It’s the second day of the week! Today is the first Tuesday of April. I can’t believe we’re already a quarter into the year! Whoa. Anyway, I hope the rest of the year will be filled with blessings and good tidings for everyone. More importantly, I hope everyone is doing well in their body, mind, and spirit.
It’s also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesdays was initially created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.
This week’s topic: Top 5 anticipated reads for April-June 2023
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyan
Synopsis: The explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black, about two top women gladiators fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own. – “A new and necessary American voice.” –Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review
Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom.
In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thurwar and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, she considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games, but CAPE’s corporate owners will stop at nothing to protect their status quo and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.
Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means from a “new and necessary American voice” (Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review).
Release date: April 4
The Trackers by Charles Frazier
Synopsis: Hurtling past the downtrodden communities of Depression-era America, painter Val Welch travels westward to the rural town of Dawes, Wyoming. Through a stroke of luck, he’s landed a New Deal assignment to create a mural representing the region for their new Post Office.
A wealthy art lover named John Long and his wife Eve have agreed to host Val at their sprawling ranch. Rumors and intrigue surround the couple: Eve left behind an itinerant life riding the rails and singing in a western swing band. Long holds shady political aspirations, but was once a WWI sniper–and his right hand is a mysterious elder cowboy, a vestige of the violent old west. Val quickly finds himself entranced by their lives.
One day, Eve flees home with a valuable painting in tow, and Long recruits Val to hit the road with a mission of tracking her down. Journeying from ramshackle Hoovervilles to San Francisco nightclubs to the swamps of Florida, Val’s search for Eve narrows, and he soon turns up secrets that could spark formidable changes for all of them.
In The Trackers, singular American writer Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.
Release date: April 11
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
Synopsis: From the New York Times–bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes a stunning and magisterial new epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret
The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of Cutting for Stone. Published in 2009, Cutting for Stone became a literary phenomenon, selling over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years.
Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. The family is part of a Christian community that traces itself to the time of the apostles, but times are shifting, and the matriarch of this family, known as Big Ammachi—literally “Big Mother”—will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life. All of Verghese’s great gifts are on display in this new work: there are astonishing scenes of medical ingenuity, fantastic moments of humor, a surprising and deeply moving story, and characters imbued with the essence of life.
A shimmering evocation of a lost India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the hardships undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. It is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years.
Release date: May 2
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Synopsis: What’s the harm in a pseudonym? New York Times bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American–in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R. F. Kuang in the vein of White Ivy and The Other Black Girl.
Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars: same year at Yale, same debut year in publishing. But Athena’s a cross-genre literary darling, and June didn’t even get a paperback release. Nobody wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.
So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers to the British and French war efforts during World War I.
So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song–complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.
But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.
With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface takes on questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation not only in the publishing industry but the persistent erasure of Asian-American voices and history by Western white society. R. F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable.
Release date: May 16
The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor
Synopsis: In the shared and private spaces of Iowa City, a loose circle of lovers and friends encounter, confront, and provoke one another in a volatile year of self-discovery. At the group’s center are Ivan, a dancer turned aspiring banker who dabbles in amateur pornography; Fatima, whose independence and work ethic complicates her relationships with friends and a trusted mentor; and Noah, who “didn’t seek sex out so much as it came up to him like an anxious dog in need of affection.” These three are buffeted by a cast of poets, artists, landlords, meat-packing workers, and mathematicians who populate the cafes, classrooms, and food-service kitchens of Iowa City, sometimes to violent and electrifying consequence. Finally, as each prepares for an uncertain future, the group heads to a cabin to bid goodbye to their former lives—a moment of reckoning that leaves each of them irrevocably altered.
A novel of intimacy and precarity, friendship and chosen family, The Late Americans is Brandon Taylor’s richest and most involving work of fiction to date, confirming his position as one of our most perceptive chroniclers of contemporary life.
Release date: May 23
Another book I am badly looking forward to is Haruki Murakami’s latest novel which is to be released on April 13. Not much about the book is known as neither Murakami nor his publisher has released any details. Even the title of the book remains a mystery. As for the genre, there is no doubt that the book will be infused with magical realist elements ala Murakami. I can’t wait to read what the Japanese wordsmith has in store; this is his first release in nearly five years.