Spring has sprung, and all the extra greenery we’re seeing has definitely got us dreaming about long walks in the park and picnics among the daffodils — with a book, of course. This month, do some mental spring cleaning with a novel about the Bombay underbelly, celebrate the birds and the bees with stories about animals falling viciously in love, and ponder essays on the nature of artistic creation. After all, spring is all about new beginnings. Click through to check out our must-read list of books coming out in the coming month, and let us know which ones you’re most excited about (whether they made our list or not) in the comments!
I Am an Executioner: Love Stories, Rajesh Parameswaran (April 10)
From the first story in this debut collection, “The Infamous Bengal Ming,” wherein a tiger, hopelessly in love with his handler, kills and consumes him as only a tiger can, and escapes, setting off a rampage of sorts as he stalks through the suburbs, considering his own brutality, you know Parameswaran is a brutal, hilarious force. The following tales don’t disappoint either, filled with insane characters and surreal situations, but all connected to that one constant human (and perhaps animal) need — love.
The Cove , Ron Rash (April 10)
Rash, the bestselling author of Serena, returns with a forbidding Southern Gothic love story set in a remote Appalachian valley at the height of World War I. The chilly tale is rendered perfectly in Rash’s beautiful, lyrical prose, so elegantly that the danger will seep into your bones before you even notice.
Narcopolis , Jeet Thayil (April 12)
In this debut novel by poet, musician, and ex-junkie Jeet Thayil, you’ll be transported to the glittering, grimy underbelly of Bombay in the 1970s, complete with a cast of degenerate characters swirling around each other, everybody looking for some kind of fix. From the very first lines, Thayil’s prose is striking and stickily compelling, filled with a manic beauty that only gets more addictive as you go on.
Cataclysm Baby , Matt Bell (April 15)
Author Karen Russell called this surreal, alphabetical novella “a baby name book for the apocalypse,” though you’d never want to name your children any of these names. Bell’s strange, allegorical narratives take an incredibly potent, disruptive and rather terrifying look at humanity in all its beauty and weirdness, managing to be totally insane and deeply essential all at once.
Ghosting, Kirby Gann (April 17)
Another Appalachian gothic tale (can you tell we’re on something of a kick?), this short novel is a tightly woven story of a community of outcasts, searching for a lost comrade in Kentucky’s criminal underworld. The prose pulses with terror and bad blood, the characters with yearning and humor, and this story latches onto you and doesn’t let go for hours.
HHhH: A Novel , Laurent Binet (April 24)
We think it’s safe to say that we’re suckers for books with titles like this — they just make us want to read them, no matter what. But we got lucky with this one, the winner of the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, whose title stands for “Himmlers Hirn heiBt Heydrich,” German for “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.” The novel tells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, whom Hitler dubbed “The Man with the Iron Heart,” otherwise known as “the Butcher of Prague.” It also, quite wonderfully, tells Binet’s own story of writing the historical novel, his fingerprints all over the 257 short chapters, making for a unique and incredibly compelling reading experience.
Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down , Rosecrans Baldwin (April 24)
A charming entry into the expat canon, this book is Baldwin’s true story of moving to his favorite city in the world — favorite to the tune of obsession, mind you — and realizing it’s not quite as he had imagined. Among all the expected language-barrier gaffes and cultural blind spots, he also tells the story of struggling to publish his first book — You Lost Me There, which came out in 2010 to great acclaim.
Farther Away: Essays , Jonathan Franzen (April 24)
This collection, which gathers the best of Franzen’s recent essays and speeches, probably won’t change anyone’s mind about him — at least, most of the really incendiary pieces have already been talked about to death and finally laid to rest in the collective media consciousness. But we’re going to read it anyway, and so are you.
Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation , Tom Bissell (April 24)
This collection of some of award-winning essayist Tom Bissell’s best work will have you thinking hard about the nature of the creative process and what it means to be an artist — covering everything from The Big Bang Theory to David Foster Walalce to Werner Herzog. So, that’s pretty much everything we’re interested in.
In Zanesville , Jo Ann Beard (April 25)
This coming of age novel opens with a kid setting his house on fire. Our unnamed 14-year-old narrator, meant to be babysitting, finds this to be “so embarrassing first of all, and so dangerous second of all.” Beard’s pitch-perfect story of the perils and joys of youth is funny and awkward, sweet and overwhelming, but most of all — unlike some novels like this — totally, sharply true.