This month’s book picks are a balance of the grand decay of rural America, sci-fi futurism, comedic patricide, a Shakespearean murder play that spills over into real life, and a costumed superhero, among others.
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No One is Coming to Save Us – Stephanie Powell Watts (April 4)
Called by some a modern, African-American retelling of The Great Gatsby, No One is Coming to Save Us is set in the crumbling industrial town of Pinewood, North Carolina, where JJ Ferguson has returned to build a mansion and woo his lost sweetheart Ava. This book, however, is about so much more than lost love and the haunted economic and racial past of the South. It’s about the patterns of life we all find ourselves in after so many years of grinding within the machine, coupled with those life defining moments wherein we wonder whether escape is necessary or even possible. It’s about the fear that the decisions we make will trap us beyond our reckoning.
What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky –
Lesley Nneka Arimah (April 4)
One of the most anticipated short story collections of 2107 comes from Commonwealth Writer’s Prize winner Lesley Nneka Arimah. A prodigious new writing talent, Arimah sets her stories around a series of unsettling yet enrapturing premises–a woman who desperately weaves a child out of her own hair; in a world destroyed by floods, a group of scientists and politicians discover how to “fix the equation of a person”; an American high school graduate forced to spend a summer with her aunt in Lagos; and fables about goddesses of rivers and ants. It is a wide-ranging and powerful collection that tantalizes the senses and leaves readers with resonances and reflections that continue on long after they have turned the last page.
Tell Me How This Ends Well: A Novel – David Samuel Levinson (April 4)
In a hilarious new novel that reads like a future version of a Woody Allen film, David Samuel Levinson imagines the following scenario: it’s 2022, the world is a growing more and more anti-semitic by the day, the Jacobson family has come together for Passover in Los Angeles, and the number one goal of the children is to kill their father before the night is over. Family shenanigans ensue in what becomes a literary hairball of long-held grudges, imagined slights, and the airing of dirty laundry–all while Mo, Edith, and Jacob do everything they can to keep their mother from discovering their half-witted plan.
A Little More Human: A Novel –
Fiona Maazel (April 4)
On the surface, Phil Snyder seems like a depressingly normal guy–he works as a nursing assistant on Staten Island, he’s on the rocks with his wife, and his father has early onset dementia. On the decidedly not normal end of the spectrum, however, is the fact that Snyder can read minds and he moonlights as a costumed superhero known as Brainstorm. However, when Snyder goes on a blackout drunk bender and is presented with violent photos of events he can’t remember, he reads the minds of everyone around him, friend and foe alike, on a quest to discover what happened and, in the process, a little more about who he is.
Void Star – Zachary Mason (April 11)
Zachary Mason’s futuristic San Fransisco is defined by destructive sea levels, weapons drones, almost human AIs, reversed human aging treatments, and sprawling favelas to house, or contain, the poor masses that lap against the city’s edges. Within this mix, readers meet Irina, a programmer with an artificially enhanced memory, Kern, a refugee and thief, and Thales, a member of the international political elite who is on the run after a failed assassination attempt. Through a series of seemingly disconnected events, all three of these characters are drawn together in ways that demonstrate the underlying power that controls this futuristic vision of humanity.
If We Were Villains – M.L. Rio (April 11)
In a case where stagecraft spills over into murder, M.L. Rio’s new novel tells of Shakespearean actors who take their stage roles into real life, with deadly consequences. Told by an actor who was convicted of a murder he may or may not have committed, this story is as much about Shakespeare and the power of words as it is the darker elements of human ambition and the desire to always be the star, no matter the cost. When the dust settles, the Hamlet-esque stage may not be littered with bodies, but this novel certainly wonders whether our questions will be met with answers or merely silence. A veritable feast for those who love the book and the stage, If We Were Villains is a guilty pleasure not to be missed.