April 2020 Literary Forecast
The new releases we’re reading this month.
Conjure Women, Afia Atokora
April 7th, 2020
Set in the deep south of America, Conjure Women moves between two significant time periods; before and after the civil war. Afia Atokora tells the story of three women tied to a southern plantation. May Belle, a conjure woman, uses magic to relieve ailments and afflictions in the village. Her young daughter, Rue, becomes friends with their master’s daughter, Varina. The three women navigate their own complex relationships while struggling against suspicion, sexual violence, and fear that threatens their freedom.
Afterlife, Julia Alvarez
April 7th, 2020
Afterlife, is Julia Alverez’s first adult novel in over 14 years. Alvarez is known as the literary voice of the Dominican American experience and in 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Alvarez with the National Medal of the Arts. In Afterlife, Alvarez returns to writing Dominican American characters, but they are older, greyer, and grieving. Her protagonist, Antonia Vega, is a widowed retiree. Antonia is grieving over her husband's sudden death from a heart attack and dealing with her new status as a retiree. Reluctantly, Antonia gets involved with helping a pregnant teenager, Estela, who also happens to also be an illegal immigrant. To complicate her life further, her sister disappears and begins to unravel her own family secrets. Afterlife questions our privilege, our morals and what we owe to those who need our help
The Moment of Tenderness, Madeleine L’Engle
April 21st, 2020
After Madeleine L’Engle’s death, her granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, found 40 of the well-loved author’s unpublished short stories. These works were all written in the years leading up to the writing of A Wrinkle in Time, in the 1940s and ‘50s. A selection of 18 of these works makes up The Moment of Tenderness. The stories are arranged chronologically and reflect the autobiographical nature of L’Engle’s writing. Many of the stories feature intelligent female protagonists who are dealing with feelings of ostracism and oppression. The collection insightfully reveals how these earlier short stories informed L’Engle’s later, beloved works.
Swimming in the Dark, Tomasz Jędrowski
28th April 2020
Swimming in the Dark is set during the decline of communism in the early 1980s in Poland. The novel tells the passionate and melancholic love story between two men, Ludwik and Janusz. Ludwik is in University when he meets Janusz at a summer camp. They fall in love by the river, bonding over James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and the natural world that exists away from the restrictions of normal society. It’s only once they return to Warsaw that their repressive communist and Catholic society, and their opposing political views, begin to separate them.