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10 Books We’re Excited to Read in March 2024

Two retellings, a dive into ancient Italian history, two tales of intense Jewish family dynamics, and the exploration of whatever ‘postcolonial’ means make up our ten recommendations for upcoming books you should be adding to your list in March.

The Hearing Test, Eliza Barry Callahan (March 5)

In this slim and thoughtful novel, a woman wakes up one day to no sound in her right ear before she’s supposed to fly to Italy for a friend’s wedding. The doctors shrug their shoulders, and our narrator decides to simply keep score for the following year; she speaks with assistants, filmmakers, artists, and friends who spill wild stories and information, some useful, some not, all documented. In dreamlike, state-of-consciousness free-flowing prose, Eliza Barry Callahan’s debut novel is unpredictable, warm, and artistic.

The Extinction of Irina Rey, Jennifer Croft (March 5)

In an outsourced effort to translate her magnum opus, world-renowned author Irina Rey invites eight translators from all over the world to work on her masterpiece. But days after they arrive in a forest at the border of Belarus, Irina disappears, leading the translators to work while searching for their acclaimed author. While they dig deep into her past, they start to learn more about Irina and her work that might reveal secrets and lies spanning the length of her career.

Fruit of the Dead, Rachel Lyon (March 5)

Camp counselor Cory Ansel is aimless in life when all of a sudden her father offers her an alternative to traditional work — hot-shot CEO Rolo Picazo offers Cory a childcare job at his luxurious private island, where she can self-soothe to her heart’s desire with opiates. Her mother, however, senses something is wrong and hurries to collect her daughter, alternating between different viewpoints in this modern and intense retelling of the myth of Persephone and Demeter. 

But the Girl, Jessica Zhan Mei Yu (March 5)

Born the day her parents landed in Australia so as to get immediate citizenship, Girl has always felt the looming expectations of her family behind her. Writing a novel about postcolonialism — picked out by her because the word seemed scholarly — and a dissertation on Sylvia Plath, Girl heads to Scotland for a fellowship with other writers and artists. She quickly feels at odds with the other students and meanders around town, sitting for a pompous artist’s portrait instead of writing her own work. Before her big presentation she switches gears and begins to write Pillar of Salt, a retelling of her own family history, to the thinly veiled comments of her peers. In this semi-autobiographical telling of art, friendship, the musings of Girl will be relatable to anyone subjected to the absurdity of the world.

Mother Doll, Katya Apekina (March 12)

Burdened with a child her husband doesn’t want and feeling socially adrift in Los Angeles while disconnected from her Russian grandmother, Zhenia is not doing too well. She gets a call from a pet medium to explain that Zhenia’s great-grandmother, a Russian Revolutionary, has asked him to transmit her story to her grandchild, confessing what happened to her from the other side. Suddenly, Zhenia is made well aware of her history, but she might disregard it in favor of a life where she doesn’t have to confront herself.

Some of Us Just Fall: On Nature and Not Getting Better, Polly Atkin (March 19)

Billed as a book not about getting better, but instead “living better with illness,” Polly Atkin’s second nonfiction work is a response to a life changing diagnosis in her late 30s, finally explaining years of pain, fractures, and exhaustion. Returning to England’s Lake District, which inspired poets like William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Taylor Swift, she refinds herself via the art of poetry and the simplicity of nature. Juxtaposed with scenes highlighting medical ableism and the desperate need for an upheaval of practice, Some of Us Just Fall isn’t a resignation, but an examination of living with what you’re able to.

James, Percival Everett (March 19)

A historical retelling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the enslaved James’ point of view, recent rising star novelist Percival Everett infuses humor and social satire for his latest novel. The unlikely duo of Jim and Huck Finn must evade storms, floods, and con artists, as the newly-minted main character must face the burden of lying with the weight of his family and continuing on. Everett spins a classic tale on its head in a brilliant and sharp new way.

Fervor, Toby Lloyd (March 19)

Brimming with history and tension, Toby Lloyd’s debut Fervor is the story of a devout Jewish family come undone by their past threatening to emerge. When Hannah Rosenthal prepares to publish an account of her father-in-law Yosef’s time in Europe as a Holocaust survivor, her daughter Elsie begins to panic, and, eventually, disappears. Her brother, Tovyah, isn’t sure what to think — is it a breakdown stemming from a family that has too much emphasis on rituals and traditions, or is the family just reading too much into things? As he starts to acclimate to Oxford, he must work through whatever is engulfing his sister — a horror-tinged intense tale of family drama and mysticism.

Glorious Exploits, Ferdia Lennon (March 26)

Set in Syracuse, Sicily, during the Peloponnesian War, Lampo and Gelon are just two men who enjoy drinking wine at a nearby bar, picking up women, and the plays of the Athenian Euripides. There’s just one problem: anyone who could remember any of his plays is trapped in the bottom of a cave in Sicily as a prisoner, hungry and cold. One day, the pair get the idea to produce two of his plays, leaning on the memory of the Athenians, who are promised meal scraps and wine in exchange for their acting. Haphazard and scrappy, the two get food, props, costumes, and sets from around the city in preparation for opening night, but all goes wrong when other members of the town aren’t so satisfied with platforming the imprisoned Athenians as anything more than scum. Heartfelt, deeply researched, and great fun, Ferdia Lennon’s wholly original debut is as much of a history lesson as it is a meditation on art, memory, and culture.

Worry, Alexandra Tanner (March 26)

Alexandra Tanner’s existential, absurd and deeply funny debut novel Worry is likely the best simulation of being online I’ve read in literature. Its protagonist, Brooklynite Jules, is thrust into living with her sister, Poppy, in a cramped apartment — both are floundering, trying to find meaning in their lives and careers. As a creative writer for a buzzy astrology app, Jules finds success in being overly snippy in her recommendations for Scorpios, but while she’s at home, she’s glued to her phone, watching the horrors of everyday life with apathy and humor. The Instagram moms she follows will deny vaccines and tout chunky sweaters in the same breath, and Poppy and her friends start to aggravate Jules in a way only sisters can. Hilarious, dynamic, and compulsively readable, Tanner’s debut is one you’re going to want to start telling friends about.

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