Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five of the books we’re most excited about.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (April 7, Quirk)
For his latest novel, Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism author Grady Hendrix turns his attention to that most time-honored of horror villains, the vampire. In The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires, Hendrix returns to the setting of his adolescent exorcism novel—a suburban South Carolina that feels even more retro than its early-’90s time period—but this time, instead of examining the lives of teenage girls in turbulence, the focus is the parents. Patricia Campbell has a barely there husband and two kids growing out of wanting her attention, so she fills her time with a local book club. When a mysterious man arrives in town, the pieces quickly fall into place: his aversion to daylight, his windowless white van. You don’t have to read serial-killer tomes as obsessively as Patricia’s book club to know bad things are about to happen.
Glitter Up The Dark: How Pop Music Broke The Binary by Sasha Geffen (April 7, University Of Texas)
In their first book, music critic Sasha Geffen (Pitchfork, Rolling Stone) traces the history of gender fluidity and its bold expression in pop music. From Little Richard and Elvis to David Bowie and Prince, Glitter Up The Dark shows how artists have used music and its accompanying fashion and technology to subvert traditionally accepted forms of sexual identity—including what Geffen calls “audio drag,” wherein musicians inhabit shifting personas through vocal manipulation. While Geffen is more than comfortable digging into headier gender theory, the book remains accessible and well-crafted.
How Much Of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang (April 7, Riverhead)
In her debut novel, C Pam Zhang weaves an epic family saga in a reimagined yet still very brutal American West. Hoping to make a better life for themselves, a Chinese family arrives in the country at the tail end of the Gold Rush. But when their mother disappears and their father dies, adolescent siblings Lucy and Sam must set out to the hills with a stolen horse and a gun to find a proper burial site. Lyrical and mythic, How Much Of These Hills Is Gold reconceives the immigrant narrative to tell an original story of racism and American greed.
I Don’t Want To Die Poor by Michael Arceneaux (April 7, Atria)
If nothing else, the events of the last three months have amply demonstrated who is actually “ruining” the economy—and it’s not people who are self-isolating to help flatten the curve or financially strapped millennials. In I Don’t Want To Die Poor, Michael Arceneaux digs into his own experiences as a bestselling author (for I Can’t Date Jesus) who is still saddled with debt. His latest essay collection brims with humor and pathos, as Arceneaux explores how a scarcity mindset combined with another looming recession permeates every aspect of his life: dating, his physical well-being, and whether he should have opted for a more financially secure career.
Heaven by Emerson Whitney (April 14, McSweeney’s)
At its simplest, Heaven is a coming-of-age memoir, with poet and journalist Emerson Whitney recounting their childhood spent with, and without, their volatile, fiercely loving mother. But the writer is less interested in laying out their own personal chronology so much as using it to ask questions regarding how their upbringing informed their gender. Whitney works in a fragmented style that will be familiar to fans of Maggie Nelson: Their prose is spare, frequently employs ellipsis, and the language is often surprising. For all its probing, what Heaven does best is capture the disorienting pull of unsettling childhood memories—at once incomplete and terribly weighted.
More in April: Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (April 7, Algonquin); The Dominant Animal by Kathryn Scanlan (April 7, MCD x FSG Originals); Conjure Women by Afia Atakora (April 7, Random House); Attention: A Love Story: A Search For Attention In The Age Of Distraction by Casey Schwartz (April 7, Pantheon); Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo (April 14, Liveright); Bubblegum by Adam Levin (April 14, Doubleday); Braised Pork by An Yu (April 14, Grove); Odetta: A Life In Music And Protest by Ian Zack (April 14, Beacon); Cars On Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos (April 14, Open Letter); The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels (April 14, Hub City); The Book Of Anna by Carmen Boullosa (April 14, Coffee House); Miss Aluminum by Susanna Moore (April 14, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); A Writer Of Our Time: The Life And Work Of John Berger by Joshua Sperling (April 14, Verso); The Unsuitable by Molly Pohlig (April 14, Henry Holt); Diary Of A Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen and Tom Rasmussen (April 14, FSG Originals); Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier by Alan Zweibel (April 14, Abrams); What Is The Grass: Walt Whitman In My Life by Mark Doty (April 14, W.W. Norton); How To Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa (April 21, Little, Brown); The House Of Deep Water by Jeni McFarland (April 21, G.P. Putnam’s Sons); If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (April 21, Ballantine); My Wife Said You May Want To Marry Me: A Memoir by Jason B. Rosenthal (April 21, Harper); I’m Your Huckleberry by Val Kilmer (April 21, Simon & Schuster); Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar (April 28, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Warhol by Blake Gopnik (April 28, Ecco); Our Riches by Kaouther Adimi (April 28, New Directions)