8) brings together unseen and previously published pieces that reflect on fishing, hunting, Buddhism, and Yellowstone.

Harper Perennial

Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes (Mar. 1, $17.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-06-313946-6). Helen, Pandora, Medea, and Medusa get a modern reading in this feminist corrective from classicist Hayes.

Patriarchy Blues: Reflections on Manhood by Frederick Joseph (May 17, $16.99, trade paper, ISBN 978-0-06-313832-2). Joseph follows up The Black Friend with essays that ask questions about fatherhood, toxic masculinity, and cultural expectations.


She’s Nice Though by Mia Mercado (July 5, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-309851-0). The Cut blogger Mercado explores the implications of growing up as an Asian woman in the Midwest.


Start Without Me: (I’ll Be There in a Minute) by Gary Janetti (Apr. 26, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-22585-6). Family Guy writer Janetti muses on life’s annoyances in these pieces.


Send Me into the Woods Alone: Essays on Motherhood by Erin Pepler (Apr. 19, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-988784-89-2). In
her debut, journalist Pepler touches on the highs and lows of being a mother.


Rhyme’s Rooms: The Architecture of Poetry by Brad Leithauser (Feb. 15, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-65505-3). Poet and scholar Leithauser explores how poetry works in this survey of the classics: Chaucer and Milton are analyzed alongside Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter to break down how rhyme, meter, and stanza function.

Little, Brown

Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris (May 31, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-39245-7) is the first collection of new essays from the author since 2018’s Calypso. Sedaris recounts travels in Japan, Eastern Europe, and during the pandemic.


The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon: And Other Stories of the Brazilian Rainforest
by Fábio Zuker, trans. by Ezra Fitz
(May 10, $18 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-57131-181-8). A whale found washed up on a riverbank in the Amazon rainforest is the focus of this work from journalist Zucker that considers life in and around Brazil’s forests.

New York Review Books

Seduced by Story by Peter Brooks (June 7, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68137-663-9). Critic Brooks examines the role of storytelling in politics, literature, and entertainment in this follow-up to 1984’s Reading for the Plot.

The Very Last Interview by David Shields (Mar. 29, $14.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68137-642-4). Inspired by 30 years’ worth of interview questions and answers, Shields revisits topics including childhood, failure, and comedy.


Comforts of the Abyss: The Art of Persona Writing by Philip Schultz (June 7, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-53184-8). Poet Schultz outlines his experience finding inspiration in a format that borrows the voice of accomplished writers, and shows how Joan Didion, Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever, and Elizabeth Bishop influenced his writing.

One Signal

Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service by Tajja Isen (Apr. 19, $26, ISBN 978-1-9821-7842-0). The editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine combines cultural criticism and personal writing in her take on racism in entertainment.

Penn State Univ.

One Hundred Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses, edited by Colm Tóibín
(May 30, $45, ISBN 978-0-271-09289-8). A slate of writers commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication
of Ulysses. Tóibín himself contributes,
as do nine Joyce scholars.

Princeton Univ.

In Praise of Good Bookstores by Jeff Deutsch (Apr. 5, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-691-20776-6). Deutsch, director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op stores, makes a case for the enduring power of bookstores.

Translating Myself and Others
by Jhumpa Lahiri (May 17, $21.95, ISBN 978-0-691-23116-7) focuses on the art of translation as the author explores the ways she writes in both Italian and English, and considers the works of Aristotle, Italo Calvino, Antonio Gramsci, and Ovid.

Random House

Write for Your Life by Anna Quindlen (Apr. 12, $26, ISBN 978-0-593-22983-5). Novelist Quindlen reads Anne Frank, Toni Morrison, and post-WWII love letters, among other works of literature, to investigate the potency of writing and how to harness it.


Dear Damage: Essays by Ashley Marie Farmer (Mar. 15, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-946448-90-3). Farmer follows up The Women with a work centered on her grandmother’s murder.

Seven Stories

Fire Season: Selected Essays 1984–2021 by Gary Indiana (Apr. 12, $23.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64421-162-5). Over 30 years of criticism come together in novelist Indiana’s latest. Tracy Emin, Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, and Disney World in France all go under the microscope.

Simon & Schuster

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000, edited by Valerie Boyd (Apr. 12, $37.50, ISBN 978-1-4767-7315-5), collects nearly four decades of the Pulitzer Prize–winning author’s journal entries and documents her growth as both an activist and artist.

Soft Skull

Death by Landscape by Elvia Wilk (July 19, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-59376-715-0). In an effort to find stories that challenge the notion that humans are central to the world, Wilk studies the work of Anne Carson, Octavia Butler, Mark Fisher, Jeff VanderMeer, and others.

Temple Univ.

Elusive Kinship: Disability and Human Rights in Postcolonial Literature by Christopher Krentz (Apr. 22, $29.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4399-2222-4) looks at how disability is depicted in fiction, analyzing Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, as well as other works.

Univ. of Chicago

On Not Knowing: How to Love and Other Essays by Emily Ogden (Apr. 15, $16 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-226-75135-1). English professor Ogden spotlights uncertainty and the power in not quite knowing how to love, listen, or give birth.

Univ. of Pennsylvania

The Difference Is Spreading: Fifty Contemporary Poets on Fifty Poems, edited by Al Filreis and Anna Strong Safford (Apr. 8, $29.95 trade paper,
ISBN 978-0-8122-5323-8). Filreis and Safford bring their free online course ModPo to the page and survey 50 contemporary poets who give their takes on a piece of their choice.

The Invention of Shakespeare, and Other Essays by Stephen Orgel (Mar. 25, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-5374-0). Orgel, a humanities professor at Stanford, examines the errors and complexities of Shakespeare’s work, as well as the multitude of interpretations of it.


Crying in the Bathroom by Erika L. Sánchez (July 12, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-29693-6). After I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Sánchez delivers essays on feminism, depression, and other topics.

How to Read Now: Essays by Elaine Castillo (July 26, $26, ISBN 978-0-593-48963-5). Novelist Castillo offers instructions on how to extract meaning and truth from literature.

Yale Univ.

Rapture and Melancholy: The Diaries of Edna St. Vincent Millay, edited by Daniel Mark Epstein (Mar. 8, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-24568-4), brings together poet Millay’s diary entries from ages 15 to 57.

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