Lady pirates! Kafkaesque stories! Ovid’s advice! 26 new books out today.


June 4, 2024, 4:43am

It’s the first Tuesday in June, which means that summer and Pride Month are here, and, to inaugurate both, there’s a bevy of books hot off the proverbial presses to check out. Below, you’ll find no less than twenty-six new titles to consider in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, a number of which explore queerness from different vantage points, including a guide to queer desire from the ancient Greeks, a study of queer athletes in the twentieth century under fascist regimes, and more.

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There are highly anticipated novels from Chukwuebuka Ibeh, Joseph O’Neill, Maxim Loskutoff, Essie Chambers, Claire Kilroy, Gabriel Smith, Marcela Fuentes, and more; there’s also an exciting collection of stories told in Kafkaesque fashion by members of our modern literati, including Tommy Orange, Elif Batuman, and Ali Smith. You’ll find a a new poetry collection from Michael Lista after a long hiatus. And, if you’re in the mood for nonfiction, you’ll find a lot to be excited about: Jennifer Romolini exploring the nature of ambition; a new look at Kafka’s literary legacy; an exploration of Poe’s techniques and his influence; a study of the women who helped popularize the concept of department stores and transformed America’s fashion and economy; and more.

It’s a grand day for new literature. Read deeply, and let your book piles grow. There’s always more space somewhere, right?

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Blessings - Ibeh, Chukwuebuka

Chukwuebuka Ibeh, Blessings
(Doubleday)

“Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s debut novel is a quiet but profoundly moving coming-of-age story about a young gay man in mid-2000s Nigeria….Blessings is an excellent work of queer fiction….He offers us a precious glimpse of the world as it truly is for so many queer people: not tragic, not perfect, not all suffering or all joy—but worth living in and telling stories about.”
BookPage

Godwin - O'Neill, Joseph

Joseph O’Neill, Godwin
(Pantheon Books)

Godwin is a miracle: a gripping novel refracting in clear and poetic language the seemingly incompatible elements of today’s world: Africa, Pittsburgh, workplace intrigues, colonialism, writing, racism, dogs, sibling rivalry, capitalism, modalities of love, all under the splendorous umbrella of soccer as an exploitative business, passion, philosophy, and history….Godwin is a champion book.”
–Aleksandar Hemon

A Cage Went in Search of a Bird: Ten Kafkaesque Stories - Orange, Tommy

Tommy Orange, Ali Smith, Naomi Alderman, Elif Batuman, Helen Oyeyemi, Joshua Cohen, Charlie Kaufman, Yiyun Li, Keith Ridgway, Leone Ross, A Cage Went In Search of a Bird: Ten Kafkaesque Stories
(Catapult)

“Franz Kafka died in June 1924, at the age of forty, but his fables of absurd transformation, macabre punishments, and human venality are alive and well . . . [The authors] offer narratives of baffling circumscriptions, illnesses, miscommunications, and technologies. But the stories also make space for potentiality, with characters witnessing change or glimpsing future possibilities–putting Kafka’s turn-of-the-century disillusionment into conversation with our own.”
Poets & Writers

Ambition Monster: A Memoir - Romolini, Jennifer

Jennifer Romolini, Ambition Monster: A Memoir
(Atria)

“An exquisitely written reckoning with our own career hunger: where it comes from, but also what it costs us. Ambition Monster is weird and funny and brutally honest in all of the best ways. If you find yourself on the other end of burnout, trying desperately to figure out a new way forward—wow, is this book for you.”
–Anne Helen Petersen

The Explorers: A New History of America in Ten Expeditions - Bellows, Amanda

Amanda Bellows, The Explorers: A New History of America in Ten Expeditions
(William Morrow)

“Amanda Bellows’s The Explorers is an intrepid study of the most intrepid people, the majority women….[B]ehold a brilliantly imaginative, beautifully written story about many kinds of frontiers—oceans, mountains, the limits of the sky itself, and above all the nature of the human quest against all manner of odds, including race and gender. From Sacagawea to John Muir to Sally Ride, this book is immensely readable and surprising in its insights.”
–David Blight

Metamorphoses: In Search of Franz Kafka - Watroba, Karolina

Karolina Watroba, Metamorphoses: In Search of Franz Kafka
(Pegasus)

“An astute modern take on Kafka’s importance, published on the centenary of his death. Watroba’s studies take the form of a travelogue as she searches for ‘Kafka’s metamorphoses around the world, ‘ and she strikes a clever balance between contemporary connections and scholarly research. It’s a pleasure to travel with her as she illuminates the global circuitry of what it means to be Kafkaesque today.”
Kirkus Reviews

Barfly - Lista, Michael

Michael Lista, Barfly and Other Poems
(Biblioasis)

“After a ten-year hiatus from poetry—and out of nowhere—Michael Lista has dropped an instant classic. The poems in this book are profane, pugilistic, and moving, with wickedly funny rhymes to boot. Barfly is an uncompromising, messed-up masterpiece. I fucking love it.”
–Jason Guriel

Swift River: A Read with Jenna Pick - Chambers, Essie

Essie Chambers, Swift River
(Simon & Schuster)

“In the tradition of all great mother-daughter stories, Swift River is complicated, frank, yet infused with that satisfying feeling one gets when you realize the missing piece to the puzzle is a sense of self. Page by beautifully vibrant page, Swift River comes at you in whirring Kodachrome snapshots of memory, classic rock, and hidden New England lore. A sensational debut.”
–Paul Beatty

Old King - Loskutoff, Maxim

Maxim Loskutoff, Old King
(Norton)

“A Cormac McCarthy-esque story of a deeply troubled American west, Old King is lyrical, haunting, humane, and unflinching. It reads like an approaching thunderstorm, one from which you cannot shelter.”
–Paul Tremblay

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye - Cameron, Briony

Briony Cameron, The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
(Atria Books)

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye is an action-packed, pirate-filled adventure on the high seas! Cameron weaves a beautiful and, at times, gut-wrenching tale of found family, self-discovery, and the true meaning of freedom. Readers will fall in love with Jacquotte as she finds herself and her purpose amid the waves of the Caribbean Sea….The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye will appeal to both avid historical fiction readers and those new to the genre.”
–M. J. Kuhn

How to Be Queer: An Ancient Guide to Sexuality - Nooter, Sarah

Sarah Nooter, How to Be Queer: An Ancient Guide to Sexuality
(Princeton University Press)

“A wonderful, wise, witty, and joyful survey of queerness in the ancient world that reminds us how—two thousand years and more before us—our ancestors often had clearer, less guilt-ridden, confused, prurient, and prudish attitudes to the rainbow of sexualities that we wrongly think unique to our age. An absolute must-read!”
–Stephen Fry

How to Get Over a Breakup: An Ancient Guide to Moving on - Ovid

Ovid, Michael Fontaine, How to Get Over a Breakup: An Ancient Guide to Moving On
(Princeton University Press)

“A pleasure to read, Michael Fontaine’s excellent new translation of Ovid’s Remedies for Love truly brings the ancient text back to life. Most of all, it lets the universality of the psychological experience of ‘love lost’ shine through for contemporary readers, making Ovid’s work accessible to students, lovers of classical antiquity—and anyone in need of breakup advice.”
–Chiara Thumiger

In Poe's Wake: Travels in the Graphic and the Atmospheric - Elmer, Jonathan

Jonathan Elmer, In Poe’s Wake: Travels in the Graphic and the Atmospheric
(University of Chicago Press)

In Poe’s Wake is a deft, surprising, fun, and insightful dash through the arsenal of special effects created by Poe and elaborated by his avatars. Elmer’s brief yet potent book pinpoints those aspects of his poems, tales, and critical theory….This lively, humorous (and sometimes lurid) cross-disciplinary romp reveals how Poe has been taken up and reconfigured by a veritable who’s who of literature, music, cinema, and visual art.”
–John Tresch

Brat - Smith, Gabriel

Gabriel Smith, Brat
(Penguin Press)

“Messy with glitched realities and body horror, Brat breathes the same thrillingly claustrophobic air as Inland Empire and Ubik. It’s a skin-shedding ouroboros of grief and laughter, and the most brain-melting British debut I’ve read in ages.”
–Ed Park

Soldier Sailor - Kilroy, Claire

Claire Kilroy, Soldier Sailor
(Scribner)

“A searing portrait of the early years of parenting….Kilroy succeeds in offering readers a glimpse into motherhood that feels as primal as it is poetic, a brilliant reflection of how impossibly enormous all emotions become in the transition into motherhood. Raw and honest, Soldier Sailor will leave readers white-knuckled at the end of an emotional roller-coaster of anguish and joy alike that perfectly encapsulates the extremes of becoming a parent.”
Shelf Awareness

Malas - Fuentes, Marcela

Marcela Fuentes, Malas
(Viking)

Malas ensnares you with its antic energy, vibrant secrets, and the wickedly smart, self-assured Lulu at the center of it all. An enviably electric debut from Marcela Fuentes, who knows in her bones that the bad girls living in family cuentos, in telenovelas, and in town gossip are also the ones that glow with the brightest fire inside.”
–Manuel Muñoz

Your Caption Has Been Selected: More Than Anyone Could Possibly Want to Know about the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest - Wood, Lawrence

Lawrence Wood, Your Caption Has Been Selected: More Than Anyone Could Possibly Want to Know about the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest
(St. Martin’s Press)

“An appealing book about a surprisingly difficult task: writing a good cartoon caption. It is fair to say that the New Yorker caption contest is a genuine cultural phenomenon, attracting thousands of entries every week. Wood, who has won the competition an unmatched eight times…is perfectly situated to examine why a good caption works….Wood has a great time here, mixing the bizarre, the jocular, and the wise into a clever package.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Other Olympians: Fascism, Queerness, and the Making of Modern Sports - Waters, Michael

Michael Waters, The Other Olympians: Fascism, Queerness, and the Making of Modern Sports
(FSG)

“A significant deep dive into the queer historical evolution and significance of transgender athletes in organized sports….Densely factual, impeccably researched, and written with dramatic flair, this book intensively probes gender bias in the Olympics amid the rise of European midcentury fascism and the epic challenges to gender essentialism.”
Kirkus Reviews

Boymom: Reimagining Boyhood in the Age of Impossible Masculinity - Whippman, Ruth

Ruth Whippman, Boymom: Reimagining Boyhood in the Age of Impossible Masculinity
(Harmony)

“Provocative and probing….Ruth Whippman investigates the changing orthodoxies of American manhood. She discovers loneliness and failed good intentions but also a longing for connection and moments of grace. Whippman shows us that we ought to think harder about who we want our boys to become.”
–Pamela Druckerman

The Road to the Country - Obioma, Chigozie

Chigozie Obioma, The Road to the Country
(Hogarth)

“Obioma has captured the essential elements of the war novel—the near-death experience, the tragic losses, the flickering moments of generosity and grace—but he inhabits them with a rare command, empathy, and intensity of feeling….A top-tier war novel, inventive and cleareyed about the consequences of violence.”
Kirkus Reviews

Dances of Time and Tenderness - Carter, Julian

Julian Carter, Dances of Time and Tenderness
(Nightboat)

“Lyrical, fervent ponderings on the intersection of queerness, art, eroticism, and history….Within this vibrant interwoven tapestry, the author has created a welcome cultural retrospective of LGBTQ+ life.”
Kirkus Reviews

Role Play - Drummond, Clara

Clara Drummond, Role Play (trans. Daniel Hahn)
(FSG Originals)

Role Play is a twisted, painful, brilliantly written novel in the spirit of Clarice Lispector that allows the reader to truly feel the depth of one person’s unexpectedly heartbreaking arc in the face of something much larger than herself.”
Booklist

When Women Ran Fifth Avenue: Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion - Satow, Julie

Julie Satow, When Women Ran Fifth Avenue: Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion
(Doubleday)

“Deliciously detailed and impeccably researched, a gripping and glamorous examination of the women who were the life force of what remains a beating heart of American culture: the department store. An exuberant read! I truly loved this book.”
–Denise Kiernan

The Originalism Trap: How Extremists Stole the Constitution and How We the People Can Take It Back - Dennie, Madiba K.

Madiba K. Dennie, The Originalism Trap: How Extremists Stole the Constitution and How We the People Can Take It Back
(Random House)

“An accessible and devastating critique of both originalism and the Roberts Court, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in learning how the Supreme Court has used originalism as a weapon while disregarding the Constitution’s potential to provide equality of opportunity, fairness, and dignity for all people.”
–Eric J. Segall

The Death of Truth: How Social Media and the Internet Gave Snake Oil Salesmen and Demagogues the Weapons They Needed to Destroy Trust and - Brill, Steven

Steven Brill, The Death of Truth
(Knopf)

“A deep dive into the muck of fake news…Brill, author of The Teamsters and America’s Bitter Pill, examines the ‘toxic mix’ of misinformation, disinformation, myths, alternative ‘facts,’ and conspiracy theories that have proliferated online, leading to a lack of belief in shared truths, distrust in the legitimacy of science and expertise, and an erosion of our sense of community…. Underscoring the acute need for reform, the author offers suggestions…A brisk, well-informed, and urgent message.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Borrowed Hills - Preston, Scott

Scott Preston, The Borrowed Hills
(Scribner)

“Scott Preston lifts the veil from the picture-postcard beauty of Britain’s Cumbrian fells to expose an atmosphere of festering despair in the lives of two farmers who lose everything when their sheep are destroyed by the government in order to contain an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. When they take desperate measures to rebuild their shattered world, what happens feels tragically inevitable. The Borrowed Hills is a story of anger and violence, devotion, love, and back-breaking hard work, told with dark, dead-pan humour and a rough kind of poetry.”
–Carys Davies



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