April’s bringing showers alright–showers of books! Read on for more on the standout hits coming to shelves this week, including Michelle Zauner’s highly-anticipated memoir, Crying in H Mart, an unearthed novel from Richard Wright, and debut authors you should keep your eyes on.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.
In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.
As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.
Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.
Paris Without Her: A Memoir by Gregory Curtis
In this moving, tender memoir of losing a beloved spouse, the longtime editor of Texas Monthly, newly widowed, returns alone to a city whose enchantment he’s only ever shared with his wife, in search of solace, memories, and the courage to find a way forward.
At the age of sixty-six, after thirty-five years of marriage, Gregory Curtis finds himself a widower. Tracy–with whom he fell in love the first time he saw her–has succumbed to a long battle with cancer. Paralyzed by grief, agonized by social interaction, Curtis turns to watching magic lessons on DVD–“a pathetic, almost comical substitute” for his evenings with Tracy.
To break the spell, he returns to the place he had the “best and happiest times” of his life. As he navigates the storied city and contemplates his new future, Curtis relives his days in Paris with Tracy, piecing together the portrait of a woman, a marriage, parenthood, and his life’s great love through the memories of six unforgettable trips to the City of Lights.
Alone in Paris, Curtis becomes a tireless wanderer, exploring the city’s grand boulevards and forgotten corners as he confronts the bewildering emotional state that ensues after losing a life partner. Paris Without Her is a work of tremendous courage and insight–an ode to the lovely woman who was his wife, to a magnificent city, and to the self we might invent, and reinvent, there.
Are You Enjoying?: Stories by Mira Sethi
An exhilarating debut by a young writer from Pakistan: provocative, funny, disarmingly original stories that upend traditional notions of identity and family, and peer into the vulnerable workings of the human heart.
From the high-stakes worlds of television and politics to the intimate corridors of home–including the bedroom–these wryly observed, deeply revealing stories look at life in Pakistan with humor, compassion, psychological acuity, and emotional immediacy. Childhood best friends agree to marry in order to keep their sexuality a secret. A young woman with an anxiety disorder discovers the numbing pleasures of an illicit love affair. A radicalized student’s preparations for his sister’s wedding involve beating up the groom. An actress is forced to grow up fast on the set of her first major tv show, where the real intrigue takes place off-screen. Every story bears witness to the all-too-universal desire to be loved, and what happens when this longing gets pushed to its limits. Are You Enjoying? is a free-spirited, confident, indelible introduction to a galvanizing new talent.
World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever
A guide to some of the world’s most fascinating places, as seen and experienced by writer, television host, and relentlessly curious traveler Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain saw more of the world than nearly anyone. His travels took him from the hidden pockets of his hometown of New York to a tribal longhouse in Borneo, from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Paris, and Shanghai to Tanzania’s utter beauty and the stunning desert solitude of Oman’s Empty Quarter—and many places beyond.
In World Travel, a life of experience is collected into an entertaining, practical, fun and frank travel guide that gives readers an introduction to some of his favorite places—in his own words. Featuring essential advice on how to get there, what to eat, where to stay and, in some cases, what to avoid, World Travel provides essential context that will help readers further appreciate the reasons why Bourdain found a place enchanting and memorable.
Supplementing Bourdain’s words are a handful of essays by friends, colleagues, and family that tell even deeper stories about a place, including sardonic accounts of traveling with Bourdain by his brother, Christopher; a guide to Chicago’s best cheap eats by legendary music producer Steve Albini, and more. Additionally, each chapter includes illustrations by Wesley Allsbrook.
For veteran travelers, armchair enthusiasts, and those in between, World Travel offers a chance to experience the world like Anthony Bourdain.
Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, Stories by Nigella Lawson
“Food, for me, is a constant pleasure: I like to think greedily about it, reflect deeply on it, learn from it; it provides comfort, inspiration, meaning, and beauty…More than just a mantra, ‘cook, eat, repeat’ is the story of my life.”
Cook, Eat, Repeat is a delicious and delightful combination of recipes intertwined with narrative essays about food, all written in Nigella Lawson’s engaging and insightful prose. Whether asking “what is a recipe?” or declaring death to the “guilty pleasure,” Nigella brings her wisdom about food and life to the fore while sharing new recipes that readers will want to return to again and again.
Within these chapters are more than a hundred new recipes for all seasons and tastes from Burnt Onion and Eggplant Dip to Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce; from Beef Cheeks with Port and Chestnuts to Ginger and Beetroot Yogurt Sauce. Those with a sweet tooth will delight in desserts including Rhubarb and Custard Trifle; Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake; and Cherry and Almond Crumble.
“The recipes I write come from my life, my home,” says Nigella, and in Cook, Eat, Repeat she reveals the rhythms and rituals of her kitchen through recipes that make the most of her favorite ingredients, with inspiration for family dinners, vegan feasts, and solo suppers, as well as new ideas for cooking during the holidays.
Popisho: A Novel by Leone Ross
An uproarious, sensual novel, Leone Ross’s Popisho conjures a world where magic is everywhere, food is fate, politics are broken, and love awaits.
Everyone in Popisho was born with a little something-something, boy, a little something extra. The local name was cors. Magic, but more than magic. A gift, nah? Yes. From the gods: a thing so inexpressibly your own.
Somewhere far away—or maybe right nearby—lies an archipelago called Popisho. A place of stunning beauty and incorrigible mischief, destiny and mystery, it is also a place in need of change.
Xavier Redchoose is the macaenus of his generation, anointed by the gods to make each resident one perfect meal when the time is right. Anise, his long-lost love, is on a march toward reckoning with her healing powers. The governor’s daughter, Sonteine, still hasn’t come into her cors, but her corrupt father is demanding the macaenus make a feast for her wedding. Meanwhile, graffiti messages from an unknown source are asking hard questions. A storm is brewing. Before it comes, before the end of the day, this wildly imaginative narrative will take us across the islands, through their history, and into the lives of unforgettable characters.
Leone Ross’s Popisho is a masterful delight: a playful love story, a portrait of community, a boldly sensual meditation on desire and addiction, and a critique of the legacies of corruption and colonialism. Inspired by the author’s Jamaican homeland, inflected with rhythms and textures of an amalgam of languages, it is a dazzling, major work of fiction.
The Man Who Lived Underground by Richard Wright
A major literary event: an explosive, previously unpublished novel from the 1940s by the legendary author of Native Son and Black Boy
Fred Daniels, a Black man, is picked up by the police after a brutal double murder and tortured until he confesses to a crime he did not commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from custody and flees into the city’s sewer system.
This is the devastating premise of this scorching novel, a masterpiece that Richard Wright was unable to publish in his lifetime. Written between his landmark books Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945), at the height of his creative powers, it would eventually see publication only in drastically condensed and truncated form in the posthumous collection Eight Men (1961).
Now, for the first time, by special arrangement with the author’s estate, the full text of this incendiary novel about race and violence in America, the work that meant more to Wright than any other (“I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration”), is published in the form that he intended, complete with his companion essay, “Memories of My Grandmother.” Malcolm Wright, the author’s grandson, contributes an afterword.
The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and ScandalousSterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt by Audrey Clare Farley
For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Phantom of Fifth Avenue, a page-turning drama of fortunes, eugenics and women’s reproductive rights framed by the sordid court battle between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother.
At the turn of the twentieth century, American women began to reject Victorian propriety in favor of passion and livelihood outside the home. This alarmed authorities, who feared certain “over-sexed” women could destroy civilization if allowed to reproduce and pass on their defects. Set against this backdrop, The Unfit Heiress chronicles the fight for inheritance, both genetic and monetary, between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her mother Maryon.
In 1934, aided by a California eugenics law, the socialite Maryon Cooper Hewitt had her “promiscuous” daughter declared feebleminded and sterilized without her knowledge. She did this to deprive Ann of millions of dollars from her father’s estate, which contained a child-bearing stipulation. When a sensational court case ensued, the American public was captivated. So were eugenicists, who saw an opportunity to restrict reproductive rights in America for decades to come.
This riveting story unfolds through the brilliant research of Audrey Clare Farley, who captures the interior lives of these women on the pages and poses questions that remain relevant today: What does it mean to be “unfit” for motherhood? In the battle for reproductive rights, can we forgive the women who side against us? And can we forgive our mothers if they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds?
Refugee: A Memoir by author
Persecuted for his political activism, Emmanuel Mbolela left the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002. His search for a new home would take six years.
In that time, Mbolela endured corrupt customs officials, duplicitous smugglers, Saharan ambushes, and untenable living conditions. Yet his account relates not only the storms of his long journey but also the periods of calm. Faced with privation, he finds comfort in a migrants’ hideout overseen by community leaders at once paternal and mercenary. When he finally reaches Morocco, he finds himself stranded for almost four years. And yet he perseveres in his search for the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—which always seem to have closed indefinitely just before Mbolela’s arrival in a given city—because it is there that a migrant might receive an asylum seeker’s official certificates.
It is an experience both private and collective. As Mbolela testifies, the horrors of migration fall hardest upon female migrants, but those same women also embody the fiercest resistance to the regime of violence that would deny them their humanity. While still countryless, Mbolela becomes an advocate for those around him, founding and heading up the Association of Congolese Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Morocco to fight for migrant rights. Since obtaining political asylum in the Netherlands in 2008, he has remained a committed activist.
Direct, uncompromising, and clear-eyed, in Refugee, Mbolela provides an overlooked perspective on a global crisis.
New in Paperback
Such a Fun Age: A Novel by Kiley Reid
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland by Walter Thompson-Hernandez
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