Books of the Month: August 2023

August 2023 Books

And now it’s August. If my highly unscientific surveying of release dates and similar information is any indication, this month brings with it a very surreal array of books — including a lot of anthologies, some nicely surreal fiction, and some fascinating spins on classical mythology. What follows is a look at 11 books due out in August that we’re excited about. Maybe you will be, too.

"A Kind of In-Between"

Aaron Burch, A Kind of In-Between
(Aug. 1, Autofocus Books)

Aaron Burch has had a busy year; it hasn’t even been a year since the release of his novel Year of the Buffalo, and he recently launched a new online journalA Kind of In-Between is one of two books due out this month that he’s had a hand in; this one’s a short essay collection that explores some of the paradoxical directions his life has gone in in recent years — all told with a wry sensibility and heartfelt emotion.

"How to Write a Novel"

Aaron Burch, editor, How to Write a Novel
(Aug. 1, Autofocus Books)

And here’s Burch book no.2, subtitled “An Anthology of 20 Craft Essays About Writing, None of Which Ever Mention Writing.” Contributors include Kevin Maloney, Abigail Oswald, and Katharine Coldiron. It promises to be a book about writing like no other; the combination of lineup and concept has us intrigued.

"Time's Mouth"

Edan Lepucki, Time’s Mouth
(Aug. 1, Counterpoint)

If you read our interview with Edan Lepucki that ran last week, you might have a sense of what to expect from this novel. If not — short version — think time travel, motherhood, and cults. And if you think that’s an interesting trifecta, you may well want to check out Lepucki’s novel and see the unexpected places where she takes these concepts.

"Fit For the Gods"

Jenn Northington and S. Zainab Williams, editors, Fit For the Gods
(Aug. 1, Vintage)

What happens when contemporary writers revisit some of the oldest stories they are and find new spins on them? In the case of the anthology Fit For the Gods, the stories in question draw on Greek mythology — and the writers involved include Sarah Gailey, Alyssa Cole, and Suleikha Snyder. Co-editor Jenn Northington’s previous anthology took a similar approach to Arthurian legends, and if that’s any indication, this should be another voyage worth taking.

"The Men Can't Be Saved"

Ben Purkert, The Men Can’t Be Saved
(Aug. 1, The Overlook Press)

In a recent interview with NPR, Ben Purkert had this to say about his new novel The Men Can’t Be Saved: “in many ways, I do think the book attempts to be Mad Men for the contemporary agency landscape.” That’s an intriguing proposition if ever there was one — and the idea of a novel that reckons with some of the same issues of masculinity and insecurity, but updated to a 21st century setting, offers a lot to consider.

"Liquid Snakes"

Stephen Kearse, Liquid Snakes
(Aug. 8, Soft Skull)

To read about the effects of pollution in the modern world is, all too frequently, to hear about their destructive effects on working-class communities. In his new novel Liquid Snakes, Stephen Kearse turns this concept on its head, offering a bold speculative vision of a world reckoning with crises both personal and societal.

"God Mornings, Tiger Nights"

Nuha Fariha, God Mornings, Tiger Nights
(Aug. 15, Game Over Books)

First, Nuha Fariha’s new collection of poetry wins some sort of award for having the best title we’ve encountered this month. Second, yes — some of the poems in here are indeed inspired by Bengal tigers, which is also a plus. Elsewhere, Fariha reckons with questions of immigration, gender, and sexuality — making for a taut and thought-provoking work.

"Thin Skin"

Jenn Shapland, Thin Skin
(Aug. 15, Pantheon)

As a writer of nonfiction, Jenn Shapland doesn’t shy away from wrestling with big questions — from historical atrocities to environmental devastation. Her new essay collection Thin Skin encompasses deeply personal concerns and grand issues related to national histories — the kind of wide-ranging, thoughtfully-composed work that represents a writer at the peak of their powers.

"Cardboard Clouds"

Benjamin Niespodziany, Cardboard Clouds
(Aug. 22, X-R-A-Y)

The excellent journal X-R-A-Y is making its first foray into publishing, described as a “Surrealist collection of one-page-one-act plays.” That’s an enticing description if ever there was one; given that we enjoyed Niespodziany’s last collection quite a lot, we’re eager to see what he does in these pages with that concept.

"Terrace Story"

Hilary Leichter, Terrace Story
(Aug, 29, Ecco)

In her previous novel Temporary, Hilary Leichter found a fascinating middle ground between the quotidian and the mythological. With her followup, Terrace Story, she seems to be continuing in that vein. Here, she tells the story of a family who discover a previously unseen terrace in their apartment — albeit one that seems to be able to change fundamental things about the world. This blend of the domestic and the metaphysical is catnip for us, and we’re eager to see where Leichter goes with this one.

"Women Who Change the World"

Lynn Lewis, editor, Women Who Change the World
(Aug. 29, City Lights)

In this new collection, Lynn Lewis brings together nine women working in various aspects of activism to tell the stories of their work, their challenges, and the experiences that shaped them. Women Who Change the World looks to be an impressive overview at critically important work being done by people seeking to make the world a better place.


Note: all release dates and cover art are subject to change.

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