Literary Fiction Debuts, Mar. 2022, Pt. 1 | Prepub Alert

Literary writers to watch.

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Ali, Kasim. Good Intentions. Holt. Mar. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781250809605. $26.99. LITERARY

Banwo, Ayanna Lloyd. When We Were Birds. Doubleday. Mar. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780385547260. $27. lrg. prnt. Downloadable. LITERARY

Chou, Elaine Hsieh. Disorientation. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2022. 416p. ISBN 9780593298350. $28. Downloadable. LITERARY

Clark, Andrea Yaryura. On a Night of a Thousand Stars. Grand Central. Mar. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781538720295. $28. CD. LITERARY

Friedman, Olivia Clare. Here Lies. Grove. Mar. 2022. 208p. ISBN 9780802129390. $27. LITERARY

Kravetz, Lee. The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. Harper. Mar. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780063139992. $25.99. lrg. prnt. LITERARY

Nawaz, Zarqa. Jameela Green Ruins Everything. Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780358621232. $26. LITERARY

Ronan, Kelsey. Chevy in the Hole. Holt. Mar. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781250803900. $26.99. LITERARY

Stringfellow, Tara M. Memphis. Dial. Mar. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780593230480. $27. lrg. prnt. Downloadable. LITERARY

Following some attention-getting short stories, Ali’s Good Intentions features a young British Pakistani man named Nur who must break it to his family on New Year’s Eve that the woman he truly loves isn’t Pakistani but Black (60,000-copy first printing). Set in Trinidad and Tobago, Banwo’s When We Were Birds brings together Yejide, raised in a Port Angeles house built on the remains of a plantation whose owners enslaved her ancestors and left unprepared by her mother for her task in life—ferrying the city’s souls into the afterlife—and Darwin, who must disregard the religious commandments of his true-believing Rastafarian mother and accept the only job he can find: that of grave digger. Stuck on her dissertation about the late canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou, Taiwanese American Ingrid Yang follows down a mysterious archival reference in Chou’s Disorientation and ends up acknowledging her anger with academia and white institutions generally. Following up Clark’s own questions about the children of victims of Argentina's Dirty War in the 1970s, On a Night of a Thousand Stars features Paloma, an Argentine diplomat’s college-age daughter, whose probing questions about her father’s involvement in the military dictatorship put her family, her sense of self, and her very life in danger (30,000-copy first printing). In Friedman’s Here Lies, climate change–mauled 2040s Louisiana requires cremation rather than burial at death, and Alma fights to reclaim her mother’s ashes for a final journey. Cofounder of the Lit Camp Writers Conference, Kravetz reimagines events surrounding the composition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar in The Last Confessions of Sylvia P., which are related from the perspectives of Plath’s psychiatrist, a nasty rival poet, and a curator years later (100,000-copy first printing). A Canadian film and television producer (she’s responsible for the hit CBC series Little Mosque on the Prairie), Nawaz crafts the story of a feckless young woman whose new imam expects better of her, and though there’s the risk that Jameela Green Ruins Everything, she is on the case in an absurdist sort of way when he disappears. In Ronan’s Chevy’s in the Hole, a white man struggling to kick his drug habit and a Black woman working as an urban farmer try to make a go of it together in Flint, MI, as the water is becoming poisoned, with family histories woven in (50,000-copy first printing). In Stringfellow’s Memphis, ten-year-old Joan flees her father’s violence with her mother and sister to the house built in the historic Black district of Memphis by her grandfather, who was lynched only days after becoming the city’s first Black detective.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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