Recommended by Anne Holman
Dorothee Kocks, The Glass Harmonica: A Sensualist’s Tale, (e-book), January
As the subtitle suggests, protagonist Chjara Vallé follows her desires in music and life, oversteps society’s gender roles, is exiled by her teacher, a renegade priest, and grows up making pleasure a virtue—all while balancing service and freedom. While it will be released first as an e-book, it’s due in paperback this spring. “It’s interesting how the world is changing. We’re figuring out an event for the release. Does everyone bring their iPad?” Holman laughs.
Jacqueline Osherow, Whitethorn, (Louisiana State University Press), February
The University of Utah professor has kept fans waiting five years since the book-poem Hoopoe’s Crown. Whitethorn looks into vast pits of sorrow with emotional intelligence, finds light and offers hope with cadenced candor; it’s ambitious and challenging. “She’s one of the most well-respected poets, academically, in the country,” says Holman. “When she comes out with a new book of poetry, we celebrate. When she reads, we’re transported.”
Anne Zimmerman, An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher, (Counterpoint), February
Prolific food writer M.F.K. Fisher loved men and adventure almost as much as eating and writing, and lived “passionate years” that were also her most turbulent. Living in Europe, she divorced, had an affair with a man whom she later married—he eventually committed suicide. She wrote prolifically during that time. Anne Zimmerman—a Salt Lake City native and California resident—strings together her letters and journal entries with gripping, meticulously researched commentary. “Fisher was wildly extravagant and wonderful. It’s going to be a great biography,” Holman says.
Carol Lynch Williams, Miles from Ordinary (St. Martins), March
Carol Lynch Williams’ latest young-adult tale, set in Haven, Utah, delves into the heart and head of 13-year-old Lacey, hope-filled yet struggling, as she comes to terms with her unstable mother. On and off the page, Williams is active in the state; she organizes the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference each year.
Emily Wing Smith, Back When You Were Easier to Love, (Dutton), April 28
Emily Wing Smith—a member of local young-adult writers group The SIX—crafts realistic, page-turning, romance-driven fiction like 2008’s The Way He Lived. In her follow-up, protagonist Joy rides to California seeking closure after unexpectedly and unknowingly getting dumped. This sophomore release getting picked up by Penguin Group “is a big deal,” Holman says. “[Smith] is smart, funny and works hard.”
Melanie Rae Thon, In This Light: New and Selected Stories (Graywolf), May 24
University of Utah professor Melanie Rae Thon’s work leads in fascinating directions, arcing to uncover humanity’s essence. This newest collection, with soaring prose, displays her versatility in subject and her cunning character development. “Short stories are hard to write, and she makes it look easy,” Holman says. “I love the idea of being able to pick up a book in the middle of it and just dive in.”
Recommended by Catherine Weller
Dan Wells, I Don’t Want to Kill You, (Thor), March 29
Utah County’s Dan Wells is a “young writer to watch,” Weller says. “We can’t be more delighted to read each of his works”—and they’re all available in paperback and hardcover simultaneously. Following 2009’s I Am Not a Serial Killer and 2010’s Mr. Monster, this suspense thriller concludes the trilogy about a boy who feels he’s a future murderer and tries to suppress evil tendencies.
Recommended by Ken Sanders
David Bigler and Will Bagley, Mormon Rebellion: America’s First Civil War 1857-1858, (University of Oklahoma Press), April 15
“Will Bagley is arguably Utah’s finest independent Western historian since the days of Dale Morgan,” Sanders says. Bagley and historian David Bigler, citing long-suppressed sources, have produced “a seminal volume on one of the most important and least understood events in Utah and 19th century western frontier history.”