Ian Manuel is a name well known to legal and criminal justice reform advocates. Sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a crime committed at the age of 13, Manuel languished in prison for 26 years. Thanks to a coalition of supporters, including renowned activist Bryan Stevenson and the woman shot by Manuel in 1990, Manuel received a fair resentencing from the Florida Court of Appeal in 2010. His story is told in Stevenson’s #1 New York Times bestseller Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014), as well as in two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof’s Tightrope: Americans Reach for Hope (2020). Manuel finally tells the story in his own words in My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption, one of the most anticipated memoirs of 2021. In it, the author candidly chronicles his turbulent childhood in Tampa, harrowing experiences in prison (including 18 years in solitary confinement), and his continual search for self-improvement, atonement, and – above all – justice.
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Michelle Zauner is a darling of the modern indie music scene, better known by fans under her solo project alias Japanese Breakfast. Zauner’s family moved to the United States from South Korea when she was just months old. She spent her formative years as one of only a handful of Asian American students in her Eugene, Oregon neighborhood and school. The young songwriter grappled with her own “sense of Koreanness” then – and continued her journey of self-discovery while attending college and finding her footing in the East Coast music scene. Zauner fronted the Philadelphia-based rock band Little Big League from 2011-2014, before her mother’s unexpected cancer diagnosis compelled her to return home to Oregon. During this time, Zauner began to compose and record solo music, including the acclaimed album Psychopomp. She shared her story in 2018 in a viral New Yorker essay. Zauner’s unflinching, book-length memoir, titled Crying in H Mart, hit shelves April 20.
Lawrence Wright is an acclaimed journalist, screenwriter and novelist. His impressive ten nonfiction titles to date include The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Wright also executive produced a 10-episode miniseries adapted from this 2006 exposé (starring Alec Baldwin and Jeff Daniels) for Hulu in 2018. His explosive follow-up, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief, likewise received the screen treatment. Wright co-produced a 2015 film adaptation that won three Emmys (including for Best Documentary), along with the prestigious Peabody Award. Wright’s recent fiction includes the eerily prescient novel The End of October, a 2020 medical thriller about a virus that originates in Asia before ravaging the globe. According to The New York Times Book Review, “Wright applies the magisterial force of his reporting skills, spinning a novel of pestilence, war and social collapse that – given the current pandemic – cuts exceedingly close to the bone.”
Food Network favorite Abby Jimenez is an award-winning pastry chef, and the owner of the world-famous Nadia Cakes cupcakery and custom cake studio. A self-taught baker, Jimenez won Food Network’s competitive Cupcake Wars in 2012. She parlayed her successes into her Minnesota-based small business, which now boasts outlets in Maple Grove, Woodbury, and Palmdale, California. Jimenez is also a USA Today bestselling romance writer. Publishers Weekly commended her debut, The Friend Zone, noting that “biting wit and laugh-out-loud moments take priority, but the novel remains subtle in its sentimentality and sneaks up on the reader with unanticipated depth.” Jimenez brings this same formula to Life’s Too Short, which hits shelves April 6. It follows a globe-trotting social media superstar whose carefree lifestyle hits a road bump when she unexpectedly comes into custody of her baby niece. In a glowing review, romance mainstay Katherine St. John praised Jimenez’s latest for “refreshingly real characters and compulsively readable prose… clear your schedule, because you won’t be able to put this delicious book down!”
Therese Anne Fowler is a perennial favorite among historical fiction readers. She is perhaps best known for Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (2014). Z showcases the incredible life and historic times of Zelda Sayre, the reckless Southern belle who married and inspired literary superstar F. Scott Fitzgerald. Amazon Studios turned the book into a period drama, Z: The Beginning of Everything, starring Christina Ricci and co-produced by Fowler herself. Fowler’s next novel, the New York Times and USA Today bestseller A Well-Behaved Woman, profiles the iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt. Matriarch of one of the Gilded Age’s richest families, Vanderbilt gained a notoriety in her own right as an early and instrumental leader in the universal suffrage movement. Fowler’s latest novel, A Good Neighborhood, turns the spotlight from historic luminaries to everyday Americans. Set in modern times in a tight-knit suburban community, A Good Neighborhood “traverses the topics of love, race and class” and asks whether families with diametrically opposed worldviews can be authentically neighborly (Kirkus Reviews).
Robert Kolker is an established and esteemed investegative reporter. Long known in journalism circles for his exposés in New York Magazine and Bloomgberg News, Kolker became one of the nation’s most read nonfiction writers (almost overnight) after the April 2020 publication of Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family. Now a #1 New York Times bestseller, Hidden Valley Road centers around the 12-child Galvin family in post-WWII Colorado. Considered a paragon of domestic prosperity and bliss by friends and neighbors, the Galvins harbored dark secrets. Hereditary schizophrenia – diagnosed in six family members – eventually came to light as the culprit, but only after the Galvins’ story had confounded medical science for years. Oprah Winfrey recently selected Hidden Valley Road for her reimagined Oprah’s Book Club, bringing Kolker to a still wider audience. In 2020, Netflix released the feature film Lost Girls – based on Kolker’s 2013 book of the same name – which tracks the murder spree and clues trail of an as-yet-unidentified serial killer.
Chart-topping historian H.W. Brands is one of the foremost American Studies scholars writing today – and also one of the most prolific. With nearly 40 published books to date, his work spans more than three decades of dedicated scholarship and nearly every epoch of American history. Brands’ areas of speciality include economic history and global policy, as well as biographies on presidents and other change-makers who shaped our nation. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, for The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (2000) and Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (2008). Brands’ latest is The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle for American Freedom. Brands’ incisive look at the abolition of slavery gained wide acclaim. Library Journal calls it “a fascinating and wonderfully readable portrayal of the tensions between fiery militancy and determined-but-measured devotion in working toward a goal.”
Claire Lombardo is one of few first-time authors to see their debut novel chart immediately on the New York Times Bestseller List. The Most Fun We Ever Had follows the fortunes and factious relationships of four sisters over five decades. In this time-jumping narrative, the surprise re-emergence of a teenage son put up for adoption by one sister sparks a long overdue family reckoning. NPR praised Lombardo’s debut as “a wonderfully immersive read that packs more heart and heft than most first novels,” and “a deliciously absorbing novel with – brace yourself – a tender and satisfyingly positive take on family.” The Chicago Tribune, People magazine, and Good Housekeeping singled out The Most Fun We Ever Had as one of the best books of summer 2019. Random House will release a paperback edition on April 6, and the book is currently being adapted for HBO by the powerhouse Hollywood producing duo of Amy Adams and Laura Dern.
Cameroonian-American novelist Imbolo Mbue burst onto the literary scene in 2016 with her debut novel Behold the Dreamers. Semi-autobiographical in nature, the book tracks a young Cameroonian couple as they struggle to re-establish themselves in New York City in spite of racial barriers and the economic upheavel of the Great Recession. Lauded by The New York Times as “a dissection of the American Dream, savage and compassionate in all the right places,” Behold the Dreamers became an Oprah’s Book Club pick in 2017. Mbue’s anticipated follow-up, How Beautiful We Were, hits shelves on March 9. A heart-wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an American oil company, How Beautiful We Were reads as a contemporary fable. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews raves that Mbue’s masterwork “uses an ecological nightmare to frame a vivid and stirring picture of human beings asserting their value to the world – whether that world cares about them or not.”
John Moe is one of Minnesota’s best-known radio and podcast personalities. The reporter and talk show host first cut his teeth in the Seattle radio market, before bringing his unique wit to the North Star State. He is best known for his work as a senior reporter and host of American Public Media enterprises including Weekend America, Marketplace Tech Report, and the uproarious radio variety show Wits. His podcasting projects include The Hilarious World of Depression, a show in which Moe set out to dispel societal stigma around and entrenched stereotypes about clinical depression. Celebrity guests have included chef Andrew Zimmern, authors John Green and Jenny Lawson, and actors Wil Wheaton and Jameela Jamil. In 2020, Moe published a book under the same title. In The Hilarious World of Depression, Moe shares all he knows about the illness – from personal experience, extensive research, and years of interviews. In a glowing review, Booklist asserts that “Moe is exactly the right person to give an attentive, irreverent voice to those suffering with depression.”