March 7 heralds a bevvy of new releases, including hot books from Joan Didion, Mohsin Hamid, Kate Alcott, and Peter Heller. Below, I’ve covered a small but mighty feminist manifesto, 1950s historical fiction, an inquiry into the modern hermit, and a forbidden story collection out of North Korea.

Historical fiction queen Kate Alcott wrote about Old Hollywood in A Touch of Stardust, a fictionalized take on the making of Gone With the Wind. Now, Alcott delves into the scandalous love affair betwixt Ingrid Bergman and Robert Rossellini and its effect on one teenaged fan in her new novel, The Hollywood Daughter. Bergman, once a celebrated symbol of feminine purity, has a child with her married lover, the director Rossellini. Meanwhile, Jessica Malloy, the daughter of a PR executive, has grown up idolizing Bergman, and her world turns to chaos when the scandal breaks. Alcott weaves a story of self-discovery and family secrets with the seamy glamour of 1950s film.

Once, there was a young man who lived alone in the woods of Maine. Thirty years passed—thirty years of isolation, save for slipping into his neighbors’ homes to nick food, books and supplies. Christopher Thomas Knight is the North Pond Hermit, the subject of The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit. Michael Finkel first covered Knight’s extraordinary story for GQ (you can read it here) in 2014, and their deep conversations form the basis for Finkel’s book. Is Knight a modern-day hero? Were his survival techniques laudable or unethical? What does it take to maintain true solitude in the 21st century? (Indie Next List selection, March 2017; LibraryReads selection, March 2017)

Bandi, the author of The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, uses a pseudonym. Their manuscript was smuggled out of the country; they still reside inside North Korea. The Accusation is a collection of seven stories, emotive and powerful: A mother contends with her child’s forbidden temper tantrum during a political rally. A man decides to travel illegally to visit his ailing mother. A wife makes impossible decisions to feed her family during famine. A Communist war hero grows more and more disillusioned with the victorious regime. Bandi focuses the reader’s lens on humanity in the midst of the most inhumane conditions.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions began as a letter to a friend who wanted author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s advice for raising a feminist daughter. It’s a tiny tome at 80 pages, but it’s the perfect complement to Women’s History Month. You’ll recognize Adichie from her novels, short stories, or We Should All Be Feminists, another small but powerful book that makes its home on our bestseller list. Dear Ijeawele tackles sexuality, clothing, makeup and gender politics with the wry humor and honesty that marks Adichie’s best work.

This week’s Indie Next List releases:

  • Celine: A Novel by Peter Heller (literary mystery)
  • Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato (fiction)
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (fiction/political)
  • Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (fiction/family)
  • Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (fiction/romance)

Other notable releases:

  • South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion (essays)
  • Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar (literary science fiction)

Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey (mystery/thriller)