We book-lovers are an expectant lot, eagerly anticipating each year what the publishing gods will send our way. Fortunately, our wait is over. Below are a handful of 2018 selections that are generating buzz, some already released and others waiting just in the wings.
“Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn (Jan. 2)
Maybe you’ve heard the blurbs—from Gillian Flynn and Stephen King to Louise Penny and Ruth Ware—masters of the thriller genre who have come out to praise A.J. Finn’s “The Woman in the Window.” The term Hitchcockian shouldn’t be thrown around lightly, but in this case, Finn delivers a “Rear Window”-esque noir that packs enough twists and turns for any fan of Hitchcock’s most thrilling films. With a nod to those mid-century classics, Finn is diabolical in taking the reader where he wants them to go—and who he wants them to trust. Already set for translation into 36 languages, Finn’s thrilling, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat page-turner will delight those looking for the next book-to-film blockbuster in the vein of “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train.”
“Feel Free: Essays” by Zadie Smith (Feb. 6)
New Zadie Smith is always a cause for celebration, and her latest essay collection, “Feel Free,” does not disappoint. Taking on the modern world with an insightful, critical eye, Smith tackles music, film, pop culture, politics, literature and everything in-between. About Facebook, Smith writes, “It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.” With wit, humor and that razor-edge intellect that’s made her one of the most beloved international authors working today, Smith delivers a superb literary collection to add her to growing oeuvre.
“What Are We Doing Here?: Essays” By Marilynne Robinson (Feb. 20)
A new essay collection from Marilynne Robinson? Sign us up. The award-winning novelist takes on an array of contemporary issues—political, theological, philosophical—to give us this timely collection when we need it most. “What do we lose when we ignore early American history, and, to the extent that we notice it, mischaracterize it?” Robinson writes in the essay, “What is Freedom of Conscience.” With unrivaled prose and boundless insights, “What Are We Doing Here?” proves that Robinson is at the top of her game, offering us clarity and wisdom in an age of misinformation.
“Wade in the Water” by Tracy K. Smith (April 3)
In her first publication since being named U.S. poet laureate last fall, Tracy K. Smith delivers a powerful and hypnotizing new collection in “Wade in the Water.” Ranging from themes of politics and religion to erasure poems based on correspondence between African-American slaves during the Civil War, Smith is in full command—offering us a necessary, profound and unsettling poetry collection. “I ache most/to be confronted by the real,” Smith writes in “Annunciation,” a profound-yet-personal critique of modernity, one of many poems circling our nation’s history and the notion of progress. In “Wade in the Water,” the former Pulitzer Prize-winning poet proves once again why she’s one of the leading ambassadors of poetry in the world.
“The Recovering” by Leslie Jamison (April 3)
In this autobiographical study of alcoholism, acclaimed essayist Leslie Jamison transcends genre in her new book, “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath.” Part memoir and part historical study, Jamison recounts her own personal struggles with alcoholism while profiling famed writers such as Raymond Carver, John Berryman and David Foster Wallace. Jamison’s talent as a writer is evident, and her ability to evoke humor and pathos from such a serious topic is a testament to her ability as an essayist. The author of “The Empathy Exams” scores again—look for this one.
“The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America” by Timothy Snyder (April 3)
From the acclaimed, bestselling author of “On Tyranny,” Yale Professor Timothy Snyder has been a vocal and spirited critic of contemporary totalitarianism across the globe. In “The Road to Unfreedom,” Snyder expands his lens to Russia, Europe and yes—America—in this in-depth-yet-accessible research of contemporary history. In a turbulent and uncertain global period, Snyder examines these threats to democracy, the global rise of populism, and the choices we face going forward.
“The Lost Empress” by Sergio De La Pava (May 8)
This time around, self-published literary darling Sergio De La Pava has opted for the more traditional publishing route. After publishing his now-acclaimed, postmodern romp of a novel, “A Naked Singularity,” De La Pava became a cult favorite among those who admire the works of David Foster Wallace, William Gaddis and Thomas Pynchon. In his new, traditionally published novel, “The Lost Empress,” De La Pava takes on America’s most popular sport, the criminal justice system, and topics ranging from theoretical physics and immigration to lonely pastors and religion. De La Pava, who is a New York public defender, writes with a mesmerizing, maximalist style reminiscent of the aforementioned novelists, and his new novel all but guarantees he won’t have to self-publish again.
“The Ensemble” by Aja Gabel (May 15)
I know next-to-nothing about classical music, quartets and the cutthroat world of professional musicians, but that didn’t stop me from loving Aja Gable’s debut novel, “The Ensemble.” Set in this high-stakes world where every concert matters, we watch as four members of the Van Ness String Quartet—Jana, Henry, Daniel and Brit—experience love, betrayal, triumph and loss. Featuring rich, fully fleshed-out characters that jump off the page, “The Ensemble” is one of the most endearing and worthwhile explorations of friendship I’ve ever read. With intoxicating prose and complex-yet-likeable characters, this debut is well worth the read. Set for release in May, it’s an astounding debut for Aja Gabel and another hit for Riverhead Books.
“American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin” by Terrence Hayes (June 19)
From one of the preeminent poets writing today, Terrence Hayes’ latest collection wins the award for best title of the year. Featuring 70 different poems bearing the same title, “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin” presents an ode to the sonnet form while exploring race, identity in America, love and the meaning of “assassin.” Written during the first 200 hundred days of the Trump presidency, Hayes’ collection is a haunting journey into America’s past and future—dreams and nightmares.
Alex Brubaker is manager of Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit www.midtownscholar.com.