10 Must-Read Books for April


There is no question that April brings with it many of the year’s most impressive works of fiction and nonfiction. (And don’t worry about poetry; we’ll handle it separately.) From Renata Adler to Masha Gessen, through established masters of fiction like Toni Morrison and Steven Millhauser, to undeniable new talents like Amelia Gray and Viet Thanh Nguyen, this month sprints the gamut before the industry takes a short and probably literal nap.

The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, Masha Gessen (April 7)

“It was him,” Judy Clark, attorney for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, told judge and jury in the case of the Boston Marathon bomber. The question is not whether the Tsarnaev brothers carried out the bombing that killed three people and injured hundreds. It’s whether one brother brainwashed the other. With the release of The Brothers by Masha Gessen, an author perhaps most famous for her book on Vladimir Putin, perhaps we’ll learn more than we have from the court proceedings.

God Help the Child, Toni Morrison (April 21)

God Help the Child, as the jacket copy explains, is the first Toni Morrison novel to be set “in our current moment.” But it’s more timely than this fact would suggest. The novel considers the thin, fragile membrane that separates childhood and adulthood in a moment where we no longer know the difference between either. This is one of the most anticipated books of the year from the only living recipient of the Nobel Prize in the United States.

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker, Thomas Kunkel (April 28)

This long awaited biography of the beloved author and New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell addresses important questions. For instance, why did Mitchell abruptly quit writing those intimate profiles of New Yorkers, like the homeless intellectual Joe Gould, that would go on to inspire New Journalism?

After the Tall Timber: Collected Nonfiction, Renata Adler (April 7)

Now that the canonization demanded by her writing is well underway, it’s time to marvel at Renata Adler’s range. After the Tall Timber considers the war in Biafra, the Vietnam War, Cuba, an array of films, pop music, the Watergate scandal, and the plagiarism of Jayson Blair, to name just a few items.

Good Girl: A Memoir, Sarah Tomlinson (April 21)

This touching, darkly funny memoir takes Tomlinson through a childhood — spent living between Boston and 100 acres of land in Maine, with five other families — and college life punctuated by visits from her gambling-addicted, mystic, taxi-driving father.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—And the World, Rachel Swaby (April 7)

A much-needed and long overdue book that profiles the contributions made by women to scientific progress, especially notable for the way it carries the ideas of each from germination to fruition.

The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen (April 7)

An early frontrunner for debut novel of the year, The Sympathizer considers the fall of Saigon in 1975 through the eyes of The Captain. It’s as much a spy novel of political intrigue as it is an examination of Communism, the CIA, and torture.

Voices in the Night: Stories, Steven Millhauser (April 14)

Sixteen new stories from Millhauser, winner of the Pulitzer and Story Prizes, cannot be ignored. It’s time, in fact, with this collection of retold parables, fables, myths, and legends, to consider whether he is the best writer of short fiction we have in America.

Gutshot, Amelia Gray (April 14)

With Gutshot, Amelia Gray — PEN/Faulkner finalist and winner of the Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize — will likely, and rightfully, find her work in the hands of more readers. Or, rather, once readers are hit with hyperreal fables like “The Heart,” where the protagonist carves up a whale heart, they’ll carry them around in their intestines like microbes.

My Struggle, Book Four, Karl Ove Knausgaard (April 28)

Knausgaard in love? Knausgaard makes love? Knausgaard passes out drunk? Either way, it’s volume four of the deepening abyss that is My Struggle. Only 2015 should come with a predictably weak and ill-thought backlash. Just ignore it.