Bookshelf: New year promises big things for local authors

7 books by Atlanta writers coming in early 2023.

Next year is already shaping up to be a big one for Atlanta authors. Just looking at the first four months, here are seven books by local writers hitting the shelves in 2023.

First up is Nic Stone’s collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi on “How to Be a (Young) Antiracist” (Penguin Random House, Jan. 31). In 2019, Kendi, a National Book Award winner, published “How to Be an Antiracist,” a New York Times bestseller that combined elements of memoir, social commentary and logic to help readers recognize racism in themselves and others and learn how to change their own and others’ perspective on race. Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of “Dear Martin,” has taken that book and reimagined it for teen and young adult readers. It’s an important book about a serious topic that goes down easy thanks to Stone’s conversational, accessible voice.

Next up is Lynn Cullen’s highly anticipated historical novel “The Woman With the Cure” (Berkley, Feb. 21). Anyone who’s read Cullen’s previous novels like “Mrs. Poe” and “The Sisters of Summit Avenue” is familiar with her gift for creating captivating historical settings filled with delightfully precise period details. Here she applies that talent to the ‘40s and ‘50s when the search for a cure to polio dominated the nation’s consciousness. Cullen’s book centers on scientist Dorothy Horstmann who, unlike many of her male counterparts, was more interested in finding a cure than being credited as the one who discovered it.

In her first book since 2019′s “Invisible as Air,” Zoe Fishman draws on personal experience for her new novel, “The Fun Widow’s Book Tour” (William Morrow, March 14). Forced to promote her new memoir while mourning her husband’s death, Mia plans a book tour that stops in the cities of her three best friends who have supported her through the worst time of her life. So off she sets for San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta, and while she’s there, she plans to pay her friends back by fixing their lives, or so she thinks. “The Fun Widow’s Book Tour” is a funny, poignant story told in Fishman’s signature warm, breezy voice.

Credit: Berkley

Credit: Berkley

Colleen Oakley’s newest, “The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise” (Berkley, March 28), is a humorous, multigenerational tale of adventure and suspense. Tanner Quimby is an aimless college dropout who’s lost her way. When the opportunity to work as a live-in caretaker for elderly Louise Witt presents itself, Tanner jumps at the chance. But she soon realizes there’s more to Louise than meets the eye. The senior citizen is hiding something in the garden shed, and she bears a striking resemblance to a jewelry thief whose exploits are reported on the evening news. Before long, the two find themselves on the run together, heading to California and, hopefully, redemption.

For something considerably darker, Thomas Mullen takes a departure from his Darktown series with “Blind Spots” (Minotaur Books, April 4). This speculative crime novel imagines life after a devastating global virus has rendered everyone in the world blind. A solution arrives in the form of new technology that downloads visual data directly to the brain. When a series of murders occur, homicide detective Mark Owens discovers that the program has been hacked by someone who is altering what people can see, making it easy for the killer to escape detection.

Anissa Gray, senior editor at CNN, follows her 2019 literary debut “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls,” with “Life and Other Love Songs” (Penguin Random House, April 11), a haunting novel about Ozro Armstead, a husband and father who disappears on his 37th birthday. The narrative moves back and forth in time, spanning from the Great Migration to Detroit in the ‘70s and New York in the ‘90s, as Ozro’s wife and daughter seek answers to where he went and who he was.

Meanwhile, Joshilyn Jackson has gone full-on thriller mode in “With My Little Eye” (HarperCollins, April 25). This harrowing cat-and-mouse tale finds actress Meribel Mills and her daughter fleeing Los Angeles for Atlanta to evade a stalker she calls Marker Man because of the fruit-scented markers he uses to write her increasingly disturbing letters. Soon every man she knows, from her ex-husband to her ex-lover to her new neighbor, fall under suspicion, and they’re all on a collision course that could prove disastrous.

If you see something here that piques your interest, do yourself and a local author a favor and place a pre-order. Pre-orders help authors build advance buzz among retailers and ensure you receive a copy of the book as soon as it’s released.

Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contact her at svanatten@ajc.com.