5 new books to read in March

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Laura Adamczyk, Gwen Ihnat, and Danette Chavez
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Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five of the books we’re most excited about.

Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (March 2, Knopf)

Kazuo Ishiguro writes with extraordinary elegance and draws from a deep well of feeling, even while so many of his characters’ desires remain below the surface. His latest novel, Klara And The Sun, centers around a so-called Artificial Friend, who has uncanny observational abilities and one day hopes to be taken home by a customer from the store where she’s kept. Ishiguro told Publishers Weekly that the book asks “What is love? Can we replace a person we love?” and explores “the question of the romantic notion that we love.” With Klara, the Nobel Prize winner and author of The Remains Of The Day and Never Let Me Go has once again crafted a masterful story of yearning and alienation.

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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (March 2, Avid Reader)

As moving as it is riveting, Patricia Engel’s Infinite Country is a one-of-a-kind telling of the timeless story of migration. The era-leaping novel combines international history—the Colombian Conflict, the introduction of the DREAM Act—with the personal stories of a family whose bond cannot be broken by geography. A late-night dash for freedom in the opening chapter is just the start of a border-crossing relay race that spans the Western Hemisphere. Engel’s pacing is breathless—she covers three generations in under 200 pages—but just as frequently gives way to heart- and time-stopping moments. Infinite Country is poised to be one of the most stirring page-turners of the year.

Fulfillment: Winning And Losing In One-Click America by Alec MacGillis (March 16, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

When Jeff Bezos steps down as CEO of Amazon this summer, he won’t just be leaving behind a legacy as America’s Great Bookstore Killer; the influence of his mega-company is far more insidious and entrenched than two-day shipping. In Fulfillment, journalist Alec MacGillis examines Amazon’s profound effect on the country, using the company as a lens through which to examine pernicious labor and economic issues like extreme wealth inequality, punishing labor practices, and the outsized political power certain companies exercise both regionally and in Washington. With Bezos having only grown richer during the pandemic—on course to become the world’s first trillionaire—and currently trying to squash his employees’ union-organizing efforts in Alabama, there’s no better time, as MacGillis writes, to “take a closer look at the America that fell in the company’s lengthening shadow.”

When Women Invented Television by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (March 23, Harper)

The role of women in the creation of TV hasn’t gotten a ton of attention, despite innovators like Gertrude Berg (The Goldbergs) and Irna Phillips (The Guiding Light) having transported several series from radio to TV during the medium’s mid-century infancy. Television historian Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (Seinfeldia, Sex And The City And Us) shines a light on these forgotten women in When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story Of The Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered The Way We Watch Today. She devotes in-depth chapters to creators like Hazel Scott, the first Black woman to host a national evening variety program, and Betty White, who became one of the first women to star in and produce her own series. Female showrunners are still too rare in the male-dominated world of the small screen, and Armstrong’s look back explains how that hierarchy is structural, not historical. For pop culture fans, this is a perfect read for Women’s History Month.

A Little Devil In America: Notes In Praise Of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (March 30, Random House)

Hanif Abdurraqib follows up 2019’s Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest, which was long-listed for the National Book Award, with another work of lyrical nonfiction praising his artistic heroes. In A Little Devil In America, the prolific essayist, cultural critic, and poet homes in on specific moments of Black performance throughout American history, not only exploring their cultural significance but also weaving in his own personal experiences in witnessing them. From Yo! MTV Raps and Soul Train to high school dances and Sunday church service, Abdurraqib breathes new life into performers of significance in his life, both legendary and unsung.

More in March: Later by Stephen King (March 1, Hard Case Crime); Spilt Milk by Courtney Zoffness (March 2, McSweeney’s); Poetics Of Work by Noémi Lefebvre (March 2, Transit); The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren (March 2, Simon & Schuster); The Life Of The Mind by Christine Smallwood (March 2, Hogarth); The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (March 2, Grove); In The Quick by Kate Hope Day (March 2, Random House); What’s Mine And Yours by Naima Coster (March 2, Grand Central); Abundance by Jakob Guanzon (March 2, Graywolf); Dusk Night Dawn: On Revival And Courage by Anne Lamott (March 2, Riverhead); Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women And Desire In The Age Of Consent by Katherine Angel (March 2, Verso); Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer by Jamie Figueroa (March 2, Catapult); Model Citizen by Joshua Mohr (March 9, MCD x FSG); Meiselman: The Lean Years by Avner Landes (March 9, Tortoise); The Recent East by Thomas Grattan (March 9, MCD x FSG); My Heart by Semezdin Mehmedinović (March 9, Catapult); The Transit Of Venus by Shirley Hazzard (March 9, Penguin Classics); The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories by Kevin Brockmeier (March 9, Pantheon); Cosmogony by Lucy Ives (March 9, Soft Skull); Sarahland by Sam Cohen (March 9, Grand Central); How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue (March 9, Random House); The Art Of Wearing A Trench Coat by Sergi Pàmies (March 16, Other Press); Taking A Long Look: Essays On Culture, Literature, And Feminism In Our Time by Vivian Gornick (March 16, Verso); Big Time by Jen Spyra (March 16, Random House); Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, And The Making Of A Dark Classic by Glenn Frankel (March 16, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Mona by Pola Oloixarac (March 16, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); The Twilight Zone by Nona Fernández (March 16, Graywolf); Festival Days by Jo Ann Beard (March 16, Little, Brown); Notes From The Bathroom Line: Humor, Art, And Low-Grade Panic From 150 Of The Funniest Women In Comedy, edited by Amy Solomon (March 16, Harper); The Marathon Don’t Stop: The Life And Times Of Nipsey Hussle by Rob Kenner (March 23, Atria); Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler And 1950s New York by Alexander Nemerov (March 23, Penguin); There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura (March 23, Bloomsbury); A Light In The Dark: A History Of Movie Directors by David Thomson (March 23, Knopf); The Cheerful Scapegoat: Fables by Wayne Koestenbaum (March 23, Semiotexte); The Beauty Of Living Twice by Sharon Stone (March 30, Knopf); Second Nature: Scenes From A World Remade by Nathaniel Rich (March 30, MCD x FSG); Lurkers by Sandi Tan (March 30, Soho); Girlhood by Melissa Febos (March 30, Bloomsbury); Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (March 30, Workman); Of Women And Salt by Gabriela Garcia (March 30, Flatiron); The Mayor Of Leipzig by Rachel Kushner (March 30, Karma); FEM by Magda Carneci (March 30, Deep Vellum); Eat The Mouth That Feeds You by Carribean Fragoza (March 30, City Lights)