By Washington Post book critic Ron Charles
As the warm weather moves in, publishers are unleashing a bounty of great new books. Here are just a few you might enjoy:
After more than a year of social distancing, who isn't craving some good company? If that's still a few weeks off for you, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney has the next best thing: Her new novel, "Good Company" (Ecco), is about the profound joys – and heartache – of family and friends.
At the center of the story are two married couples who've known each other for years and worked together in the world of New York theater. But when the wife of one of the couple's finds her husband's long-lost wedding ring, she begins to wonder what's real and what's just acting?
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (Official site)
In 2005, Imbolo Mbue won the PEN/Faulkner Prize for her first novel, "Behold the Dreamers," about a man from Cameroon trying to become a U.S. citizen. Her new novel, "How Beautiful We Were" (Random House), takes us to a village in an unnamed African country where the people are fighting for their lives against an American oil company.
This plot lays out the all-too-frequent tragedy of the West clawing through Africa, scraping away its resources, but it's made wrenchingly fresh by the power of this story.
imbolombue.com (Official site)
April is National Poetry Month, and there's no better guide than the teacher and poet Edward Hirsch.
Twenty years ago, he published a bestselling book called "How to Read a Poem – and Fall in Love with Poetry." His new book is a gift for a grieving nation. It's called "100 Poems to Break Your Heart" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and it's full of Hirsch's wise, illuminating commentary on the works by Keats, Langston Hughes, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, and dozens more poets who give voice to our darkest moments and help us endure.
edwardhirsch.com (Official site)
Looking ahead, one of the most anticipated books of this spring is "Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty" (Doubleday), by New Yorker magazine writer Patrick Radden Keefe.
At the center of America's opioid epidemic lies OxyContin, produced by the tremendously successful drug company founded by the Sackler family. Keefe's book promises to examine that dynasty from its very beginning to its disastrous success at making OxyContin one of the most lucrative – and over-prescribed – drugs ever.
"Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty" by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available April 13 via Amazon and Indiebound
patrickraddenkeefe.com (Official site)
For these and other suggestions, contact your local bookstore or library. Even if the doors are closed, the staff members are online and eager to help, so give them a chance.
Until next time, read on!
For more info:
- Ron Charles, The Washington Post
- Ron Charles' Totally Hip Video Book Review
- indiebound.org (for ordering from independent booksellers)
Story produced by Robin Sanders, Roman Feeser and Charis Satchell.