What makes a book a "
summer book"? Only the fact that it comes out in the summer, the time of year when — despite the fact that the last thing many of us feel like doing is sitting still — there seems to be a mandate to read something, anything. But maybe that does make a certain kind of sense. If we didn't schedule time for ourselves to slow down and lose ourselves in a book for a little while, we might just keep going and going, spinning into oblivion — or at least straight into the fall. Here, then, are some books coming out over these next few months; all are ideal for the much-needed break with reality we've all more than earned. With Teeth, Kristen Arnett ( available here ) Too often, novelists approach their weirdest characters with a sense of remove; you get the feeling they're afraid to look at these people head-on. That is decidedly not the case with Kristen Arnett, who doesn't just stare into the eyes of her most off-the-wall creations, but sinks her teeth into their lives, reveling in every part of them, tough and tender. As with in her 2019 debut, , Arnett once again chronicles a barely holding-it-together family living in Florida. Sammie is a mother on the brink, unsure of how to handle her wild son, Samson, and how to do it without any concrete help from her ever-busy wife, Monika. As things spiral into new and more intense places, Sammie must confront how much of Samson's behavior is a result of nurture or nature (or, if there even is any difference). In Mostly Dead Things With Teeth — a novel as humid and feral and teeming with life as Florida itself — Arnett is fearless in how far she's willing to go to show the darkest places we inhabit, as women, mothers, lovers, and people. Somebody's Daughter, Ashley C. Ford ( available here ) Growing up in Indiana, Ashley C. Ford didn't feel at home — not within her family or within her own body. Ford's mother was harsh, abusive; her father was in prison, though for what she didn't know. As she got older, and came to understand more and more what led to the fractures within her life — the poverty, the alternately simmering and explosive rage, the isolation — and began to piece together what effects it had on her to be a child and feel like she belonged to nobody, and nowhere. Ford's memoir is a searing account of how she not only survived the trauma of her youth, but also how it made her who she is today. Never prescriptive, and ever illuminating, Somebody's Daughter is the kind of memoir that makes you feel less alone. It's a reminder of the connections we all have to one another, a gesture toward the many ties that forever bind us — alternately constricting and supporting, but never not there. The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris (available here ) Nothing feels more appealing to me right now than a drama-infused, office-set novel; I can't help it, I miss the petty pleasures and grievances of working in close quarters with people! Zakiya Dalila Harris's debut novel satisfies my desire to be back in that space, and then some. Set in the overwhelmingly white world of book publishing, The Other Black Girl centers around 26-year-old publishing assistant Nella Rogers, who seems to get exactly what she wants when her company finally hires Hazel, another Black employee. But, Hazel quickly goes from being Nella's fast friend to her fiercest competition, and soon enough Nella feels like she's not only being pushed out of her job, but also that she's losing her sense of self. Harris is excellent at capturing the way a job can become a person's whole identity, and takes readers on a bracing, whip-smart, piercingly funny trip into a supposedly enlightened industry — and world — where racism, classism, and sexism all conspire to destabilize anyone who isn't willing to play the game. Future Feeling, Joss Lake ( available here ) Is it wrong to wish that the alternate reality that exists in Joss Lake's Future Feeling were our actual reality? Like, why can't we live in a riotously glistering world with "Butt-Meters" and people named "Stoner-Hacker"? Why can't real life be as vivid as it is in Lake's novel, in which Bushwick dog-walker Pen Henderson goes on an epic journey to save Blithe, a young trans man that Pen and his friends accidentally hexed via an Instagram post of an aloe plant? The answer to these questions, of course, is that maybe real life can be as magical as the one Lake describes — as long as we work toward dismantling our preconceptions of who we're supposed to be. If it's Joss Lake's world, we'd all be better for living in it — it'd certainly be more colorful, and we'd all have really incredible names. Palace of the Drowned, Christine Mangan ( available here ) If only we all had the option of escaping a personal scandal by retreating to a friend's palazzo in Venice. At least we can all live vicariously through the experiences of Palace of the Drowned's Frankie Croy. But, do we really want to? After all, Frankie isn't doing all that well: The 40-something novelist is getting the worst reviews of her career, recovering from a stint in a mental hospital (a chic one, but still), and is now alone in Venice, unsure of what to do with herself. When she's approached by a young admirer, Frankie is at first flattered, but then starts to feel suspicious. There are most definitely Patricia Highsmith vibes at work in Christine Mangan's latest, but who doesn't need a little more Ripley-esque energy in their reading lives? Atmospheric, twisting, and full of mystery, Palace of the Drowned is a darkly delightful trip of a book — especially for those of us who aren't traveling very far this summer. Double Blind, Edward St. Aubyn ( available here) Tantalizing in its ability to straddle the worlds of neuroscience and finance, dissolute urban milieus and off-the-grid natural escapes, Edward St. Aubyn's Double Blind is a razor-sharp dissection of the world we live in now, where our dual preoccupations with the optimization of our minds and bodies has led us to a place of total derangement. Centered around a group on intimates who are trying to figure out if the world — and if they — can be saved, Double Blind grapples with themes of freedom and willpower, sickness and health, inheritance and isolation. It doesn't provide answers, not exactly, but it offers a path forward for any reader interested in exploring what else is out there beyond what we see right in front of us. Bewilderness, Karen Tucker ( available here ) Irene and Luce meet as teenagers in rural North Carolina and bond first over their hatred of the shitty customers they serve at a local pool hall, and later over their shared opioid addiction. The two get clean, eventually, and Luce has plans to start over in Florida with her boyfriend, Wilky — and without Irene. But when that plan falls through, the friends face a future that's less certain than ever, with fewer reasons to try and change their lives again. The kind of that book crawls under your skin and lodges there, Karen Tucker's Bewilderness offers an intimate, riveting portrait of two close friends whose hopes for their lives get derailed because of their addictions, and who struggle to figure out if having any future at all is something either of them will get to have. Tucker has written a powerfully intimate, heartbreaking portrait of this country's opioid epidemic, making clear the many ways that this isn't a problem happening to other people — it's happening to all of us, and it's imperative we deal with it together. Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, Rivka Galchen ( available June 8 ) Poor Katharina Kepler! It's not easy living in early-17th century Würtemmberg no matter what your situation; there's the plague, after all, and the 30 Years War, too. But, for an illiterate widow like Katharina, it's especially hard — especially once you've been accused of witchcraft. Such is the burden of of Katharina, who initially laughs off her accuser. But, as more and more accusations pile up, she realizes she needs to figure out a way to defend herself against the indefensible — even calling on her renowned astronomer son, Johannes, to come to her aid. Although dealing with deadly serious things, like the way a petty lie leveled in a moment of spite can spiral out of control and disrupt countless lives, Galchen's novel is exuberant — funny and urgent and full of a singular energy. Though based on a true story, it beautifully demonstrates Galchen's limber imagination and ability to find narrative harmony in the chaos of our world. The Woman in the Purple Skirt, Natsuko Imamura ( available June 8 ) As anyone who has ever stared aimlessly into a stranger's window (or Instagram grid) knows, the appeal of voyeurism isn't about seeing something extraordinary, but rather fixating on the mundanities of another person's life. For the voyeur, boring is seductive. Such is certainly the case for the narrator — A.K.A. the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan. The protagonist of Natsuko Imamura's delightfully disturbing new novel, who endlessly watches the banal activities of the person she comes to call the Woman in the Purple Skirt, eventually forcing their lives to bleed together, by getting her obsession a job at the hotel where she already works. Imamura does weird singularly well, and keeps the suspense taut throughout the novel, always teasing an answer to the questions: Why this woman? What makes her so special? What makes any of us worth watching at all? Animal, Lisa Taddeo ( available June 8 ) "If someone asked me to describe myself in a single word, depraved is the one I would use." So says Joan, the pulsing heart of Three Women author Lisa Taddeo's debut novel, Animal. Joan is a woman on a mission; she is tired of being a victim; she is tired of not having any answers; she is tired of sitting still. After witnessing a horrific act of violence that was intended as a message for her, Joan decamps to Los Angeles, where she hopes to find the truth behind another formative act of violence in her life: the loss of her parents when she was 10. If someone asked me to describe Animal in one word, "depraved" might also be the one I'd use — Taddeo is exact and unflinching in her depiction of rage and vengeance. This is rarely a comfortable book to read, but that suits its subject — violence against women shouldn't ever be easy to consume. The Great Mistake, Jonathan Lee ( available June 15) There are those who would say that now is the perfect time for reading a great New York novel, and those who would say that any time is the perfect time for reading a great New York novel, and then there is me who simply has this to say: Read this, specific great New York novel now. In The Great Mistake, Jonathan Lee takes readers more than a century into the past, opening with the 1903 murder of prominent New Yorker, 83-year-old Andrew Haswell Green, who was a key figure in the establishment of everything from Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the New York Public Library to — thanks to his push for the consolidation of all five boroughs — the city of New York itself. Such a towering life as Green's might not automatically imply the type of intimate, mesmerizing narrative that Lee has written, but it is one of the many remarkable feats of the book, which perfectly balances the ambition and grand scale of the city and its history, with the messy, glorious humanity that teems not beneath the surface, but all over the place, overflowing and impossible and beautiful in all its constructed chaos. Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, Amanda Montell ( available June 15 ) It could be said that cults are having a moment right now; they're the subject of countless documentaries, long-form articles, and bizarre news items. But then again, it could be said that cults have always been having a moment, it's just that our understanding of them has changed — as has the language we use to talk about them. In Cultish, Amanda Montell's smart, incisive look into the "language of fanaticism," the author goes deep into what it really means to "drink the Kool-Aid," and explores the many ways in which brainwashing is not only a concept used on QAnon followers, but also on all of us in our jobs, our workout routines, and our social media platforms of choice. At times chilling, often funny, and always perceptive and cogent, Cultish is a bracing reminder that the scariest thing about cults is that you don't realize you're in one till it's too late. God Spare the Girls, Kelsey McKinney ( available June 22 ) Being part of a family is like being part of a very small religion (or maybe a cult?), in that it requires no small amount of faith in one another to keep everything going. What happens, then, when that faith is shaken? When the people upon whom you’ve relied your entire life to be truthful with you turn out to have been lying the whole time? In her compelling debut novel, Kelsey McKinney grapples with these questions through the lens of the Nolan family; father, Luke, is a beloved preacher, whose reputation relies, in part, on his promotion of the purity of young women — including his daughters, Abigail and Caroline. But, when Luke is revealed to not have, you know, practiced what he preached, the two girls retreat from their family, and interrogate what values are actually important to them. Both a coming-of-age book and an examination of belief, identity, and family, God Spare the Girls is unflinching and entrancing, and a reminder of the dangers of blind faith, but also the power of love. Filthy Animals, Brandon Taylor ( available June 22 ) This collection of interconnected stories is a stunning achievement from Brandon Taylor, whose debut novel Real Life signaled a singular new literary talent. Filthy Animals probes deeper into the psyches of people for whom alienation is more than just a way of life — it is life. None of that is to say there is anything dreary about these stories; rather, they are marked by a pervasive intelligence and empathy, a reminder that even in our despair and isolation, we are not wholly alone. Taylor doesn't need to get sentimental, though, to get poignant — a writerly quality that's all too rare, and very much appreciated. Objects of Desire, Clare Sestanovich ( available June 29 ) Each of the stories in Clare Sestanovich's debut collection could stand on its own — each story is a nuanced, beautifully shaped depiction of the moments that make up a life. Together, they complement and balance each other, without ever exactly intersecting, but each one making the others feel stronger, and more real. Sestanovich takes readers into the lives of women too intimately attached to their seatmates on a plane, wondering if they should have stayed with their newly successful exes, overwhelmed by the idea that there's no mystery left in their marriages. Though many of the problems are familiar, the way Sestanovich presents them is anything but: In her hands, the mundane feels surprising — mesmerizing, even. Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer, Doree Shafrir ( available June 29) In case you haven't heard, the dream of adulthood is dead, but it really did have quite a run there, didn't it? And, sure, while the dream might be dead, it's still totally anxiety-inducing to think about all the things we are "supposed" to have done by a certain age: partner, kids, home-ownership, established career, robust 401k... the list goes on. What Doree Shafrir's frank, funny memoir posits though, is... what if we just ignored all the rules and did things at our own pace? That's what she did, anyway, even if not totally intentionally. Shafrir details the many milestones she hit years after she thought she would — from professional (she came to journalism relatively late, before building an estimable career, and then leaving it all to launch a hugely successful podcast with Kate Spencer, Forever35) to personal (both marriage and motherhood came in her 40s) — and explains why it wasn't just okay to have come to these points later than planned, it was actually better. She's able to appreciate what she has in a more profound way than if it had all come earlier, and also look forward to whatever might come next, secure in the knowledge that change and growth are always possible, no matter your age. Lest this all sounds too serious, rest assured there is lots of fun media gossip in this memoir (if you're into that kind of thing, and who isn't?), as well as tons of dating adventures — and misadventures — which are bound to make you laugh and cringe in recognition in the best possible way. The Collection Plate, Kendra Allen ( available July 6 ) This spectacular debut poetry collection by Dallas-born, recent Iowa graduate Kendra Allen marks the arrival of a singular new talent, a poet whose lyricism is artfully matched by the depths of the emotions she conveys. Allen's poems explore themes of Blackness, womanhood, sex, desire, pain, and belonging, offering glimpses of the casual cruelty and sublime beauty that swim just under the surface of all our experiences. Ghost Forest, Pik-Shuen Fung ( available July 13 ) An "astronaut father" is one who doesn't stay in one place, but rather flies around, touching down at home only for a little while before launching back into orbit. It's a term invented in Hong Kong, meant to describe what it was like for families who were disrupted by the 1997 return of sovereignty from Great Britain to China. In Pik-Shuen Fung's spare, elegaic novel, the narrator has an astronaut father of her own, who stayed in Hong Kong after she and her mother and grandmother immigrated to Canada. When her father falls ill and the family gathers around him, it becomes clear that a person's absence sometimes defines who they are as much as their presence does. Told in shimmering fragments — a beautiful reflection of the way memories surface in the mind — Ghost Forest deals with the sticky stuff that makes up a life: love and loss and frustration and regret. It's never maudlin, and often funny. It is a beautiful reminder of the power of forgiveness and empathy toward those we love. A Touch of Jen, Beth Morgan ( available July 13 ) For fans of Search Party, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Twin Peaks: The Return (particularly Part 8), Beth Morgan's perfectly unhinged debut novel is a twisted delight you'll devour within a day. Remy and Alicia are an aimless couple in their 30s in New York, which is to say they're both working dead-end jobs and fixated on people with "better" lives. In their case, that means Jen, a former coworker of Remy's who now leads the glittery life of an influencer, and who becomes an unknowing third member of the couple's relationship. After a chance encounter with Jen means that Remy and Alicia get to be up-close-and-personal with Jen and her cohort (including her boyfriend... Horus) for a weekend in Montauk, things really get out of hand — there's murder, visits from the afterlife, and that's really only the beginning. With Touch of Jen, you'll laugh, you'll scream, you'll strongly consider making your Instagram private. Prepare Her, Genevieve Plunkett ( available July 13) Each of these haunting, piercing short stories shares a common language of desire: the desire to feel seen, the desire to have more than what's being offered, the desire to break free from the bonds of conventional society. In her debut collection, Genevieve Plunkett depicts the lives of women as they are really lived — with conflict and chaos, love and tenderness, and no small amount of confusion about what is supposed to come next. Each story reflects a different facet of the human condition, some glittering, some blinding, all shining a light on how impossible it can seem to figure out what it means to be alive, but also how worthwhile a pursuit it really is. Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke ( available July 13) The gap between being seen and being truly perceived is one that people grapple with more and more these days, in wholly new and unnerving ways. This gap, where there exists a palpable loneliness, is what Kristen Radtke explores in her latest graphic work, which makes its way across America — and across the America of our minds — probing and prodding at all that is missing in our lives, and all we seek out to fill the emptiness. Radtke touches on her own experiences with loneliness, as well as those more communally felt, and with empathy and acuity, makes the reader feel a little less alone in the world, if only for a little while. What Is a Dog?, Chloe Shaw ( available July 13 ) In What Is a Dog?, Chloe Shaw tells the story of her life — laced with loss, loneliness, and love — through the lens of her dogs' lives. First, there is Easy; then, Agatha I, quickly followed by Agatha II; there is Safari and there is Otter; most importantly, there is Booker — the gentle giant of a dog that "shepherded" Shaw into her adult life, into marriage and motherhood. At every step along the way, Shaw relates more closely to her dogs than she does to other people — than she does even to herself. The quiet triumph of this deeply felt, lyrical memoir is Shaw's willingness to confront those things that scare her about being a human — the teenage boys who showed how easily and carelessly they could take control of her body; the fear that she won't know what to do in case of an emergency — and break through to the other side, a place where she can find her inner strength, her toughness. And on that other side lies the family and home she has built, one that she is at the center of — always with a dog or two close by. Virtue, Hermione Hoby ( available July 20 ) As she did in her radiant debut, , Hermione Hoby once again turns her keen eye on a very specific type of New York City privilege, one fueled by money, yes, but also youth, pretension, entrenched power imbalances, and empty gestures toward substance. Luca Lewis was just 22 when he started interning at a prestigious New York City magazine; he was very quickly swept up in a system whose rules are easy enough to learn, but a lot harder to play by if you're not white and wealthy. Luca isn't totally sure he wants to play the game — he's also interested in befriending his Black coworker, Zara — but is also pretty instantly enamored with a creative couple he meets through the magazine, and with whom he spends a pivotal summer, during which time Luca's idealized version of the world he finds himself in gets interrogated over and over again. Hoby is excellent here, cleverly — but never cruelly — pulling apart all the lies people tell themselves about what it means to be good, and offering a pellucid reminder of the dangers of complacency and inaction. Neon in Daylight Intimacies, Katie Kitamura ( available July 20 ) Though it has all the ingredients for a story of global intrigue — it's set in The Hague, at the International Court, and centers around an interpreter who's asked to translate for a former president accused of war crimes — what Katie Kitamura's new novel, Intimacies, really does is offer intrigue of a more, well, intimate sort. This is the kind of book that quickens the pulse not because of logic-defying plot twists, but rather because of how surgically precise it is in revealing how our emotional realities take on epic dimensions in our own minds, and often threaten our stability in the precise ways that things of global import rarely do. So while, yes, there is a tumultuous affair and a random act of violence, Intimacies is less viscerally disturbing than it is psychologically disconcerting — like all the very best thrillers, anyway. The Turnout, Megan Abbott ( available August 3 ) After tackling the fraught, competitive worlds of cheerleading and gymnastics, Megan Abbott has turned her attention to ballet — a milieu ripe for her particular brand of intense psychosexual thrills. Dara and Marie Durant are sisters who run their family ballet school alongside Dara's husband, Charlie, forming a professional and personal triangle that threatens to fall apart after there's a suspicious accident during the rehearsals for the annual production of The Nutcracker. There's no one better than Abbott at exploring issues of femininity and power struggles, and getting at the visceral heart of both. Fans of Black Swan and The Red Shoes are bound to be obsessed with The Turnout. Radiant Fugitives, Nawaaz Ahmed ( available August 3) Nawaaz Ahmed's remarkable debut is both a profound meditation on political and social injustices, and an intimate, delicately wrought examination of the complications inherent to issues of desire, identity, and family. Set in an America that existed not long ago, but feels like a lifetime away — the Obama era — Radiant Fugitives is the multi-generational story of a Muslim Indian American family, who are largely estranged from one another. That all changes when pregnant Seema — who was rejected from her family after coming out as a lesbian — tries to reconnect with her mother and sister before giving birth. Their reunion is no simple thing, of course, and years of resentment, mistrust, and buried love come to the surface. Political and poetic, Ahmed's novel is a provocative meditation on forgiveness, compassion, and family. All's Well, Mona Awad ( available August 3) Mona Awad's last novel, , was a deliciously dark comedy that took place in a graduate school writing program — a setting that was ripe for a send-up. Now, Awad is turning her fierce and funny gaze onto a college theater program, where Professor Miranda Fitch is having a hard time getting her students to perform Bunny All's Well That Ends Well — just one more indignity for a woman who is dealing with relationship issues, a tenuous professional future, and debilitating chronic pain. Help appears to come in the form of a trio of mysterious patrons of the arts, whose assistance could solve all of Miranda's problems — but at what cost? Awad is the kind of writer who brings her characters all the way to the edge of their breaking point, and then pushes them far past it, leading to reliably wicked and hilarious results — a wild, welcome ride, indeed. Paris Is A Party, Paris Is A Ghost, David Hoon Kim ( available August 3 ) Summer doesn't get enough credit for being the most ghostly of all seasons. (After all, we're surrounded by so much life that is dying right before our very eyes! The days — they're only getting shorter!) But if you, like me, acknowledge that now is the perfect time to feel haunted, then you should pick up this deliriously strange novel about a man who cannot escape the specter of the woman he once loved. After her mysterious death, Fumiko haunts Henrik wherever he goes throughout the streets of Paris. He searches not only for her, but also for a clearer sense of himself. David Hoon Kim's debut is a moving, subversive look at desire, loss, and identity, making clear that there is no limit to what grief will drive us to do. Something New Under the Sun, Alexandra Kleeman ( available August 3 ) In her third book, Alexandra Kleeman has created a world that's just one or two degrees to the left of our own; the contours are recognizable (that's Hollywood, baby!), but the details are discomfiting, and more than a little perverse (Californians now drink a synthetic water product, WAT-R). As her debut novel, , unsettlingly showed, Kleeman is a visionary writer, one who translates the undercurrents vibrating all around us into something that feels more than just reflective of our world, but eerily prophetic. She's also very funny. These two qualities are shown to great effect here, as she turns her attention to the movie business, our looming climate crisis, corporate malfeasance and the Disney child star system. It's a brilliant, ambitious book, and a reminder of how we can't allow our personal anxieties to prevent us from acknowledging the truth of what's going on all around us. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine Agatha of Little Neon, Claire Luchette ( available August 3 ) An enchanting, sparkling book about the many meanings of sisterhood, Claire Luchette's Agatha of Little Neon is an effervescent treat of a novel, a reminder that there are many different ways in which we protect ourselves from the world without actually confronting what it is that makes us vulnerable. Agatha is one of four Catholic sisters who leaves her seemingly idyllic life of seclusion out of necessity; she begins teaching at a public high school, and encounters the type of people — for better and for worse — that she'd been able to avoid for years before. As her own sense of identity gets challenged over and over, Agatha comes to terms with what it was that made it possible for her to live a life apart from the messiness of the world for so long, and who it is she wants to be as she moves forward with her life. Horse Girls, edited by Halimah Marcus ( available August 3 ) If you weren't a horse girl growing up, you certainly knew horse girls — the kind of girls whose notebooks featured doodles of colts cantering across the looseleaf margins, the kind who were really good at doing French braids, the kind who aspired to do nothing more than spend their weekends mucking out the stables. Of course, "horse girl" also implies someone who is obsessive in a perhaps not healthy way, and who is privileged enough to spend any time at all around horses — not the least expensive of hobbies. But, what Halimah Marcus (a self-identifying horse girl) does so beautifully in this anthology is show the other side of horse girls, revealing that they aren't all wealthy white girls, and that their passion for horses speaks to other desires simmering just under the surface. As if you need any more incentive to read this, know that contributing essayists include T Kira Madden, Carmen Maria Machado, and Maggie Shipstead, among others, all of them wrestling with issues like unbridled freedom and subjugation, devotion and identity and desire. Savage Tongues, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi ( available August 3 ) Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi's stunning new novel is a hauntingly beautiful depiction of the way past traumas grip at our insides, threatening to tear us apart years after we've experienced them. Arezu was just a teenager when she met the 40-year-old Omar in Spain; their affair that summer has echoed throughout her life, knocking over everything with its vibrations. Two decades later, Arezu, along with her friend, Ellie, returns to the apartment where it happened, hoping to excavate some of the pain. Political as it is lyrical, Savage Tongues is rigorous in its exploration of the effects that violence and corruption have on our conception of ourselves. Afterparties, Anthony Veasna So ( available August 3 ) An electrifying, raucous debut collection of stories, Anthony Veasna So's Afterparties feels clandestine and tingly, like a secret told to you by your very best friend — the one who always has the best gossip, and knows how to make you laugh so hard you cry. Set in California's Central Valley, Afterparties is set in the region's Cambodian-American community, and is fearless and funny in its approach to the immigrant experience, the queer experience — the human experience. The characters grapple with trauma and identity, issues of family and sexuality; there's a generosity to So's writing, as if he knew how deeply readers would need his work, and connect with it. It's magic. Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor, Anna Qu ( available August 3 ) When teenaged Anna Qu calls Child Protective Services on her mother, she has no idea what the end result will be, only that she can't balance a life of working in her family's garment factory in Queens along with her schoolwork any more. Years later, Qu — estranged from her mother — accesses her case file, and finds numerous inconsistencies in the official record of her difficult adolescence, leading her to question what the truth of it all really was. Made in China is a fierce, provocative look at the sacrifices made by immigrants in a new country, and the sacrifices they pass down to the next generation. It's a story of family and trauma, resilience and collapse, and Qu is dazzling as she dismantles the mythologies surrounding the immigrant work ethic, making clear that a person's humanity should never be connected with how "productive" they are. The Manningtree Witches, A.K. Blakemore ( available August 10 ) Even those people most nostalgic for the past wouldn't want to go back quite as far as mid-17th century England, when the country was ravaged by Civil War and women faced specious accusations of witchcraft. And yet, in A.K. Blakemore's dark, entrancing debut novel, there is something seductive about the small town of Manningtree, where women are left mostly alone as the men are off at war, and have their first tastes of freedom in their staunchly Puritanical society. Until, that is, the self-proclaimed Witchfinder General comes to town, determined to unmask any magical elements among the population, and quell anything that might disrupt the patriarchal powers-that-be. Blakemore's story is inspired by real events from 400 years ago (primary sources are sprinkled throughout), but the narrative feels vivid, current, propulsive — and all the more viscerally deranging for it. The Women of Troy, Pat Barker ( available August 24) The reimagining of mythological epics is certainly having a moment (think, Circe and Song of Achilles), but it's a moment worth extending, I think, a reminder that even the most well-known sagas can generate surprises and newfound delights. Pat Barker's The Women of Troy starts at an ending: The Trojan War is over, the Greeks are victorious, and all that's left is for them to sail home with their spoils — including an untold number of women captives. Barker's novel is told from the perspective of Briseis, a Trojan woman who was captured and enslaved during the war by the Greeks, and is now using the end-of-war chaos to plot her path to revenge. Barker has already written about Briseis before, in the excellent , and this continuation of the Trojan woman's story feels like another victory for every person who was silenced by history, their story stolen from them. The Silence of the Girls Seeing Ghosts, Kat Chow ( available August 24 ) Being part of a family means being privy to a series of longstanding inside jokes — the darker they are, the closer your family probably is. In Kat Chow's family, one such joke was that her mother wanted, upon her death, to have her body preserved and put on display in Chow's apartment — a taxidermy guardian angel of sorts, always watching over her daughter. Chow's mother died young, and the grief that followed for Chow, her sisters, and her father, was an impetus for writing Seeing Ghosts, a deeply felt, indelibly moving memoir that traces the lives of generations of Chow's family, as they emigrated across the world. This memoir is an excavation of a family's history, but it's also a reclamation of sorts, a reminder that our stories stretch out far past the edges of our own lives, and that there is comfort to be discovered in their reach, beauty to be found in their embrace. After the Sun, Jonas Eika ( available August 24 ) Featuring a cast of characters span the world, from Mexico to Denmark and everywhere in between, Jonas Eika's After the Sun is an urgent, deliriously discomforting reflection of how we're all connected with one another — and what it is we expect in exchange for that kind of access. Eika holds nothing back in his fiction, he goes into the tightest of spaces and most intimate and terrifying of moments in order to breakthrough to places few have been before — or even imagined existing. Inter State, Jose Vadi Popisho, Leone Ross Unsettled Ground, Claire Fuller The Perishing, Natasha Deon Lesson In Red, Maria Hummel The Scapegoat, Sara Davis Four Humors, Mina Seckin Sorrowland, Rivers Solomon What to Miss When, Leigh Stein On Freedom, Maggie Nelson Real Estate, Deborah Levy Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?