Every month, a deluge of new books floods in from major publishers, independent houses and self-publishing platforms. The AV Club narrows down the endless options to five of the books we are most passionate about.
Variations on the body by María Ospina (translation by Heather Cleary, July 6, Coffee House)
Variations on the body, the first fiction book by Colombian writer María Ospina, explores the lives of girls and women living in Bogotá. The six stories are “subtly connected”; for example, a sister who is mentioned only in one story becomes the protagonist of the next. “Policarpa” follows a fleeing FARC fighter as she re-enters society, writing a reflective memoir of her jungle experience under the direction of an editor who prefers a more sensationalistic narrative. (Anxious writers might want to skip this one, as row edits are presented right on the page, strikethroughs and all.) This isn’t the first draft by translator Heather Cleary that Coffee House has released. The Minneapolis-based press also published its translation of Roque Larraquy Comemadre, one of The AV Clubfavorite books of 2018. Yes Variations on the body is half as good as this one, it will be worth looking for.
For those who like to read their NPR instead of listening to it, suggest the latest project by Michael Pollan, the bestselling author of The omnivore’s dilemma. In case the title does not specify it, This is your opinion on plants combines two of Pollan’s favorite interests: plants and medicines. Here he focuses on caffeine, opium, and mescaline, exploring why humans are so drawn to changing our consciousnesses and why drugs like caffeine are socially acceptable while others are not. Here is hoping This is your mind also provides a pithy recommendation on drug ingestion for the masses, although it’s something as tame as “Take drugs, not too much, especially coffee”.
Pessoa: a biography by Richard Zenith (July 13, Liveright)
While The book of worry may not be one of the most popular among the classics, those who have read Fernando Pessoa’s fragmented, unfinished and posthumously published “autobiography” are often very convinced. At first glance, Richard Zenith’s 1,000-page biography of the eccentric Portuguese Modernist seems to be intended exclusively for such readers. Again Pessoa has an energy and charm of its own. In addition to performing attentive and lively readings of Pessoa’s work, Zenith delves into his more than 100 distinct literary alter egos, providing biographies and capsule timelines for the most important. Based on reams of published and unpublished work by the multifaceted writer, Pessoa elucidates the incredibly vibrant inner life of one of the 20th century’s most brilliant artists.
Privacy by Katie Kitamura (July 20, Riverhead)
There is an intensity contained in the prose of Katie Kitamura, the one that made her last novel, the superb divorce-encounter-mystery drama A separation, feeling like reading it through the eye of a tornado, the tight, muffled sentences suggesting an overwhelming storm just beyond them. It is this willingness to keep readers at an intriguing distance before revealing the messy emotions that animate him that should serve him well in the new book, Privacy, about a woman trying to escape her past. The protagonist, a performer who gives up her life to work at the International Court in The Hague, slowly finds herself drawn into new dramas, all the while wondering if she can face who she is now, not more than she once was. .
New teeth by Simon Rich (July 27, Little, Brown)
In his collection of short stories from 2013, The last girlfriend on earth, Simon Rich explored the pitfalls (and the occasional highs) of modern dating. His novel What in the name of god dug in faith and desire in a typically absurd but empathetic way. With the rioters New teeth, Rich is once again tackling a universal subject: growing up. Rich provides hilarious parenting information in short stories like “Learning The Ropes,” which sees a pair of hackers co-parenting an adorable little stowaway. It questions the relevance of an aging man in a story about a superhero put to work and tells the biting story of a family found in “Raised By Wolves”. While accepting to be a father, Rich doesn’t lose touch with fantasy constructs that tap into feelings that are too real.
More in July: The Sunset Road: Freight Trains, Forgiveness, and Railroad Freedom in the American West by Carrot Quinn (July 6, The Dial); Give my love to the savages by Chris Stuck (July 6, Amistad); Rebel by Dana Spiotta (July 6, Knopf); Big black hole by Jeffrey Ford (July 6, Small Beer Press); A life in the making by Franz Michael Felder (July 6, Pushkin); A shock by Keith Ridgway (July 6, New Directions); It never ends: a memory with beautiful memories! By Tom Scharpling (July 6, Abrams); Seek You: a journey through American solitude by Kristen Radtke (July 13, Pantheon); The Girls’ Ultimate Support Group by Grady Hendrix (July 13, Berkeley); Ghost forest by Pik-Shuen Fung (July 13, One World); Elena knows by Claudia Piñeiro (July 13, Charco Press); Walk alone in the crowd by Antonio Muñoz Molina (July 13, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Apple seeds by Matt Bell (July 13, Custom House); The Cult of Us: WeWork, Adam Neumann and the Big Startup Illusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell (July 20, Couronne); Night bitch by Rachel Yoder (July 20, Doubleday); each man by Ms. Shelly Conner (July 20, Blackstone); The Uruguayan woman by Pedro Mairal (July 20, Bloomsbury); The single person by Andrew Palmer (July 20, Hogarth); Better to go: love, death and the quest for utopia in Auroville by Akash Kapur (July 20, Scribner); An eternal song by Ha Jin (July 27, Pantheon); Summer pleasures by Jeanne Thornton (July 27, Soho); The Great Peace by Mena Suvari (July 27, Hachette)