April 11, 2016

Releases I'm Ready For, Spring 2016

This season, the two books I'm most eagerly anticipating share an unusual characteristic for me: neither one is fiction.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (April 12) explores the making of the amazing musical (which I'm listening to right now and playing inside my head always). From advance coverage of the book, I gather it contains an annotated libretto, photographs, interviews, and essays that tell the story of both the show and the history behind it. I'm not sure if I'll dive into this and read nonstop or if I'll be satisfied to enjoy it gradually, but either way, I'm glad I no longer have to wait for it.

HUNGER: A MEMOIR OF (MY) BODY by Roxane Gay (originally June 14, but may be changing): I am here for anything Roxane Gay writes. Her debut novel, AN UNTAMED STATE is a beautiful and brutal read. The essay collection she released the same year, BAD FEMINIST, takes a thought-provoking look at a range of personal, political, and pop cultural topics. The new memoir focuses on food, weight, and body image, and I'm sure it will be another brilliant and difficult book.

While I haven't been waiting with the same excitement for any of this spring's novels, I'm intrigued by several upcoming releases that I'll be sampling and potentially reading. June 7 is a popular publication date, so I won't get to all of these immediately!

THE REGIONAL OFFICE IS UNDER ATTACK! by Manuel Gonzales (April 12): A few years ago, I read and recommended Gonzales's short story, "One-Horned & Wild-Eyed". I never got around to his collection, THE MINIATURE WIFE AND OTHER STORIES, though it's still on my radar. In this debut novel, a "coterie of super-powered female assassins protects the globe from annihilation", which sounds like fun.

IMAGINE ME GONE by Adam Haslett (May 3) is a family story about mental health, which is relevant to my interests. That the novel spans decades and is told from multiple points of view also gets my attention.

THEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO by Cathleen Schine (June 7) is another multigenerational family drama with some focus on depression. The title comes from a Philip Larkin poem with a special place in my heart.

THE ROOT: A NOVEL OF THE WRATH & ATHENAEUM by Na'amen Tilahun (June 7) is an urban fantasy set in San Francisco. I don't usually read this genre, but I know Na'amen from FOGcon and am always thrilled to hear him speak on any panel.

THE GILDED YEARS by Karin Tanabe (June 7) is a novel based on a real black woman who passed as white in order to attend Vassar at the end of the nineteenth century, an era when her race would have excluded her from admission.

HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi (June 7): I've already encountered several enthusiastic reviews of this debut that begins in eighteenth-century Ghana and tracks the lives and legacies of two women with very different fates. Gyasi will be appearing at the Bay Area Book Festival in June.

And speaking of the Bay Area Book Festival, the extensive schedule of events has just been posted, and tickets are now available to guarantee seating at individual sessions. That's one more source of anticipation for me this season!

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Andrew Heisel at Electric Literature investigates the history of the novel's first sentence: "Now we laud this and many other great sentences, but no reviewer at the time thought anything of Brontë's choice. No one in America was excited, four years later, about Melville's classic opener to Moby Dick. Nobody had a thing to say about the wonderful beginning to Pride and Prejudice. Nobody was bothered by the pedestrian beginning to The Scarlet Letter, or in love with the beginnings of Middlemarch or A Tale of Two Cities, or unimpressed by that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

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