Best literature and fiction of March

Erin Kodicek on March 26, 2020

Best literature and fiction of March

It’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fiction releases in March: You’ve got the latest from a two-time Man Booker Prize winner, two National Book Award winners, and others whose writing chops will earn such accolades eventually. Maybe for the books featured here. 

See all of our literature and fiction picks, or browse the rest of the Best Books of the Month

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

At 31, Casey is still holding onto her dream of being a novelist. Most of her artist friends have given up their artist dreams for more practical, and lucrative, endeavors; but Casey writes and makes ends meet by waitressing and walking her landlord’s dog. Writers & Lovers is Lily King’s follow up to her 2014 breakthrough novel, Euphoria, which was loosely based on the experiences of Margaret Mead, and one might expect King to tread a similar path in this new book. But this is a different novel altogether. That said, it’s a very enjoyable read, a breath of fresh air, with characters that leap off the page. Writers & Lovers is about the uncertainty of dating, and of pursuing the creative life, in a world that values success and stability. Life does not wait for Casey to fulfill her dream, if that dream even comes. So she works and she dates, and she tries to figure it out as she goes. Love and art require daily, often imperceptible, leaps of faith—and this book captures that perfectly. —Chris Schluep

The Mirror & the Light (Wolf Hall Trilogy) by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel has captivated readers and critics alike with her rich historical novels about the schemer, dreamer, henchman, and political mastermind Thomas Cromwell. The first Cromwell book, Wolf Hall, won the Man Booker Prize, as did the follow-up, Bring Up the Bodies. Now with the final book, The Mirror & the Light, we meet Cromwell at the height of his power. The novel opens with the decapitation of Anne Boleyn as Henry VIII settles in with his new bride, Jane Seymour, but rebellion lurks in the shadows both home and abroad. Mantel brilliantly and deviously unfurls the vision that spurs Cromwell to assert his power and the eventual ruin that it brings him. Like the books before, The Mirror & the Light is breathtaking and immersive, rich in detail and wide-ranging in characters, and brings the genre to dizzying new heights. A stunning ending to an award-winning series by one of the most talented writers working today. —Al Woodworth

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

James McBride, author of the National Book Award winning The Good Lord Bird and the beloved memoir The Color of Water, has written a propulsive and comic neighborhood epic set in the 1960s with a cast of characters that are beguiling, boozed-filled, and larger than life. When a young drug lord is shot in broad daylight by a bumbling drunk known to everyone as Sportcoat, the Brooklyn neighborhood they live in is upended. As Sportcoat comically and unknowingly dodges the police, his actions ricochet around him, igniting a web of drug wars, backdoor dealings with mobsters, and church brawls that demonstrate just how vital yet fragile communities can be. Deacon King Kong tells the fictional story of one Brooklyn project, but in so doing tells a broader story of race and religion, getting by and getting out, and how grudges and alliances become embedded in the foundations of our neighborhoods. An incredibly satisfying read. —Al Woodworth

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich pays poignant homage to her grandfather in this sweeping novel about Native American dispossession in the 1950s. Like her grandfather, our titular hero is a humble night watchman, also the tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota. Initially an uneventful post, Thomas Wazhashk’s life is upended when he learns that the U.S. government has earmarked them for “emancipation” (an odd term, he points out, since they were not enslaved). The Night Watchman follows Thomas’s tireless efforts to persuade the U.S. government to honor treaties that protected what remained of their already picked-over lands. And Erdrich further expounds on the scourge of systemic racism, sexual exploitation, and other unsavory sundries through the stories of his extended family, and those in their orbit. Dark much? Yes. But The Night Watchman is tempered by Erdrich’s signature wit and humanity, exposing the light in the wounds of individuals, and a people, fighting for their place in the world. —Erin Kodicek

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

In Five Years is a love story, just not the one you think. After years of hard work and planning, Type A Dannie Cohan finally has it all: she’s aced a job interview at her dream law firm and her boyfriend just proposed to her. She goes to sleep that night and has an extremely vivid (wink, wink) dream set five years in the future involving a strange man she appears to be married to. When she wakes up, she can’t shake the dream, and is further disturbed when she meets her best friend’s new boyfriend, only to discover he’s the mystery man from the dream. Dannie spends the next five years in a bit of a race against the clock, trying to get away from this dream scenario she fears is her destiny. While this may sound like the set up for a romantic comedy, it’s anything but. What readers will find is a thoughtful, poignant and, yes, sometimes heartbreaking look at destiny, friendship, and our purpose on this planet. This is a book you’ll want to read in one sitting. Then you will want to immediately share it with a friend. —Sarah Gelman

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