A joke can make us laugh, but humor is also intimately bound up with darker feelings, including shame, anger, and grief. Here’s a look at some of the fiction coming out now that’s funny without necessarily being light.

The Society of Shame by Jane Roper (Anchor, April 4): After Kathleen Held returns home early from a trip to discover that her garage is on fire, her politician husband comes tumbling out of the car in his underwear followed by a 20-something woman from his campaign staff. But the thing that ends up really embarrassing Kathleen is the fact that she got her period and the blood leaked onto her pants—and the stain was caught on camera by her taxi driver and broadcast to the world. Kathleen becomes the face of the #YesWeBleed movement, with unpredictable consequences. Our starred review calls the book “astutely written, with the perfect balance among humor, heartbreak, and understanding.”

Calling Ukraine by Johannes Lichtman (MarySue Rucci Books/Scribner, April 11): This comic novel provides a portrait of Ukraine before Russia’s 2022 invasion. In 2018, American John Turner moves to Lutsk to help call-center reps learn to banter in American English. Our starred review says: “Perhaps most impressive is Lichtman’s high-wire act of tone.…When a comic figure…is set down in a country inured to tragedy—and as the undeclared Russian war worsens and a comic actor is elected to the Ukrainian presidency—it becomes clear that John’s misunderstandings and awkwardnesses…can’t stay mere fish-out-of-water humor. In places like Ukraine, comedy is backed with consequences.”

Hit Parade of Tears by Izumi Suzuki, translated by Sam Bett, David Boyd, Helen O’Horan, and Daniel Joseph (Verso, April 11): Suzuki (1949-1986) was a Japanese SF writer who produced what our review calls “dark and punky stories” filled with people who feel like aliens or are placed in the wrong timelines. “These 11 stories surprise with wry humor and stun with the loneliness of living,” according to our review.

Games and Rituals by Katherine Heiny (Knopf, April 18): Heiny specializes in what our starred review calls “lovably quirky” characters, and the beauty of her story collections is that there are more of them (though of course her novels are wonderful, too!). “Here again,” our review says, “Heiny approaches her disarmingly charming characters with tenderness, empathy, and humor, even (perhaps, especially) when they meander outside the bounds of good behavior.” This book features a love-smitten driving examiner; a woman dealing with her elderly father’s foibles; and an almost-empty-nester who’s committed to decluttering her home and maybe her life. “For Heiny fans and those just discovering her naughty, generous-spirited fiction, this collection is bound to spark considerable joy.”

Moorewood Family Rules by HelenKay Dimon (Avon/HarperCollins, April 25): Dimon is known for romance novels, but her latest “leans more significantly into the wacky interpersonal hijinks of its premise,” according to our review. The Moorewoods are a family of con artists based at a glamorous house in Newport—but when Jillian Moorewood gets out of prison, she’s not happy to find them up to their old tricks of wooing wealthy widows. She’d only taken the fall for them because they’d promised to go legit. Our review calls it “an ensemble comedy with a healthy dose of humorous back-stabbing.”

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.