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8 Reads By New England Authors While You’re Socially Distancing

Eight spring reads by New England authors. (Arielle Gray/WBUR)
Eight spring reads by New England authors. (Arielle Gray/WBUR)

The beauty of the arts is its ability to bring people together. Now, in order to protect our most vulnerable populations from the coronavirus, our community must stand in solidarity by standing apart. To aid with social distancing, most arts and culture events this spring have been canceled and bookstores have closed to the public, but you can still support your local literary community by ordering books, e-books, audiobooks or gift cards from local bookstores.

The following Greater Boston Area bookstores are offering free shipping: Brookline Booksmith, Harvard BookstorePapercuts, Porter Square Books and Trident Booksellers & Cafe. Just because we’re alone, doesn’t mean we have to be lonely: start a virtual book club with your friends and family over video chats, or connect with your new favorite authors over Twitter to let them know the kind words you would have shared at their canceled release parties. Check out these eight spring books from New England authors to get you started.

Afterlife
By Julia Alvarez

April 7

From the author of “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” and longtime writer-in-residence at Middlebury College, this novel tells the story of retired English professor Antonia Vega who shifts to crisis management mode when her husband dies, her sister disappears and a pregnant, undocumented teenager arrives on her doorstep. She must make bold choices in this new life after retirement and decades of marriage, but she still has family to lean on to help her through.

The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext
Edited by Felicia Chavez, José Olivarez and Willie Perdomo

April 7

In the fourth edition of a poetry anthology that encourages innovative poetic styles from the hip-hop generation, Latinx poets speak about the diaspora and claim space of their own. The collection features poets across nationalities and race, genders and sexualities, and dynamic writing styles. Editor Willie Perdomo teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Obit
By Victoria Chang

April 7

As a tribute to her mother’s life, poet Victoria Chang refused to write elegies, and instead transfused her grief into obituary poems. Each poem is shaped like a newspaper column, breathing with life, from millions of little blue flowers or ripening tomatoes. Chang received her M.A. in Asian studies from Harvard.

Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens
By Muhammad H. Zaman

April 21

The Boston University professor shares his research about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Zaman traces resistant bacteria across the globe in a journey that feels more akin to international espionage than epidemiology. Reading about the history behind their formation and Zaman’s suggestions to combat this phenomenon will allow you to focus on a different growing health crisis for a while.

Passage West
By Rishi Reddi

April 21

Stakes are high for a Punjabi sharecropper on a small cantaloupe farm along the Mexican border, in this novel set on the cusp of World War II. The desert is not an ideal place to farm. While Ram Singh struggles to get his crops to take root, he combats anti-immigrant sentiments from neighboring farmers and strives to stay faithful to his wife back in Punjab. Reddi is a former board member of GrubStreet and former Massachusetts legislative liaison for Amnesty International USA.

Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me
By Sopan Deb

April 21

The memoir of a New York Times and Boston Globe journalist who covered the Trump campaign for CBS, and was subsequently inspired to reconnect with his parents about their South Asian family history. After their volatile marriage fell apart, Deb never got to know his parents as real people, like his friends in suburban New Jersey seemed to. “Missed Translations” asks the questions you’d always wished you asked while you’re parents were still around.

Sea Wife
By Amity Gaige

April 28

A Yale lecturer and former visiting writer at Amherst College, Gaige writes about a young family’s thirst for escapism. Juliet finds she can’t have it all between trying to raise her children and trying to write her dissertation, so it doesn’t take much prodding from her husband to convince her to pack up and sail to Panama on a whim. Their year-long sailing trip only highlights their problems instead of solving them.

Death on Tuckernuck
By Francine Mathews

May 5

In the sixth installment of the Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery Series, Merry’s wedding is threatened by a Category 3 hurricane and a double homicide. The tight-knit Nantucket community makes plans to evacuate the island, but the number of people trying to leave outnumber the seats on the boat to safety. Will Merry be able to solve the case — and save her pending nuptials — before the evidence is swept out to sea?

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