Spring is here, and books, like plants, are emerging in clumps, as if the seeds of a few notions had proliferated madly during winter. Last year saw a remarkable run of novels written as memoirs: Ha Jin’s War Trash, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, Ward Just’s An Unfinished Season. Clearly the memoir, which had so dominated nonfiction shelves during the past decade, broke free and penetrated novelists’ imaginations. This year, the dominant idea continues to be 9/11, which has fueled nonfiction books since 2001 but now spreads copiously into the realm of the novel. In his latest work, Saturday, Ian McEwan gives us a portrait of a beleaguered neurosurgeon in nervous, post-9/11 London. In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer imagines a precocious boy whose father is lost in the conflagration of the twin towers. We will see more on this theme as the year progresses: The Writing on the Wall, by Lynne Sharon Schwartz; The Good Priest’s Son, by Reynolds Price; A Little Love Story, by Roland Merullo; Incendiary, by Chris Cleave; and many others. Here is a list of books you may find reviewed in our spring and summer pages. Look to our reviewers to tell you the rest.
Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, by Brooke Shields (Hyperion, May). A celebrity’s bout with a syndrome that affects millions.
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, April). From the author of the comic-strip memoir Persepolis, a foray into the private lives of Iranian women.
A Lotus Grows in the Mud, by Goldie Hawn (Putnam, May). An ugly duckling grows up to become America’s darling.
No Mountain High Enough : Raising Lance, Raising Me, by Linda Armstrong Kelly (Broadway, April). A pregnant teenager, banished from home, becomes the mother of the indefatigable Lance Armstrong.
Oh the Glory of It All, by Sean Wilsey (Penguin, May). The founding editor of McSweeney’s tells of his zany childhood among the rich and famous.
Acts of Faith, by Philip Caputo (Knopf, May). First world meets third, in this story about relief workers trying to reverse the famine in Sudan, by the author of A Rumor of War.
Alibi, by Joseph Kanon (Holt, April). In post-World War II Venice, a war crimes investigator falls in love with an enigmatic woman and finds himself implicated in a violent murder.
The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman, by Nedjma (Grove, June). A young widow tells the secrets of her erotic life in this presumably autobiographical novel.