Summer 2017 Fiction Preview: Slut-Shaming, Psychic Gifts, and a Blue Period

Summer 2017 Fiction Preview: Slut-Shaming, Psychic Gifts, and a Blue Period

It’s summertime, and you know what to do. Get your beach bag, and fill it with as many books as you think you can possibly read before an autumn chill creeps back into the air. Happily, there are exciting new fiction releases for every reader this season, including a long-awaited novel by Arundhati Roy, and a story about gentrification and a moving company from Joshua Cohen. Pack some sunscreen, and be warned: These books are so engrossing that you just might forget to reapply.

The Answers

What is love

In Catherine Lacey’s new novel, readers will meet Mary Parsons, who has fallen upon hard times. She is in pain, and she doesn’t know why. The pain is everywhere, and she is willing to try anything to make it go away. When she hears about a new treatment that might give her relief, she decides to give it a try even though it is more than she can afford. She picks up a second job, and is hired as an employee of something known as the “Girlfriend Experiment,” which has the mission of running tests to learn the secrets of love. Before long, Mary is up to her ears in dysfunction.

On shelves: June 6


BUY

Black Moses

Robin Hood

Travel to the People’s Republic of the Congo in this exciting book from Alain Mabanckou and translated by Helen Stevenson. Readers will meet Moses, a young boy who idolizes Robin Hood and has been living at an orphanage just outside of Pointe-Noire. Conditions there, however, are worsening steadily and the children aren’t treated well. He runs away from the orphanage, and falls in with a new group of friends who are, more or less, the Merry Men to his Robin Hood. Readers are sure to fall for this intricate and engrossing novel.

On shelves: June 6


BUY

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

A long time coming

If you’ve been waiting breathlessly for the last two decades for Booker Prize-winning Arundhati Roy (author, of course, of the beloved The God of Small Things) to release another novel, then get excited. The wait is finally over. This new story, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, takes on gender and religion through two main characters: Anjum and Tilottama, plus a newborn baby girl. In a starred review, Kirkus compared this book to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and works by Salman Rushdie. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.

On shelves: June 6

Everybody’s Son

We are family

The year is 1991, and young Anton is alone in his family’s apartment in the projects. The weather is brutally hot and the heat shows no signs of breaking. He has been there for a week, and he has no electricity or means of cooling off. Anton decides to break a window and go look for help, because it isn’t clear if or when his mother is coming back for him. Anton is assigned to foster care and eventually placed in the home of a judge who has lost a son of his own. As Anton grows and comes of age, he will have to grapple with the reality of his early life and the nuances of class and race.

On shelves: June 6


BUY

So Much Blue

I’m blue, da ba dee da ba daa

Kevin Pace is a man on a mission. He is finishing a painting, and he doesn’t want anyone to see it. It is a massive, monochromatic work: Every inch of the canvas is blue, albeit different shades. What could have inspired Kevin to paint such an unusual, involved, and secretive work? That’s what this book is about—the life experiences that have shaped Kevin into an artist who needs to paint this. For readers who love delving into the drama of the artistic process and the ways in which experiences shape art, this is the perfect book to pick up this summer.

On shelves: June 13


BUY

Spoonbenders

Sleight of hand

You could say that the Telemachus family is gifted. They have skills that the rest of us only dream of: lie detection, clairvoyance, telekinesis—you name it. They perform incredible feats in regular television appearances, but they have troubles of their own. For one, the CIA is after them, and the mafia isn’t far behind. Chapters in Daryl Gregory’s charming and entertaining novel alternate between members of the Telemachus family, and we predict that readers will fall for the entire clan. If you like your family drama with a side of psychic gifts, then this is the book for you.

On shelves: June 27


BUY

Moving Kings

On the move

Joshua Cohen, of Book of Numbers fame, is back with a new novel about a moving company. Readers will meet Yoav and Uri, both of whom who are visiting the United States for a year after finishing their time in the military in Israel. There, they begin working for a moving company owned by Yoav’s cousin. Much of what the job entails is moving the belongings of evicted tenants in not-yet-gentrified neighborhoods of New York City’s outer boroughs. It’s not easy work, and it gets even more difficult when they encounter one man who isn’t going to vacate his home without a fight.

On shelves: July 11


BUY

Grace

You can’t go home again

In this new novel from Paul Lynch, readers will travel back to 1845 and witness Ireland’s Great Famine alongside a 14-year-old girl named Grace. She has no father, three siblings, and her mother is pregnant with another child. There is not enough to eat. Hoping to change Grace’s circumstances, her mother disguises her as a young boy and prompts her to find a job. This marks the beginning of a long a difficult journey for Grace, who, along with her brother, must find food and shelter. This novel is perfect for lovers of historical fiction set in Ireland.

On shelves: July 11


BUY

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words

Like family

Robin Conrad is living in Johannesburg during apartheid. She is young—not even a teenager yet—and white. Beauty Mbali, a widowed Xhosa mother, is living nearby in Transkei, and her circumstances are vastly different because of her race. When the Soweto Uprising occurs, both Robin and Beauty will endure terrible losses and ultimately their paths will cross. Beauty is eventually hired as a caretaker for Robin, and the two grow incredibly close, developing a relationship that will alter both of their lives forever. Bianca Marais’ new novel, which was inspired by her own life, will sweep you up and not let you go until the final page.

On shelves: July 11


BUY

Dirt Road

Sweet home Alabama

Tom and Murdo, a father and a teenage son, are going on a trip together. They live in rural Scotland, but are traveling to Alabama. Both men are in mourning: They recently lost two female family members—Tom, a wife and a daughter; Murdo, a mother and a sister. Murdo, who is a talented musician and plays in a band in Scotland, brings his accordion with him, which will prove to be a fateful decision. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly raved: “Kelman’s peregrinating novel is a powerful meditation on loss, life, death, and the bond between father and son.”

On shelves: July 11


BUY

The Locals

New kid on the block

Reader, open up Jonathan Dee’s new novel and transport yourself to the world of Howland, Massachusetts, nestled in the Berkshires. It is a working class town with a new resident: Philip Hadi. Hadi moved to Howland from New York City after September 11, and he is a billionaire. His arrival sends shockwaves through the town, especially when he takes over the office of first selectman for the town after a vacancy opens up. Readers who are fascinated by issues of socioeconomic class and inequality will be especially interested in this unique and compelling novel.

On shelves: August 8


BUY

Young Jane Young

Google me

You likely already know Gabrielle Zevin as the author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, and here, she’s back with a new novel loosely based on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Readers will meet a political intern named Aviva Grossman, who had an affair with a congressman. But this isn’t necessarily the book you think it is: It’s a story about what happens when the scandal dies down, and Aviva turns her attention to her future. In a starred review, Kirkus gushed: “This book will not only thoroughly entertain everyone who reads it; it is the most immaculate takedown of slut-shaming in literature or anywhere else.” Need we say more?

On shelves: August 22

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