Nonfiction readers will see much to like this April, as the publishing world swings into spring. After a 2018 mostly dominated by politics-related titles, April 2019 sees the return of some favorite authors to nonfiction shelves in general and the memoir genre in particular. On to the highlights:
--Chef and memoirist Ruth Reichl has long had a devoted following, and her newest memoir Save Me the Plums is already getting kudos from the critics. Save Me the Plums follows Reichl’s tenure at Gourmet, where she was tasked with reviving the venerable magazine in the early 2000s while such literary luminaries as David Foster Wallace were writing for it. Publisher’s Weekly calls it ‘a deeply personal look at a food world on the brink of change.’ For a different take on foodie culture, debut memoirist Kwame Onwuachi recounts his fascinating journey to celebrity chef. Notes From a Young Black Chef follows Onwuachi from his home in the Bronx to Nigeria, Baton Rouge and the east coast as he survives the ups and downs of a volatile industry that is particularly rocky for people of color. Kirkus calls it ‘a revealing self-portrait,’ and Onwuachi’s Afro-Caribbean centric recipes follow each chapter.
--Dogged persistence is the hallmark of a few notable nonfiction releases. Mary Norris, author of 2015’s Between You and Me: Confessions of the Comma Queen, recounts her obsession with all things Greek, particularly the language. Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen follows Norris as she immerses herself in the language in what Booklist calls ‘a delicious intersection of personal essays, etymology, and travel writing.’ Fans of journalism will know Mark Bowden from his Black Hawk Down, but true-crime aficionados will want to track down The Last Stone: A Masterpiece of Criminal Interrogation. As a cub reporter in the 1970s, Bowden covered the mysterious disappearance of two young girls from a Maryland mall. Painstaking re-creating the investigation, The Last Stone takes readers inside the interrogation room as police finally get a break nearly forty years after the crime. And nearly fifty years after the moon landings, acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley chronicles the push by scientists, engineers and many others made Kennedy’s 1961 moonshot announcement a reality.
--Notable fiction is abundant in April as well. Sally Rooney’s short-listed Booker Prize novel Normal People finally gets its American edition; most review journals have run out of superlatives to describe it. Look for it on shelves mid-month. Debut author Angie Kim sets her legal thriller Miracle Creek in an unusual treatment facility specializing in hyperbaric oxygen run by recently arrived Korean immigrants. Soon after opening, an explosion rocks the facility, a young boy is killed and an investigation leads to competing stories from all involved. Booklist compares Kim’s courtroom scenes to Scott Turow’s, but also recommends Miracle Creek for fans of family dramas. A different sort of drama plays out in Miriam Toew’s Women Talking, the title a literal description of a novel Kirkus has called ‘stunningly original and altogether arresting.’ In a secluded Mennonite community, hundreds of women have been awakened bloody and bruised with no memory of what happened. They learn that the culprits are the community’s men. As the enormity of their betrayal is revealed, the women gather to discuss the ramifications of their male-dominated society, what they truly believe, and how to approach a world that they have only encountered previously through male-centered views. In a twist, all the women are illiterate and the conversation is recorded by the sole man the women can trust, whose own story reveals a complicated relationship with the sect. Women Talking will be released in early April.
Click on through for the full list. Happy reading!