Spells and Wonders: Contemporary Fiction Previews, Jan. 2023, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Genre-crossing titles embracing friends, lovers, and family.

Click here for additional new Prepub Alert columns  

Allen, Jayne. Black Girls Must Have It All. Harper. (Black Girls Must Die Exhausted). Jan. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780063296640. $26.99; pap. Harper Perennial. ISBN 9780063137943. $18. CD. CONTEMPORARY

DeFino, Terri-Lynne. Varina Palladino's Jersey Italian Love Story. Morrow. Jan. 2023. 416p. ISBN 9780063228436. $27.99. lrg. prnt. CD. FAMILY LIFE

Cai, Delia. Central Places. Ballantine. Jan. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780593497913. $27. CONTEMPORARY

Harper, Lana. Back in a Spell. Berkley. Jan. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780593336106. pap. $17. ROMANCE

Lipman, Elinor. Ms. Demeanor. Harper. Jan. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780358677888. $27.99. lrg. prnt. CD. LITERARY/CONTEMPORARY

Salesses, Matthew. The Sense of Wonder. Little, Brown. Jan. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780316425711. $28. Downloadable. ASIAN AMERICAN/CONTEMPORARY

Shroff, Parini. The Bandit Queens. Ballantine. Jan. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780593498958. $28. CONTEMPORARY

Steel, Danielle. Without a Trace. Delacorte. Jan. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781984821867. $28.99. lrg. prnt. CONTEMPORARY/ROMANCE

Zigman, Laura. Small World. Ecco. Jan. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780063088283. $27.99. CD. LITERARY/CONTEMPORARY

In Allen's wrap-up to the “Black Girls Must Die Exhausted” trilogy, Tabitha Walker balances new motherhood, new job possibilities, new friendship issues, and an ultimatum from boyfriend Marc about their relationship, and she’s beginning to wonder if she really believes that Black Girls Must Have It All (75,000-copy paperback and 20,000-copy hardcover first printing). DeFino moves from The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses) to Varina Palladino's Jersey Italian Love Story, which features a widow whose mother and daughter conspire to get her dating again (50,000-copy first printing). In Central Places, a debut from journalist Cai, Audrey Zhou left Hickory Grove, IL, for a big-deal job in Manhattan but is returning home to introduce star-worthy fiancé Ben to her hectoring parents and ignored friends; she also reconnects with laidback Kyle, the only person who ever understood her. In theNew York Times best-selling Harper’s Back in a Spell, puissant witch Nineve Blackmoore has been abandoned at the altar by her fiancée and ends up on an awkward and ultimately antagonistic first date with nonbinary townie Morty Gutierrez (angry that her family wants to buy out his pub); then Morty unexpectedly starts acquiring magical powers. In Lipman’s genre-blending Ms. Demeanor, big-deal lawyer Jane Morgan loses both career and social life after a busybody neighbor reports her for having hot sex on the rooftop of her New York apartment building, then faces more trouble when the neighbor winds up poisoned and leaves a note implicating Jane (100,000-copy first printing). From Pen/Faulkner finalist Salesses, The Sense of Wonder stars Won Lee, the first Asian American in the NBA, whose seven-game winning streak wins him the moniker “The Wonder”—all witnessed by sportswriter Robert Sung and studio producer Carrie Kang, with whom Won launches a relationship (50,000-copy first printing). In debuter Shroff’s The Bandit Queen, a young Indian woman named Geeta is suspected of killing her long-vanished husband, which proves beneficial—no one wants to cross her—and then uncomfortable as other women push her for advice on getting rid of their husbands. After surviving his car’s plunge off a cliff in Normandy, Charles Vincent, Steel’s latest protagonist, is nursed back to health by a kind woman he stumbles across in a nearby cabin and realizes that he could vanish from his unhappy life Without a Trace. In Zigman’s Small World, Joyce invites sister Lydia to move into her Cambridge apartment (if only temporarily) when Lydia returns east from California, but the two divorcees find their relationship disrupted by memories of their deceased sister (60,000-copy first printing).

Click here for additional new Prepub Alert columns  

Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @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