All we hope to do do this month is sit on a pillow as large as a small spacecraft and make our way through a stack of books as strange and delightful as this Aries/tax/spring season. Ahead, find 13 of April’s best new releases to add to your reading list.
There’s something about California that makes people a little wacky. In this collection of short stories from the state’s stark and radiant Central Valley, Chelsea Bieker writes about a crusty cast of characters who are all in a state of longing, including a phone-sex operator who falls in love with a cowboy, a mother and son selling dream catchers on a highway leading to a toxic beach, and a woman who steals a baby from a shelter.
Janae Johnson started out writing a book of poems about women’s basketball and came out with a lyrical coming-of-age story about Black hair and how we’re taught to suppress trauma to disguise pain, in this humorous, moving debut poetry book.
Write Bloody Publishing
On the outside, Vivian, a lawyer with a good job that also helps people, looks like she’s doing well, but she’s far from it. She’s been self-medicating for years with “dating, dieting, dark humor and smoking weed,” but inside she’s struggling with the trauma of a hard childhood and the stresses of being a Black Latinx woman in America. After a family reunion, she stars to unravel as she’s faced with coming to terms with everything she’s been through. Finally, a trauma novel with a sense of humor and levity!
Little, Brown, and Company
Ocean Vuong’s sentences are like tiny icebergs: exquisite and annihilating. You may know him for his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, which is going to be adapted by A24. But he’s a poet at heart — and in his second book of poetry, he explores life in the aftermath of his mother’s death. Here’s a little teaser as a gift: “How else do we return to ourselves but to fold/The page so it points to the good part,” he writes.
This surrealist, funny debut novel centers on Mitya, whose life path becomes uncertain at the tender age of two when he narrowly survives swallowing his grandmother’s sewing needle. The uncertainty continues as he grows up during the collapse of the Soviet Union while undergoing an exploration of his gender, in this queer coming-of-age story interspersed with a retelling of a traditional Russian fairytale.
New England boarding school sex scandal alert! Sink your teeth into something salacious and meaningful with this novel about an English teacher tasked with investigating a charge brought by one of his students that he was abused by a teacher, who was one of the English teacher’s greatest mentors. He must grapple with everything the Thought He Believed In.
Penguin Random House
Finally, a vampire book for those of us who aren’t into fantasy. In this debut novel for Twilight fans who have grown up, Lydia is a young artist squatting in a loft in London who wishes she could eat sashimi, but all she can digest is blood, which she’s finding difficult to source in a city. Instead, she passes the time watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and YouTube videos of people eating food as she contemplates how to exist in the world.
Inspired by her own Filipino heritage and the folklore she heard about growing up, along with the true crime story of Canadian serial killer Robert “Willy” Pickton, Chadburn’s debut novel has got people freaking out. Those people include Sia, who blurbed the book: “Chadburn leans into the center of a bad dream. Go with her. Keep going.” Um, I’m hooked?
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Tajja Isen is the editor-in-chief of Catapult, along with being an accomplished voice actor best known for the title role in Atomic Betty. Now, she’s written a debut essay collection, featuring nine razor-sharp essays about the ways social justice lingo falls flat, about how pledging to “do better,” or making cosmetic adjustment isn’t enough — examining everything from issues of diversity in the cartoon industry to the literary world.
Atria/One Signal Publishers
Chloe Caldwell, who writes really well about things like orgies (and more importantly, the joy of a really good burger after an orgy), Williamsburg in the 2010s, and a first queer relationship, is back with her second book since the cult favorite novella, WOMEN. In her memoir, The Red Zone, she writes about blood. More specifically, her period, PMS, PMDD, and the effects of hormones on every aspect of her life.
Soft Skull Press
As someone who famously has a hard time being alone, I’m particularly excited about this collection of short stories about the longing to feel seen, or feeling power in solitude from some of our favorite writers, including Lidia Yuknavitch, Megan Giddings, and Jesmyn Ward.
In this collection of poetry that combines verse, prose and theory, Charlotte looks back on her early twenties after a period of writer’s block — reexamining her romantic relationships and struggles and disentangling everything she thought she knew about herself...a time that is also known as a Saturn Return!
A gay couple befriends a motley crew of outsiders living in a small coastal town in this collection of interwoven short stories. The narrator, who was raised in a working-class Croatian American fishing family, now finds herself in a white-collar world — making her question her entire life path.
This suspenseful novel is a choose your own adventure books for adults, with two narratives that can be read in either order. Each section is narrated by a South Asian migrant to Australia and contends with the monsters that plague them and so many others: racism, misogyny, and ageism.