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Zadie Smith Receives WELT-Literaturpreis 2016 In Berlin

Source: Brian Dowling / Getty

It’s the top of the New Year, and in addition to eating better and working out more (how’s it going so far?), many folks are setting goals to turn more pages, too. To help you kick start your 2018 reading resolutions, we’ve rounded up a list of anticipated books—from veterans and newcomers alike—that we can’t wait to crack open this year. Read on.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (February 6, 2018)

The Rundown:

The author of Silver Sparrow—which was co-signed by Oprah Magazine in 2011—returns to bookshelves with her forthcoming story about “race, loyalty, and love that endures.”

The Synopsis:

“Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.”

What Folks Are Saying:

“I love An American Marriage, and I’m so excited for this book to be in the world. Tayari’s novel is timely, thoughtful, and beautifully written. Reading it, I found myself angry as hell, laughing out loud, choking up and cheering. A gem of a book.” — Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn

Barracoon, The Story of the Last Slave by Zora Neale Hurston (May 8, 2018)

The Rundown:

In her previously unpublished work, Zora Neale Hurston tells the story of the last known person to survive the transatlantic slave trade.

The Synopsis:

“In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.”

What Folks Are Saying:

“Barracoon brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.” — HarperCollins

 

Creative Quest by Questlove (April 24, 2018)

The Rundown:

The followup to 2016’s something to food about, Questlove’s Creative Quest is your expert guide to “living your best creative life.”

The Synopsis:

“Questlove synthesizes all the creative philosophies, lessons, and stories he’s heard from the many creators and collaborators in his life, and reflects on his own experience, to advise readers and fans on how to consider creativity and where to find it. He addresses many topics—what it means to be creative, how to find a mentor and serve as an apprentice, the wisdom of maintaining a creative network, coping with critics and the foibles of success, and the specific pitfalls of contemporary culture—all in the service of guiding admirers who have followed his career and newcomers not yet acquainted with his story.”

What Folks Are Saying:

“Whether discussing his own life or channeling the lessons he’s learned from forefathers such as George Clinton, collaborators like D’Angelo, or like-minded artists including Ava DuVernay, David Byrne, Björk, and others, Questlove speaks with the candor and enthusiasm that fans have come to expect. Creative Quest is many things—above all, a wise and wide-ranging conversation around the eternal mystery of creativity.” — Amazon

Feel Free by Zadie Smith (February 6, 2018)

The Rundown:

Zadie Smith enters 2018 with a new set of thought-provoking short stories.

The Synopsis:

“Arranged into five sections—In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free—this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network—and Facebook itself—really about? ‘It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.’ Why do we love libraries? ‘Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.’ What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? ‘So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we’d just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes—and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat.’”

What Folks Are Saying:

“Lest you forget that Zadie Smith’s output encompasses several masterful careers, please allow Feel Free, her new collection of essays, to remind you…Incisive and often wry…these pieces are as relevant as can be. They are reminders of how much else there is to ponder in this world, how much else is worth our time, and how lucky we are to have Smith as our guide.” — Vanity Fair

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (February 13, 2018)

The Rundown:

Author Akwaeke Emezi makes a stellar debut with an exploration of “a fractured self.”

The Synopsis:

Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves―now protective, now hedonistic―move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

What Folks Are Saying:

“[An] enthralling, metaphysical debut novel . . . Emezi’s talent is undeniable. She brilliantly depicts the conflict raging in the ‘marble room’ of Ada’s psyche, resulting in an impressive debut.” ― Publishers Weekly

 

I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux (July 24, 2018)

The Rundown:

Michael Arceneaux expounds on love, sex, family, race and his faith in Beyoncé with a set of candidly written essays.

The Synopsis:

I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite.

He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; that time his father asked if he was ‘funny’ while shaking his hand; his obstacles in embracing intimacy; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.”

What Folks Are Saying:

Perfect for fans of David Sedaris and Phoebe Robinson, I Can’t Date Jesus tells us—without apologies—what it’s like to be outspoken and brave in a divisive world.” — Simon & Schuster

Inside/Out by Joseph Osmundson (January 18, 2018)

The Rundown:

Joseph Osmundson—scientist, writer, and Associate Editor at The Feminist Wire—offers his vulnerable memoir as a followup to 2016’s Capsid: A Love Song.

What Folks Are Saying:

“I don’t know that there is a writer in this country doing as much with queer theory, narrative momentum, whiteness, sexual identity, and the literal outside as Joseph Osmundson. Somehow, while welcoming readers into so many folds of his life, he manages to obliterate spectacle and really demands we ask ourselves who and what we are, and who and what we want to hide, from the inside out.” — Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division

 

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (January 23, 2018)

The Rundown:

Claire Kann makes her debut with Let’s Talk About Love, releasing via Macmillan’s young adult imprint, Swoon Reads.

The Synopsis:

“Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting―working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating―no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated―or understood.”

What Folks Are Saying:

“I enjoy the character of Alice and love how different this story is from other novels as the main character is asexual. There aren’t many novels that have asexual characters and it’s something people need more of.” ―Alice, reader on SwoonReads.com

No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell L. Moore (May 29, 2018)

The Rundown:

CASSIUS’ own Darnell Moore steps out as “one of the most influential Black writers and thinkers of our time” with his power and moving debut memoir.

The Synopsis:

“When Darnell Moore was fourteen years old, three boys from his neighborhood tried to set him on fire. They cornered him while he was walking home from school, harassed him because they assumed he was gay, and poured a jug of gasoline on him. He escaped, but just barely. It wasn’t the last time he would face death.

Three decades later, Moore is an award-winning writer and activist, a leader in the Movement for Black Lives, and a tireless advocate for justice and liberation. In No Ashes in the Fire, he sets out to understand how that scared, bullied teenager not only survived, but found his calling. Moore traces his life from his childhood in Camden, New Jersey, a city scarred by uprisings and repression; to his search for intimacy in the gay neighborhoods of Philadelphia; and, finally, to the movements in Newark, Brooklyn, and Ferguson where he could fight for those who, like him, survive on society’s edges.

No Ashes in the Fire is a story of beauty and hope – and an honest reckoning with family, with place, and with what it means to be free.”

What Folks Are Saying:

“Radical black love is the major force for black freedom, as so powerfully embodied and enacted in Darnell Moore’s courageous book. From Camden, New Jersey, as a youth, to Brooklyn, New York, as an adult, Moore takes us on his torturous yet triumphant journey through racist and homophobic America. Don’t miss his inspiring story!” ― Dr. Cornel West

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay (May 1, 2018)

The Rundown:

Roxane Gay addresses the harassment and violence that women face in a series of essays by writers, critics and more.

The Synopsis:

“Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, and Claire Schwartz. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest. Like Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, Not That Bad will resonate with every reader, saying “something in totality that we cannot say alone.”

What Folks Are Saying:

“Roxane Gay is the brilliant girl-next-door: your best friend and your sharpest critic. . . . she is also required reading.” — People

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam (May 8, 2018)

The Rundown:

Alam tells the powerful story of a white first-time mother faced with the challenge of raising a Black son.

The Synopsis:

“Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca Stone finds herself both deeply in love with her newborn son and deeply overwhelmed. Struggling to juggle the demands of motherhood with her own aspirations and feeling utterly alone in the process, she reaches out to the only person at the hospital who offers her any real help—Priscilla Johnson—and begs her to come home with them as her son’s nanny.

Priscilla’s presence quickly does as much to shake up Rebecca’s perception of the world as it does to stabilize her life. Rebecca is white, and Priscilla is black, and through their relationship, Rebecca finds herself confronting, for the first time, the blind spots of her own privilege. She feels profoundly connected to the woman who essentially taught her what it means to be a mother. When Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca steps forward to adopt the baby. But she is unprepared for what it means to be a white mother with a black son.”

What Folks Are Saying:

“A rich, complex, beautifully observed story about the collision of class, race and family. Motherhood is an overwhelming and joyful job and this book takes on the minutia of that domestic sphere with quiet, but incendiary power.” Stephanie Powell Watts, author of No One is Coming to Save Us

Book Ends is CASSIUS’ hub for all things lit(erature). Check back each week for book-related content.

Book Ends: What We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018 was originally published on cassiuslife.com

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