Listen ad-free

A Look Ahead at the Season's Big Books

The Book Review

03-02-2023 • 21 mins

How do you define a "big book"? It might be a new offering from a beloved author or a deep dive into a timely subject or a story that has generated unusual enthusiasm among editors and other early readers: One way or another, these are the books that build "buzz" and create momentum in the weeks and months before their publication. On this week's podcast, the Book Review's editor, Gilbert Cruz, talks with Tina Jordan, the deputy editor, about the books they're most looking forward to this season, including new fiction from Salman Rushdie, Eleanor Catton and Victor LaValle, and nonfiction from Matthew Desmond, Claire Dederer and David Grann.

Among other things, Cruz and Jordan discuss cancel culture, spoilers from "Macbeth" and the concept of what's known in publishing circles as a "make book."

"A 'make book' is a book a publisher has usually, although not always, spent a great deal of money for and earmarked a lot of money for a marketing campaign," Jordan says. "In other words, they are going to get the news out about this book. You are going to hear about it."

The books discussed on this week's podcast are:

"Victory City," by Salman Rushdie

"Birnam Wood," by Eleanor Catton

"Pineapple Street," by Jenny Jackson

"Poverty by America," by Matthew Desmond

"Lone Women," by Victor LaValle

"Monsters," by Claire Dederer

"The Wager," by David Grann

"The Covenant of Water," by Abraham Verghese

"Oscar Wars," by Michael Schulman

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to