June 2016 brings with it a host of eagerly anticipated books–everything from a history of the great Chicago space The Empty Bottle to new novels by longtime Vol.1 Brooklyn favorites Alexis M. Smith and Gabriel Blackwell. June also brings with it candid memoirs, debut novels, cosmic horror, and fictional takes on everything from South Africa’s recent history to the planet’s future. Here’s a look at some of the books that have caught our eye for the month to come.


Madeleine E., Gabriel Blackwell
(June 1, Outpost19)

Gabriel Blackwell’s head-spinning fiction has riffed on everything from LA noir to cosmic horror. His latest book takes on an even more labyrinthine concept: the film Vertigo and the ways in which it can prompt bizarre obsessions. It seems an ideal match of subject and author; we’ve been looking forward to this ever since an excerpt popped up on The Collapsar a few years ago.


The Hatred of Poetry, Ben Lerner
(June 7, FSG Originals)

Before he was best-known for writing intense semi-autobiographical novels, Ben Lerner achieved acclaim as a poet. In this short nonfiction work, he takes a more analytical approach regarding that form, examining perceptions of poetry over the years and discussing its ability to address complex political and societal questions.


The Reactive, Masande Ntshanga
(June 7, Two Dollar Radio)

Set in South Africa’s recent past, The Reactive follows its narrator as he makes his living selling anti-retroviral drugs and wrestling with his guilt over the death of his brother several years earlier. This tautly-written novel immerses the reader in the daily lives and moods of its characters, and created a powerful portrait of a life on the margins of society.


Infomocracy, Malka Ann Older
(June 7, Tor.com)

With an election on the horizon, it might well be time to delve into some political science fiction to see where things might be headed. Malka Ann Older’s first novel explores the overlap of politics and technology, and concepts of microdemocracy over the course of its narrative.


Among Strange Victims, Daniel Saldaña Paris; translated by Christine MacSweeney
(June 7, Coffee House Press)

Trying to nearly summarize Daniel Saldaña Paris’s Among Strange Victims isn’t easy. Its unconventional narrative includes a narrator who accidentally stumbles into married life, a Spanish academic far from home, and the strange career of an early-20th-century writer. It’s a novel that comes at you from odd angles, making a memorable impression as it goes.


Marrow Island, Alexis M. Smith
(June 7, Houghton Mifflin)

Alexis M. Smith’s debut novel, Glaciers, was a favorite around these parts–a neatly-written, minutely-observed book that established a fantastic sense of place and personality. Her eagerly-awaited follow-up is set in a Pacific Northwest that’s been devastated by a massive earthquake, and focuses on the people dealing with the aftereffects of such a cataclysm.


Sex Object: A Memoir, Jessica Valenti
(June 7, Dey Street Books)

Jessica Valenti has written extensively about politics and gender for places like The Guardian and Feministing.com, the site she founded. Her memoir Sex Object provides another window onto her writing, focusing on her early life and the experiences that helped shape her and her voice.


Last Sext, Melissa Broder
(June 14, Tin House)

If you enjoy Melissa Broder’s writing, as we do, this is a mightily good year for you. Her essay collection So Sad Today was released a few months ago, and June brings with it her fourth book of poems, Last Sext. Candid, visceral, and unpredictable, Broder is doing fantastic work across a wide range of styles.


The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing, John E. Dugan (editor)
(June 21, Curbside Splendor)

It’s an oral history of  storied Chicago venue The Empty Bottle, featuring contributions from bands, employees, and more, and the foreword is by John Darnielle. What’s not to like?


Death by Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline, Simon Parkin
(June 21, Melville House)

Simon Parkin has written about video games and gaming culture for a host of publications. In his new book, he explores the ways in which the playing of games can be pushed to extremes, with harrowing consequences for those involved.


Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs, Dave Holmes
(June 28, Crown Archetype)

Dave Holmes is a person who knows a whole lot about music–he’s spent time as a VJ, and also writes about a host of topics for Esquire. (His story of encountering grifters who were terrible at grifting is well worth a read.) And now he’s written a memoir with music providing both backdrop and structure, which we are quite excited to read.


Gaijin, Jordan Okumura
(June 28, Civil Coping Mechanisms/#RECURRENT)

In this haunting experimentally-structured novel, Jordan Okumura explores questions of family, identity, and the aftermath of violence. It’s a powerful, unsettling book, and it takes a number of narrative risks that pay off incredibly well.


The Sun In Your Eyes, Deborah Shapiro
(June 28, William Morrow)

Deborah Shapiro’s debut novel focuses on the ups and downs of a friendship between two young women, and the road trip that they take in search of a legendary musician’s lost album. We’re always up for a book that takes an insightful look at a complex bond between two people, and this promises to be exactly that.


The Fisherman, John Langan
(June 30, Word Horde)

John Langan’s fiction nestles stories within stories, laced with both moments of existential dread and a sense of what makes classic tales of the supernatural tick. His new novel focuses on two grief-stricken men living in the Hudson River Valley and their encounter with a sinister figure whose story is intertwined with the region’s history.

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