New Book Releases: March 23, 2021

Each week, I’ll catalog the biggest and most exciting adult and YA fiction — and the occasional nonfiction — coming out that Tuesday.

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS AN EASY JOB, Kikuko Tsumura, Polly Barton (translator). After quitting a job she loves due to burnout, a woman requests her recruiter to find her the easiest job she can. “Taking her place among a growing number of exceptional female writers in Japan, Tsumura deftly handles work habits and relationships, stereotypes and expectations for success, all of which are set against a repetitious, unending search for what is valuable and valued,” writes the Japan Times. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

A QUESTION MARK IS HALF A HEART, Sofia Lundberg, Nichola Smalley (translator). When a fashion photographer receives an envelope with a star chart inside, she begins to see flashbacks to a poverty-stricken childhood very different from the past she recounts to her husband and daughter. “Readers will soak up the suspense as they search for the truth alongside Elin up until the end,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.

LADIES OF THE SECRET CIRCUS, Constance Sayers. When a woman’s fiancé disappears on their wedding day, she looks for answers in her great-grandmother’s journal, discovering a curse that has plagued the women in her family for generations. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly writes that “fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus will love this page-turning story of dark magic, star-crossed love, and familial sacrifice.” Bookshop.

RED WIDOW, Alma Katsu. A struggling CIA agent, desperate to prove herself, is recruited to uncover a mole in the department. In the course of her investigation, she befriends the “Red Widow,” the wife of a former CIA director killed under mysterious circumstances. “The plotting is sophisticated and laced with surprises, but what stands out most is the emotional core of Lyndsey and Theresa’s alliance, and whether there is room, in a nest of vipers, for true sisterhood,” writes the New York Times. Bookshop.

RED ISLAND HOUSE, Andrea Lee. When a Black American professor marries an Italian businessman, they move from Milan to a sprawling villa in Madagascar, where their lives will transform over the course of their long marriage. “ The dense, delicious prose is packed, from the opening pages, with a blend of historic and current events, context and conflict,” writes the Star Tribune. Bookshop.

RAFT OF STARS, Andrew J. Graff. Two ten-year-old boys, tired of their abusive families, take action into their own hands before fleeing into the woods on a raft. “A plot-driven wilderness adventure and a fragile coming-of-age story,” writes PopSugar. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

THE VIETRI PROJECT, Nicola DeRobertis-Theye. A young bookseller becomes obsessed with a customer’s increasingly esoteric purchases, decamping to Rome to unearth details about his mysterious life and, in the process, discovering secrets about her own family. In a starred review, Kirkus calls it “an accomplished literary debut, notable for its delicate prose and sharply delineated characters.” Bookshop.

HALF LIFE, Jillian Cantor. A fictional look at what would have happened to Marie Curie had she stayed in Poland and married the budding mathematician she was engaged to when she was young. “Thought-provoking, skillfully written, and hard to put down,” writes Kirkus. Bookshop.

THE TWO-FACED QUEEN, Nick Martell. In this sequel to The Kingdom of Liars, a supposed traitor comes to an agreement with the queen-to-be: if he quashes a brewing rebellion and finds an infamous killer, she won’t execute him. “Simply put, this series is a masterclass in grand-scale storytelling. The future of epic fantasy is here — and this saga is it,” writes Kirkus. Bookshop.

THE IMMORTAL BOY, Francisco Montaña Ibáñez, David Bowles (translator). The lives of two children in Colombia — a young boy forced to care for his siblings and a girl in an orphanage — intersect in surprising ways in this bilingual YA novel. “While depictions of extreme poverty and implied gun violence may prove triggering for some readers, the stark beauty of Montaña Ibáñez’s narrative will give those who pick it up much to contemplate,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.

THE FOREIGN GIRLS, Segio Olguín, Miranda France (translator). When her friends are murdered after a party, an Argentine journalist decides to investigate their strange deaths herself. “A quirky, un-put-down-able thriller by a veteran Argentine novelist,” writes Kirkus in a starred review. Bookshop.

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I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.

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