Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

From the March/April 2021 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

With so many good books being published every month, some literary titles worth exploring can get lost in the stacks. Page One offers the first lines of a dozen recently released books, including Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge and Festival Days by Jo Ann Beard, for a glimpse into the worlds of these new and noteworthy titles.

“It was her idea to tie up the nun.” Infinite Country (Avid Reader Press, March 2021) by Patricia Engel. Fourth book, third novel. Agent: Ayesha Pande. Editor: Lauren Wein. Publicist: Alexandra Primiani. 

“The hour of our birth had been carefully forecast, a winter’s day cesarean timed to coincide with Dr. Feng’s lunch break.” Land of Big Numbers (Mariner Books, February 2021) by Te-Ping Chen. First book, story collection. Agent: Rayhané Sanders. Editor: Naomi Gibbs. Publicists: Taryn Roeder and Michael Taeckens. 

“Something happened to her while she was eating, or right afterward.” Festival Days (Little, Brown, March 2021) by Jo Ann Beard. Third book, second essay collection. Agent: Philippa Brophy. Editor: Asya Muchnick. Publicist: Katharine Myers. 

“‘Pink is the color for girls,’ Kiera says, so she and Ava cut their palms and let their blood drip into a shallow bowl filled with milk, watching the color spread slowly on the surface, small red flowers blooming.” Milk Blood Heat (Grove Press, February 2021) by Dantiel W. Moniz. First book, story collection. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff. Editor: Katie Raissian. Publicist: Kait Astrella. 

“Safe to say none of the other Muslim kids on the eastside of Columbus got MTV or BET in their cribs & we do at my crib sometimes like after Pops got a promotion or after Grandma moved in & kept a Bible on her nightstand & had to watch the channel where her game shows ran 24/7 & so it is also safe to say that I was the only one in the Islamic Center on Broad Street who got to stay up & watch the shows on MTV that came on after my parents cut out the lights & went up to bed & it was only me & the warmth of an old television’s glow & the DJs spinning C+C Music Factory for people in baggy & colorful getups & bouncing on a strobe-light-drenched floor...” A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance (Random House, March 2021) by Hanif Abdurraqib. Fifth book, third nonfiction book. Agent: Alia Hanna Habib. Editor: Ben Greenberg. Publicists: Maria Braeckel and Felix Cruz. 

“Be an owl, / not even a sunflower // turns its head / 270 degrees, // but may the need to ask me / about my darkness // never command you.” Tethered to Stars (Milkweed Editions, March 2021) by Fady Joudah. Fifth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Daniel Slager. Publicist: Claire Laine. 

“I saw my mother raise a man from the dead.” Libertie (Algonquin Books, March 2021) by Kaitlyn Greenidge. Second book, novel. Agent: Carrie Howland. Editor: Kathy Pories. Publicist: Michael McKenzie. 

“The baby turtles the boys carried in the front of their shirts were the size of half-dollars.” Raft of Stars (Ecco, March 2021) by Andrew J. Graff. First book, novel. Agent: Maggie Cooper. Editor: Helen Atsma. Publicist: Sonya Cheuse. 

“My mother is nineteen when she meets Gerald.” Who’s Your Daddy (Augury Books, March 2021) by Arisa White. Fourth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Kate Angus. Publicist: Lauren Cerand. 

“I’m on the bus listening to Stevie Wonder on my iPod.” Rabbit Island (Two Lines Press, February 2021) by Elvira Navarro, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney. Fifth book, first story collection. Agent: None. Editor: CJ Evans. Publicist: Mandy

“When I was in kindergarten I stabbed myself with a pencil, on purpose—one minute sitting in class holding the thing in my hand wondering what it would feel like to be stabbed, the next, hitting my open palm with the pencil’s tip, screaming and sobbing and bleeding, the teacher taking me to a water fountain to clean the wound, asking, ‘Why why why, Josh, why on earth would you do that?’” Model Citizen (MCD, March 2021) by Joshua Mohr. Seventh book, second memoir. Agent: Anthony Mattero. Editor: Daphne Durham. Publicist: Lottchen Shivers. 

“I don’t want to sound unreasonable / but I need to be in love immediately.” Love and Other Poems (Copper Canyon Press, February 2021) by Alex Dimitrov. Third book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Michael Wiegers. Publicist: Laura Buccieri.