Proof that a less socially intense schedule won’t dilute the quality of your cultural life comes in the form of Oliver Hermanus’s beautiful South-African drama, Damien Chazelle’s jazzy new musical, Hazel English’s uplifting tunes and a documentary series about experimental – and cosy – homes. How apt.
A 10-part documentary series conceived by a team of film-makers that includes Matt Tyrnauer (Citizen Jane, Studio 54), Home takes us inside some of the world’s most innovative, progressive residences, from a self-sufficient “Naturehouse” in Sweden to a rearrangeable shoebox flat in Hong Kong. The series is at its most compelling when the people at the centre of each story recount what the projects mean to them.
‘Home’ is released on 17 April
A girl follows her journalist dad as he moves from New York back to the sleepy town of his youth. Determined to become a reporter herself, she starts asking questions – and digs out an old kidnapping case that nobody wants to revisit.
‘Home Before Dark’ is released on 3 April
Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land and the heart-stopping Whiplash, has joined forces with Jack Thorne, the genius playwright behind National Treasure and the bbc’s adaptation of His Dark Materials. The result? A musical set in modern-day Paris, focusing on the life and various relationships of a pianist at a failing jazz club. The vibe of this series might be very sophisticated but it also shows us a side to Paris that we don’t often see on television.
‘The Eddy’ is released on 8 May
Ryan Murphy’s new drama about Hollywood’s postwar heyday follows the ambitions of young actors who would do anything to make it in the industry. Hollywood traces the struggles that women, lgbt and black people have had to overcome.
‘Hollywood’ is released on 1 May
Oliver Hermanus’s film about a gay solider in the prejudiced South African army in 1981 is less about conflict than the stolen moments of companionship and love that emerge in such trying, hostile times.
‘Moffie’ is released on 24 April
Garth Greenwell’s second book invites us into the same world that he portrayed in his fêted debut, What Belongs to You. Set in Sofia, Cleanness centres on a US expat who teaches English. We drop into the life of the narrator; snapshots of fear, secrecy, solitude and shame alongside glimpses of desire. Greenwell writes graphic sex scenes but his prose shimmers with emotion.
‘Cleanness’ is published on 30 April
Canada-based author Hozar’s debut, the story of an orphan growing up in mid-century Tehran, was more than a decade in the making. In this coming-of-age tale, our eponymous heroine encounters different mother figures who each shape her profoundly while she navigates a city undergoing major change. Through her we see a troubled, divided country on its way to the revolution that concludes the book’s sweeping historical testimony.
‘Aria’ is out now
Hawaii-born Washburn’s debut novel traces the life of young Nainoa Flores from the moment that sharks – yes, sharks – save him from drowning off the coast of the author’s native island. We follow this “miracle boy” through the collapse of Hawaii’s sugar cane industry and his pursuit of the American dream, which takes him across the Pacific. More than a rags-to-riches story, this is a vivid ode to Washburn’s home.
‘Sharks in the Times of Saviours’ is released on 2 April
Poet Frances Leviston brings her razor-sharp observations to prose. A collection of short stories, The Voice in My Ear traces the struggles, big and small, of 10 women, all named Claire. Though they are different in age, profession and psychological dramas, each Claire has a unique yarn. But all of them (be it the journalist, the librarian or the babysitter) have tough relationships with their mothers that are never easy to resolve.
‘The Voice in My Ear’ is out now
Evie Wyld’s passion for horror shines through in the setting of this novel: the surroundings of a stark Scottish islet. She tells the stories of three women. Remnants of the past sustain them through the violence that too often befalls them.
‘The Bass Rock’ is out now
Gregory Porter’s previous record was a tribute to Nat King Cole but he returns to his own material on his sixth studio album. First single “Revival” is so catchy that it’s already inspired remixes. Though he’s from California, Porter is particularly successful in Europe and much of this album was recorded at a cosy studio in Paris, a city he explored for inspiration.
‘All Rise’ is released on 17 April
Sydney-born English makes sun-bleached dream pop that’s perfect for her current Californian home – but the singer-songwriter thinks of her music as a call against slumber: it’s impossible to sleep through “White Noise” or “Shaking”
‘Wake Up!’ is released on 24 April
British-Japanese artist Rina Sawayama doesn’t hold anything back on her debut album – a powerful genre-bending record that’s nothing short of pyrotechnical. Old-school Britney Spears-style pop meets hard rock in songs that are experimental and fascinating. There are catchy dancefloor fillers too, and all of the tunes convey Sawayama’s confidence. An exploration of family history and identity, these are songs about loving yourself, wherever you feel you belong
‘Sawayama’ is released on 17 April
Canada’s Lido Pimienta puts her Afro-indigenous heritage at the forefront of Miss Colombia. The cumbia-inspired singles are captivating but it’s her crystal-clear voice that really lifts them.
‘Miss Colombia’ is released on 17 April
Brooklyn-based Buscabulla recorded their first album in their native Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Frontwoman Raquel Berrios’s seductive croon sets the tone for a hypnotic album.
‘Regresa’ is released on 8 May
Images: Mara Corsino