May brings with it a host of noteworthy books that have caught our eye. Some are the latest works from authors who have become favorites over the years; others are structurally bold, socially relevant, or intensely disconcerting. (In some cases, they may be some combination of the above.) It’s going to be a good month for books, whether you’re looking for an illuminating take on music or an unsettling ghost story. Here are some of the books due out in May that we’re most excited about.
The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band, Michelle Cruz Gonzales
(May 1, PM Press)
We’re always eager to read a good punk memoir, and we’ve been excited about Michelle Cruz Gonzales’s book about her time in the political punk band Spitboy since we first heard about it last year. The addition of contributions from Mimi Thi Nguyen and Martín Sorrondeguy has us even more eager to read this.
The Metaphysical Ukulele, Sean Carswell
(May 3, Ig Publishing)
Sean Carswell’s novel explores the lives and styles of beloved writers ranging from Chester Himes to Flannery O’Connor. As the title suggests, ukuleles play a prominent role. This is conceptually bold stuff with more than a little absurdism thrown in, which makes for an appealing combination.
The Assistants, Camille Perri
(May 3rd, Putnam)
With this debut novel, Perri gives the world the call to arms for an entire generation strapped down by debt, to the underpaid and under-appreciated. Hilarious and stylish, this sly and subversive debut should be read by those about to go into the real world, and those of us stuck in the mire of it already.
Zero K, Don DeLillo
(May 3, Scribner)
It’s a new Don DeLillo novel; the plot involves cryogenics. Need we say more?
White Sands: Experiences From the Outside World, Geoff Dyer
(May 3, Pantheon)
Geoff Dyer’s writings have a powerful sense of place, whether in his collected essays or in his surveys of a particular place with a strong historical resonance. This latest collection of nonfiction bridges his geographic and cultural interests, and looks to be a fine survey of his strengths as a writer.
You Are A Complete Disappointment: A Triumphant Memoir of Failed Expectations, Mike Edison
(May 3, Sterling)
Mike Edison’s cultural dispatches, broadcast work, and editorial eye have made him an eminently recognizable personality. This memoir ventures into Edison’s formative years and candidly explores the familial dynamics that shaped his literary voice.
Native Believer, Ali Eteraz
(May 3, Akashic Books)
Ali Eteraz’s fiction has encompassed everything from the surreal and fantastical to the urgently political. Native Believer, his debut novel, explores questions of nationality, religion, and the fears and paranoia in American society circa right now.
Sweet Lamb of Heaven, Lydia Millet
(May 3, W.W. Norton)
It’s a new Lydia Millet novel; the plot involves politics and unsettling religious visions. Need we say more?
Allegheny Front, Matthew Neill Null
(May 3, Sarabande Books)
Lydia Millet also contributed the introduction to this collection from Matthew Neill Null. In it, you’ll find a host of stories set in bleak landscapes and featuring characters struggling to survive under harsh circumstances.
We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement, Andi Zeisler
(May 3, PublicAffairs)
As a founding editor of Bitch Media, Andi Zeisler is an astute observer of culture and change; in this work of nonfiction, she explores how the concept of feminism has evolved over the last few decades, and how commercialization has affected it.
The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones, Rich Cohen
(May 10, Spiegel & Grau)
Rich Cohen’s nonfiction has focused on a host of disparate topics, from the unpleasant side of American influence in 20th century South America to the history of Israel to the 1985 Chicago Bears. The subject of his latest book, as the title might suggest, is a certain long-running rock band–which seems like a very promising blend of author and subject.
The Pier Falls and Other Stories, Mark Haddon
(May 10, Doubleday)
Odds are good that you’re familiar with Mark Haddon’s novels–The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has had a lengthy second life in its inventive stage adaptation. This book collects nine of his short stories, encompassing a variety of styles and images.
Quiet Creature on the Corner, João Gilberto Noll (translated by Adam Morris)
(May 10, Two Lines Press)
This Brazilian novel, originally released in 1991 and newly translated into English, features a narrator who commits a horrifying act early in the book, and finds himself in a series of disquieting situations after being arrested. This short novel is haunting and unpredictable, sustaining a very unsettling tone throughout.
The Mirror Thief, Martin Seay
(May 10, Melville House)
Martin Seay’s massive novel features three intertwined plotlines. Each is set in Venice, but in vastly different times (and vastly different Venices). We’re always up for a good structurally inventive novel, and this looks like exactly that.
Witch Hunt, Juliet Escoria
(May 13, Lazy Fascist Press)
We eagerly read Juliet Escoria’s 2014 short story collection Black Cloud. Her followup to that is this collection, which finds her shifting her emphasis to poetry, without sacrificing any of the visceral qualities or sense of disorientation that prevailed in her debut.
Letters to Kevin, Stephen Dixon
(May 17, Fantagraphics)
This month brings with it the latest addition to Stephen Dixon’s long-running array of unpredictable fiction. Letters to Kevin focuses on a man attempting to make contact with an old friend, and the surreal series of obstacles that emerge to thwart him in this pursuit.
Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal about the Meaning of Life, Steven Hyden
(May 17, Little, Brown and Company)
Steven Hyden has written about pop culture for the likes of Pitchfork and Grantland. In this, his first book, he looks at pop music through the prism of nineteen distinct rivalries, covering the likes of Dave Mustaine, Dr. Dre, and Taylor Swift.
Shadows in Summerland, Adrian Van Young
(May 17, ChiZine Publications)
Adrian Van Young’s debut collection The Man Who Noticed Everything left us eager to read his first novel, which explores occultists in the 19th century. This month brings with it its American release, and we’re very excited that it will available to readers here. (We also ran an excerpt from it late last year.)
Action: A Book About Sex, Amy Rose Spiegel
(May 18, Grand Central)
In recent years, Amy Rose Spiegel has written an abundance of nonfiction that’s impressed us with its breadth, candor, and emotional weight. This book, her debut, focuses (as the subtitle suggests) on sex, approaching it from multiple angles and perspectives. It also gets bonus points for the reference to The Jam on the cover illustration.
Dear Fang, With Love, Rufi Thorpe
(May 24, Knopf)
Rufi Thorpe’s follow-up to the acclaimed The Girls From Corona del Mar focuses on a young woman and her father visiting Lithuania, where they explore the complexities of their family’s history, and the places where it converges with the breadth of that nation’s history in the 20th Century.
Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
(May 31, Riverhead)
We are admirers of the writings of Emma Straub; we are also admirers of novels focusing on the emotional and familial lives of indie rockers. Ergo, a novel by Straub about the complex lives of onetime bandmates confronting aging and long-running tension has our interest very, very piqued.