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    R. O. Kwon! Kent Wascom! Joyce Carol Oates! 25 new books out today.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    May 21, 2024, 4:51am

    What a day for new books! As summer approaches, we have no shortage of terrific new tomes to consider, with strong, wide-ranging showings in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

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    The ever-prolific Joyce Carol Oates is back with Butcher, a scathing fictional exploration of the medical establishment’s treatment of women. The brilliant Kent Wascom, who I had the privilege of knowing as an acquaintance in grad school, is back with an explosive, lyrical novel following a crew of misfits through the mythos of the West. R.O. Kwon, excitingly, is back as well, with a wide-roving new novel, Exhibit, which is at once a ghost story, an exploration of what it means to make art, and much, much more.

    And you’ll find much more exciting fiction from established writers, including K-Ming Chang, Kevin Kwan, Anna Dorn, and many others. You’ll also find four new poetry collections, including work from the innovative postwar poet Tomaž Šalamun, a lyric exploration of race and identity from Nikki Wallschlaeger, modern-day experimentation from Siminia Banu, and more.

    It’s quite a day for nonfiction, as well. There are many revealing, inventive memoirs to consider, including work by Shze-Hui Tjoa, the artist M. K. Asante, Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler, and more. You’ll also find nonfiction tackling everything from the myth of El Dorado and the experience of sailing the seas alone to life in Post-Roe America and the downfall of NFTS.

    I hope you’re ready to bring home many a new book. I know I am, even if my overflowing bookshelves and rapidly disappearing floor space disagree. Peruse with pleasure, Dear Reader.

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    The Great State of West Florida - Wascom, Kent

    Kent Wascom, The Great State of West Florida
    (Grove Press/Black Cat)

    “With a punk ethos, apocalyptic plot, grindhouse style and swagger, and the poised, lyrical craftsmanship that only Kent Wascom could bring to the page, The Great State of West Florida is as bold as it is elusive….Wascom…sends his misfit crew—guns blazing, no caution in sight, as soaked in blood as they are sweat—on a wild ride into the mythos of the West. This is Mad Max meets Planet Terror meets The Walking Dead, on a stage set for the Hatfields and McCoys.”
    –Steph Post

    Exhibit - Kwon, R. O.

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    R. O. Kwon, Exhibit

    Exhibit is extraordinary: brisk, jolting, brilliant, beautiful, true. A ghost story, a tale of passion, a captivating portrait of how art is made, it turns myths upside down, assumptions inside out, all in the most exquisite prose in the bookstore. Kwon is one of the finest American writers, and her latest is a must for all readers.”
    –Andrew Sean Greer

    Butcher - Oates, Joyce Carol

    Joyce Carol Oates, Butcher

    “Deliciously arch….Oates’s scathing indictment of the physical and psychological treatment of women by the medical establishment makes for compulsive but challenging reading. Unlike the ghastly procedures depicted, Oates’s inventive gothic novel pays off.”
    Publishers Weekly

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    Nephew: A Memoir in 4-Part Harmony - Asante, M. K.

    M. K. Asante, Nephew: A Memoir in 4-Part Harmony
    (Amistad Press)

    “[B]est-selling author, award-winning filmmaker, and recording artist Asante pours his heart and soul into a series of letters to his nephew, Nasir, who’s fighting for his life after being shot nine times. Readers will experience the highs and lows of a family’s struggles, witness moments of joy and despair, and see miracles unfold. This beautifully crafted and inspiring narrative captures the essence of family life and showcases the power of love and perseverance in the face of adversity.”

    The Story Game - Tjoa, Shze-Hui

    Shze-Hui Tjoa, The Story Game: A Memoir
    (Tin House)

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    “Both formally innovative and page-turning, Shze-Hui Tjoa transports us in The Story Game back and forth between two sisters in their childhood bedroom and the outside world….Tjoa’s gaze upon the world is both tender and wry, and for those of us who are women or queer or people of color and have dreamed of a life lived solely in the mind, Tjoa shows us slowly, little by little, layer by layer, how disembodiment often comes at a great cost.”
    –Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn

    Joyful Recollections of Trauma - Scheer, Paul

    Paul Scheer, Joyful Recollections of Trauma

    “Scheer is able to pack in the laughs that fans of his irreverent comedy will expect as well as showcase a uniquely intimate writing voice that successfully tackles topics as wide ranging as an adult ADHD diagnosis and his own love story with fellow comedian June Diane Raphael. Scheer’s recollections add up to something entirely substantial that fans of comedy and confessional memoir writing will appreciate.”

    Kiss the Eyes of Peace: Selected Poems 1964-2014 - Salamun, Tomaz

    Tomaž Šalamun, Kiss the Eyes of Peace: Selected Poems 1964 – 2014 (trans. Brian Henry)

    “Not only is it the first comprehensive English selection from his entire body of work, uncovering many hidden gems, but it also stands as a remarkable culmination of more than two decades of dedication by Brian Henry, a poet who shared a profound connection with Tomaz. With meticulous precision and wild poetic power, Henry presents an English rendition of Salamun at its finest.”
    –Ales Steger

    Hold Your Own - Wallschlaeger, Nikki

    Nikki Wallschlaeger, Hold Your Own
    (Copper Canyon Press)

    “Nikki Wallschlaeger’s] approach is to slice to the heart, and it’s something that will leave a mark on readers, as there are lines here that punch with the power of truths many would rather not discuss in public. … This song isn’t just a healing song; this is the song we should play as we march into battle against racism and as we imagine the party we’d have after the death of capitalism.”

    I Will Get Up Off of - Banu, Simina

    Siminia Banu I Will Get Up Off of
    (Coach House Books)

    I Will Get Up Off Of is an immersive poetic exploration like no other; this book folds into itself like a nesting doll of metaphor, commentary and overall beef with late-stage capitalism. The ways in which Banu tackles the subject of depression made me feel seen and want to scream…eerie veracity….interspersed with interactive moments like QR codes, wikipedia scavenger hunts, and instagram feeds. I have never quite inhaled a poetry collection as fast as I did this one.”
    –Wroxanna Work

    Cecilia - Chang, K-Ming

    K-Ming Chang, Cecilia
    (Coffee House Press)

    “K-Ming Chang’s spell-binding tale of queer desire moved me to tears by the end. Seven’s obsession with Cecilia is rendered through lyrical prose that startled and disarmed me, reminding me of how vulnerable and frightening it is to want someone you are destined to lose. The narrative voice got under my skin and I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters’ fierce hunger for the freedom to be themselves.”
    –Nghiem Tran

    In Tongues - Grattan, Thomas

    Thomas Grattan, In Tongues

    “At first, In Tongues reads like a comedy of manners—a cute young man moves to Manhattan and takes a job as a dog walker/assistant to two older men from the art world. But then we watch the sexual, ethical, and monetary inequality turn dark. Thomas Grattan is a master of plot—that rare ability—which makes In Tongues a real roller coaster: funny, sad, shocking, and, finally, quite moving.”
    –Andrew Holleran

    Lies and Weddings - Kwan, Kevin

    Kevin Kwan, Lies and Weddings

    “This novel is vintage Kwan and this time we take a hilarious dive into the Anglo-Asian billionaire scene which is populated with fierce Chinese moms, power-mad aunties, penniless English Lords, fabulous weddings, stately homes and too many secrets to mention. Imagine Crazy Rich Asians mated with Saltburn and you’ve got Lies and Weddings…heavenly!”
    –Plum Sykes

    And Then? and Then? What Else? - Handler, Daniel

    Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), And Then? And Then? What Else?

    “[D]azzling memoir….Each section effortlessly shifts from the sublime–such as his literary and cultural influences, particularly the poetry of Baudelaire—to the banal, then the deeply silly, and then back….Handler candidly covers…his mental health struggles, his sexuality, his terrible early attempts at writing, and some shocking trauma….Thought-provoking, deeply personal, and like few other memoirs….[It reads] as compelling as his gloriously off-beat fiction.”

    Undue Burden: Life and Death Decisions in Post-Roe America - Luthra, Shefali

    Shefali Luthra, Undue Burden: Life and Death Decisions in Post-Roe America

    Undue Burden reframes the battle over abortion to a national human rights crisis that threatens everyone’s welfare and freedom instead of a niche cultural issue. By telling the gripping stories of pregnant people desperately seeking abortions across the country and the advocates who courageously fight for expanded access to care, Shefali Luthra makes plain Dobbs‘s devastating repercussions…highlights the potential for change…a compelling, urgent call for reproductive justice.”
    –Dorothy Roberts

    Sailing Alone: A Surprising History of Isolation and Survival at Sea - King, Richard J.

    Richard J. King, Sailing Alone: A Surprising History of Isolation and Survival at Sea

    Sailing Alone is a beacon, a lighthouse of luminance for the experienced and inexperienced alike. Richard King’s insightful reflections on the stories of lone voyagers make this required reading for all who dream fervently of such voyages. A nuanced study in aspiration, endurance, terror, and triumph, it’s a treasure.”
    –Jon Wilson

    Paradise of the Damned: The True Story of an Obsessive Quest for El Dorado, the Legendary City of Gold - Thomson, Keith

    Keith Thomson, Paradise of the Damned: The True Story of an Obsessive Quest for El Dorado, the Legendary City of Gold
    (Little Brown)

    “Elizabethan-era English explorer Walter Raleigh’s quest for the mythical gold-filled city of El Dorado is vividly recreated in this rollicking account from bestseller Thomson….Thomson’s breezy and puckish narration makes the historical subject matter sizzle. Readers will relish this enticing romp through the Age of Exploration.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Lonespeech - Jäderlund, Ann

    Ann Jäderlund, Lonespeech (trans. Johannes Goransson)
    (Nightboat Books)

    “In Ann Jäderlund’s paradoxical poems, it is the crystal clear loneliness that makes an encounter possible. From the cells and the body, the words break out into the wider world where another person is formed. The language is fragile, precise and resolutely subtle, as surprising as it is mind-expanding.”
    –Aase Berg

    Shae - Maren, Mesha

    Mesha Maren, Shae

    “Mesha Maren paints a vivid, unforgettable portrait of two young women—one cis and one trans—living in West Virginia and trying to break free from the confinements of gender, class, and sexuality. Mesha Maren is a visionary storyteller and her prose is incandescent. The sentences shimmer with precision, elegance, and grit. It’s the kind of book that gets under your skin. I couldn’t put it down. Shae is a beautiful, big-hearted novel about love, desire, and daring to be one’s self.”
    –Carter Sickels

    Perfume and Pain - Dorn, Anna

    Anna Dorn, Perfume and Pain
    (Simon & Schuster)

    “Acerbic, steamy, and compulsively readable—fans of ribald, satirical humor (with a specific focus on celebrity melodrama and LGBTQ+ culture) will read it in one go. It’s this author’s best work yet. A Sapphic roller-coaster ride and pitch-perfect homage to lesbian pulp fiction.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Wait - Burnham, Gabriella

    Gabriella Burnham, Wait
    (One World)

    “Gabriella Burnham’s sophomore novel, Wait, simultaneously illuminates the precariousness of young womanhood and existing as an immigrant in the United States, while showing the resourcefulness and strength needed to survive. Burnham examines how this strength is derived, not from the individual alone but from their ties to their community: their sisters, mothers, friends, and neighbors. As I read this novel, I could almost feel the Nantucket sea breeze whipping against my face.”
    –Daphne Palasi Andreades

    The Cleopatras: The Forgotten Queens of Egypt - Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd

    Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, The Cleopatras: The Forgotten Queens of Egypt
    (Basic Books)

    “A thrilling biography, filled with the imperial ambitions and merciless intrigues of one of world history’s most brutal families, the Ptolemy dynasty of Egypt. Llewellyn-Jones’s book places female power at the center through its seven Queen Cleopatras, culminating in the gripping story of the last of the Cleopatras and her alliances with Caesar and Antony. A real treat for those who relish epic histories of family power.”
    –Simon Sebag Montefiore

    Token Supremacy: The Art of Finance, the Finance of Art, and the Great Crypto Crash of 2022 - Small, Zachary

    Zachary Small, Token Supremacy: The Art of Finance, the Finance of Art, and the Great Crypto Crash of 2022

    “Zachary Small is the perfect, sardonic guide to the meteoric rise of NFTs and the dumpster fire sparked by their fall. Their gripping narrative pulls apart the NFT’s unholy mixture of idealism and greed, squiggles and dick jokes, techno-utopianism and bug-ridden tech to reveal the kaleidoscope of ever-changing grifts produced by the latest collision of art and finance.”
    –Erin Thompson

    Kittentits - Wilson, Holly

    Holly Wilson, Kittentits
    (Zando/Gillian Flynn Books)

    Kittentits is a bizarro wonderland of a book, a tasty kaleidoscopic freak show that will remind readers of a marvelously raunchy Katherine Dunn. The novel is just as much fun as it is juicy and disturbed–I enjoyed every wild and frenzied minute of it.”
    –Kristen Arnett

    Land of No Regrets (Original) - Muktadir, Sadi

    Sadi Muktadir, Land of No Regrets
    (Hanover Square Press)

    Land of No Regrets is a nostalgic tale about young friendship between four Muslim boys, imbued with a rollicking, modern personality. Muktadir writes with tenderness and humor, and he allows space for a textured culture and shared histories, even at the story’s most heart-wrenching moments. I left feeling as though I’d known these boys my entire life.”
    –Gabriella Burnham

    The Incorrigibles - Jaeger, Meredith

    Meredith Jaeger, The Incorrigibles

    The Incorrigibles is a sweeping, evocative novel about communities formed in the margins, the connective power of art, and resilience forged in the face of injustice. Meredith Jaeger is a fierce chronicler of resistance who’s offered us an indelible glimpse into two distinct eras in San Francisco—and the hearts of two unforgettable women. I’ll never look at lace again without thinking of Annie and Judy.”
    –Katie Gutierrez

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