Memoir: Feb. 2024, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

Deeply personal life stories.

Click here for additional new Prepub Alert columns  

Gamal, Adam & Kelly Kennedy. The Unit: My Life Fighting Terrorists as One of America’s Most Secret Military Operatives. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9781250278173. $30. Downloadable.

Arriving in the United States at age 19, short, skinny Gamal could not yet speak English but felt he owed it to his new country to serve. He ended up as one of the few Muslim Arab Americans inside the Unit, a deep-surveillance division within the Department of Defense so secret it’s not named here. He’s since won Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Legion of Merit honors. With a 100,000-copy first printing; Gamal is a pseudonym protecting him and his family.

Jamison, Leslie. Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story. Little, Brown. Feb. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9780316374880. $29. Downloadable. MEMOIR

Jamison’s deeply personal work includes the New York Times best-selling memoir The Recovering; the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel finalist Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays, and the novel The Gin Closet, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. Here she explores remaking her life after the end of her marriage and drawing closer to her daughter and her work while finding new love. With a 60,000-copy first printing.

Lawson, Shayla. How To Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir. Tiny Reparations: Random. Feb. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9780593472583. $28. MEMOIR

Author of the essays collection This Is Major, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, poet/journalist Lawson takes us on a personal journey to find beauty and meaning in a fractured world. From a French castle to a traditional theater in Tokyo, from a charming gondolier in Venice and an ex-husband in the Netherlands to lost love in Mexico City and a deep plunge into Blackness in post-dictatorship Zimbabwe, it’s a worldwide, whirlwind tour.

Nguon, Chantha, with Kim Green. Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes. Algonquin: Workman: Hachette. Feb. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9781643753492. $29. Downloadable. MEMOIR

When Pol Pot ascended to power in Cambodia, killing millions, ethnic Vietnamese like Nguon’s family were especially targeted. She escaped to Saigon with her mother and sister, who both died there, and spent decades in a Thai refugee camp until she was denied passage to the West and returned to Cambodia. Through numerous small jobs like serving drinks in a nightclub, she was sustained by one thing: the memories of her mother’s cooking. Unfathomable loss, illuminated by 20 recipes; with a 20,000-copy first printing.

Purnell, Brontez. Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt: A Memoir in Verse. MCD: Farrar. Feb. 2024. 144p. ISBN 9780374612696. pap. $17. MEMOIR

The author of the Lambda-winning 100 Boyfriends and named one of 32 Black Male Writers of Our Time by T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2018, Purnell looks inward with 38 autobiographical vignettes ranging from a poetry-conference brawl to the blessings and curses passed on through four generations of his family. As his says, “The most high-risk homosexual behavior I engage in is simply existing.” With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Salama, Jordan. Stranger in the Desert: A Family Story. Catapult. Feb. 2024. 240p. ISBN 9781646221653. $27. MEMOIR

At his grandparents’ house, Salama discovered a binder full of tattered papers and photographs summing up the 500-year-old history of his Arab-Jewish family, ranging from Moorish Spain to Ottoman Syria to Argentina and beyond. He was especially taken with his great-grandfather, a Syrian-born, Arabic-speaking Jewish immigrant to 1920s Argentina, who worked as a traveling salesman and likely left a brood of Salamas in his wake. Following the acclaimed Every Day the River Changes.

Sante, Lucy. I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition. Penguin Pr. Feb. 2024. 240p. ISBN 9780593493762. $27. MEMOIR

Celebrated Belgian-born critic/author Sante is known for books like Low Life, contributions to the New York Review of Books, and two-plus decades of teaching at Bard. Then, in 2021, came the announcement that after living a lifetime cloaked uncomfortably in a male body, Sante intended to transition to being a woman. This memoir recounts her life overall while carefully chronicling the process of transitioning and the embrace of a new self.

Taffa, Deborah. Whiskey Tender: A Memoir. HarperCollins. Feb. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9780063288515. $32. MEMOIR

Born on the California Yuma reservation and raised in Navajo territory in New Mexico, Taffa unfolds memories of a 1970s–80s childhood shot through with the growing realization that assimilation—with its attendant denial of her culture and her land—could never deliver on its glib promise of acceptance and success. Here she explains how she has sought her own identity while condemning ongoing refusal in the United States to integrate her ancestors’ narratives into its culture. With a 30,000-copy first printing.

Zappa, Moon Unit. Earth to Moon: A Memoir. Dey Street: Morrow. Feb.2024. 288p. ISBN 9780063113343. $29.99. MEMOIR

Daughter of radical Sixties rocker Frank Zappa, Moon Unit Zappa here relates a not surprisingly unconventional upbring in 1970s–1980s Los Angeles and launching her own multifaceted career at age 14 as joint singer/songwriter of “Valley Girl,” a cult classic that became her father’s only Top 40 hit. She also examines how she coped with the loss of both parents. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Click here for additional new Prepub Alert columns  

Author Image
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.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing