The best new books arriving this month are written by authors both established and emerging. March brings with it much-anticipated new fiction from Viet Thanh Nguyen and Kazuo Ishiguro, as well as buzzy debuts from Alexandra Andrews and Gabriela Garcia. Many of these books push us to consider the places we frequent and how they’ve shaped who we are, from Jasmine Mans’ new poetry collection centered on the meaning of home to W. Ralph Eubanks’ tribute to Mississippi and its outsize role in the American literary landscape. These, plus reflections on history, performance, gender and more, are the best books to read in March.
Who Is Maud Dixon?, Alexandra Andrews (March 2)
Entry level publishing employee Florence Darrow is desperate to be a successful writer, like best-selling Maud Dixon, whose debut captured the world’s attention even as her true identity remained a secret known to very few. The stars align in the strangest ways for Florence when she somehow becomes the personal assistant to the author, leading them on a research trip to Marrakesh, where things go haywire. It’s there that this publishing satire transforms into a lively suspense novel as Florence is forced to reckon with the person she’s become in her quest for fame.
What’s Mine and Yours, Naima Coster (March 2)
A debate over school integration divides a community in North Carolina and forever alters the lives of two families. At the center of the story are students Gee and Noelle, whose worlds collide at their newly integrated school. The convergence of their paths sets off a series of events that Naima Coster traces through the following 20 years in her piercing examination of race, identity and generational trauma.
Infinite Country, Patricia Engel (March 2)
Talia is a teenager serving time at a correctional facility in Colombia. She’s desperate to flee and return home to her father in Bogotá where a plane ticket to the U.S. is waiting for her. It’s there that Talia’s mother and siblings are living. Patricia Engel follows Talia’s journey to reunite with her family, illuminating the struggles of the fractured unit. The result is a heartbreaking portrait of a family dealing with the realities of migration and separation.
Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (March 2)
In his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro brings readers to a strange world filled with human-like robots called Artificial Friends (AFs). His narrator is a particularly observant AF named Klara who studies the behavior of the customers who come to the store where she’s patiently waiting to be bought. What ensues is a quietly devastating narrative about the intersection of humanity, technology and love.
The Committed, Viet Thanh Nguyen (March 2)
In 2015, Viet Thanh Nguyen published his debut novel, The Sympathizer, to critical acclaim. The sweeping tale about the Vietnam War went on to win the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in fiction and sold over 1 million copies globally. Now, Nguyen revisits the saga of his unnamed narrator through a sequel, which follows the protagonist, a South Vietnamese army veteran, as he attempts to live as a refugee in 1980s France.
The Code Breaker, Walter Isaacson (March 9)
In his biography of Nobel Prize–winning chemist Jennifer Doudna, former TIME editor-in-chief Walter Isaacson explores the story behind CRISPR, the technology that can edit DNA and is showing promise as a way to both test for the COVID-19 virus and potentially even protect human cells from infection. Isaacson chronicles the integral role Doudna played in the development of CRISPR and outlines the impact the technology will have on generations to come.
Black Girl, Call Home: Poems, Jasmine Mans (March 9)
In her new collection, spoken-word poet Jasmine Mans examines her relationship to home and her journey navigating life in America as a queer Black woman. The pieces vary in form and subject, tackling everything from race to feminism to belonging. Together, they showcase Mans’ power as a poet who can relay her experiences in lyrical, vivid terms.
How Beautiful We Were, Imbolo Mbue (March 9)
The second novel from the author of Behold the Dreamers details the plight of a fictional African village as it faces extreme environmental degradation at the hands of an American oil company. The consequences are severe and long-lasting—toxic water is killing children, pipeline spills are destroying farmlands. In surveying the damage over several years, Imbolo Mbue crafts an aching narrative about greed, community and perseverance.
A Place Like Mississippi, W. Ralph Eubanks (March 16)
From William Faulkner to Natasha Trethewey, some of the most prolific American writers have hailed from Mississippi. Included in that list is essayist W. Ralph Eubanks whose newest work of nonfiction seeks to understand the state’s influence on modern literature. Eubanks takes readers on a literary tour of his home state, charting the role Mississippi has played in shaping the writers who lived there and the work they produced.
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, Kikuko Tsumura (March 23)
The English-language debut from award-winning Japanese writer Kikuko Tsumura tells the story of an unnamed 30-something crippled by career burnout who is desperate for an “easy” job. Tsumura chronicles her narrator’s experiences as she moves between jobs that require little thought or effort. But as strange and magical moments arise, the protagonist begins to realize that perhaps the search for an easy occupation is harder than she thought. It’s a revelation that plays out through Tsumura’s sharp prose and biting observations on late capitalism.
A Little Devil in America, Hanif Abdurraqib (March 30)
Poet and critic Hanif Abdurraqib crafts a stirring account of the relationship between Black artists and American culture in his new book. A blend of cultural analysis, criticism and memoir, A Little Devil in America takes a close look at a wide range of Black performances, from a dance marathon to a game of spades to a performance by Whitney Houston at the 1988 Grammy Awards. Throughout, Abdurraqib writes with urgency as he highlights what these performances mean, how they connect to his own feelings on grief, love and life, and where they fit into American history.
Girlhood, Melissa Febos (March 30)
In eight haunting essays, Melissa Febos unearths the trauma of her adolescence as she picks apart the burdens that accompany being a young woman. In sharing the darkness that clouded her coming of age, Febos asks pointed questions about the expectations placed on women and how they impact a person’s sense of self. Febos combines her own stories with investigative reporting to argue why we need to transform the way we think about girls as they grow up.
Of Women and Salt, Gabriela Garcia (March 30)
Jeanette is living in Miami, where she takes in the daughter of a neighbor who has been detained by ICE. The decision comes as she wants to know more about her own family—a yearning that soon yields revelations about the legacy of those who came before her in Cuba. Flipping between the voices of several characters, Gabriela Garcia creates a thoughtful portrait of women coming to terms with the difficult decisions they’ve made in their lives—and the betrayals they’ve committed along the way.
Libertie, Kaitlyn Greenidge (March 30)
Though Libertie Sampson grew up free in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, she knows that freedom is limited. Her mother wants her to follow in her footsteps and become a doctor—something Libertie not only doesn’t want to do, but also can’t because of her darker skin. As the young woman wrestles with what it means to be free, a notion made more complicated by time spent in Haiti, Kaitlyn Greenidge weaves together an intricate narrative about colorism, classism and community.