The March 2015 Indie Next List Preview

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Here are the titles on the March Indie Next List flier, on its way to ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement.

A downloadable PDF version of the list will also be available beginning March 1 on and

The March 2015 Indie Next Great Reads

#1 Pick: The Fifth Gospel: A Novel, by Ian Caldwell
(Simon & Schuster, 9781451694147, $25.99)
“One of the great mysteries of the Catholic Church, The Shroud of Turin, has inspired one of the great writers of our time to create this masterful thriller. Two brothers — Alex, a Greek Catholic priest, and Simon, a Roman Catholic priest — are drawn into the intrigue surrounding the Shroud and the origins of the Church following the murder of their friend Ugo, an eccentric curator obsessed with the Shroud who was preparing a major exhibit in the Vatican Gallery. Alex and Simon are dedicated brothers and priests, yet as different in temperament and faith as they are similar in conviction and loyalty. Caldwell unveils much about the world behind the Vatican walls, even as the intricate plot builds to a climax. A spectacular achievement!” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

The Buried Giant: A Novel, by Kazuo Ishiguro
(Knopf, 9780307271037, $26.95)
“Ishiguro’s new novel is a work of wonder, transport, and beauty. A recurrent theme in his earlier books, always shown with great originality, is the matter of what happens after we have lost our way. In The Buried Giant, Ishiguro explores losing direction, memory, and certainty, as the primary characters cling to remnants of codes of behavior and belief. Which is the way through the forest? Where might our son be? And where is the dragon, and who shall seek to slay her? Set in the time just after King Arthur’s reign, Ishiguro’s tale, with striking, fable-like rhythm and narrative, shows how losing and finding our way runs long, deep, and to the core of things.” —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey, by Marie Mutsuki Mockett
(W.W. Norton, 9780393063011, $26.95)
“Mockett’s journey begins in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, near the site of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and encompasses a nation’s grieving as well as her own. Through her beautiful descriptions of traditions, rituals, conversations, and quiet moments, she shows the nuances of a people picking up and moving on. By seeking out the cultural context of her subject’s very human reactions and emotions, Mockett walks a fine line that globalization has tried to erase entirely, and our understanding of the events and their aftermath is richer for it.” —Rachel Cass, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Soil: A Novel, by Jamie Kornegay
(Simon & Schuster, 9781476750811, $26)
“In his debut novel, Kornegay has confidently announced himself as a writer to watch. Centered around Jay Mize, an idealistic farmer whose luck just keeps breaking bad, the story kicks into high gear when Jay discovers a corpse on his failing farm. Fearing he is being framed by his less progressive neighbors, Jay hides the discovery rather than reporting it. Kornegay expertly heightens the tension, tightening the screws on the increasingly paranoid Jay in a way that makes it impossible for the reader to put the book down. With Soil, Kornegay joins Wiley Cash and Tom Franklin as a strong voice in the world of Southern gothic fiction.” —Josh Christie, Sherman’s Books and Stationery, Bar Harbor, ME

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson
(Crown, 9780307408860, $28)
“With the taut storytelling form that is Larson’s trademark, Dead Wake recounts the tragedy of the sinking of the passenger ocean liner Lusitania. The torpedoing of a passenger liner by a German submarine shocked and horrified the world and served to mobilize American popular opinion in favor of entering World War I. Larson carefully sets the stage for the tragedy, and with dramatic effect recreates the tension of the chase, the horror of the attack, and the tragic aftermath. Dead Wake pulls the reader in and evokes a visceral response of outrage and sadness — the same response most Americans had upon first hearing the news in 1915.” —Jon Grand, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL

Welcome to Braggsville: A Novel, by T. Geronimo Johnson
(William Morrow, 9780062302120, $25.99)
“In Welcome to Braggsville, Johnson explores cultural, social, and regional diversity in a world increasingly driven by social media. His satirical and ironic style portrays a UC Berkeley — ‘Berzerkeley’ — student from Georgia who, along with his friends, goes back to his hometown to challenge an annual Southern tradition and inadvertently sets off a chain of events resulting in tragic consequences. Johnson’s creative language play envelops the reader in the Deep South with the impact of a razor-sharp Lynyrd Skynyrd riff.” —Jann Griffiths, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, CA

Leaving Berlin: A Novel, by Joseph Kanon
(Atria Books, 9781476704647, $27)
“In 1949, WWII has been over for four years but the world continues to fume as suspicion wages a new kind of conflict in Joe McCarthy’s America and the German people starve behind a barrier that has made them victims of the Cold War. When Alex Meier returns to Berlin to attempt to ‘earn’ his way back to the U.S. by spying for the fledgling CIA, life quickly begins to unravel and Meier is thrown into a turmoil that he could not have imagined. Can he betray the love of his youth by remaining loyal to his pledge to help his new country? Readers will be on the edge of their seats in expectation.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Barefoot Dogs: Stories, by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
(Scribner, 9781476784960, $23)
“What people lose defines how they live their lives and this vibrant collection of stories illustrates this point with a literary verve that is electrifying! When the patriarch of a rich and thriving Mexican family is kidnapped, the family scatters across the world to save themselves. Ruiz-Camacho focuses on the lives of the rich and privileged in Mexican society, so used to servants and having things done for them that when the Arteaga family is left to its own devices, they have difficulty coping. This is a very entertaining and moving collection of interwoven stories highlighting the profound talent of a new author. Thought-provoking and memorable.” —Raul Chapa, BookPeople, Austin, TX

A Little Life: A Novel, by Hanya Yanagihara
(Doubleday, 9780385539258, $30)
“With heartaching perfection, Yanagihara follows four college roommates through three decades of relationships, careers, struggles, and triumphs. She opens episodic windows into the worlds of JB, Malcolm, Willem, and Jude — the artist, the architect, the actor, and the lawyer. At the novel’s heart is Jude, the group’s emotional epicenter and its eternal mystery who is determined to keep his past hidden and to shoulder its terrible effects on the present. A Little Life is a deeply felt journey through friendship, love, trust, and hurt that immerses the reader so fully each character becomes a friend and the intricacies of their lives are sorely missed after the last page is turned.” —Melinda Powers, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

An Exaggerated Murder: A Novel, by Josh Cook
(Melville House, 9781612194271, paper, $14.95)
“If Sherlock Holmes and Ignatius J. Reilly had a baby, that child would be Trike Augustine, private investigator. Rude, slobby, irritatingly brilliant, quick-witted — that’s Trike. With the help of his saner, more reasonable employees, Trike has been tasked with finding a missing billionaire, but will the stupid clues stump the smart man, or will Trike manage to keep himself and his associates out of harm’s way and solve the case before it’s too late? An Exaggerated Murder is a fantastic, funny, smart debut, and I eagerly await more from Cook.” —Liberty Hardy, RiverRun Books, Portsmouth, NH

Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral, by Mary Doria Russell
(Ecco, 9780062198761, $27.99)
“This continuation of the story begun in Doc is equally engaging. From a shroud of American West mythic bombast and misrepresentation, Russell creates compelling, realistic characters with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday shown to be both heroic and heatbreakingly human. Epitaph focuses on Josie Marcus, the love of Wyatt’s life. Theirs is a grand romantic tale told in hardscrabble detail, and Russell even makes what could have been cardboard villains into fully realized characters, both flawed and sympathetic. A rip-roaring good yarn!” —Kathi Kirby, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

Aquarium, by David Vann
(Atlantic Monthly Press, 9780802123527, $24)
“The world of the aquarium becomes a microcosm of a young girl’s longings – some she can name, some she cannot — as her splintered family makes jagged efforts to reform itself. How kinship is expressed, both in the fish world and within 12-year-old Caitlin’s difficult family, is at the heart of Vann’s piercing and ultimately redemptive novel — one that remains vivid long after the last page.” —Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol, CA

The Room: A Novel, by Jonas Karlsson
(Hogarth, 9780804139984, paper, $14)
“An employee at a mundane office in Sweden, Bjorn knows that he is better than his contemporaries and does whatever it takes to get the recognition he feels he deserves. He finds that recognition in ‘the room,’ an otherwise unremarkable space between the elevators and the toilets, except for the fact that it seems to exist only for him. In ‘the room,’ Bjorn feels more powerful, more attractive, and able to take control of the work environment he finds upsettingly sloppy. Unfortunately for Bjorn, his coworkers only see him as a man staring at a wall for inordinate periods and try to keep him from this unsettling behavior. Brilliantly crafted and sharply funny.” —Kelsey Myers, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

The Valley: A Novel, by John Renehan
(Dutton, 9780525954866, $26.95)
“Lt. Black, a desk officer at a forward operating base in Afghanistan, has been ordered by his commander to investigate a complaint about a platoon stationed in the Valley, the most remote and dreaded American-occupied outpost in the country. It has been said that war brings out both the best and the worst in men, but what Black, who struggles with his own demons, comes to realize is that the truth is much more complicated and frightening. The Valley is rich with detail, compelling and complex.” —Lyn Roberts, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Young Skins: Stories, by Colin Barrett
(Black Cat, 9780802123329, paper, $15)
“The Ireland of Barrett’s collection is not one of rolling emerald hills, Celtic crosses, and penny whistle jigs. This is hard-drinking, small-town Ireland with a population of young people who long for something bigger and who drink to forget that longing. Each story follows a different character and each one handles their own loneliness, claustrophobia, and nagging feeling of failure in a different way. The stories are tight, gritty, and agonizingly real. Barrett’s writing is a pleasure — lyrical and rough at the same time, shining a light on lives that few take the time to look at — beauty in the despair of the everyday.” —Llalan Fowler, Main Street Books, Mansfield, OH

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, by Sarah Manguso
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977030, $20)
Ongoingness is at once a calm analysis and a feverishly whispered confession. Built around the ‘dark matter’ of Manguso’s 800,000-word diary, each capsule-sized entry is a meditation on memory, mortality, and what we leave behind — both tangible and not. Highly recommended for fans of Joan Didion’s The White Album and Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams.” —Sarah Hollenbeck, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
(Grove Press, 9780802123411, $25)
“This is a superbly crafted memoir, incredibly original in its depth and visceral impact. The author swings back and forth between her own desire to train a goshawk and her research of that same need documented by T.H. White. Self-deprecating humor vies with wonder and grief as Macdonald manages to make the reader see, hear, and feel every aspect of this incredible journey. A marvelous read.” —Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

I Am Radar: A Novel, by Reif Larsen
(Penguin Press, 9781594206160, $29.95)
I Am Radar revolves around questions of art, creation, love, heartbreak, performance, war, and regeneration. Sounds like heady stuff, and it is, but on an immensely readable level that culminates in a puzzling yet delightful climax. As Radar navigates his way through life as a black child, a white man, and a white/black man, he discovers that art can be perception and science can be art. The language used is delightfully beautiful, even in the war scenes. I Am Radar may also be the best book about personal definitions of art in our time, as well as how art can affect and change a person. I cannot recommend it highly enough!” —Bill Carl, The Booksellers on Fountain Square, Cincinnati, OH

Cat Out of Hell, by Lynne Truss
(Melville House, 9781612194424, $24.95)
“Cat lover or hater, you’ll be caught up in this quirky mystery from the author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Cat Out of Hell features Roger, a most unusual, talented, and enigmatic feline, and the humans he involves in a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Can Roger be trusted? Is Wiggy Winterton, the human aiding him, perhaps going ‘wiggy’? You decide. It’s a darkly funny hoot!” —Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC

The Bookseller: A Novel, by Cynthia Swanson
(Harper, 9780062333001, $25.99)
“In 1962, 38-year-old Kitty Miller lives unconventionally. She’s an unmarried working woman who is running a bookstore with her best friend. But at night, in her dreams, it’s a different story. There, Kitty (now Kathryn) explores the path not taken. She’s the married mother of three. It’s the life that might have been, and the novel explores both Kitty’s waking and dream lives in alternating chapters. Swanson’s enjoyable debut really gets interesting when the lines between waking and dreaming, fantasy and reality, begin to blur.” —Susan Tunis, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA

The March 2015 Now in Paperback

The Black-Eyed Blond: A Philip Marlowe Novel, by Benjamin Black (Picador, 9781250062123, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel, by Helen Oyeyemi  (Riverhead Trade, 9781594633409, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

The Cairo Affair, by Olen Steinhauer (Picador, 9781250036155, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

The Enchanted: A Novel, by Rene Denfeld (Harper Perennial, 9780062285515, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Jessie Martin, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Frog Music: A Novel, by Emma Donoghue (Back Bay Books, 9780316324670, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

The Good Girl: A Novel, by Mary Kubica (MIRA, 9780778317760, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Melanie Green, Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, KS

The Intern’s Handbook: A John Lago Thriller, by Shane Kuhn (Simon & Schuster, 9781476733845, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Heather Christman Johnston, Warwick’s, La Jolla, CA

Murder at Cape Three Points: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery, by Kwei Quartey (Soho Crime, 9781616954833, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Fishers, IN

The Quick: A Novel, by Lauren Owen (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812983432, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Billie Bloebaum, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest, by Carl Hoffman (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062116161, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

The Serpent of Venice: A Novel, by Christopher Moore (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780061779770, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

The Sun and Other Stars: A Novel, by Brigid Pasulka (Simon & Schuster, 9781451667127, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL