What does the month of March have in store for us? 2021 has been a busy year already, and with winter starting to ebb away and vaccines being distributed in greater quantities across the country, that sense of everything happening at once is only going to get more pronounced. The month’s most exciting books offer a similar array of subjects and styles, from thought-provoking novels to immersive works of nonfiction. If you’re looking to read something compelling this month, you have plenty of options.
A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (Mar. 30)
Hanif Abdurraqib’s last two works of nonfiction demonstrated his skill at writing movingly and expansively about music and popular culture. Where do you go from there? Apparently you expand your canvas even more. A Little Devil in America explores the places where Black performance and American history converge. Given his work to date, it promises to be a fascinating journey.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Mar. 2)
Over the course of his career to date — one which led to him winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017 — Kazuo Ishiguro has explored a host of places and times, from pre-World War II Japan to England during a mythic stage in its history. With his latest novel, Ishiguro opts for the near future, exploring questions of intimacy and humanity in a work told from the perspective of an android.
Water, Wood, and Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town by Hannah Kirshner (Mar. 23)
What does it mean to immerse yourself in a place? What can you learn from the experience? Hannah Kirshner’s Water, Wood, and Wild Things chronicles her time in the mountain town of Yamanaka — and offers a record of what she learned about technique and creation there, from brewing sake to making charcoal.
The Ocean is Closed: Journalistic Adventures and Investigations by Jon Bradshaw (Mar. 16)
In 1986, journalist Jon Bradshaw died at the far-too-young age of 48. Over the course of his career, he wrote memorably about everything from the blues to backgammon. Now, a host of his magazine work from the 1970s is getting the deluxe treatment in this new anthology, showcasing the range of his interests and the deftness of his prose.
Off: The Day The Internet Died: A Bedtime Fantasy by Chris Colin and Rinee Shah (Mar. 23)
What would happen if, one day, the internet simply ceased to work? That’s not the premise of the latest dystopian novel coming soon to your local bookstore; instead, in the telling of writer Chris Colin and artist Rinee Shah, it’s grounds for an embrace of outdoor activity and reading. Prepare for a charming juxtaposition of mythic narration with an irreverent take on modern society.
The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Mar. 2)
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer told the story of a Vietnamese secret agent at work in late-1970s California, and in doing so balanced thrills and heady ideas in equal measure. The Committed follows that novel’s protagonist as he finds himself in Paris in the 1980s, making a foray into the drug trade and pondering France’s colonial legacy.
Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women and Desire in the Age of Consent by Katherine Angel (Mar. 2)
To write about sex, consent and desire in a society currently in the midst of a necessary conversation about all of these things is no easy task. Katherine Angel’s Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again takes its title from a quote by Michel Foucault, and offers readers a blend of cultural criticism and provocative theory.
Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic by Glenn Frankel (Mar. 16)
John Schlesinger’s 1969 film Midnight Cowboy is groundbreaking for a host of reasons: its Best Picture Oscar makes it the only instance of an X-rated film to do so, and it helped launch the careers of stars Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. The story of how it was made is as fascinating as the story it told on the screen, and Glenn Frankel’s book offers a fascinating look behind the scenes.
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue (Mar. 9)
What does it do to a person — and a community — to live amidst environmental devastation? That’s the question at the heart of Imbolo Mbue’s new novel, which follows the residents of a small village grappling with the effects of horrific pollution and their frustrations with an indifferent government. The result makes for a thought-provoking work of fiction.
New Yorkers: A City and Its People in Our Time by Craig Taylor (Mar. 23)
In his earlier book Londoners, Craig Taylor sought to translate a host of lived experiences within a certain British city into the pages of a book. Now, with New Yorkers, he applies the same approach to New York, showcasing a broad array of the city’s population and searching for moments of joy and frustration amidst quotidian routines.
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