Wait … what? Bill Clinton is writing a thriller about a president who goes missing? And Norwegian noir master Jo Nesbø is rewriting Macbeth? These are only two crazy-surprising books coming out this spring. Others include memoirs by Twin Peaks guy David Lynch and former FBI head James Comey.
In fiction, you have families moving to Alaska (and freezing), people falling in love with aquatic beings (and why not?), and great new books by Michael Ondaatje, Chuck Palahniuk, and other favorites.
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead, February). Cantú, former U.S. Border Patrol agent, writes about his encounters with border politics, immigrants, and social division.
Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Random House, February). The influential author of The Black Swan discusses how willingness to accept our own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and people who flourish.
Maker of Patterns by Freeman Dyson (Liveright, March). The eminent professor emeritus at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, now 94, offers an autobiography taking a spectacularly original form – his letters throughout his life to great scientists. It’s a history of both himself and a great age of science.
The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail, translated by Max Weiss (New Directions, March). Story of an Iraqi beekeeper who helped Yazidi women escape from certain capture by ISIS in northern Iraq.
Great American Outpost: Fortune, Freedom, and Madness in the North Dakota Oilfield by Maya Rao (PublicAffairs, April). Thousands traveled to the Bakken oil field in North Dakota with dreams of oil and riches. It was a 21st-century gold rush. Rao follows the people, the boom, and the bust.
Nobody’s Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood by J.E. Smyth (Oxford University Press, April). A film historian reminds us that despite everything, women did wield a fair degree of power during the 1930s and 1940s in the era of the big movie studios.
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay (Harper Perennial, May). What a 2017 Roxane Gay had. She keeps rolling, bringing together some of our most vibrant contemporary voices on issues arising from abusive males and the excuses some of them generate.
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey (Flatiron, May). He prosecuted both Martha Stewart and the Mafia, and he steered the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email. And we know where that led. Here’s his side.
Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance by Alexis Clark (New Press, May). He was a German prisoner of war in an Arizona camp; she was a nurse. The authorities figured they’d never fraternize. Guess what happened?
No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America by Darnell L. Moore (Nation, May). He somehow survived childhood during the AIDS and crack epidemics, and he found a calling in the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ-rights movements.
Room to Dream: A Life by David Lynch, with Kristine McKenna (Random House, June). The onetime PAFA student, cocreator of Twin Peaks, and director of Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive, on creativity, challenges, and the life behind the art.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin, February). It’s 1974, and the Albright family moves to wild, untamed Kaneq, Alaska, a place where “you can make one mistake but the second one will kill you,” to claim some inherited land.
The House of Broken Angels by Luís Alberto Urrea (Little Brown, March). The Mexican American poet and storyteller weaves another great yarn. Miguel Angel De La Cruz, known as Big Angel, summons his family for one last big birthday party. But it doesn’t go as planned.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (Doubleday, March). A crackling fictionalized account of one of history’s most peculiar quests. For 50 years, Anna Anderson fought to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov, the lost grand duchess of the royal family of Russia. Where did the truth lie?
You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, April). It’s the former Philadelphian’s first collection of stories. Two they’re talking about: “Vox Clamantis in Deserto” and “The World Has Many Butterflies.”
Macbeth by Jo Nesbø (Hogarth, April). The Hogarth Shakespeare series asks prominent authors to retell the famed playwright’s classics. And who you gonna call for bloody Macbeth? Who other than world-beater Nesbø, creator of Oslo policeman Harry Hole? His retelling is gritty, vivid, and entirely obsessive.
The Pisces by Melissa Broder (Hogarth, May). Life not working out? Hey, fall in love with a merman. One named Theo lives in Los Angeles, and Lucy, whose love life has just crashed, is about to run into him. By the author of So Sad Today.
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (Knopf, May). Has it really been 2011 since Ondaatje’s last fiction outing? Welcome back, English Patient guy. In his new one, two children stay in 1945 London when their parents move, leaving them in the care of someone named Moth. Shudder.
Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk (Norton, May). From the author of Fight Club, this book is Palahniuk’s latest vision of a dystopian future that reads a lot like our dystopian present. That’s some day, that Adjustment Day.
The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson (Little Brown, June). Still trying to focus the eyes and make sure … yes, it seems to be true. Onetime 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. resident Clinton teams with best-selling author Patterson to write a thriller about a president who vanishes.