Spring’s early arrival leaves us less time to curl up inside with a good book but more time to read in your favorite outdoor location. This month’s intriguing titles include a “Post-Holocaust Memoir,” the long-awaited conclusion to a beloved trilogy and one of the liveliest, funniest novels of the year; you won’t lack for reading material whether on your porch or in a park.
“The Night Watchman: A Novel”
by Louise Erdrich (March 3)
The National Book Award winner returns with a book based on her grandfather, Patrick Gourneau, whose 1950s battle to retain Turtle Mountain Chippewa lands in North Dakota revealed racist governmental policies. No plot summary of this fictionalized account can evoke the power and magic of the author’s ode to her people and their survival.
“Deacon King Kong: A Novel”
by James McBride (March 3)
Perhaps you wouldn’t expect your next great read to be a sort of comic opera set in a Brooklyn housing project circa 1969 starring a drink-addled church deacon named Sportcoat, his best friend Hot Sausage and a melancholic amateur gardener with mafia ties known as the Elephant. Best put on your seat belt, because McBride (“The Good Lord Bird,” “Five-Carat Soul”) will take you on a fast, funny, farcical ride.
“The Mirror and the Light: A Novel”
by Hilary Mantel (March 10)
Devoted fans of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy centered on the nefarious Thomas Cromwell’s political machinations will soon be able to read this last volume in the “Wolf Hall” trilogy. It starts: “Once the queen’s head is severed, he walks away.” Anne Boleyn is dead, the king’s mind “entirely on his new bride”; Cromwell’s mind? On his second breakfast. But not for long. . .
“Capital and Ideology”
by Thomas Piketty (March 10)
As the celebrated French thought leader moves from economics to politics, it’s hard to say whether he’s made the leap or landed in deep. A believer in how capitalism can be used to eradicate inequality, Piketty argues for new taxation systems that might minimize the gap between the 1 percent and the underserved. Whether he’s right or wrong, his dazzling intellect makes for thought-provoking reading.
“Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir”
by Rebecca Solnit (March 10)
Today, Solnit is a powerful, acclaimed author whose “Men Explain Things to Me” resulted in the term “mansplaining.” Once, however, she was a young, poor, frightened new arrival to San Francisco who had to make sense of her ideas in the midst of a culture that didn’t support them. This is a feminist fable as well as a meaningful history.
“Later: My Life at the Edge of the World”
by Paul Lisicky (March 17)
How do you write about a community that has disappeared? In the early 1990s, Lisicky arrived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a place famous for its inclusivity of gay and queer cultures - but at that time ravaged by AIDS. Casual hookups coexisted, for the author, with profound grief. This liminality is the lens through which Lisicky focuses his experience.
“The Mountains Sing: A Novel”
by Que Mai Phan Nguyen (March 17)
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The author and poet, known in her native Vietnam as Nguyen Phan Que Mai, tells a comprehensive multigenerational tale, beginning in 1920s Vietnam and continuing through modern wartime. However, the larger history takes a back seat to family dynamics, demonstrating how different generations weather the burdens of conflict.
“The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness: A Memoir”
by Sarah Ramey (March 17)
Almost every woman has a story about a doctor, ranging from patronizing verbal interactions to full-on misdiagnosis. Ramey, a musician, spent decades seeing doctors (they have nicknames, including Dr. Oops and Dr. Paxil) in an attempt to discover why she lived in chronic pain. It turns out that being a woman was the biggest hurdle to receiving the care and treatment she required.
“The City We Became: A Novel”
by N.K. Jemisin (March 24)
Three consecutive Hugo Awards and a cover blurb from Neil Gaiman - yes, it’s time for you to pick up a novel by Jemisin, whose speculative fiction has a degree of inclusivity rare in the science-fiction world. “The City We Became” focuses on New York; all cities have souls in this world, but New York City has six. How they develop and interact determines whether the Big Apple will survive.
“I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir”
by Esther Safran Foer (March 31)
The author’s son Jonathan Safran Foer wrote a novel partially based on his mother’s family and their Holocaust experience. Now, Esther chronicles her own attempts to discover what happened to her relatives in a book that is part personal quest, part testament and all thoughtfully, compassionately written.