Story collections, debuts, big names, historical mysteries, and modern-day absurdities all collide as the weather once again turns warm. A look at the books of spring 2014 indicates a vibrant, varied ecosystem. There are options for all tastes.
Spring welcomes back a few favored authors returning to the forms and themes that made them favorites in the first place. Bark is Lorrie Moore’s first new short story collection in 15 years, and it’s just as funny and heartbreaking as her fans are hoping for. In the collection’s final story, the narrator stops her teenage daughter’s onslaught of scorn by undressing, mortifying her into silence. Living legend Larry McMurtry returns to the bygone era of the American West in The Last Kind Words Saloon, his first novel in five years. He traces the friendship of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, culminating with the famed O.K. Corral gunfight.
This season also looks to be primed for a few big debuts, introducing us to exciting new voices in fiction. Redeployment is the hard-hitting collection on the complexities of life for soldiers during and after wartime from former Marine captain and Iraq veteran Phil Klay. PW’s starred review called the book a “powerful statement on the nature of war, violence, and the nuances of human nature.” The creepy streets of Victorian London take center stage in Lauren Owen’s debut, The Quick. The buzz is already building for this story of a young girl named Charlotte forced to search for her missing brother. Along the way she encounters secret societies and a character named Doctor Knife.
Another historical, set in the same period as The Quick but on the other side of the Atlantic, comes from Emma Donoghue. Frog Music is her first literary crime novel and is “just as dark and just as gripping” as her bestselling Room, according to PW’s starred review. The setting is San Francisco, 1876, when the grisly real-life murder of Jenny Bonnet further raises tension in the city already crippled by a heat wave and smallpox epidemic.
Looking for laughs this spring? After three books for young adults, Matthew Quick returns with The Good Luck of Right Now, his first adult novel since The Silver Linings Playbook. This quirky story is about a middle-aged man finding himself after his mother’s death. Likewise, Paul O’Rourke, the protagonist of Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, searches for life’s meaning when someone begins impersonating him online.
And of course, there are award winners, too. Pulitzer Prize–winner Michael Cunningham follows two brothers taking opposite paths to transcendence in The Snow Queen. Dinaw Mengestu, a MacArthur fellow and National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, will publish his third novel, All Our Names. In using two narrators to tell the story of an affair between an African man and an American woman in the 1970s, Mengestu portrays the immigrant experience with “unsettling perception,” according to PW’s starred review. Finally, Anthony Doerr tells a WWII story through the lives of a blind French girl and a German boy in occupied France in his new novel, All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Story Prize (Memory Wall) and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award (The Shell Collector).
PW’s Top 10: Literary Fiction
. Lorrie Moore. Knopf, Feb.
. Larry McMurtry. Norton, June
. Phil Klay. Penguin Press, Mar.
. Lauren Owen. Random, June
. Emma Donoghue. Little, Brown, Apr.
. Matthew Quick. Harper, Feb.
. Joshua Ferris. Little, Brown, May
. Michael Cunningham. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May
. Anthony Doerr. Scribner, May
Literary Fiction & General Fiction Listings
(dist. by Workman)
Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist (Apr. 8, hardcover, $23.95, ISBN 978-1616201104). National Book Award–winner Gilchrist’s first story collection in eight years is filled with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and the courageous ways people confront these extreme circumstances, as well as the daily obstacles of their lives.
Little A/New Harvest
(dist. by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
All the Rage by A.L. Kennedy (Apr. 29, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0544307049). A dozen sharp new stories by the author of The Blue Book. 15,000-copy announced first printing.
And Other Stories
(dist. by Consortium)
Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones, trans. by Clarissa Botsford (May 13, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1908276346). For Hana, independence in the Albanian mountains means a vow to become a man; independence in America means reclaiming her womanhood.
(dist. by Random House)
Harlequin’s Millions by Bohumil Hrabal, trans. by Stacey Knecht (Apr. 15, paper, $18, ISBN 978-0981955735). From the man Milan Kundera called Czechoslovakia’s greatest contemporary writer comes a novel peopled with eccentric characters who reminisce about their lives and their changing country.
Bellevue Literary Press
(dist. by Perseus)
The Boy in His Winter: An American Novel by Norman Lock (May 13, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1934137765). Launched into existence by Mark Twain in 1835, Huck Finn and Jim have now been transported by Norman Lock through three vital, violent, and transformative centuries of American history. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
Black Balloon Publishing
(dist. by Consortium)
Nine Rabbits by Virginia Zaharieva, trans. by Angela Rodel (Apr. 15, paper, $14, ISBN 978-1936787135). An eccentric Bulgarian woman’s restless enthusiasm defines her life from childhood onward as she strives for a life less ordinary.
(dist. by PGW)
The Antiquarian by Gustavo Faveron Patriau, trans. byJoseph Mulligan (June 3, paper, $16, ISBN 978-0802121608). From one of Peru’s leading literary and social critics, an ambitious debut novel centers around a renowned psycholinguist and the investigation of his best friend, a former antiquarian book collector, who has been placed in a psychiatric hospital for murdering his fiancée.
(dist. by St. Martin’s)
The Man Who Walked Away by Maud Casey (Mar. 4, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1620403112). The third novel from a New York Times Notable author, about the early days of psychiatry and the poignant relationship between a doctor and patient.
The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit (Feb. 25, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1620405031). An emotionally charged debut novel told in the collective voices of the wives of the men who created the atom bomb.
Coffee House Press
(dist. by Consortium)
Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, trans. by Christina MacSweeney (May 13, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1566893541). Chosen as an Indies Introduce pick, Luiselli has been called “one of the most important new voices in Mexican writing” by Alma Guillermoprieto and has been widely embraced abroad. A novel of collapsing narratives in translation. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
(dist. by PGW)
Pushkin Hills by Sergei Dovlatov, trans. by Katherine Dovlatov, intro. by James Wood (Mar. 18, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1619022454). An unsuccessful writer and an inveterate alcoholic, Boris Alikhanov has recently divorced his wife, Tatyana, and he is running out of money. The prospect of a summer job as a tour guide at the Pushkin Hills Preserve offers him hope of regaining some balance in life as his wife makes plans to emigrate to the West with their daughter, Masha.
Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press
(dist. by PGW)
In the Course of Human Events by Mike Harvkey (Apr. 15, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1619022942). Harvkey—the former deputy reviews editor for PW—introduces readers to Clyde Twitty, stuck in a rural Missouri town before he is rescued by Jay Smalls, who teaches him how to fight. Unrattled by the racist undertones of Jay’s posse, Clyde’s path takes a dark and irrevocable turn.
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger (Mar. 18, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0804137447). Rieger’s debut tells the story of one very messy, very high-profile divorce, and the cynical young lawyer dragooned into handling it. 70,000-copy announced first printing.
Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch (June 3, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0804138819). The new novel from Koch, author of the bestseller The Dinner. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken (Apr. 22, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0385335775). A new collection of short fiction from the National Book Award finalist and author of The Giant’s House.
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (July, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0385534833), the author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls, is narrated by a teenage runaway.
The Bees by Laline Paull (May 6, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0062331151) is a debut set in an ancient society where only the queen may breed and any deformity means death. When a devout young worker bee finds herself in the possession of a deadly secret, she becomes a hunted criminal whose decisions will mean life and death for her hive. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham (May 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0374266325) is the new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours.
Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis (Apr. 8, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0374118587). A new collection of short stories from Davis, who Rick Moody has called “the best prose stylist in America.”
American Innovations by Rivka Galchen (May 6, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0374280475). A new collection of short stories from the New Yorker “20 Under 40” author of Atmospheric Disturbances.
The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons (July 8, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0446527958). Four best friends’ lives are changed by the events of one summer. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
(dist. by Macmillan)
Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors, trans. by Martin Aitken (Feb. 4, paper, $14, ISBN 978-1555976651). The first book in English by an acclaimed Danish writer will appeal to fans of Grace Paley and Mary Gaitskill.
Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen (June 17, paper, $18, ISBN 978-1555976804) is an epic about music, race, an unforgettable man, and an unreal America during the Civil War era.
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (Feb. 4, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0802122148) by the author of the international bestseller The Hakawati, tells of a reclusive older woman in Beiruit who has spent her life translating literary works into Arabic and hiding from sight. When unthinkable disaster strikes, she must reconsider her little life.
The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (July 2, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0802122155). The debut from a National Book Award “5 Under 35” honoree is a tale of two brothers living in a dystopian Russia. Working at the Oranzheria, the largest greenhouse in the world, and basking in perpetual daylight, the brothers discover opposing ideologies that threaten to tear them apart.
Four Friends by Robyn Carr (Mar. 25, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0778316817) relates the story of four friends determined to find their stride; from a #1 New York Times bestselling author.
A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman (June 3, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0062287878). A debut novel about a failed journalist asked to do the unthinkable: forge Holocaust restitution claims for old Russian Jews in Brooklyn.
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick (Feb. 11, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0062285539). The New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook offers a story about family, friendship, grief, acceptance, and Richard Gere. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
The Book of Jonah by Joshua Max Feldman (Feb. 4, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0805097764). A debut novel of love, failure, and unexpected faith is set in New York, Amsterdam, and Las Vegas. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Snow in May by Kseniya Melnik (May 13, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1627790079). A remote Siberian town with a darkly fascinating history teems with life in this linked debut collection.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hyde by Daniel Levine (Mar. 18, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0544191181). A reimagining of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the monster’s perspective, Hyde makes a hero of a villain. As a bonus, Stevenson’s original novel is included. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo (May 6, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0544074811). This breakout novel from a brilliant stylist, which drops us into the life a female rock star, centers on that moment when one decides whether to go all-in or give up one’s dreams. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Eamon Dolan
Wynne’s War by Aaron Gwyn (May 20, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0544230279). An elite platoon of Special Forces soldiers infiltrates a forbidding Afghan war zone on horseback in search of vast treasure in this blend of military fiction and western. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu (Mar. 4, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0385349987). A love story about a searing affair between an American woman and an African man in 1970s America from a New Yorker “20 Under 40” winner and MacArthur fellow. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore (Feb. 25, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0307594136). Moore’s first collection in 15 years. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak (Feb. 4, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0385351836) is full of playful humor, a deep heart, a sharp eye, and an inquisitive mind. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (Apr. 1, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0316324687. Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (May 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0316033978). A novel about the absurdities of modern life and one man’s search for meaning, by a National Book Award finalist. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
(dist. by Random House)
Thirst: A Novel of the Iran-Iraq War by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, trans. by Aida Bahrami (June 3, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1612193007). In Iran, it’s nearly impossible to write history. A surreal, darkly humorous tale of a reporter in war time.
(dist. by PGW)
Inappropriate Behavior by Murray Farish (Mar. 18, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1571311078). A debut collection of stories that illuminates the state of America today with an inscrutable, eerily clarifying light.
The New Press
(dist. by Perseus)
Three by Echenoz: Running, Piano, and Big Blondes by Jean Echenoz, trans. by Linda Coverdale and Mark Polizzotti, intro. by Liesl Schillinger (June 3, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1595589835). Three of the Prix Goncourt winner’s greatest novels, collected in a single volume for the first time. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol (Feb. 3, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0393241136). These stories explore characters shaped by the forces of history, and is the debut work of fiction by a 2013 National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree.
The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry (June 2, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0871407863) is a ballad in prose: McMurtry’s tribute to a bygone era of the American West.
The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim, trans. by Jonathan Wright (Feb. 4, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0143123262). The first major literary work about the Iraq War from an Iraqi perspective, featuring a world not only of soldiers and assassins, hostages and car bombers, refugees and terrorists, but also of madmen and prophets, angels and djinni, sorcerers and spirits.
Penguin/Blue Rider Press
Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland (Apr. 3, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0399168437) is Coupland’s first full-length work of fiction in four years.
The Penguin Press
Redeployment by Phil Klay (Mar. 4, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1594204999). Former Marine captain and Iraq veteran Klay presents a hard-hitting collection focusing on the complexities of life for soldiers on the front lines and after.
Every Day Is for the Thief by Teju Cole (Mar. 25, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0812995787). A young Nigerian writer living in New York City returns to Lagos in search of a subject—and himself; for readers of J.M. Coetzee and Chimamanda Adichee.
Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li (Feb. 25, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1400068142). A profound mystery is at the heart of this new novel by the winner of the PEN/Hemingway, MacArthur “genius,” and many other awards. Set in America and China, it is the story of three people whose lives are changed by a murder one of them may have committed.
The Quick by Lauren Owen (June 17, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0812993271). London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, he vanishes without a trace.
In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen (Apr. 8, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1594633171). In the winter of 1996, more than a hundred women and men of diverse nationality, background, and belief gather at the site of a former concentration camp for an unprecedented purpose: a weeklong spiritual retreat.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (Mar. 6, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1594631399). Oyeyemi, a Granta Best of Young British Novelists honoree and author of Mr. Fox recasts the Snow White fairy tale as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind.
(dist. by Perseus)
Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor (Feb. 4, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1936747634). Blended fiction and autobiography explores the lives of missionaries, drug addicts, and childhood bullies in Kentucky, Florida, and Haiti.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (May 6, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1476746586) is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of WWII.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (Feb. 18, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1451693560) is a mesmerizing new novel about the electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the 20th century, by the bestselling author of The Dovekeepers.
Simon & Schuster
The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings (May 13, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1476725796) is from the bestselling author of The Descendants; a grieving mother struggles to overcome her son’s death, when a strange girl enters her life with a secret that changes them both.
The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka (Feb. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1451667110). Set in a seaside village on the Italian Riviera, this novel by a PEN/Hemingway Award winner tells the story of a widowed butcher and his son whose losses are transformed into love.
(dist. by Random House)
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (Feb. 25, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1586422240). Wry, vulnerable, The Spinning Heart, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and winner of The Guardian First Book Award, captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and articulates the words and thoughts of a generation.
St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Books
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (Mar. 4, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1250039811). A debut novel charts friendship and epic love against a rural and wholly-American pastoral.
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum (June 10, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1476764580). Balancing biting wit with a deep emotional undercurrent, Maum creates a portrait of an imperfect family.
What Is Visible by Kimberly Elkins (June 3, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1455528967). The first novel ever written about Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person to learn language—50 years before Helen Keller. Once considered the 19th century’s second most famous woman, Bridgman has somehow been lost to history. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
The Visitors by Patrick O’Keeffe (Mar. 13, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0670024636). A lyrical novel set in America and Ireland from the Story Prize–winning author of The Hill Road.