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Here Are the 14 New Books You Should Read in April

April is a month for the memoir, it seems: Maggie Smith’s lyrical You Could Make This Place Beautiful illustrates the end of a marriage and the beginning of a new chapter. Nicole Chung’s A Living Remedy recounts her parents’ deaths and the inequalities inherent in American society. And Ava Chin’s Mott Street takes the reader along as the author unearths her own hidden family history in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Beloved fiction writers also return this month: Gayl Jones is back with Butter, a collection of luminous short stories, and a posthumous translation of Izumi Suzuki’s work, titled Hit Parade of Tears, embraces the weird and the wonderful.

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Here, the best new books to read this April.

A Living Remedy, Nicole Chung (April 4)

TIME contributor Nicole Chung’s second memoir dovetails with her first, All You Can Ever Know, which was published in 2018. While best seller All You Can Ever Know recounts Chung’s search for her birth parents, Korean immigrants in Seattle, A Living Remedy details how she coped with the successive deaths of her adoptive parents, a white couple from rural Oregon. In 2018, Chung’s father died of diabetes and kidney disease at age 67. Less than a year later, her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and later died during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Living Remedy lambasts the American health care system—and its lack of equitable access—while gently unpacking Chung’s heavy grief.

Buy Now: A Living Remedy on Bookshop | Amazon

Enter Ghost, Isabella Hammad (April 4)

The title of Isabella Hammad’s anticipated second novel (following The Parisian in 2019) is a play on a stage direction from Hamlet. It can also be read to mirror protagonist Sonia Nasir’s homecoming to Palestine after leaving her failed marriage behind in London. Sonia visits her older sister, Haneen, and meets Haneen’s friend, the spirited theater director Mariam. Soon, Sonia has joined Mariam’s production of Hamlet alongside a troupe of actors from across historic Palestine, and before she knows it, she’s playing a lead role. Enter Ghost offers an example of its own themes, using art to illuminate life—and tenacity—under occupation.

Buy Now: Enter Ghost on Bookshop | Amazon

Butter: Novellas, Stories, and Fragments, Gayl Jones (April 4)

A year ago, Gayl Jones’ novel Palmares—her first in two decades—was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Now, she’s back with her second collection of short fiction, including two novellas and 10 stories. The titular novella chronicles a reunion between a British war photographer and her mixed-race daughter, a photographer in her own right, as the latter prepares to photograph the former. The other novella, “Sophia,” follows a narrator by the same name as she leaves the U.S. for Spain, where she remembers her time among leftist revolutionaries in Mexico. Butter tells singing stories of characters navigating multiracial, multicultural societies.

Buy Now: Butter: Novellas, Stories, and Fragments on Bookshop | Amazon

The Lost Wife, Susanna Moore (April 4)

Susanna Moore’s eighth novel, set in 1855, follows 25-year-old Sarah Browne as she flees an abusive husband in Rhode Island and heads west to the Minnesota Territory, where she hopes to find a childhood friend. By the time she arrives, her friend has died, and Sarah must start fresh. She quickly does so, marrying the town physician, having two children, and befriending the women on the nearby Sioux reservation. When the Sioux Uprising of 1862 erupts—after the federal government never fulfills its promise of payments to the tribe—Sarah and her children are captured, but protected by the Sioux. Sarah sympathizes with her captors, and slips into the gap between her two worlds. In envisioning the tribe’s plight, The Lost Wife illustrates the devastating outcomes of oppression.

Buy Now: The Lost Wife on Bookshop | Amazon

Romantic Comedy, Curtis Sittenfeld (April 4)

Curtis Sittenfield follows 2020’s Rodham, an alternate history of Hillary Clinton’s life, with a rom-com novel aptly titled Romantic Comedy. In it, we meet 36-year-old Sally Milz, a writer for The Night Owls, a late-night sketch comedy show clearly based on Saturday Night Live. Sally has given up on love, settling into a comfortable routine with her career instead. Enter: pop star Noah Brewster, a musical guest and host on the show, who upends Sally’s understanding of romance and social hierarchy. Surrounded by average-looking men on the show who keep dating standout women, Sally always assumed the reverse would never happen for women. Now, she’s not so sure that double standard exists at all.

Buy Now: Romantic Comedy on Bookshop | Amazon

The People Who Report More Stress, Alejandro Varela (April 4)

After becoming a 2022 finalist for a National Book Award for his debut book, The Town of Babylon, Alejandro Varela is back with a collection of interconnected short stories, The People Who Report More Stress. The titular stressed-out people are those who live on the margins, treated as peripheral. In “Midtown-West Side Story,” that’s Álvaro, a struggling restaurant worker who turns to selling stolen luxury clothing to provide for his family. In “The Man in 512,” it’s Manny, who takes care of the children of a privileged Swedish family. These stories artfully pinpoint the inequities within American society and highlight the frustration inherent in being unable to adequately address them.

Buy Now: The People Who Report More Stress on Bookshop | Amazon

Life and Other Love Songs, Anissa Gray (April 11)

This rhythmic novel, by The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls author Anissa Gray, hinges on the disappearance of Ozro Armstead on his 37th birthday. Ozro leaves behind his wife, Deborah, and daughter, Trinity, as well as his brother, Tommy, and mother, Pearl. The cause of his sudden absence remains murky as time creeps on, both for the family and for the nation at large. Slowly, Deborah and Trinity piece together their lives—and a fuller portrait of who Ozro might have been. Life and Other Love Songs explores one family’s reckoning with the social and political factors that drove them first to Detroit and then to New York as part of the Great Migration.

Buy Now: Life and Other Love Songs on Bookshop | Amazon

You Could Make This Place Beautiful, Maggie Smith (April 11)

You Could Make This Place Beautiful, the title of Maggie Smith’s sixth book, is also the last line of her poem “Good Bones,” which went viral eight years ago. The title of that poem, in turn, refers to how realtors describe rundown houses—and how Smith describes the world to her children, despite its many flaws. Smith’s children reappear in this new memoir, which documents the unraveling of her marriage and the hurt that follows. In telling that story, Smith unveils a heartbreaking portrait of womanhood and rocky, gendered power dynamics in even the most liberal of households.

Buy Now: You Could Make This Place Beautiful on Bookshop | Amazon

Breakup: A Marriage in Wartime, Anjan Sundaram (April 11)

An unconventional memoir, given its twin settings, Breakup: A Marriage in Wartime is a firsthand account of ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic—and the irreparable personal damage wrought by the author’s choice to report on it. Shortly after the birth of his first child, Anjan Sundaram—who previously wrote the memoirs Stringer (2013) and Bad News (2016)—decided to fly to Africa to resume his career as a wartime correspondent. While there, he documented details of the conflict, from mass graves to everyday heroes. When he returned home, though, he found his marriage in tatters, and reckoned with weighing professional calling over familial duty.

Buy Now: Breakup: A Marriage in Wartime on Bookshop | Amazon

Hit Parade of Tears, Izumi Suzuki (April 11)

Japanese writer and actress Izumi Suzuki is back, nearly four decades after her death. Her latest collection to be published in English comprises 11 short stories translated by Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, and Helen O’Horan. Suzuki’s work is richly steeped in science fiction, fantasy, and ’70s counterculture. In one piece, a woman with newfound magical powers teaches her wayward husband a lasting lesson. In another, a Tokyo high-rise fills with salmon roe—the byproduct of a time warp. Throughout, Suzuki empathizes with those who feel alien, other, or ostracized—especially women and girls battling patriarchy and misogyny.

Buy Now: Hit Parade of Tears on Bookshop | Amazon

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder, David Grann (April 18)

It’s hard to believe that The Wager—written by the author of The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon—is a true story. David Grann tells the riveting tale of the British ship the Wager, which embarked from England on a secret mission against Spain in 1740. Two years later, 30 ragged men from the Wager landed ashore in Brazil. Six months after that, three more Wager sailors washed up in Chile. The two groups accused each other of mutiny, eventually going on trial in England. The Wager reads like a thriller, tackling a multilayered history—and imperialism—with gusto.

Buy Now: The Wager on Bookshop | Amazon

Biting the Hand: Growing Up Asian in Black and White America, Julia Lee (April 18)

This unfiltered memoir is a far cry from Julia Lee’s other books: two works of academic criticism and a romance novel published under a pen name. In Biting the Hand, Lee explains how writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison guided her toward evaluating where her identity and upbringing as a Korean American in Los Angeles fit into America’s racial stratification. The 1992 Los Angeles riots, which took place when Lee was 15, opened her eyes to the privilege she held. “Asian Americans are the beneficiaries and the victims of white supremacy,” she writes, “but we have a choice. We can uphold the power structure or we can dismantle it.”

Buy Now: Biting the Hand on Bookshop | Amazon

Mott Street: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming, Ava Chin (April 25)

In this vivid memoir, Ava Chin, a fifth-generation Chinese American and the only child of a single mother, searches for her father. Once she finds him, she goes on to discover a six-story building on Mott Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown that, over time, was home to multiple generations from both sides of her family. In the pages of Mott Street, Chin masterfully braids together the roots of her own family tree with the history of Chinese marginalization in America—specifically, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was only repealed during World War II, forcing migrants like her family members to forge new identities.

Buy Now: Mott Street on Bookshop | Amazon

Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma, Claire Dederer (April 25)

In a realm beyond cancel culture, full of nuance and necessary questions, lies this book of criticism and memoir by essayist Claire Dederer. Monsters further develops the ideas raised in “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?,” Dederer’s viral 2017 essay in the Paris Review. From Hemingway to Picasso to Miles Davis, the author grapples with artists who have been accused of monstrous things and asks whether we can—or should—separate their art from their acts. “The way you consume art doesn’t make you a bad person, or a good one,” she posits. “You’ll have to find some other way to accomplish that.”

Buy Now: Monsters on Bookshop | Amazon

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