This July, your reading might get weird, with a host of new books dealing with mythical history or bizarre futures. Your reading might get insightful, unlocking a new way of seeing the world or an insight about yourself. Or your reading might be relevatory, prompting you to see or hear something familiar in a brand-new way. Here’s what’s on our reading list for this month.
Bolla by Pajtim Statovci; translated by David Hackston
(July 6, Pantheon)
Pajtim Statovci’s Bolla is a story of one man discovering his sexuality in mid-90s Kosovo against the backdrop of a regional war. It’s also a book about a demonic figure from a legend. How do intimacy, war, and myth converge, in this particular instance? Read this and find out.
A Shock by Keith Ridgway
(July 6, New Directions)
Keith Ridgway’s fiction uses unconventional structures to get inside the heads of his characters and explore the communities they belong to. His latest novel, A Shock, takes a circuitous route to chronicle the lives of a host of linked characters, with plenty of observations about urban life, intimacy, and politics along the way.
It Never Ends by Tom Scharpling
(July 6, Abrams)
You might know Tom Scharpling from his work on The Best Show. And if you don’t, you’re probably aware of one of the television shows he’s worked on, from Monk to Steven Universe. Here, he offers the candid and sometimes gut-wrenching story of his life; apparently, his audition for The New Monkees also plays a part. We’re intrigued.
Appleseed by Matt Bell
(July 13, Custom House)
Matt Bell’s fiction to date has covered everything from the mythic to the starkly realistic. Where do you go from there? The future, apparently. Bell’s new novel plays out over three distinct time periods, two of which take the reader into distinct visions of the Earth to come. (This is as good a time as any to say that Bell’s writing newsletter is terrific.)
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
(July 13, Tor.com)
In keeping with the themes of philosophy and science fiction, Becky Chambers’s new novella falls neatly into that camp as well. It’s structured as a series of interactions between (you guessed it) a monk and a robot, each with their own distinctive takes on the world and the best way to interact with it.
Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington (editors)
(July 13, Vintage)
Does the idea of writers like Maria Dahvana Headley, Alexander Chee, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia taking on Arthurian tales and putting their own spin on them sound appealing? I mean, we certainly think it does. A terrific lineup of writers and a fascinating starting point make this an anthology we’re eager to read.
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke
(July 13, Pantheon)
Loneliness! We can’t think of any reason why the idea of loneliness would resonate right now, here in the summer of 2021, nope, not at all. (pauses, weeps) Kristen Radtke’s followup to her excellent memoir Imagine Wanting Only This takes on an ambitious theme and moves throughout time and space to give it its due.
The River in the Belly & Other Poems by Fiston Mwanza Mujila; translated by J. Bret Maney
(July 20, Deep Vellum)
Tram 83, the first of Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s works to appear in the United States, made for a thrilling read. Now he’s returned with a new collection inspired by the Congo River, giving readers an even greater sense of the range of his work.
Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World by Lisa Wells
(July 20, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
At a time of environmental devastation and a changing planet, how do you go about finding a new way of living with nature? That’s one of the questions at the heart of Lisa Wells’s new book, which offers dispatches from different individuals and communities who illustrate a range of approaches to interacting with the natural world.
A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes by Rodrigo García
(July 27, HarperVia)
Many writers have faced the difficult task of writing about the lives of their parents. For Rodrigo García, the task was especially daunting, as he’s the son of Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha. His new book offers a candid look at living in a very literary household, and the way his family approached mortality.
Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California by Matthew Specktor
(July 27, Tin House)
In his novel American Dream Machine, Matthew Specktor explored questions of art and commerce in California over the span of several decades. Now, he revisits some of those same themes, albeit in nonfictional form, offering Specktor’s own experiences and reflections on a host of artists who embody a certain aesthetic.
Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton
(July 27, Soho Press)
And while we’re talking about California and archetypes, it’s serendipitous to bring up Jeanne Thornton’s new novel. Summer Fun is about a beloved American band, the reclusive genius who put them on the map, and the impact their music has on the novel’s narrator decades later. The result makes for a moving, ambitious work of fiction.
Note: all cover artwork and release dates are subject to change.