Welcome to the month of July. Odds are good that your Instagram has a higher-than-usual percentage of images of books read beside water and sand; odds are good that your social media feed abounds with frustration with humidity, public transit delays, and the joys of summer heat. July also brings with it a fascinating assortment of new (and newly translated) books, from thought-provoking fiction to incisive nonfiction. Here’s a look at some of the books that are on our minds this month.
Found Audio, N. J. Campbell
(July 11, Two Dollar Radio)
We’re always up for a good tale of surreal landscapes and mysterious media–and Found Audio looks like it has both in abundance. Throw in a narrative that spans continents and a metatextual approach to the novel’s structure, and we’re suitably intrigued.
Moving Kings, Joshua Cohen
(July 11, Random House)
Joshua Cohen’s fiction embraces the highest of concepts, whether he’s working in a realistic vein or exploring metaphysical narrative concerns. His latest novel, Moving Kings, seems to be in the former category, and deals with contemporary Israeli and American sociopolitical concerns.
Night Class, Victor P. Corona
(July 11, Soft Skull)
Night Class takes a unique approach to writing about the club scene in New York City: its author has a background as a sociologist, and so his immersion in this world comes from that angle–an academic outsider rather than an insider. That tension makes for an interesting approach to writing about the world documented here–and a fascinating read as a whole.
The Violins of Saint-Jacques, Patrick Leigh Fermor
(July 11, NYRB Classics)
Patrick Leigh Fermor’s works about traveling across Europe still resonate today: though the landscape through which he made his way has changed substantially, his observations remain eminently readable. The Violins of Saint-Jacques is his only novel, and reveals another side of Fermor’s thematic and literary concerns.
The Woman From Prague, Rob Hart
(July 11, Polis Books)
Rob Hart’s novels featuring private detective Ash McKenna have followed the character to a series of locations across the United States. Hart’s latest book expands the scope of the series somewhat, following McKenna as he crosses the Atlantic and ventures into the underworld of–well, you can probably surmise the setting from the title.
Gabe, the Teenage Dragon, Gabe Hudson
(July 11, Knopf)
There’s something inherently compelling about a good coming-of-age story. Maybe it’s the fact that readers can see themselves in the protagonist; maybe it’s relief at dodging the awkwardness of one’s teenage years. Gabe Hudson’s new novel falls into the coming-of-age narrative, but adds a twist: our hero here has wings and can breathe fire and is, you know, a dragon.
My Heart Hemmed In, Marie NDiaye; translated by Jordan Stump
(July 11, Two Lines Press)
Marie NDiaye’s haunting, atmospheric prose has made for deeply compelling reading, whether she’s exploring her own family’s history or delving into complex fictional accounts of interpersonal turmoil. This newly-translated novel follows a married couple as they deal with the community around them turning on them and suffer strange medical catastrophes.
Knots, Gunnhild Øyehaug; translated by Kari Dickson
(July 11, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
We’re always up for new work in translation, and the description of this 2004 collection making its debut in the US for the first time, has our interest piqued. There’s a blend of surreal physical imagery and exploration of literary history here, all of which sounds quite promising.
Telling the Map, Christopher Rowe
(July 11, Small Beer Press)
Christopher Rowe’s new collection of short fiction contains ten explorations of the surreal and the fantastical. Rowe also adds a regional dimension into his work, and volleys out questions of place, of borders, and of family along the way–a thematically rich approach to storytelling.
The Epiphany Machine, David Burr Gerrard
(July 18, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
We were huge admirers of David Burr Gerrard’s first novel, Short Century, when we encountered it three years ago. Like that novel, The Epiphany Machine grapples with massive sociopolitical questions; this novel, however, adds in a surreal dimension through the title device, which inscribes epiphanies on the arms of the people who use it.
The Dark Dark, Samantha Hunt
(July 18, FSG Originals)
We’ve been eager to read more from Samantha Hunt ever since we read her latest novel, the surreal ghost story Mr. Splitfoot. Now, its followup has arrived in the form of The Dark Dark, Hunt’s first collection of short stories. Given her command of tone and ambiguity, we’re looking forward to experiencing her work in shorter forms.
Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music, Michael Robbins
(July 18, Simon & Schuster)
Michael Robbins may be best-known for his distinctive poetry, but he’s also written a number of fantastic pieces about culture and art over the years. Needless to say, we’re very excited about his latest book, a work of nonfiction that explores unexpected pop culture convergences in contemporary society.