Book World: 10 books to read in April

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We are all so ready for spring this year. Publishers are, too, which might explain why April is front-loaded with so many big books, including biographies, essays, short stories and knockout novels.

“I don’t want you to rehabilitate me,” Roth told Bailey, his appointed biographer. “Just make me interesting.” “Be careful what you wish for” is the adage that comes to mind while reading this intimate and impeccably researched book about a famous novelist whose life and work each have their peaks and valleys.

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“We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy,” by Natalie Baszile (April 6)

Through essays, poems, memories and more, the author of the acclaimed novel “Queen Sugar” (adapted for TV by Ava DuVernay) weaves together powerful stories about farmers of color that focus on their survival, pride and cultivation.

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“The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020,” by Rachel Kushner (April 6)

If you want to ride in a famous motorcycle race, then hang out with Keith Richards in 1990s San Francisco and finally consider the work of Marguerite Duras – and who wouldn’t? – all you have to do is pick up this wide-ranging book of journalism from the novelist behind “The Flamethrowers.”

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“First Person Singular: Stories,” by Haruki Murakami (April 6)

Murakami, ever droll, has put together eight stories told through the first-person singular perspective. But while it’s a conceit, in the hands of Murakami, it’s also the means to inspiring ends, thanks to its memorable voices – including a talking monkey who walks into a spa.

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“Peaces: A Novel,” by Helen Oyeyemi (April 6)

Otto and Xavier embark, with their pet mongoose, on a sleeper train called the Lucky Day. At first, it seems luxurious. But things become surreal quickly, making Oyeyemi’s locomotive the weirdest since “Snowpiercer.”

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“Hummingbird Salamander: A Novel,” by Jeff VanderMeer (April 6)

If you thought Rumaan Alam’s apocalyptic “Leave the World Behind” was too creepy, perhaps you shouldn’t read VanderMeer’s new speculative thriller, in which a woman called Jane Smith receives a note and a key from a dead eco-terrorist. No spoilers, but it’s safe to say the fate of the world is at stake, and you won’t look up even once while you’re reading.

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“The Night Always Comes: A Novel,” by Willy Vlautin (April 6)

Vlautin’s sixth novel rewards fans of his slow, careful style in an intense story about gentrification in Portland, Ore. Lynette wants to buy the small house she shares with her mother and developmentally challenged brother, but she doesn’t have quite enough money. Over two days and two nights, she courts danger in her attempt to forge a secure life.

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“Early Morning Riser: A Novel,” by Katherine Heiny (April 13)

Heiny’s hilarious novel spans two decades in the life of small-town Michiganders. Jane moves to Boyne City in 2002 to teach second grade, and soon her life includes a mandolin-happy best friend, a husband, two daughters and a responsibility she could never have imagined. It’s a special book, one to savor.

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“The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War,” by Louis Menand (April 20)

Menand, a critic for the New Yorker, reminds us that even in the midst of conflict, we create. As the United States played push-me-pull-you with the Soviet Union, artists and thinkers exchanged ideas across continents, from Elvis and the Beatles to Hannah Arendt and Betty Friedan.

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“Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age,” by Amy Klobuchar (April 27)

As chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on competition policy, antitrust and consumer rights, Klobuchar (D-Minn.) puts forth proposals to strengthen antitrust enforcement. Her book uses U.S. history to show how a skewed marketplace can hurt consumer wallets as well as stifle progress and innovation.

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Bethanne Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”

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