The 33 Most Exciting New Books Of 2018


Jarry Lee / BuzzFeed

1.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave by Zora Neale Hurston


Amistad, Fotosearch / Getty Images

Barracoon is a previously unreleased book by Zora Neale Hurston chronicling the American slave trade and the true story of its last survivor. Containing as much empathy as it does insight and research, Barracoon is an essential dive into the atrocities of history that still shape our culture today.

Publication date: May 8

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2.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer


Riverhead Books, Nina Subin

In Meg Wolitzer’s new novel The Female Persuasion, college freshman Greer Kadetsky’s life is pulled in an entirely different, new direction after meeting feminist icon Faith Frank. An entertaining exploration of female friendship and mentorship, feminism, ambition, and power with characters that feel extraordinarily real.

Publication date: Apr. 3


Little, Brown and Company, Beowulf Sheehan

Leslie Jamison’s poignant The Recovering is part memoir and part history, a careful investigation of addiction and recovery stories, including Jamison’s own and those of iconic figures in the arts, and of the culture and treatment of alcoholism in the US. Thoughtful, fiercely honest and intimate, The Recovering is a must-read that is Jamison at her best.

Publication date: Apr. 3

4.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


Algonquin Books, Nina Subin

Tayari Jones’ moving new novel An American Marriage is told through three voices: couple Celestial and Roy, and Celestial’s childhood friend Andre. When early into Celestial and Roy’s marriage, Roy is arrested and sentenced to prison for 12 years for a crime he didn’t commit, their love and bond is tested — and even more so when the ruling is overturned after five years and he returns home.

Publication date: Feb. 6

5.

Tangerine by Christine Mangan


Ecco, Casey Carsello

Christine Mangan’s debut novel Tangerine is the story of Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason, once college roommates and friends, whose relationship is destroyed by an accident one night. A year later, the two women meet again in Tangier, Morocco, but Alice begins to feel something is very, very amiss; a dark and truly haunting tale of friendship and obsession.

Publication date: Mar. 27

6.

Feel Free by Zadie Smith


Penguin Press, Brian Dowling / Getty Images

Zadie Smith’s new essay collection Feel Free examines a wide variety of topics — art, culture, literature, and politics — through Smith’s keen perspective. Charming, and smartly written, Feel Free is a heartfelt collection from a brilliant mind.

Publication date: Feb. 6

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7.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner


Scribner, Lucy Raven

Rachel Kushner’s stunning new novel The Mars Room follows a woman, separated from her young son, who is serving two consecutive life sentences in a women’s correctional facility in California. A gorgeously written depiction of survival and the absurd and violent facets of life in prison.

Publication date: May 1

8.

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee


Pamela Dorman Books, miratlee.com

Mira T. Lee’s novel Everything Here Is Beautiful is an incredibly moving and thoughtful exploration of mental illness and its toll on family and loved ones. Lucia and Miranda are two sisters who share a strong bond, but after their mother’s death, Lucia begins to hear voices. With empathy and tenderness, Everything Here Is Beautiful shows the complex difficulties of both sides of the sisters’ relationship.

Publication: Jan. 16

9.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi


Grove Press, Elizabeth Wirija

In Akwaeke Emezi’s powerful debut novel Freshwater, Ada, a young Nigerian woman, was a troubled child, but after moving to the US for college and being assaulted, her identity is fractured into a group of separate, alternate selves that begin to control her life in increasingly alarming ways. Freshwater is a dark, breathtakingly original exploration of identity, spirituality, trauma, mental health, and family.

Publication date: Feb. 13

10.

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson


Random House, Cindy Lee Johnson

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, a posthumous short story collection, showcases Denis Johnson’s immense talent as a storyteller. In five stories, damaged people reflect on their lives, aging, addiction, infidelity, crime; a true gem of a collection for any fan of Johnson.

Publication date: Jan. 16


Mariner Books, M. Sharkey

Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is a collection of essays on identity, art, politics, and activism. As profound as they are beautiful, Chee’s essays impart wisdom from a life fully lived, and speak to what it means to be a writer and reader in contemporary times.

Publication date: Apr. 17

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12.

Florida by Lauren Groff


Riverhead Books, laurengroff.com

Florida is at the center of Lauren Groff’s new short story collection, becoming not just a geographic location but also a real heart of life, nature, loneliness, love, family, despair, and hope. In stories that are as diverse as the state itself, Florida features unforgettable characters and a rich portrait of humanity.

Publication date: June 5

13.

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam


Ecco, David A. Land

Rumaan Alam’s thought-provoking novel That Kind of Mother is the story of a white first-time mother who also ends up adopting the baby of her son’s black nanny after her unexpected death in childbirth. As she navigates motherhood, she must also navigate larger questions about race, privilege, and class.

Publication date: May 8

14.

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara


Ecco, Amanda Kallis

Set in 1980s New York City, Joseph Cassara’s gorgeous debut novel The House of Impossible Beauties centers around a vibrant group of four transgender and gay “club kids.” Angel, 17, and her love, Hector, form the first all-Latinx house on the Harlem ball scene, but when Hector dies of complications related to AIDS, Angel must continue alone as mother of the house; a heartbreaking novel that burns brightly.

Publication date: Feb. 6

15.

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley


MCD, Caitlin Mitchell

Sloane Crosley’s new essay collection Look Alive Out There is as hilarious and witty as we’ve come to expect from Crosley. Whether she’s writing about egg freezing or volcano climbing in Ecuador, Look Alive Out There is Crosley at her best — insightful, refreshingly honest, and relatable.

Publication date: Apr. 3

16.

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea


Little, Brown and Company, Nicole Waite Photography

Luis Alberto Urrea’s The House of Broken Angels is a vivid portrait of one Mexican-American family in San Diego and the complexities of immigration and heritage. The patriarch of the De La Cruz family decides to throw a huge birthday party in the last days of his life, but his mother also dies in the days leading up to the event, leading to a bittersweet celebration of both of their lives and their family’s legacy.

Publication date: Mar. 6

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Harper Perennial, roxanegay.com

Not That Bad is an anthology of candid essays on rape culture, sexual assault, and harassment curated and edited by Roxane Gay. Fierce, necessary, and timely, this is an essential collection.

Publication date: May 1

18.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez


Riverhead Books, Claire Holt

In Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, after a woman’s best friend and mentor kills himself, she is left with his Great Dane, who she becomes increasingly devoted to as her grief builds. An elegant, moving, thoughtful meditation on grief, friendship, healing, and the bonds between humans and dogs.

Publication date: Feb. 6

19.

The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg


Farrar, Straus and Giroux, lauravandenberg.com

In Laura van den Berg’s novel The Third Hotel, a widow traveling in Havana for a film festival begins to see her dead husband. Surreal and highly original, The Third Hotel is a fascinating rumination on marriage, grief, death, and art.

Publication date: Aug. 7

20.

What Are We Doing Here? by Marilynne Robinson


Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nancy Crompton

Marilynne Robinson’s new essay collection What Are We Doing Here? looks at the state of our modern politics and faith. Fans of Robinson and new readers alike will be stimulated by this perceptive, deeply intelligent collection.

Publication date: Feb. 20

21.

Awayland by Ramona Ausubel


Riverhead Books, Twin Lens Images

Ramona Ausubel’s collection Awayland takes readers around the world and even into heaven in 11 magnetic stories about parenthood, loneliness, and love. Tender and heartfelt, Awayland is often also as funny as it is emotionally affecting.

Publication date: Mar. 6

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22.

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot


Counterpoint, Isaiah Mailhot

Terese Marie Mailhot’s lyrical memoir Heart Berries tells of her coming-of-age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation, her struggles with mental illness, and her complicated relationship with her parents. Powerful and raw, Heart Berries looks unflinchingly at trauma, love, pain, self-acceptance, and what it means to be a Native woman today.

Publication date: Feb. 6

23.

The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce


Riverhead Books, piercethomas.com

Thomas Pierce’s humorous yet heartfelt debut novel The Afterlives is one man’s journey to discover what happens after death. After Jim Byrd dies for a few minutes from a heart attack, he becomes obsessed with investigating what exactly the afterlife is like using everything from psychics to a futuristic machine.

Publication date: Jan. 9

24.

Sick by Porochista Khakpour


Harper Perennial, porochistakhakpour.com

Porochista Khakpour’s Sick is a candid memoir about her struggles with late-stage Lyme disease. Written with bravery and honesty, Sick is an account of chronic illness, drug addictions, pain both physical and emotional, and the toll of misdiagnosis.

Publication date: June 5

25.

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld


Random House, curtissittenfeld.com

Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut collection You Think It, I’ll Say It features 10 stories about relationships and how people can misjudge and make assumptions about others as well as themselves. Fans of Sittenfeld’s fiction will enjoy this engaging collection, which is filled with characters that seem convincingly real and human.

Publication date: Apr. 24

26.

Census by Jesse Ball


Ecco, James Foster

In Jesse Ball’s novel Census, a dying father signs up as a census taker for a government bureau to take one last trip with his adult son, who has disabilities. The pair embark on a journey that becomes increasingly strange and mysterious while the father must also reckon with the end of his life and leaving his son behind.

Publication date: Mar. 6

27.

The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg


Holt Paperbacks, Mallory Ortberg

The Merry Spinster is a collection of fairytales retold with Mallory Ortberg’s signature whip-smart humor and snark. Mischievous, unsettling, and often feminist, the stories in The Merry Spinster are a delightful, ingenious spin on beloved classics.

Publication date: Mar. 13

28.

Creative Quest by Questlove


Ecco, Monte Isom

Creative Quest is a guide to creativity from Questlove, the Grammy Award–winning cofounder of The Roots and musical director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Creative Quest uses Questlove’s own experiences and extraordinary creative life to impart wisdom on inspiration and originality.

Publication date: Apr. 24

29.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder


Hogarth, Lord Byron

Melissa Broder’s imaginative debut novel The Pisces follows a PhD student who has a breakdown because of grad school when her sister invites her to Los Angeles to house-sit and take care of her diabetic dog. When one night she meets a merman on the beach, a truly bizarre, hilarious romance ensues.

Publication date: May 1


Flatiron Books, Mia Fermindoza

The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater is Alanna Okun’s memoir on crafting, a collection of essays and stories on truths gleaned through using knitting and yarn to cope with anxiety and the wild uncertainties of life. Okun’s writing is entertaining, often funny, and relatable even to noncrafters.

Publication date: Mar. 20

Note: Alanna Okun is a former employee of BuzzFeed.

31.

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley


Graywolf Press, Keisha Green

Jamel Brinkley’s debut short story collection A Lucky Man looks at the strained relationships among brothers, fathers, sons, and friends, in a world marked by the divides of race, class, past mistakes, and history. The nine stories in A Lucky Man establish Brinkley as a talented new voice to watch.

Publication date: May 1

32.

Brave by Rose McGowan


HarperOne, Aaron Thornton / Getty Images

Brave is Rose McGowan’s fearlessly honest memoir about sexism in Hollywood, the sexualization of child stars, and the nightmares that can come with stardom. At heart a feminist manifesto, Brave feels timely and necessary amid the culture of misogyny recently revealed in the US’s entertainment industry and beyond.

33.

Sharp by Michelle Dean


Grove Press, John Midgley

Michelle Dean’s Sharp looks at the brilliant women of 20th-century United States who became influential through their wit, essays, and cultural criticism. An intriguing, well-researched deep dive into the lives of extraordinary women as well as the culture and politics of the past.

Publication date: Apr. 10










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