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April’s Abundance

The latest from The Nest author, a post-apocalyptic story set in northern Ontario and Paula McLain's latest novel will keep you preoccupied on rainy days / BY Nathalie Atkinson / April 5th, 2021


Between much-anticipated stories from international authors and an especially strong selection of Canadian fiction, you won’t even notice the April showers. Here are our picks of the most riveting, thought-provoking, and heartwarming new novels for the month ahead.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Good CompanyCynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Interrogations into a seemingly happy life are set off when Flora rummages around an old file cabinet search of a childhood photograph of her daughter, who is graduating from high school, and finds something that makes her question her 20-year marriage to Julian. The novel examines the compromises of marriage and the betrayals and satisfactions of long friendships from several points of view, but all you need to know is that this is the follow-up to the Los Angeles-based author’s breakout comic blockbuster The Nest. (April 6)


2PeacesHelen Oyeyemi

The Nigerian-born British author of Boy, Snow, Bird returns with a strange and genre-bending story. Is it a surreal mystery? Ostensibly it’s about the ups and downs (and curveballs) of romantic love as couple Otto and Xavier embark on “non-honeymoon honeymoon” by train from Kent, a gift from a mysterious relative. With pet mongoose in tow, their wild ride is soon full of odd and seemingly disconnected encounters in the adjoining compartments, with unusual fellow passengers like an heiress and her entourage. It’s a novel most aptly described as a fever dream. (April 6)


3Savage GerryJohn Jantunen

In this thriller, a notorious triple-convicted murderer Gerald Nichols known as ‘Savage Gerry’ is serving well-deserved time when he and his fellow inmates are sprung by a biker gang. Guards have abandoned the prison and left the community to fend for itself, and the world devolves into lawless encampments threatened by groups of marauders as Gerry reunites with his adult son. Set in the wilds of northern Ontario and billed as a Canadian Mad Max, the mix of nature and violence (and considerations of the roots of evil and second chances) is closer to Cormac McCarthy. (April 13)


4Early Morning RiserKatherine Heiny

This story by the Washington, D.C.-based writer is about an eccentric mother, a demanding daughter and a small town that feels as if it’s populated by all the women Jane’s husband, the former town playboy, slept with before he met her. Each successive chapter in this warm-hearted novel covers a year in the life of Jane, a teacher in Michigan, through life’s tender and messy moments. More characters than plot, there are echoes of Olive Kitteridge and passages that will make you laugh aloud. (April 13)


5When the Stars Go DarkPaula McLain

McLain has previously illuminated the lives of forgotten female historical figures such as Hadley Hemingway (The Paris Wife) and aviatrix Beryl Markham (Circling the Sun) in her bestsellers. In this suspenseful crime novel, the real unsolved abduction and murder of tween Polly Klaas collides with a present-day missing persons case involving a teenage girl, with a twist on the tradition: the haunted San Francisco private detective on the case is a woman. With all the evocative description of Hammett and Chandler but none of the macho existential angst of classic Bay Area noir, it subverts the tradition and explores predation and trauma from a refreshing point of view. (April 13)


6A Brief View From The Coastal SuiteKaren Hofmann

This is a loose continuation of What Is Going to Happen Next, the B.C. writer’s 2017 novel about four siblings who were separated and raised in dramatically different circumstances after their mother was institutionalized and their hippie father abandoned them. Now they’re all grown up and living in Vancouver, navigating personal and professional dramas and trying to hold on to financial stability against the backdrop of instability and the impending 2008 economic crisis. (April 15)


7The Final Revival of Opal & NevDawnie Walton

Walton is a Philadelphia-based journalist and a former editor at Essence. She has said that inspiration to write this buzzy novel that explores themes of racial justice in the music business came from both 20 Feet from Stardom, the Oscar-winning documentary about Black backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry Clayton, and reading Miles Davis’s autobiography. This fictional oral history about a 1970s rock duo is in the tradition of Almost Famous, Daisy Jones and the Six and Utopia Avenue. It follows Opal, an ambitious Black singer from Detroit after she pairs up with Neville, a white singer-songwriter from England, and the career fallout after she joins a protest. (April 20)


8One Who Has Been Here BeforeBecca Babcock

This is an absorbing coming of age and adulthood story about the long-buried secrets behind a graduate student’s fascination with researching a notorious local family. Babcock, a PhD who teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University in Halifax, was inspired by the famous true story of the isolated, incestuous Goler clan of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. (April 20)


9We, JaneAimee Wall

Acclaimed Canadian author Lisa Moore says this debut “knocked me off my feet.” It’s about the intense friendship between a woman in her 30s and a much older woman who travel to rural Newfoundland. In this novel about reproductive freedom and an underground movement that began in the 1960s, Wall, a writer and translator, explores the intergenerational knowledge shared between women of different temperaments and backgrounds. (April 27)

 


10The Good FatherWayne Grady

In his first contemporary novel, the award-winning Kingston, Ont., author charts the story of Henry, a father who has been ghosted by his only daughter Daphne. A major incident forces them to face their irreconcilable differences and, perhaps, repair the rift. Alternating his-and-hers perspectives take you inside their very different lives (his is orderly and placid, hers is chaotic and hostile) to show both sides of the estranged relationship. (April 27)


11Molly Falls to The EarthMaria Mutch

Poet Mutch was a Governor General’s Literary Award finalist for Know the Night, her lyrical 2014 memoir about sleepless nights with a special needs child. Her fiction debut is a literary take on the fragmented seven minutes a famous choreographer spends on a New York sidewalk as she is having a seizure. The inventive structure reflects the simultaneity of past, present and future as they flash before Molly’s eyes. (April 27 )

 


12WhereaboutsJhumpa Lahiri

A decade ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author Jhumpa Lahiri (The Namesake, Interpreter of maladies) moved to Rome, learned Italian and wrote a novel in the language. Now translated into English by the author herself, fragmented vignettes follow an unnamed middle-aged woman going about her daily routine (her academic work, city walks, visits to her mother and swims) over the course of a year, until a day at the seashore spurs a change in perspective on it all. (April 27)


13Dial A for AuntiesJesse Sutanto

This madcap over-the-top rom-com set during an extravagant Chinese-Indonesian wedding (2,000 guests are expected) is guaranteed to fill the Crazy Rich Asians-sized hole on your bookshelf. It’s both a comedy and a caper: On the eve of the nuptials a relative, Maddie, accidentally kills her blind date. Her mother and many, many endearing aunts pitch in to help to cover it up, all while managing the wedding of the year. Hilarity and total mayhem ensue. (April 27)


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