June’s here and it’s suddenly turned humid in our corner of the world. This isn’t all that surprising, but — for those who saver milder temperatures — it’s not exactly the best thing ever. And so, perhaps, it’s time to dub our June reads as ideal for reading in an air-conditioned room somewhere, or perhaps situated by a breezy outdoor spot. These books cover a lot of ground, from haunting memoirs to phantasmagorical fiction, as befits a time of constant change.
Kristen Arnett, With Teeth
(June 1, Riverhead Books)
A new Kristen Arnett novel? We’re intrigued. Her previous book Mostly Dead Things was a tale of love, family, and taxidermy like no other. This one finds Arnett returning to the concept of family but offering a very different take on it — and delving more deeply into how parents (and the bonds and tensions between them) shape the next generation.
Lana Bastasic, Catch the Rabbit
(June 1, Restless Books)
Road trips, fraught friendship, and a narrative that winds its way from Bosnia to Vienna and Dublin? We’re suitably intrigued. It doesn’t hurt that Catch the Rabbit won the 2020 European Union Prize for Literature; as a bonus, Bastasic translated this herself from the Serbo-Croatian.
A. Natasha Joukovsky, The Portrait of a Mirror
(June 1, The Overlook Press)
Finding a modern spin on an ages-old story is a challenge many writers have taken up with gusto. For A. Natasha Joukovsky, blending the story of Narcissus with a contemporary storyline incorporating social media, technology, and desire makes for a gripping blend of old and new.
Nana Nkweti, Walking on Cowrie Shells
(June 1, Graywolf Press)
In Nana Nkweti’s debut collection, the boundaries of genre are impressively disregarded, making for a thoroughly refreshing read. Looking for zombies? They’re in here. Looking for comic book conventions? They’re in here, too. Fiction addressing international adoption? Nkewti has you covered there as well.
Michelle Orange, Pure Flame: A Legacy
(June 1, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Michelle Orange’s nonfiction is wide-ranging and never predictable, and her 2013 essay collection This Is Running For Your Life remains a favorite around these parts. In her latest book, Orange explores questions of family and maternal legacies, venturing into the complex lives of her mother and grandmother and charting how both shaped her.
Rupert Thomson, Barcelona Dreaming
(June 1, Other Press)
Rupert Thomson’s ability to reinvent himself from one novel to the next is never short of stunning. Here, he grapples with global issues — including the 2008 financial crisis — even as he explores the lives of people grappling with questions of art, love, language, and identity. As with much of his work, gripping characterization abuts though-provoking themes, making for a compelling whole.
Nghi Vo, The Chosen and the Beautiful
(June 1, Tor.com)
Nghi Vo’s new novel riffs on The Great Gatsby to explore questions of race, gender, and sexuality. Did we mention there are both magic and ghosts present in this narrative as well? Because there are. And if that doesn’t pique your interest…
Danielle Henderson, The Ugly Cry
(June 8, Viking)
Danielle Henderson’s writing has appeared in a host of forms over the last decade, from essays to screenplays. What was at the heart of her engaging narrative voice? Well, in her new memoir, she explains precisely that — with a story of an unconventional family and the development of a singular ethos.
Kate Zambreno, To Write As If Already Dead
(June 8, Columbia University Press)
Last year saw the translation and publication of a pair of books by the late Herve Guibert. This year sees the publication of Kate Zambreno’s To Write As If Already Dead, her account of wrestling with Guibert’s book To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life and of working on a project inspired by it. Zambreno’s insightful take on literature and philosophy has led to stunning works before; here’s the latest installment in an impressive career.
David Leo Rice, Drifter
(June 15, 11:11 Press)
David Leo Rice’s fiction moves between styles and movements with ease and speed — though it’s possible that “unease” might be more accurate. Rice’s fiction touches on the strange, phantasmagorical, and horrific, but juxtaposes those elements with headier explorations of narratives and the self; it’s like little else out there.
Joshua Cohen, The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family
(June 22, New York Review Books)
In his latest foray into fiction, Joshua Cohen ventures into an all-too-relevant period of real-life history: the academic career of Benzion Netanyahu, which involved many years of teaching in the United States. What happens when a period campus novel collides with current events? This one offers a glimpse of precisely that.
Alex DiFrancesco, Transmutation
(June 22, Seven Stories Press)
Following DiFrancesco’s striking novel All City, the collection Transmutation ventures deeper into questions of storytelling, identity, and the ways in which the narratives we tell can reshape ourselves and be reshaped themselves. From emotional realism to the fantastic and back again, this collection covers plenty of ground.
John Brandon, Ivory Shoals
(June 29, McSweeney’s)
Much of John Brandon’s fiction to date has ventured into different regions of the state of Florida. With his latest, he turns his lens back onto the state’s history, exploring one boy’s quest across the state to seek out his father in the wake of the Civil War. It’s an impressive addition to an already memorable bibliography.
(Note: all cover artwork and release dates are subject to change.)
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