What does the month of June have in store for us? When it comes to books, plenty. A few debut novels we’ve been excited about since they were first announced, some new works by longtime Vol.1 Brooklyn favorites, and some works in translation that promise to expand our horizons. Here’s a look at some of the books that have us most intrigued for the month to come.
Kristen Arnett, Mostly Dead Things
(June 4, Tin House Books)
Kristen Arnett’s first novel, following the terrific collection Felt in the Jaw, tracks the shifting fortunes of a family-owned taxidermy business after the family’s patriarch takes his own life. The novel’s protagonist spends the book dealing with her mother’s newfound penchant for art, the attentions of a local gallery owner, and the shifting dynamics of her family.
Nicole Dennis-Benn, Patsy
(June 4, Liveright)
Nicole Dennis-Benn’s first novel, Here Comes the Sun, was an evocative and thought-provoking look at a host of characters in conflict with one another, each of them sympathetic in their own way and yet capable of harming others emotionally. That attention to detail and finely wrought characters continues in her followup Patsy, set in New York and dealing with questions of family and immigration.
Robert Macfarlane, Underland
(June 4, W.W. Norton)
Robert Macfarlane’s explorations of language and the natural world frequently delve into enlightening corners of history, culture, and geography. His latest book, Underland, explores underground spaces and the ways in which they overlap with science, the passage of time, and human perceptions — ultimately arriving at some revelatory observations.
Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
(June 4, Penguin Press)
Ocean Vuong has followed up his acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds with a novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, which reveals his deftness with language and emotional clarity. It follows the bond between a son and his mother, and the complex familial history that looms large in their histories.
Cody Goodfellow, Unamerica
(June 7, King Shot Press/Broken River Books)
Cody Goodfellow’s Unamerica is a (literally) sprawling novel which incorporates elements of science fiction, satire, and psychedelia. In it you’ll find a massive underground city, corporations run amok, cults, gangs, and a psychedelic drug that promises transcendence. It’s a gripping work of fiction and a cult novel in the making.
John Domini, The Color Inside a Melon
(June 11, Dzanc Books)
In his latest novel, The Color Inside a Melon, John Domini uses a murder investigation in Naples as a way to explore questions of immigration, community, and trauma. In the aftermath of an earthquake, a gallery owner sets out to uncover the truth behind a mysterious death; things do not go according to plan, leading to a harrowing conclusion.
Brian Evenson, Song for the Unraveling of the World
(June 11, Coffee House Press)
Brian Evenson’s fiction conveys horror both existential and visceral — and, frequently, both at the same time. His latest collection offers readers a fantastic overview of his strengths as a writer, from tales of bizarre obsessions to forays into nightmarish bodies and worlds.
Karen Stefano, What a Body Remembers
(June 11, Rare Bird Books)
Karen Stefano’s memoir What a Body Remembers explores the ways that trauma can endure in unexpected and pernicious ways. Stefano writes of her own experience of being assaulted, and how the effects of that haunted her for decades afterwards — and of her own search for resolution.
David Leo Rice, Angel House
(June 13, Kerpunkt Press)
David Leo Rice’s surreal and stylized fiction exists in the place where numerous genres converge, and that’s very much on display in his new novel Angel House. It’s about a small town beset by mysterious occurrences; it’s also about beings altering the fabric of reality; the nature of time; and a host of terrifying rituals. The result is a deeply disconcerting novel which eludes easy categorization.
Laura Hyunjhee Kim, Entering the Blobosphere: A Meditation on Blobs
(June 17, Civil Coping Mechanisms)
You may well recognize Laura Hyunjhee Kim’s name from her work in the art world, but she also has a foot in the literary realm. Entering the Blobosphere is, as its title and subtitle might suggest, a look at the concept of blobs, spanning the philosophical and the playful to arrive at a wholly unexpected place.
Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Human Matter; translated by Eduardo Aparicio
(June 18, University of Texas Press)
Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s fiction veers from the surreal to the naturalistic to the speculative. In his newly-translated novel Human Matter, he opts for a foray into (recent) history: the novel was inspired by his visits to the Historical Archive of the Guatemala National Police, and the disquieting information he discovered there.
Nicholas Mancusi, A Philosophy of Ruin
(June 18, Hanover Square Press)
Nicholas Mancusi’s debut novel, A Philosophy of Ruin, brings together an exploration of morality with a gripping plot, following an academic whose life takes a shocking turn after the death of his mother. Cults, drug organizations, and ill-fated decisions all play a part in this novel as it charts its protagonist’s journey far from his areas of expertise.
Natalia Ginzburg, Happiness, As Such; translated by Minna Proctor
(June 25, New Directions Publishing)
Told in part through a series of letters sent within a globe-spanning family, Natalia Ginzburg’s Happiness, As Such explores the bonds between relatives and the ways in which people grapple with absence. It’s an unexpectedly-told, frequently surprising exploration of complex themes.
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