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    Hari Kunzru! Freud! System of a Down (the memoir)! 26 new books out today.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    May 14, 2024, 4:51am

    It’s just about the middle of May, and as the wheel of the year turns towards summer, you may find yourself in need of summer-appropriately-bright-and-hot new literature to read. Well, Dear Reader, you may just be in luck. Below, you’ll find twenty-six new books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to consider.

    You’ll find new fiction from Hari Kunzru, Miranda July, Jessica Shattuck, Colombe Schneck, Kimberly King Parsons, and many others, as well as powerful fiction debuts, including Honor Levy’s anticipated (and aptly titled) My First Book and Melissa Mogollon’s Oye, the mesmeric cover art of which graces today’s post. You’ll find buzzed-about poetry collections by Li-Young Lee and Maria Stepanova.

    And it’s a great day for nonfiction lovers, as well. You’ll find On the Couch, a collection of authors’ fascinating thoughts on Freud, including contributions from Colm Tóibín, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Rick Moody, Siri Hustvedt, and more. If you, like me, devoted years of your youth to System of a Down (and also now unabashedly own them on vinyl), you may be intrigued to read its lead singer’s new memoir (of sorts), which explores music, Armenian identity, politics, and more.

    There’s a remarkable recounting of how a white supremacist became deprogramed, and now opposes racism, in The Klansman’s Son. You’ll see books exploring the effects of Trumpism on children’s views of political norms and on education, a collection of Peter Schjeldahl’s recent writings, an exploration of a little-known American dynasty that altered the course of the country’s history, open-hearted memoirs, and much, much more.

    Good stuff, methinks. Let your to-be-read piles gloriously grow, and, as always, read deeply.


    Blue Ruin - Kunzru, Hari

    Hari Kunzru, Blue Ruin

    “Brilliant….Coincidence is a dangerous narrative tool to mess around with, but Kunzru pulls it off in Blue Ruin thanks to the subtle characterizations and intricate layers with which he expands his premise. Buried resentments and jettisoned ambitions come to the fore as Kunzru explores themes of racism, opportunism and the inequities of privilege and hardship. The result is an exceptional work that finds new variations on the familiar chestnut that people aren’t always what they seem.”

    All Fours - July, Miranda

    Miranda July, All Fours

    “[July] altered my ideas of what kinds of stories were possible….In her second novel, July brings her singular brand of sardonic melancholia and wide-eyed wisdom to bear on this tale of a semi-famous middle-aged artist who decides to take a left turn from the left turn she had already planned.”
    Electric Literature

    My First Book - Levy, Honor

    Honor Levy, My First Book
    (Penguin Press)

    My First Book [is] a collection of stories that is indeed her first book….Reading Levy is what it must have felt like to read Ann Beattie on her generation in the early 1970s….In this collection’s finest work, Levy’s sentences are cold poetry of a sort….What pushes Levy’s stories…is the empathy you can sense below the starkness….Is a hot take a stab at being found? Levy can dispense these as well as anyone. Crucially, though, she understands that ‘a hot take won’t keep you warm at night.'”
    The New York Times

    Another Word for Love: A Memoir - Wallace, Carvell

    Carvell Wallace, Another Word for Love: A Memoir

    Another Word For Love is generous in how genuine the journey, the offering feels. Walking alongside a writer who is attempting to come to terms with the enormity of their survival, its joys and aches. And through this genuine nature, through this striking and beautiful prose, rich with touchable imagery, Carvell Wallace has you by the hand, and never lets go.”
    –Hanif Abdurraqib

    House of Kwa - Kwa, Mimi

    Mimi Kwa, House of Kwa
    (ABC Books)

    “House of Kwa answers the question of how one should write about one’s family with generosity and love—to read it is to experience Kwa’s wonder at the strength and resilience of her family, as well as the intimacy of her relationships with them. Traversing the boundaries of a traditional memoir, House of Kwa is the biography of a family that explores the way our lives are shaped by the past we can and cannot remember.”
    Kill Your Darlings

    The Klansman's Son: My Journey from White Nationalism to Antiracism: A Memoir - Black, R. Derek

    R. Derek Black, The Klansman’s Son: My Journey from White Nationalism to Antiracism: A Memoir
    (Abrams Press)

    “I expected an ideological journey. What I did not expect—what sets The Klansman’s Son apart, what had me engrossed–is Derek Black’s meticulous detailing of their emotional journey from White nationalist to antiracist: how they and others felt during each step of their walk away from what and who nurtured them; how internal courage and external love braced each step toward being antiracist. What a deeply moving memoir.”
    –Ibram X. Kendi

    The Invention of the Darling: Poems - Lee, Li-Young

    Li-Young Lee, The Invention of the Darling: Poems

    “Few poets write like Li-Young Lee…facing the biggest and broadest questions head-on….Fewer still ask these questions so well, and so movingly.”
    Los Angeles Times

    Holy Winter - Stepanova, Maria

    Maria Stepanova, Holy Winter (trans. Sasha Dugdale)
    (New Directions Publishing)

    “Wildly experimental, and yet movingly traditional. Ironic, and yet obsessed with spell-making. Full of allusions to various different canonical voices, and yet heart-wrenchingly direct. What, friends, is this? It’s that glorious thing: the poetry of Maria Stepanova.”
    –Ilya Kaminsky

    Oye - Mogollon, Melissa

    Melissa Mogollon, Oye
    (Hogarth Press)

    “Funny and smart, Oye grapples with the messy inheritance of intergenerational trauma and how it manifests in the everyday conversations with the people we love. Mogollon has written a beautiful book.”
    –Claire Jimenez

    Swimming in Paris: A Life in Three Stories - Schneck, Colombe

    Colombe Schneck, Swimming in Paris: A Life in Three Stories (trans. Natasha Lehrer and Lauren Elkin)
    (Penguin Press)

    Swimming in Paris is a brilliantly written, searingly intimate piece of biographical fiction, the story of a woman experiencing all of life….Schneck writes of herself at seventeen, at thirty, at forty, at fifty and beyond with an understanding that is enviable. She unhesitatingly invites the reader into her blunt, beautiful, sometimes terrible thoughts, taking us through her triumphs and losses, and in the end reveals an unparalleled strength and empathy.”

    This Strange Eventful History - Messud, Claire

    Claire Messud, This Strange Eventful History

    “A tour de force, This Strange Eventful History is one of those rare novels which a reader doesn’t merely read but lives through with the characters. Call it the War and Peace of the twentieth and twenty-first century; call it The Long View of a family migrating through many borders, worlds, and eras; call it anything and we fall short. Claire Messud is a magnificent storyteller, and the novel, an all-encompassing history of many human hearts and any human heart, will linger and haunt us.”
    –Yiyun Li

    On the Couch: Writers Analyze Sigmund Freud - Blauner, Andrew

    Andrew Blauner (editor), On the Couch: Writers Analyze Sigmund Freud
    (Princeton University Press)

    “At a time when Freud is so easily written off as ‘an anachronism or a punch line,’ when ‘his story is one that many people think they know,’ [On the Couch] pushes against the myth of that single, already-familiar story by offering unique lines of reasoning and association about a vast array of issues related to him….A solid collage of voices to complicate our picture of psychoanalysis.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    The Art of Dying: Writings, 2019-2022 - Schjeldahl, Peter

    Peter Schjeldahl, The Art of Dying: Writings, 2019 – 2022
    (Abrams Press)

    “Brilliant…a testament to Schjeldahl’s unique ability to make tangible art’s emotional effects on the viewer….This posthumous collection will be a gift to Schjeldahl’s admirers and a revelation to those new to his work.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Down with the System: A Memoir (of Sorts) - Tankian, Serj

    Serj Tankian, Down with the System: A Memoir (Of Sorts)

    “A very satisfying and potent account of Serj Tankian’s wild journey from Beirut to California to Yerevan. It’s a journal recounting the crazy birth of System Of A Down, but it’s also a manifesto about politics and art. It’s cool and it’s hot, just like System. Ultimately, it’s the story of one man’s melding of political fire, creative juices, and spirituality. I loved living inside Serj’s head!”
    –Eric Bogosian

    American Bloods: The Untamed Dynasty That Shaped a Nation - Kaag, John

    John Kaag, American Bloods: The Untamed Dynasty That Shaped a Nation

    “Leave it to the adventuresome philosopher John Kaag to uncover yet another hidden tale central to the history of American life and thought….In a taut and spell-binding narrative, Kaag traces the Blood family’s influence through generations by singling out individuals…always in close connection with the central thinkers and doers of their day: Emerson, Thoreau, Cornelius Vanderbilt, William James. I couldn’t have been more surprised—and delighted—to join Kaag on this voyage.”
    –Megan Marshall

    Last House - Shattuck, Jessica

    Jessica Shattuck, Last House
    (William Morrow)

    Last House is an ambitious historical epic that doubles as an intimate family saga. Jessica Shattuck captures and connects it all—the imperial ambitions of the postwar generation, the rebellion of their offspring in the Sixties, the fallout that we’re still sifting through today. Shattuck writes incisively about marriage, siblings, social activism, and the self-deceptions that allow us to preserve our belief in our own innocence despite all the evidence to the contrary. This is a wide-ranging novel to savor.”
    –Tom Perrotta

    Woodworm - Martinez, Layla

    Layla Martinez, Woodworm (trans. Sophie Hughes and Annie McDermott)
    (Two Lines Press)

    “If you’re in the mood to read a story about a haunted house that will make your skin crawl, then I cannot recommend Woodworm by Layla Martínez enough. This book has everything, from witches to saints to angels that look like praying mantises to some of the most unsettling portrayals of ghosts that I’ve come across in a long time.”

    Indian Winter - Ali, Kazim

    Kazim Ali, Indian Winter
    (Coach House Books)

    “I have never read anything quite like Indian Winter. A hauntingly poetic and deeply reflective interior and exterior journey through the landscape of the soul—and in particular, the beautifully queer soul of the narrator—this novel proved compelling and compassionate. This is a rare jewel of a book. I was totally and willingly seduced by the language, and ultimately, by the wisdom simmering and shimmering to consciousness in these pages. Wow!”
    –James Davidson

    Wide Awake: The Forgotten Force That Elected Lincoln and Spurred the Civil War - Grinspan, Jon

    Jon Grinspan, Wide Awake: The Forgotten Force That Elected Lincoln and Spurred the Civil War

    “At last we have a history worthy of the Wide Awakes. This extraordinary youth movement played a pivotal role in electing Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and sent a loud signal to the world that Americans of conscience would no longer turn a blind eye to slavery. Jon Grinspan combines deep archival research with crackling prose to offer a book of surpassing resonance for their time and our own.”
    –Ted Widmer

    City of Light, City of Shadows: Paris in the Belle Époque - Rapport, Mike

    Mike Rapport, City of Light, City of Shadows: Paris in the Belle Époque
    (Basic Books)

    “In this book, which fizzes with all the energy of Belle Époque Paris, Rapport conveys superbly the conflicts, tension, and anxieties underlaying the glittering spectacle of Parisian modernity. His narrative is brilliantly anchored in the spaces and places of the city. For lovers of Paris, the book should become an indispensable accompaniment to any future visit to the city.”
    –Julian Jackson

    Drive: Scraping by in Uber's America, One Ride at a Time - Rigsby, Jonathan

    Jonathan Rigsby, Drive: Scraping by in Uber’s America, One Ride at a Time
    (Beacon Press)

    “Poverty is a relentless attack on a person’s energy and dignity. Jonathan Rigsby’s memoir gives readers a front seat on that punishing journey. He shows how the gig economy depends on trapping workers on a hamster wheel where they can neither stop nor gain ground. Drive is an engaging personal story, as well as a social chronicle that compels us to work for change.”
    –Colleen Shaddox

    We Were the Universe - Parsons, Kimberly King

    Kimberly King Parsons, We Were the Universe

    We Were the Universe is a grief-and-lust-and-breastmilk saturated psychedelic journey, a story told in the eternal present of an acid trip and the spiraling everyday life of a young Texan mother, pushing her daughter’s stroller around an unspeakable loss. This novel is a tonal masterpiece, a record I want to spin forever, and I feel so lucky that I can return to its deep magic.”
    –Karen Russell

    The Red Grove - Fontaine, Tessa

    Tessa Fontaine, The Red Grove

    “This gorgeous, frightening novel maps the hidden roots that link mother to daughter, and sibling to sibling, and utopia to fear. A deft and enrapturing novel full of underground secrets, ready to spring.”
    –Clare Beams

    The Blue Maiden - Noyes, Anna

    Anna Noyes, The Blue Maiden
    (Grove Press)

    “Bracing….Noyes shows with incisive and imagistic prose how the specter of the eerie, ever-changing Blue Maiden hangs over the residents of Berggrund like a pall as the sisters come of age to face horrifying tragedies. Noyes evokes Shirley Jackson in this inspired and memorable gothic tale.”
    Publishers Weekly

    They Came for the Schools: One Town's Fight Over Race and Identity, and the New War for America's Classrooms - Hixenbaugh, Mike

    Mike Hixenbaugh, They Came for the Schools: One Town’s Fight Over Race and Identity, and the New War for America’s Classrooms

    “This book is not only a gripping, up-close story of one Texas town’s descent into political madness, it’s also the larger tale of how powerful moneyed interests are stoking our divisions and turning classrooms into battlegrounds.”
    –Paul Tough

    Children of a Troubled Time: Growing Up with Racism in Trump's America - Hagerman, Margaret A.

    Margaret A. Hagerman, Children of a Troubled Time: Growing Up with Racism in Trump’s America
    (New York University Press)

    “With clarity, elegance, and precision and relying on rich interview data, Margaret A. Hagerman shows how the Trump moment has deeply shaped the racialized ideologies and emotions of children. Whether color-blind or white nationalist, children raised in this era will likely retain the scary imprint of Trumpism. I sincerely hope readers, parents, and educators take her suggestions of how to interrupt children’s racism to heart as the nation’s future depends on it. A marvelous book.”
    –Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

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