Well, it’s May. The last two weeks have brought to mind both winter and summer; evidently, spring this year is going for more of a median than an actual season. Much like that fluctuation, May brings with it a wide-ranging cohort of books, encompassing everything from bold travelogues to surreal comics. What are we excited about reading this month? Here are a few of the books that caught our eye.
John Domini, The Archeology of a Good Ragù
(May 1, Guernica World Editions)
The works of Vol. 1 Brooklyn contributor John Domini include novels, literary criticism, and deep forays into nonfiction. His latest book touches on a host of resonant subjects, including food, travel, and his own familial history — a memorable deep dive into subjects near and dear to his heart.
Jon Lindsey, Body High
(May 1, House of Vlad)
First and foremost, it’s hard to argue with a cover design that looks like a mash-up of 1980s Vintage Contemporaries and Garbage Pail Kids trading cards. For readers looking for a new spin on the LA novel, this has a lot to recommend it — including glowing blurbs from the likes of Sarah Gerard and Bud Smith.
Forrest Gander, Twice Alive
(May 4, New Directions)
What do you do once you’ve won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry? If you’re Forrest Gander, the answer is “write more poetry.” Twice Alive is Gander’s latest collection, and focuses on the ways in which different species are interconnected in the natural world, along with themes of human and historical bonds.
Nicole Kornher-Stace, Firebreak
(May 4, Saga Press)
Nicole Kornher-Stace’s earlier novels Archivist Wasp and Latchkey were delirious, compelling stories set in a post-apocalyptic future where the lines between life and death began to blur. Firebreak offers a glimpse of a different kind of future: one where corporations are all-powerful and virtual spaces abound. Which sounds….oddly familiar.
Norah Lange, Notes From Childhood; translated by Charlotte Whittle
(May 4, And Other Stories)
In the first half of the 20th century, Norah Lange was part of a groundbreaking literary scene in Argentina. Now, her writings are being revisited by a new generation of readers; Notes From Childhood is the latest example of this. As the title suggests, it features scenes from Lange’s younger years — showing readers the evolution of a singular writer.
Virginie Despentes, King Kong Theory; translated by Frank Wynne
(May 11, FSG Originals)
This month is a big one for American readers of Virginie Despentes, as the third volume of Vernon Subutex sees release in the US in its English translation. This month also brings with it a new edition of King Kong Theory, her acclaimed work of nonfiction, which blends elements of memoir and manifesto.
Aminder Dhaliwal, Cyclopedia Exotica
(May 11, Drawn & Quarterly)
Do you like surreal humor, resonant commentary on society, and cyclops? Well then. The combination of factors that Aminder Dhaliwal brings together in this graphic novel is like no other, and offers a fantastic spin on contemporary life.
Paula Bomer, Tante Eva
(May 18, Soho Press)
Complex familial bonds, hidden addictions, and living through a tumultuous moment in history — Paula Bomer’s new novel has it all. Her skill at describing and dissecting human relationships comes to the forefront in this story of an aunt and her niece, set in East Berlin at the end of the Cold War.
Sara Mesa, Among the Hedges; translated by Megan McDowell
(May 18, Open Letter)
We were big admirers of Sara Mesa’s Four by Four, which told a story of a remote school that cloaked mysterious and unsettling acts. Her latest novel to appear in translation, Among the Hedges, focuses on a teenage girl and a 50-year-old man — and the fraught connection that develops between them.
Sam Riviere, Dead Souls
(May 18, Catapult)
Does the idea of a novel about a literary scandal pique your interest? Sam Riviere’s new book Dead Souls offers a layered, complex narrative focusing on a poet accused of plagiarism — and the moments in his life that brought him to this point, leading to an unsettling epiphany on the nature of art.
Roger Deakin, Waterlog
(May 25, Tin House)
It’s entirely possible that you read Rebecca Mead’s fantastic article about swimming in cold water last year in The New Yorker. If so, you may well have been craving to read Roger Deakin’s Waterlog, which Mead alludes to a number of times in her piece. Now, it’s available in the US in a new edition; it’s a revelatory and experiential work.
Note: all release dates and cover artwork are subject to change.