What does the month of May have to offer, in terms of books? Plenty. From moving works of nonfiction to eagerly awaited novels to new editions of cult classics, there’s plenty to captivate readers seeking out a variety of literary experiences. What follows is a look at several of the books that have our attention for the month to come, spanning a wide range of styles and tones.
Juliet Escoria, Juliet the Maniac
(May 7, Melville House)
Following excellent collections of short fiction and poetry, Juliet Escoria returns with her first novel, Juliet the Maniac. It’s a searing, harrowing tale of addiction, the teenage years, and antisocial behavior, all told with Escoria’s intense prose and a blend of tension and empathy.
Juliet Grames, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortunata
(May 7, Ecco)
The debut novel from Juliet Grames takes a sprawling approach to several decades of American history, exploring the life of a woman whose proximity to death is far greater than most of her peers. Grames incorporates themes of immigration and inter-generational conflict into her work, creating a powerful and resonant work.
Lucy Ives, Loudermilk; Or, The Real Poet; Or, The Origin of the World
(May 7, Soft Skull Press)
Lucy Ives’s previous novel, Impossible Views of the World, blended a comedy of manners with a neatly-drawn exploration of intellectual thought. With Loudermilk, Ives ventures into a very different take on social comedy and all things literary, telling the story of a young man who makes an unexpected appearance in a prestigious literary program during a period of national conflict.
Grégoire Courtois, The Laws of the Skies; translated by Rhonda Mullins
(May 14, Coach House Books)
Where can the line between the primal storytelling of fairy tales and horror stories be found? In The Laws of the Skies, which focuses on a camping trip gone horribly wrong, it becomes readily apparent that the border territory between those two types of stories can be its own fertile territory for captivating narratives.
Jayson Greene, Once More We Saw Stars
(May 14, Alfred A. Knopf)
We’ve long appreciated and admired Jayson Greene’s nonfiction, which we’ve been reading for many years on a host of subjects. Greene’s first book takes on some of the most difficult subjects imaginable, exploring loss, grief, and the question of what might come after that.
Bette Howland, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage
(May 14, Public Space Books)
The process by which Bette Howland’s work has been rediscovered in the last few years has been one of the most compelling literary narratives in recent memory. Now, her work is coming back into print, and hopefully the stories found in the collection Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage will help find her a new generation of readers.
Masande Ntshanga, Triangulum
(May 14, Two Dollar Radio)
With his new novel Triangulum, Masande Ntshanga expands on the scope of his earlier novel The Reactive to tell the story of several decades of South African history, beginning in the recent past and extending on into the near future. Ntshanga’s fiction blends the high-concept and numerous lived-in qualities, and this expansion offers readers an entirely different side of his literary work.
Ryan Chapman, Riots I Have Known
(May 21, Simon & Schuster)
May looks like a great month for eagerly-awaited first novels, and Ryan Chapman’s debut Riots I Have Known continues with that motif. It’s narrated by an inmate at a prison located in Duchess County, musing on the events that brought him there and the chaos around him, which threatens to consume him.
Younghill Kang, East Goes West; introduction by Alexander Chee
(May 21, Penguin Classics)
East Goes West, a cult classic novel from writer and translator Younghill Kang coming back into print in a new edition in May, tells the story of a young Shakespeare-obsessed man who leaves Korea in the hopes of finding a better life in the United States. Add in an introduction by the esteemed Alexander Chee and you have a novel that’s gotten our interest thoroughly piqued.
Adam Ehrlich Sachs, The Organs of Sense
(May 21, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
In The Organs of Sense, Adam Ehrlich Sachs tells an intellectual mystery set in the waning years of the 17th century, featuring Gottfried Leibniz, a blind astronomer, a predicted eclipse, and a sprawling narrative of conflicts occurring across Europe. It’s a sprawling narrative that unfolds along unpredictable lines, bridging the gap between the historic and the unknown.
Joshua Korneich, Horsebuggy
(May 28, Sagging Meniscus Press)
The new novel from Joshua Korneich delves into unexpected places, telling the story of a city in which horses and buggies are banned, and the effect that it has on the psyche and livelihood of a man whose work ends as a result of that ban. In this surreal tale of obsession and depression, the familiar and the alienated collide, transforming into something wholly new.