Cue July; cue the heat. Maybe your preferred method for dealing with high temperatures and the ever-present sun is to hole up somewhere with abundant air conditioning; perhaps you’re opting for the beach or a park, the better to savor the distinctive weather of the season. Either way, they’re spaces that lend themselves to reading, and we have some recommendations the month that looms ahead, from musical histories to unsettling fiction in translation.
We Are the Clash, Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki
(July 3, Akashic Books)
When you think of The Clash, what comes to mind? Their early days in the London punk scene, perhaps, or the triumphant release of London Calling. We Are the Clash focuses on a very different moment in the band’s history: the point at which the group splintered in the early 1980s, and its members grappled with an onset of reactionary governments around the world.
Nevada Days, Bernardo Atxaga; translated by Margaret Jull Costa
(July 10, Graywolf Press)
In real life, Bernardo Atxaga had a nine-month-long residency at the University of Nevada’s Center for Basque Studies. That experience provides the inspiration for this novel, which fictionalizes his time in Nevada and offers a glimpse of shifting landscapes, dislocation, and the surreal.
A Terrible Country, Keith Gessen
(July 10, Viking)
In telling the story of a young man’s journey to Moscow to care for his ailing grandmother, and his increasing connection to political unrest in circa-2008 Russia, Keith Gessen has created a multi-layered narrative. History, familial bonds, and political activism converge in unexpected ways, with a side dose of hockey.
The Seas, Samantha Hunt; introduction by Maggie Nelson
(July 10, Tin House)
If you haven’t read Samantha Hunt’s fantastic debut novel The Seas, about a young woman living in an isolated coastal community who begins to suspect that she’s a mermaid, this new edition is a perfect way to acquaint yourself with it. Hunt’s skill at blending realism with the surreal is in fine form here; as an added bonus, Maggie Nelson contributed an introduction to this edition.
Eden, Andrea Kleine
(July 10, Houghton Mifflin)
In Andrea Kleine’s Eden, a horrific crime resonates across the decades in a powerful and harrowing way. Kleine’s novel tells the story of two sisters grappling with their abduction as children in very different ways, charting out the impact of trauma and estrangement.
The Blurry Years, Eleanor Kriseman
(July 10, Two Dollar Radio)
We’ve been excited to read Eleanor Kriseman’s debut novel ever since Two Dollar Radio first announced it; now, July is here, and The Blurry Years is nearly on bookstore shelves. Kriseman’s novel follows several years in the life of a young woman coming of age in coastal Florida in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Comemadre, Roque Larraquy; translated by Heather Cleary
(July 10, Coffee House Press)
Roque Larraquay’s short, unsettling novel Comemadre tells two overlapping stories separated by a century: one follows a series of bizarre medical experiments, while the other chronicles the exploits of a transgressive artist. The novel abounds with visceral imagery and unsettling discussions of the body; it’s a brief novel, but its impact is massive.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
(July 10, Penguin Press)
Over the last few years, Ottessa Moshfegh had offered up a host of acclaimed works of fiction, veering into a wildly disparate array of tones and styles. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is set in the New York City of 2000, with a protagonist grappling with a sense of anomie in increasingly ornate ways.
Give Me Your Hand, Megan Abbott
(July 17, Little Brown and Company)
Friendships that turn toxic, whether suddenly or gradually, can be the stuff of great and unnerving fiction. Megan Abbott’s new novel Give Me Your Hand focuses on the aftermath of a high school friendship gone south, as two onetime friends reconnect under fraught circumstances, leading to a host of tension, psychological and otherwise.
The Cloven, Brian Catling
(July 17, Vintage)
Brian Catling’s The Vorrh trilogy blends meticulous evocations of history in the late 19th and early 20th century with characters and locations that are far more phantasmagorical. The trilogy reaches its conclusion in The Cloven, which brings the series’s timeline up to the Second World War.
Ma Bole’s Second Life, Xiao Hong; translated by Howard Goldblatt
(July 17, Open Letter Books)
Xiao Hong’s writings provide readers with a glimpse into China in the first half of the 20th century. Her novel Ma Bole’s Second Life, now available in an English translation, chronicles the story of an antihero endeavoring to avoid Japan’s invasion of his country.
The Story of a Marriage, Geir Gulliksen; translated by Deborah Dawkin
(July 24, Hogarth)
Geir Gulliksen may be best-known to American readers in a different literary capacity: in Norway, he’s edited numerous books by Karl Ove Knausgaard. But Gulliksen is also a talented writer in his own right — for instance, there’s this novel, about a couple whose marriage has fragmented.
The Incendiaries, R.O. Kwon
(July 31, Riverhead)
The title of R.O. Kwon’s debut novel, The Incendiaries, can be interpreted very literally: among other things, the novel focuses on a character drawn in to a violent and fanatical group with a penchant for setting off explosions. Along the way, Kwon explores familial trauma, geopolitics, and faith — weighty topics handled deftly here.
Floating Notes, Babak Lakghomi
(July 31, Tyrant Books)
Some of the most fascinating, harrowing books have centered around the idea of a solitary figure in a room, grappling with what they find there. Floating Notes is Babak Lakghomi’s entry in this particular canon, exploring questions of alienation and ambiguity as it goes.
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