Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring.” And in Anna Karenina, Tolstoy called spring “the time of plans and projects.” Both of them sum up how I feel about spring reading: I want something new to get excited about, be it debut author or foreign setting; and at the same time I want the sense that I’m working toward something. This spring, in addition to reading my way through the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist, I’m hoping to sit down and get lost in the strange lands created by these works of fiction:
I could spend the rest of the year just reading through books released this March. From the conclusion to Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, The Clockwork Princess, to Andrew Pyper’s Milton-inspired thriller, The Demonologist, to the four books listed below, March has a lot to offer.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
You are a poor boy growing up in rural Asia. Don’t worry. You’ll eventually become a corporate tycoon fascinated by a successful beautiful girl – this book will tell you how it happens.
A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam*
As you may know, I love a good animal narrator. This book, which alternates between human and chimpanzee points-of-view, is the tale of an unusual path to parenthood.
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma*
A first novel about writing a first novel (and the literary rivalry that goes along with it).
There is much to love in this tale which pairs a suicidal Japanese teenager who is writing the biography of her Buddhist nun great-grandmother with that of a blocked writer living in an isolated community in the Pacific Northwest.
April promises much in the way of women’s fiction, such as Life After Life by Women’s Prize nominee Kate Atkinson, Maya’s Notebook by perennial favourite Isabel Allende, and an engrossing work of historical fiction about French expats in Manhattan — including the author of The Little Prince — Ania Szado’s Studio Saint-Ex*.
Under Budapest by Ailsa Kay
I am sold on the title alone. In the interest of full disclosure, I will read anything about the Hungarian Revolution and its aftermath. Anything. (Bonus points if there’s a character named Tibor, ‘cause that’s my dad’s name.) So why should you read it? Everyone is concerned with what lies beneath the surface of things, and this book promises to delve into the troubled history of Hungary and unite the death of a Roma in 2010 with the disappearance of a sister in 1956.
The Dark by Claire Mulligan*
This novel from the author of the Giller-nominated The Reckoning of Boston Jim is based on the true story of the Fox sisters who inspired the Spiritualist movement.
The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai*
Shivan Rassiah is part Tamil part Sinhalese; he is also a gay man living in Ontario. He travels ‘home’ to Colombo, Sri Lanka to pack up the house of his strong-willed, ailing grandmother, the family matriarch, and move her to Toronto with him.
Let’s just take for granted that those of us who are already hooked on Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series (myself included) have already placed Inferno on hold and have a look at what else May has to offer:
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
After The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini has written a darkly romantic supernatural thriller!?! Of course not… He’s still doing what he does best, family stories. This one is a multigenerational saga that will take us all on a journey from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco – and I can’t wait to leave. My eyes are on the countdown clock.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra*
One of the best things about reading a debut author is the feeling that you’ve discovered something precious. Just as a constellation is a connection between stars, this book looks at the connection between a young girl from a Chechyan village, her neighbour, and a female doctor during five unforgettable days in December 2004. A book not to be missed.
You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt
It’s 1982: two 10-year old American girls write to Yuri Andropov and ask for peace. Jenny is invited to meet him in Moscow; Sarah is not. Their friendship suffers. Two years later, Jenny and her family are killed in a plane crash. Sarah is eventually lead to question: was the crash a hoax?
*Thank you to NetGalley for providing us with e-galleys of these titles.