With the cancelation of live events across the country, we wanted to highlight some of the emerging authors who, under normal circumstances, would have been embarking on a book tour this spring to generate book buzz in communities they wouldn’t reach otherwise (for some, it would have been their first time doing so). But not all is completely lost—we still have the internet to keep us connected.
First, order a few titles from your local bookseller (many shops are coordinating safe, no-contact deliveries). Then, look for ways to engage with the authors digitally by following them on social media—they’re turning to virtual readings and conversations (we particularly love LitHub’s programming on The Virtual Book Channel). We hope that these stories can offer some mental escape while you’re hunkering down.
Abel, an aged Jamaican man, reveals a secret to his family on his deathbed, one that unravels generations of internalized trauma (and yes, there are even ghosts). As a younger man, he assumed the identity of a fellow black man who had died while they were both working on a boat, all because Abel wanted a way out of his own unhappy marriage. It’s a book that will take you across oceans and decades. Follow debut author Maisy Card on Twitter (@dracm) or Instagram (@librarylovefest) for the latest on her virtual book events.
In this heartfelt memoir, R. Eric Thomas takes many of life’s serious topics—like his queer identity, being black, and growing up Christian—and injects a lot of humor into them. For a taste of his voice-y, opinionated, and intelligent comedic writing style, read his columns and stories on Elle.com, where he covers pop culture as a staff writer. This book is Thomas’s first, so let’s keep the celebration (and confetti) going—he’s @oureric on both Twitter and Insta.
Imagine the concept of the gig economy but set in a bizarre, avant-garde world, where temps are filling in for ghosts, pirates, store mannequins, and other strange roles. The unnamed narrator of this book just wants a permanent job, a “steady” as they call it—will she ever find one? After you’re done reading the book, watch debut author Hilary Leichter in conversation with Maris Kreizman for LitHub’s corona-era web series Sheltering, and follow Leichter on Instagram and Twitter.
Welcome to the mystical seas of Hawaii. There’s the “chosen one,” a boy named Noa, who rises to legendary status when he falls into an ocean at the age of seven, and is saved by a shark. The story then continues to follow Noa as he ages into adulthood and learns to exercise his powers. Needless to say, this one’s for fans of magical realism. You can learn more about debut author Kawai Strong Washburn by following @incrediblekdub on Twitter.
TV writer Bess Kalb will be the first to admit she feels a little weird about trying to promote her first book amid a pandemic. Her book tour may be cancelled, but you can still enjoy her warm, humorous ode to her late grandmother, Bobby Bell, written in Bobby’s one-of-a-kind voice. It’s like eavesdropping on a deliciously fun and poignant conversation between a grandmother and her granddaughter, joining a long tradition of unconventional memoirs. Listen to Bess Kalb on the Call Your Girlfriend podcast or follow her on Twitter @bessbell.
If you’re looking to disappear into a novel, this fiery debut will do the trick. Teenager Lacey May lives with her alcoholic mother in a dried-up California town where most of the locals have come under the spell of a cult leader named Pastor Vern. When her mother skips town, Lacey May is left alone to discover the pastor’s true nefarious character, and decides to try to make things right. RIYL: O’Connor’s Wise Blood, the wild Netflix documentary Tiger King, mother/daughter sagas. Tune into Bieker’s virtual live conversation hosted by Brooklyn bookstore Books Are Magic on April 15, and follow @chelseabieker on Twitter and Instagram.
It’s the end times of the California Gold Rush and young Chinese-American siblings Lucy and Sam are newly orphaned and need to bury their coal miner father. It’s a book where epic elements of Chinese mythology are beautifully weaved in with the sweeping scenes of an American historical fiction, where tigers roam alongside buffalo in the wild west. If you’d like to support this imaginative debut novel, follow @cpamzhang on both Twitter and Instagram, and virtually Zoom into the book release event via Books Are Magic on April 13—it’s free to join.
Gawker alum Emily Gould’s second novel takes us back to NYC in the early aughts, where we meet recent transplant Laura, fresh from the midwest with a guitar and a dream. Soon, she’s running around the LES with Dylan, a dreamy-yet-aloof musician in a buzzy band, and playing at small folk venues. From there, Perfect Tunes takes an unexpected detour—and reveals itself as a story of loss, young motherhood, and the pursuit of self-fulfillment despite life’s twists and turns. Catch Emily Gould’s live Zoom chat with Naomi Fry on April 14 hosted by Brooklyn’s Greenlight Books and follow her on Twitter @EmilyGould.
For years Marisa Meltzer has covered the beauty and wellness industry for publications like The New York Times and The Cut (you might remember her piece on “the world’s chicest cult” for Harper’s Bazaar). In This Is Big, she profiles Jean Nidetch, the founder of Weight Watchers, alongside stories of her own lifelong struggles with dieting and weight loss. In a world of body-positive influencers, “How do you live online as a person unhappy with your weight?” Meltzer asks. This book is an honest, open exploration of one woman’s relationship with her body as it exists in the world. Though her book tour dates are on hold, you can follow @MarisaMeltzer on Twitter for other ways to support her work.