Robert Lashley. Courtesy Tall Firs Productions

The Top 5 Local Books to Look Forward to This Spring

Don’t miss new books from Robert Lashley, Leyna Krow, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Jess Thomson and Ghosts of Seattle Past.

Up South by Robert Lashley

Bellingham poet Robert Lashley had a pretty great 2016, professionally speaking. He shared a stage with Sherman Alexie and EJ Koh twice, he was nominated for a Stranger Genius Award, and he read all over Seattle all year long. He’s not stopping the momentum in 2017: His second collection of poetry, Up South, is being published this spring, and he’ll likely be promoting it all around the region. The selections from Up South that Lashley has read so far have been more classically oriented than the work in his debut The Homeboy Songs, but they’re no less clever… or angry. Expect some next-level craft. Out March 27 from Small Doggies Press

I’m Fine but You Appear to Be Sinking by Leyna Krow

Here’s the opening paragraph of Spokane writer Leyna Krow’s story “Disruption”: “Each morning, a man in Detroit, Michigan pushes a button and everything falls out of my kitchen shelves and onto my kitchen floor. It is unclear to me if this is the primary function of the button or if it’s simply an unintended consequence. Regardless, I find it to be an inconvenience.” Krow’s debut collection is full of stories like that, in which the weird hate-fucks the banal, or vice versa. Krow’s protagonists all assume the universe is rigged against them; the only question left is if the universe is bored or just an asshole. Out Feb. 14 from Featherproof Books

Water & Salt by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Redmond poet Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is a first-generation Arab-American with roots in Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. Her heritage figures strongly throughout her work—her manuscript Arab in Newsland won the 2016 Chapbook Prize from local publisher Two Sylvias Press—and she is not afraid to be political. In 2014, Tuffaha published a poem titled “Running Orders” to her Facebook page. The poem immediately went viral, and it’s easy to understand why: It begins like an action movie, with a mysterious phone call telling the reader to “Run,” and it ends with Tuffaha’s demand that the reader “Prove you’re human. Prove you stand on two legs.” Seems about right for the Trump era. Out April 27 from Red Hen Press

A Year Right Here: Adventures With Food and Family in the Great Nearby by Jess Thomson

A Seattle-area cookbook author decides to spend a year eating like a (hyper)local in this hybrid memoir/cooking essay/work of reportage. Jess Thomson tracks down the Northwest’s best delicacies—including razor clams, mushrooms, and wine—with her 5-year-old son, a picky eater who has cerebral palsy. As they do, they slowly come to a new understanding of each other, bonding the way most American families do: over food. Part road trip, part parenting book, part cookbook, A Year Right Here could very well be either the next great Seattle memoir or a too-sentimental schmaltz-bomb. Only one way to find out! Out April 13 from University of Washington Press

Ghosts of Seattle Past Edited by Jaimee Garbacik

Over the past few years, we’ve all lost parts of Seattle that we dearly love. Rather than just complain on Facebook as the rest of us do, Jaimee Garbacik decided to compile lost-Seattle stories by local writers (full disclosure: I contributed an essay) and community leaders into a book. Even if Seattle nostalgia exhausts you, Ghosts will at least help you understand that a city is not just its storefronts or its luxury apartments: Every city is also made up of people—and the places that are not there anymore. Out April 11 from Chin Music Press

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