There's such a wealth of exciting books coming out in the first third of 2022 that it can be hard to focus. To help streamline your TBR pile, we're highlighting 24 of the buzziest books of January through April 2022.
I'm a sucker for dystopian novels, particularly those that successfully dissect the most pernicious aspects of modern society. Chan's debut, set in a world where the crushing expectations and judgments placed upon mothers have been taken to a fascist extreme, promises to be one of the best of 2022. — Emily B.
Jason Reynolds is one of the most important writers in America right now. Not only for his impressive number of smart and insightful books, but also for his work as the national ambassador for young people's literature. His newest book is a poem in three parts about Black life in America during 2020, and it is overlaid with immersive art by his longtime collaborator Jason Griffin, resulting in an intense and affecting multimedia experience. — Keith M.
Is it possible to emotionally prepare for a new Hanya Yanagihara book? It's been six years and just thinking about A Little Life is still painful. Her new book To Paradise is not one novel, but a trilogy spanning three alternate versions of American history from 1893 to 2093 and linked by versions of the same characters leading different lives across time. Writing in The Atlantic, Jordan Kisner says, "The challenge Yanagihara sets for the reader isn’t so much to decode a puzzle as to survive a plunge into chaos theory." Oh, and it has also been described as one of the first great pandemic novels of the COVID era. I'm so ready to have my heart broken. — Emily B.
John Darnielle — singer and songwriter for The Mountain Goats — returns to the page for his third novel. Devil House is initially a tale about a true crime writer who takes up residence in a home that was once the site of some brutal murders, but with an ever-changing perspective, this book is about so much more. — Keith M.
I’m always looking for novels that can express societal discontent with enough humor and charm to make a bitter pill appetizing. Enter Fuccboi. Here’s a perspective very much not my own that I’m excited to hear, especially because Tommy Orange calls it: “Terse and intense and new....I loved it.” — Keith M.
Imani Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and the author of Looking for Lorraine, tours the American South and explores the landscapes, cultures, and myths that have had an outsized influence on the nation. Combining history, travelogue and personal reflection, South to America promises to be an important book at a critical time. — Keith M.
A sweeping and ambitious new novel from Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk, whose writing Powell’s booksellers call “luminous,” “majestic,” and “transfixing.” The Books of Jacob explores the meteoric rise and fall of the enigmatic, messianic Jacob Frank (a real historical figure steeped in controversy and mystery) and the trail he blazed across 18th-century Europe. — Sarah R.
Morrison’s 1983 short story is an experiment in removing racial identifiers from characters while keeping race at the center of their interactions. Twyla and Roberta meet several times as children and adults, frequently on opposing sides of politics and experience. Written in brief, significant episodes reminiscent of operatic recitative, Recitatif is a quick read that begs much longer discussion. — Rhianna W.
A New England novel for the 21st century, Manguso’s debut examines poverty in a frozen Massachusetts town stratified through the centuries by race and class. With her keen eye and linguistic precision, Manguso’s take on how a girl comes of age in a land of cold people, amidst neglect, shame, and abuse, is sure to be a quiet stunner. — Rhianna W.
Hi, I’m here from the future to tell you that this new novel by Shelia Heti (How Should a Person Be?, Motherhood) is wildly original and difficult to describe, but please read it. I firmly believe you’ll find it as beautiful and astonishing as I did. — Keith M.
Neil Gaiman summed up exactly what I want from a fantasy epic when he called Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the first book in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, “something very new that feels old, in the best way.” Old and new promise to meet once more in this second installment which offers 117-year-old Moon Witch, Sogolon, a chance to give her own account of the events in book one. Cue century-long feuds, empires at war, and a woman fighting to tell her own story.
Extra incentive: Black Leopard, Red Wolf had one of the most beautiful book covers of 2019 and Moon Witch, Spider King is about to give it a run for its money. I can’t wait to hold the hardcover in my hands. — Sarah R.
I first heard of Stephanie Foo when she was a producer at This American Life, where they mentioned she was working on a memoir about complex PTSD. I’ve been looking forward to it since that first mention, and now, it’s finally coming in March. I know Foo to be a keen and sensitive writer, and I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to read her debut book. — Keith M.
A delightful panorama of Asian American culture, Rise is an enticing polyphony. In that spirit, I’m going to give the rest of this blurb over to some respected voices: "Hip, entertaining...imaginative” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review); "Essential” (Min Jin Lee); "A Herculean effort” (Lisa Ling); "A must-read" (Ijeoma Oluo); "Get two copies" (Shea Serrano); "A book we've needed for ages" (Celeste Ng); "Accessible, informative, and fun" (Cathy Park Hong); "This book has serious substance....Also, I'm in it" (Ronny Chieng). — Keith M.
Jos Charles was a Pulitzer finalist for her previous collection Feeld, which was a mind- and language-bending reflection of the trans experience that left me in a kind of daze for days after reading it. Her new collection is about surviving a time of emotional and environmental devastation, and I, for one, could use that right now. — Keith M.
Even though I’m not a writer myself there’s nothing I love quite so much as writers writing about writing. Melissa Febos has been sharing her poetic, searching, and deeply honest self in memoir and essay for years (see one of Summer 2021’s bestsellers, Girlhood). This spring, she turns her reflexive eye to the power and craft of writing personal narrative. Body Work, heralded as a “bold and exhilarating mix of memoir and master class” is going to need a space on your shelf near King’s On Writing and Lamott’s Bird by Bird. — Sarah R.
Alexander Chee says this debut "reinvents the campus novel satire as an Asian American literary studies whodunnit, in which the murder victim might be your idea of yourself." Are you kidding me? I will move mountains to read Disorientation, especially since it's also being touted as funny and blistering and packed full of academic misadventures. — Michelle C.
Melchor's second novel to be translated into English packs a punch. The teenaged main characters, shaped by marginalization, racism, misogyny, and unfulfilled desire, are dangerous and cruel — the definition of unlikeable protagonists — but in Melchor's capable hands their cruelty transforms into an incisive critique of modern Mexico. Mariana Enríquez calls Paradais a "short inexorable descent into Hell." — Emily B.
Graphic novelist Jordan Crane manages to make a meditation on fear, grief, alienation, and other relationship-destroying emotions, and transmute it into a beautiful book about transcendence. I watched it happen on the page, but I’m still not sure how it worked. It just did. — Keith M.
A Visit From the Goon Squad, 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winner (and 2010 Powell’s Staff Top 5) is a transfixing, interlocking, experimental novel dealing in the interplay of time and art. When this sibling novel was announced I spent most of my day making sure everyone around me knew about it and was reading (or rereading) Goon Squad in anticipation. The Candy House promises more interlocking narratives, technology that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, a wide swath of narrative styles (there’s a whole chapter of Tweets?!), and a beating heart that aches for the tenacity and transcendence of connection. — Sarah R.
Only Mandel can write pandemic books of such gravitas and beauty that you want to read them while living through a pandemic. From 1912 Canada to a far-future moon colony, Sea of Tranquility is about a mad earl, a violinist, a novelist, time travel, and metaphysics. I can’t wait for it. — Rhianna W.
Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous was a stunner, and it really struck a chord with a vast array of readers. He follows it up with his second collection of poetry that is thematically linked to his novel. Covering family, loss, and fragmented identities, Time Is a Mother is probably the most anticipated volume of poetry in 2022, and it’s almost here. — Keith M.
Portrait of a Thief has been on my personal most anticipated list for so long, because it's a cultural heist novel — a ragtag team of college students assembling to steal priceless Chinese sculptures from western museums and return them to their rightful home. I [love] any form of bringing together an unlikely group with the exact skills needed to pull off an improbable feat, and I'm so excited for these characters to explore their identities and come of age with the backdrop of an outrageous, fast-paced heist. — Michelle C.
Douglas Stuart’s debut novel Shuggie Bain took the world by storm and won the Booker Prize. I admit I was late to read it because I feared it would be too emotionally difficult for me to get through. And while it isn’t an easy read, Stuart’s skill and humanity made it unforgettable. And now I’ll follow him anywhere. We’re very fortunate that his second novel, about a fraught first love, is coming just a few years after his first. I won’t be late to this one! — Keith M.
I’ve long been obsessed with singer/actress/superstar Janelle Monáe’s Afrofuturist music, and I’m so looking forward to this collection of short stories based on her terrific album, Dirty Computer. Fundamentally about an individual breaking free in a totalitarian world, I can’t wait to see what The Memory Librarian will Make Me Feel. — Keith M.