Winter Arts Guide: Books

It's a good time to "pre-digital media device and chill."

Paula Hawkins (Photo by Kate Neil)

The Refugees
By Viet Thanh Nguyen
Feb. 7, Grove Press

In 2016, Vietnamese-American author Viet Than Nguyen was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his debut novel, The Sympathizer. His sophomore effort, The Refugees, is a nuanced collection of stories that probes questions of immigration, romance, and what truly defines us. From the culture shock of a Vietnamese man who must share a San Francisco apartment with a gay couple to a women grappling with the emotional toll of caring for a spouse with dementia, the stories in The Refugees serve to reinforce that Nguyen is clearly one of the most powerful new voices in literature.

Lincoln in the Bardo
By George Saunders
Feb. 14, Random House

While George Saunders is best-known for his masterful short stories, Lincoln in the Bardo is a novel of equal caliber. Focused mainly on what happens to Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie after the child’s death at age 11 from typhoid fever, Saunders creates an astonishingly profound purgatory in which Willie must grapple with ghosts and discover his own role in the scheme of the cosmos. If anyone fears fiction that reads as high-concept, you need only take in a few sentences of Saunders’ immaculate prose to find that your worries have been alleviated.

The Road to Jonestown
By Jeff Guinn
Apr. 11, Simon & Schuster

Jeff Guinn’s last book, Manson, was an engrossing, in-depth look at Charles Manson, the mastermind behind the Tate-Labianca murders. In The Road to Jonestown, Guinn offers a portrait of an equally troubling figure: the charismatic San Francisco preacher Jim Jones. Just as he did with Manson, Guinn not only gives a full account of how the People’s Temple transformed from a refuge for the socially marginalized into the center of a terrifying tragedy, but also how Jones and his followers fit into the larger cultural narrative of an America unable to embody the ideals of the Summer of Love and reeling from the cold realities of Vietnam.

Killers of the Flower Moon
By David Grann
Apr. 18, Doubleday

New Yorker staff writer David Grann first struck gold with The Lost City of Z, a nonfiction work centered on explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared into the Amazon in 1925 in search of El Dorado.

Grann returns with Killers of the Flower Moon, a meticulously researched pageturner concerning the Osage Indian nation, who in the 1920s enjoyed immense wealth owing to oil discovered underneath their land. When members of the Osage start turning up dead, a young J. Edgar Hoover recruits a former Texas Ranger to uncover what is ultimately a bone-chilling conspiracy.

Into the Water
By Paula Hawkins
May 2, Riverhead

The Girl on the Train was a runaway bestseller, and now we have a new work of murder and intrigue from British novelist Paula Hawkins. Into the Water introduces readers to a new mystery, this one surrounding two women who are found dead at a river in the course of a single summer. A third girl becomes the unlikely protagonist for Hawkins to again conjure a psychological thriller ripe with deception, elusive memories, and plenty of danger.

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