The Most Anticipated Chicago Books of 2024, Part I – Chicago Review of Books


It’s probably an impossible task to chronicle every book coming out from writers in a city of nearly three million people, but here we are. This is the second year of what has become my favorite and most daunting annual project, and here I am again worried that I may have missed something.

But when you lay everything out month to month, it’s easy to see that the writing coming out of Chicago is remarkably varied and compelling. Spanning the entire scope of genre from independent presses to “Big 5” publishers, this list continues to grow as our community continues to shine. Whether you call it a literary renaissance or not, it’s undeniable that something special is happening in Chicago, so now’s the time to start reading.

Check back in June for Part II of this list!

Coming Clean
By Beth Uznis Johnson
Regal House Publishing 
January 9, 2024

In Coming Clean, Dawn—a self-employed cleaning lady in upstate New York—agrees to pose in the houses she cleans for her friend Matthew’s provocative photography project. Throughout this work, the two scour the contents of each home to find inspiration but discover much more than just intimate pieces of people’s interior lives. Beth Uznis Johnson’s novel is a fascinating story about forgiveness, family, and fresh starts.

The Furies: Women, Vengeance, and Justice
By Elizabeth Flock
January 9, 2024

Renowned journalist Elizabeth Flock investigates the role and necessity of female-led violence against oppressive systems through her examination of three women: Brittany Smith, an Alabaman woman who killed a man she said raped her but was denied the protection of the Stand-Your-Ground law; Angoori Dahariya, a leader of a gang in India; and Cicek Mustafa Zibo, a fighter in a thousands-strong all-female militia that battled ISIS in Syria. Flock masterfully weaves these three unique but interconnected stories while disrupting the prevailing mythology throughout history in which women’s lives frequently end with their bodies as sites of violence. 

The Best That You Can Do: Stories
By Amina Gautier
Soft Skull
January 16, 2024

The winner of the 2023 Soft Skull-Kimbilio Publishing Prize, the stories in The Best That You Can Do elaborate the realities of diasporic existence, split identities, and the beautiful potency of meaningful connections. Primarily told from the perspective of women and children in the Northeast who are tethered to fathers and families in Puerto Rico, Amina Gautier underscores the cultural confusion of being one person in two places—of having a mother who wants your father and his language to stay on his islands but sends you there because you need to know your family. Beautiful, rich in detail, and emotionally raw, The Best That You Can Do is one of the most exciting works of short fiction coming out in 2024.

Unbend the River
By Devin Murphy
Black Lawrence Press
January 19, 2024

The linked stories in Unbend the River are set along a forested stretch of land between Lake Erie and the upper Allegheny River in western New York. The characters, all of whom are tied to a modern knife manufacturing plant, illustrate all the ways love and longing shapeshift over the course of a long life. Combining soaring prose and unforgettable characters that are working to craft decent lives for themselves, Devin Murphy’s short story collection is sure to satisfy.

By Miya Coleman
Button Poetry
January 23, 2024

Cottonmouth is a dazzling poetry collection that paints the picture of what makes up a home, and also—more importantly—what doesn’t. Miya Coleman is one of the most exciting spoken word artists working today in a city known for the craft, having performed for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and the Congressional Black Caucus, Harvard University, and the 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival where she was crowned champion. A beautiful and haunting work of lyricism.

Once in a Millenial: On Friendship, Feelings, Fangirls, and Fitting In
By Kate Kennedy
St. Martin’s Press
January 23, 2024

From Kate Kennedy, renowned host of the Be There in Five podcast, comes a celebration of the millennial zeitgeist. Once in a Millenial explores pop culture, nostalgia, the experience of being a millennial, and life lessons learned from coming of age as a member of the much-maligned generation. As a millennial myself, it feels strange to reach a point in time in which our generation can be viewed through a nostalgic and retrospective lens, but there is no better author to take on the task than Kate Kennedy.

The Mayor of Maxwell Street
By Avery Cunningham
Hyperion Avenue
January 30, 2024

In this captivating romance novel set in early 20th century Chicago, a rich Black debutante enlists a low-level speakeasy manager to identify the head of an underground crime syndicate. This unlikely pairing must work together to expose the city’s most dangerous vice lord, known as the “Mayor of Maxwell Street.” Avery Cunningham’s debut novel is epic in both scale and ambition, telling a riveting story that explores the triumphs and tribulations of Chicago’s Prohibition era.

Yaguareté White 
By Diego Báez
University of Arizona Press
February 1, 2024

In Diego Báez’s debut poetry collection, English, Spanish, and Guaraní encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar. Báez explores the contradictions of not fitting in while growing up in his predominantly white neighborhood in central Illinois and also when visiting family in Paraguay, attempting to reconcile the incomplete, contradictory, and inconsistent experiences when your identity crosses languages, nations, and generations. Both knotty and humorous, the poems in Yaguareté White always find a way to surprise. 

O Body
By Dan “Sully” Sullivan
Haymarket Books
February 6, 2024

Dan “Sully” Sullivan, a three-time Chicago poetry slam champion and co-editor of a seminal anthology of Chicagoland spoken word Respect the MIC: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School, is back with a moving collection of poems that deeply considers the male body. Exploring the questions of masculinity, fatherhood, home, and learning to live in and love one’s own body, Sullivan’s work is a lyrical powerhouse that holds space for tenderness and interiority. Working from the self to the community, O Body seeks to discover what truly connects us to the places we call home.

Working in the 21st Century: An Oral History on American Work in a Time of Social and Economic Transformation
By Mark Larson
Agate Midway
February 20, 2024

From nurses and teachers to wildland firefighters and funeral directors, Mark Larson’s latest is an intimate, honest, and illuminating collection of interviews that reveal what it’s like to work in America at this historic and volatile moment in time. Working in the 21st Century asks why we show up—or don’t—to the jobs we’ve chosen, and how the upheaval of the past few years has changed how we perceive the work we do. Of course, it’s no coincidence why the book will be released in time for the fifth anniversary of Studs Terkel’s 1974 classic Working, because Larson is clearly a journalist with the care and curiosity to echo one of Chicago’s greatest historians. 

Murder on Bedford Street
By Victoria Thompson
Berkley Books
March 5, 2024

In Murder on Bedford Street, midwife Sarah Malloy and her private investigator husband, Frank, must stop a killer lurking among a young family. Victoria Thompson, an Edgar® and Agatha Award-nominated author of the Gaslight Mysteries, shows her talent as a mystery writer as she reveals the dark secret of a troubled family.

Street Fight: The Chicago Taxi Wars of the 1920s 
By Anne Morrissy
Lyons Press
March 5, 2024

Bricks and bottles of acid through the windshield. Bullets shot from running boards of racing cabs. Bombs exploding in garages, beneath parked cars, and on the front porches of jurors’ homes. These were Chicago’s Taxi Wars, a violent and deadly battle for supremacy of the city’s new and lucrative taxi industry during the Jazz Age. Working from extensive research and interviews with descendants and experts, Anne Morrissy vividly recreates this often forgotten piece of Chicago history with gripping detail. 

The Divorcées
By Rowan Beaird
Flatiron Books
March 9, 2024

Rowan Beaird’s debut is among our most anticipated books of 2023. Set at a 1950s Reno “divorce ranch,” The Divorcées follows Lois Saunders—a housewife suffocating in her loveless marriage—whose life is forever changed when she meets a woman who teaches her how to push against the limits that have always constrained her. This is an eye-opening and unforgettable read about the lives whose stories were frequently left untold, and it immediately marks Beaird as a writer to watch for years to come.  

Wolf at the Table
By Adam Rapp
Little, Brown and Company
March 19, 2024

While Adam Rapp now lives full-time in New York, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award finalist was born and raised here in Chicagoland. In this harrowing multigenerational saga that echoes the wit of The Corrections and the startling urgency of We Need to Talk About Kevin, a family harbors a serial killer in their midst that leads to a devastating reckoning around the lengths and limits of familial bonds. Wolf at the Table takes a sideways look at the American dream through its proximity to violence, laying bear the destruction that lies just beneath the veneer of a “good” society.

The Missing
By Ben Tanzer
713 Books
March 24, 2024

Gabriel and Hannah’s daughter Christa is missing. Has she run away with her older boyfriend or has something worse happened to her? As Gabriel and Hannah wait for the police to find her, they’re forced to confront the fissures in their marriage and who they’ve become as parents and individuals. With Gabriel’s alcoholism and womanizing always lurking and Hannah’s guilt over possibly pushing her daughter away taking a toll on her mental health, they must decide if they can be better people for each other… whether Christa comes home or not. From the Emmy-award-winning author of Upstate and OrphansThe Missing is a deeply psychological portrait of a marriage that is both full of pathos and frighteningly real.  

She’s Not Sorry
By Mary Kubica
Park Row
April 2, 2024

Master of suspense Mary Kubica is back with a dark tale about an ICU nurse who accidentally uncovers a patient’s frightening past. As Meghan Michaels cares for Caitlin, a woman who is currently in a coma with a traumatic brain injury after jumping from a bridge to the train tracks below, she begins to suspect that this accident may have been attempted murder. 

By Christina Henry
Acre Books
April 2, 2024

Alice is a mind-bending novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll, written by the national bestselling author of Ghost Tree, Christina Henry. In a hospital on the edges of the Old City sits a woman who can’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place beyond the distant memories of a tea party long ago. But when a fire at the hospital gives her a chance to escape, she goes on a search for the truth of what’s happened to her while being pursued by a dark and powerful being that escaped with her.

Barbarian Architecture: Thorstein Veblen’s Chicago
By Joanna Merwood-Salisbury
The MIT Press
April 2, 2024

Economist Joanna Merwood-Salisbury’s book is a richly visual architectural history and theory of modernity that reexamines Thorstein Veblen’s classic text The Theory of the Leisure Class through the lens of Chicago in the 1890s. Barbarian Architecture takes its name from the term “barbarism,” which refers to Veblen’s belief that Gilded Age American society was a last remnant of a barbarian state of greed and acquisitiveness. Weaving together biography, intellectual history, and historiography, Merwood-Salisbury explores this position to debate about industrial reform and aesthetics in Chicago.

The Span of Small Forevers
By April Gibson
April 2, 2024

April Gibson’s breathtaking debut poetry collection evokes Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals and Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor in the way it chronicles a Black woman’s journey through disability, the byzantine healthcare system, life-giving, taking, and sacrifice. Filled with pain and pleasure while revolving around an ever-present emotional abyss, the poems in The Span of Small Forevers is a testament to poetry’s power to interrogate, build empathy, and make connections between personal experiences and collective responsibility to one another. 

The City is Up for Grabs: How Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Led and Lost a City in Crisis
By Gregory Royal Pratt
Chicago Review Press
April 2, 2024

The Lori Lightfoot era may be over in Chicago, but her administration’s influence—for good and for bad—lingers on. Few did better at chronicling the potential and chaos of Lori Lightfoot’s pandemic-era Chicago than reporter Gregory Royal Pratt. In the first comprehensive retrospective of her administration, Pratt explores Lightfoot’s tumultuous single term and the battles that roiled through City Hall as she fought to live up to her promises to change the city’s culture of corruption and villainy, reform its long-troubled police department, and make Chicago the safest big city in America in the face of national polarization and the COVID pandemic.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters: Book Two
By Emil Ferris
April 9, 2024

See Also

Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing is Monsters: Book Two is perhaps the most anticipated graphic novel of 2024, and for good reason. The first installment of this impressive project was a story in of itself, as Ferris had just recovered from paralysis after contracting West Nile fever and her book was delayed following the bankruptcy of the publisher’s associated shipping company. Ferris’s latest concludes the story of ‘60s Chicago local Karen Reyes, the most inspiring monster in the genre that has received praise from greats such as Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, and Chris Ware. My Favorite Thing is Monsters: Book Two is a triumphant event for Chicago and the genre, and it’s sure to dazzle readers for years to come.

Committed: On Meaning and Madwomen
By Suzanne Scanlon
April 16, 2024

Committed is a raw memoir about becoming a woman and going mad—and doing both at once. When Suzanne Scanlon was a student at Barnard in the 90s, grieving the loss of her mother, she made a suicide attempt that landed her in the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She was released after nearly three years and countless experimental treatments, the effects of which took her decades to recover from. Scanlon’s brave account of the experience is a powerful act of reclamation and exploration of the idea of the madwoman as a template for insight and transcendence through the works of Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, and more. 

Murder in Rose Hill 
By Victoria Thompson
Berkley Books
April 23, 2024

The great Victoria Thompson is doing double duty in 2024 with this atmospheric, riveting mystery novel. In Murder in Rose Hill, midwife Sarah Malloy and her private detective husband Frank discover that the cure is worse than the disease when they investigate the death of a promising young woman. 

We Are the Culture: Black Chicago’s Influence on Everything
By Arionne Nettles
Lawrence Hill Books
April 16, 2024

Arionne Nettles believes it’s time Black Chicagoans receive the acclaim, the honor, and the acknowledgement of their contributions to American culture, and we whole-heartedly agree. We Are the Culture is an open-hearted and inspiring account of Black Americans in Chicago, telling the story of their influence ranging from the Great Migration to the modern day. From the advancement of media with the Johnson Publishing Company and the Ebony Fashion Fair show to icons such as Michael Jordan, Chance the Rapper, and Hebru Bantley, this book is a bold and successful attempt at detailing the ways in which Black Chicagoans have shaped what America has become. 

Loose of Earth: A Memoir
By Kathleen Dorothy Blackburn

University of Texas Press
April 16, 2024

Kathleen Dorothy Blackburn was the oldest of five children in an evangelical family that eschewed public education for homeschooling and science for literal interpretations of the Bible. But when her father was diagnosed with cancer, the family committed to an extreme diet and sought deliverance from a traveling tent preacher who led services called “Miracles on 34th Street.” Loose on Earth is an arresting memoir about love and unbending religion, toxicity and disease, and one family’s desperate wait for a miracle that never came. Blackburn has proven herself an adept essayist, making this a release you don’t want to miss. 

Home is Where the Bodies Are 
By Jeneva Rose
Blackstone Publishing
April 30, 2024

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Marriage and You Shouldn’t Have Come Here comes a chilling family thriller about the sometimes literal skeletons in the closet. While going through their parent’s belongings, a group of siblings stumble upon a collection of home videos and decide to revisit those happy memories. However, the nostalgia is cut short when one of the VHS tapes reveals a night back in 1999 that none of them have any recollection of, in which their father appears covered in blood. What they find uncovers a dark secret their family has been keeping for years.

The Body Farm: Stories
By Abby Geni
May 7, 2024

There are so many reasons to put Abby Geni’s new book at the top of your 2024 most-anticipated list. For one thing, Geni won our very first Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction for her incredible novel The Lightkeepers. Then there’s her uncanny ability to write the body in all its horrors and joys. In one story, an etymologist solves cold cases and upholds a sense of justice by studying the decay of corpses in a field and the insect life they develop, while in another a sister with webbed fingers highlights the often-universal belief that our siblings just might be creatures brought forth from the deep. The lingering hauntings of the COVID-19 pandemic echo through The Body Farm, as Geni takes readers on a journey through the physicality of our bodies and the spirits they carry. 

The Wisdom of the Willow 
By Nancy Chadwick
She Writes Press
May 7, 2024

In the backyard of Margaret and Joe Dowling’s new house in the north suburbs of Chicago, Joe plants a young willow tree as a symbol of home, belonging, and growth. Now in their early forties, the Dowling children find themselves faced with changes that will define their lives, but the willow tree becomes the place for them to unite for potentially the last time. Nancy Chadwick’s The Wisdom of the Willow is a rich meditation of sisterhood and strength, reaching for hope and healing amid the challenges of our modern uncertainty. 

The House That Horror Built
By Christina Henry
Berkley Books
May 14, 2024

Christina Henry’s second novel of 2024 follows a single mother working in the gothic mansion of a reclusive horror director who stumbles upon a series of terrifying secrets. This is the perfect haunted house story to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Long Time Gone
By Charlie Donlea
May 21, 2024

When DNA results reveal a disturbing connection to the mysterious disappearance of a famous baby nearly three decades ago, a forensic scientist is plunged into a dangerous search for answers. Charlie Donlea’s latest is a suspenseful romp for fans of Alice Feeney, Karin Slaughter, and Megan Goldin.

The Goddess of Warsaw
By Lisa Barr
Harper Paperbacks
May 28, 2024

Lisa Barr’s The Goddess of Warsaw is an enthralling tale of a legendary Hollywood screen goddess with a dark secret about her life in the Warsaw Ghetto. When she is threatened by someone from her past, she must put her skills into play to protect herself, her illustrious career, and those she loves. This gripping page turner is ready to be devoured by book lovers. 

Check back in June for Part 2 of our Most Anticipated Chicago Books of 2024 List!


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