Perhaps it's appropriate that this season of new leaves and freshly budded flowers should bring an exceptional crop of first novels as well. Four of our five recommendations this month are debut efforts -- and for good measure, the fifth, a short story collection, is by a 73-year-old who has spent her literary life proving that the power of invention is not just a faculty of the young. These are novels about wanderlust and exile -- everybody in them is on a restless quest to get someplace safer, someplace better or perhaps just someplace else. Whether they're in search of their heritage, like one of Jonathan Safran Foer's characters, or desperately trying to escape it, like Hari Kunzru's chameleon hero, they all have the itch to move.
We hope, though, that you'll be moved to linger over our choices and try out one or two of them. There will be time enough for spring fever in May.