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Lorrie Moore! Drew Gilpin Faust! Gay lit galore! 27 books out in paperback this May.

May 1, 2024, 4:21am

It’s a new month, and, with it, there’s a marvelous myriad of new books to consider, as always. This time, I come bearing gifts in paperback: a whopping twenty-seven books newly being released in paperback for you to consider in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Below, you’ll find a wide range of books, many of which were highly acclaimed upon their release, and all of which are worth checking out if you missed them when they first came out.

You’ll find both delightful debuts and work from well-established authors and critics, including Lorrie Moore, Drew Gilpin Faust, Bethanne Patrick, and Maureen N. McLane. And this month is particularly rich, in advance of Pride Month, for literature that explores queer life, love, and history, including Amelia Possanza’s lesbian memoir/historical excavation; Manuel Betancourt’s reflection on the male gaze and queer masculinity; Jenny Fran Davis’ wild satire of a queer woman’s weekend upstate, Dykette; and more. You’ll also find Constance Wu’s expansive memoir, a history of spoken word poetry, a deep dive into hacking and viruses, and more.

May you find many a book for May!


I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home - Moore, Lorrie

Lorrie Moore, I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home

“Charming and sly….Fluky, fitfully funny and folk-horror-adjacent….Moore stretches for deeper themes in this novel, and of course they’re there: It’s a book about loss, and about the patience and endurance it takes to treat the dying with respect, and about the shaggy and multiform varieties of love.”
The New York Times

You Are Here - Lin-Greenberg, Karin

Karin Lin-Greenberg, You Are Here

“Saying You Are Here is about a mall closing in a small town is like saying Moby Dick is about a whale. The commonplace happening is merely a tool to explore both how human beings are intimately connected and how others are fully unknowable. This books reminds me of early Celeste Ng—in the best way.”
–Sarah Gelman

Rootless - Appiah, Krystle Zara

Krystle Zara Appiah, Rootless
(Ballantine Books)

Rootless is a deeply felt novel about the making, unmaking, and remaking of self, family, and home. Krystle Zara Appiah writes with tenderness and grace of her characters’ attempts at being seen and loved for who they are rather than who others may wish them to be. Full of romance as well as terrible grief, Rootless enthralled me from the start.”
–Ilana Masad

Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury - Faust, Drew Gilpin

Drew Gilpin Faust, Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury

Necessary Trouble is a beautifully rendered coming-of-age narrative of a sensitive young woman—raised in a conservative white family of privilege in rural Virginia…whose growing awareness of the suffocating conventions of gender gradually awakens her to the inequities of race. Through superb storytelling and delightfully lyrical prose…Faust demonstrates…the inextricable interplay of class, gender, and race in mid-twentieth century America far more effectively than a scholarly treatise could ever achieve….[D]estined to be a classic of American memoir.”
–Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives - Possanza, Amelia

Amelia Possanza, Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives

“In her audacious heartthrob of a memoir, Amelia Possanza revives seven queer romances from the past, hoping to better understand her own lesbian identity….A triumph, as romantic as it is perceptive.”
Shelf Awareness

Hell If We Don't Change Our Ways: A Memoir - Means, Brittany

Brittany Means, Hell If We Don’t Change Our Ways: A Memoir
(Zibby Books)

Hell If We Don’t Change Our Ways will change the way readers understand what, and if anything, actually survives our childhoods. What is a parent? But the book’s lasting impact might be what it demands of the memoir genre. Brittany Means has, at once, created the most readable and the most psychologically rigorous book I’ve read in decades. I needed the reminder that art can do this.”
–Kiese Laymon

What You Want: Poems - McLane, Maureen N.

Maureen N. McLane, What You Want: Poems

“[McLane] pushes on the boundaries of selfhood in her enlightening offering….With humor and insight, this points the way toward a more humane and expansive understanding.”
Publishers Weekly

The Rachel Incident - O'Donoghue, Caroline

Caroline O’Donoghue, The Rachel Incident

“Exuberant, bitingly satirical….Recalls the fiction of both Sally Rooney and Anne Tyler as the author interrogates the dynamics of power, from academia to publishing houses to bedrooms….O’Donoghue steers us toward reckonings large and small, her hand steady on the tiller….A gratifying, accomplished novel.”
The New York Times

The Adult - Fischer, Bronwyn

Bronwyn Fischer, The Adult
(Algonquin Books)

“A powerful, queer coming-of-age story about a young woman in the throes of first love….This gripping novel has the distinct pang of nostalgia mixed with the discomfort of growing up—a bittersweet but delicious experience.”

Between Two Moons - Abdel Gawad, Aisha

Aisha Abdel Gawad, Between Two Moons

“Multifaceted and moving….We’ll see the world primarily through the eyes of Amira, the dutiful twin, the one who cares enough to look; we’ll witness post-9/11 Muslim lives under relentless scrutiny; we’ll measure time by sunset and sundown and the long stretches of hunger and thirst in between…painful and tender and sometimes beautiful…[a] breathtaking, elegantly structured novel.”
The New York Times Book Review

The Male Gazed: On Hunks, Heartthrobs, and What Pop Culture Taught Me about (Desiring) Men - Betancourt, Manuel

Manuel Betancourt, The Male Gazed: On Hunks, Heartthrobs, and What Pop Culture Taught Me about (Desiring) Men

“In this collection of essays…Betancourt explores queer representation in media in an intensely personal, and uniquely engaging, manner. He recalls a childhood in Colombia as a ‘soft and skinny’ kid whose ideas about masculinity were shaped by a host of disparate influences….Betancourt finds the through line of forbidden desire connecting them all and unpacks how his life as a writer and a gay man exists in an ever-evolving conversation with their notions of manhood.”

Life B: Overcoming Double Depression - Patrick, Bethanne

Bethanne Patrick, Life B: Overcoming Double Depression

“In Life B, Bethanne Patrick takes readers on a harrowing journey to the cliff edge of suicidal despair, so that they might stare into the abyss of depression and better understand this debilitating condition. Not since William Styron’s Darkness Visible has there been so enlightening a book on mental illness. Fearless, generous, fascinating.”
–Adrienne Brodeur

Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary Hacks - Shapiro, Scott J.

Scott J. Shapiro, Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary Hacks

“Ingenious coding, buggy software, and gullibility take the spotlight in this colorful retrospective of hacking….Shapiro’s snappy prose manages the extraordinary feat of describing hackers’ intricate coding tactics and the flaws they exploit in a way that is accessible and captivating even to readers who don’t know Python from JavaScript. The result is a fascinating look at the anarchic side of cyberspace.”
Publishers Weekly

Translation State - Leckie, Ann

Ann Leckie, Translation State

“Leckie’s ability to seamlessly weave in alternate conceptions of gender, identity, and alien experience remains as strong as ever, as does the propulsive and exciting tenor of her prose. An excellent addition to Leckie’s already well-realized and often strange and exciting universe, this new novel is accessible, and essential, to new readers and old fans alike.”

Dykette - Davis, Jenny Fran

Jenny Fran Davis, Dykette

“A hilarious, astute, and captivating tour of a young femme’s interior life over the course of one long weekend upstate. Dykette is a portrait of a certain corner of queer culture that is part satire, part ode, and full of delightful cringe. Davis’s unrelenting scrutiny is a consummate pleasure; I gasped with laughter and delight on nearly every page.”
–Melissa Febos

Big Gay Wedding - Lane, Byron

Byron Lane, Big Gay Wedding

Big Gay Wedding is a quirky family story packed with hilarious and tender moments. Lovers of Schitt’s Creek will delight in Byron Lane’s cast of lovable misfits as they band together to plan a big gay wedding, the first in a Southern town.”
–Kate Russo

Spoken Word: A Cultural History - Bennett, Joshua

Joshua Bennett, Spoken Word: A Cultural History

“[A] rich hybrid of memoir and history [that] surveys the institutions that have shaped spoken-word poetry for the past five decades….Bennett, a poet himself, pays tribute to his literary forebears…[and] chronicles the mainstreaming, for better or worse, of a radical tradition.”
The New Yorker

Making a Scene - Wu, Constance

Constance Wu, Making a Scene

“Illuminating…enthralling…her willingness to not just address her faults but grapple with them makes Wu’s memoir all the richer. Throw in her talent for vivid scene setting, plus an understanding that reflections are nothing without introspection, and the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ star delivers a page-turner that amounts to much more than its headline-grabbing revelations.”
The Washington Post

Fires in the Dark: Healing the Unquiet Mind - Jamison, Kay Redfield

Kay Redfield Jamison, Fires in the Dark: Healing the Unquiet Mind

“In this loose sequel to a bestselling memoir of bipolar illness, Jamison, a writer and a psychologist, explores the process of prying a mind from disease or despair. Healing, she writes, depends on ‘harvesting the imagination’ and navigating ‘the balance between remembering and forgetting’; it also, crucially, relies on support…Jamison emphasizes the importance of recognizing a diversity of sources of fortitude and models of accompaniment.”
The New Yorker

Close to Home - Magee, Michael

Michael Magee, Close to Home

“Though the voice is decidedly Irish, the message of Michael Magee’s dead-on debut novel is universal. At its core, Close to Home is about finding a way to transcend the pain, the people and the place you’re born into….Magee’s yarn unspools like a story told over a couple of pints. The result is an intimate, dizzying onslaught that highlights the contrast between fear and joy, love and hate.”
The New York Times Book Review

Gone to the Wolves - Wray, John

John Wray, Gone to the Wolves

“Wray deftly captures teenage alienation, the precarity of adolescence, and the way multiple subgenres of metal can provide solace, be it via glitzy fandom or gloomy angst….Wray is gifted at capturing the dynamics of difficult friendships….A giddy, harrowing, manic, and often dark coming-of-age tale.”
Kirkus Reviews

Did You Hear about Kitty Karr? - Paul, Crystal Smith

Crystal Smith Paul, Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? is an intoxicating and seductive debut, drawing you into an underground Hollywood world that is as glamorous as it is dangerous. Kitty Karr is an iconoclastic, complicated, and fascinating woman, whose legacy is as relevant as ever today. Crystal Smith Paul is a thrilling new voice in fiction and I cannot wait to see what she does next.”
–Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Physics of Sorrow - Gospodinov, Georgi

Georgi Gospodinov, The Physics of Sorrow (trans, Angela Rodel)

“Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov’s The Physics of Sorrow unites formal experimentation with emotional resonance in a compelling exploration of how and why humans tell stories….Gospodinov ruminates on the mazelike structures of the human brain, of cities, and of books themselves…[and] juxtaposes the grotesque and the beautiful…at once concrete and transcendent….Both an intellectual game and a very human story, The Physics of Sorrow captivates.”
–Elizabeth C. Keto

The Last Honest Man: The Cia, the Fbi, the Mafia, and the Kennedys--And One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy - Risen, James

James Risen, Thomas Risen, The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys—And One Senator’s Fight to Save Democracy
(Back Bay Books)

“You might be aware that Marlene Dietrich slept with JFK, but did you know about Bing Crosby’s role in a CIA plot to blackmail the president of Indonesia? James Risen’s The Last Honest Man contains this and other volcanic gossip that might never have scorched the congressional record had it not been for the eponymous Sen. Frank Church….Church emerges in this readable, fast-paced biography as a politician of rare integrity….The Last Honest Man crackles.”
The Washington Post

Learned by Heart - Donoghue, Emma

Emma Donoghue, Learned by Heart
(Back Bay Books)

“Emma Donoghue is among the most fearless contemporary novelists we have: an immensely talented writer who is a great storyteller and, based on her extensive body of work, unafraid of subjects that give her less-courageous peers pause….Learned By Heart is a wrenching love story, both queer and multiracial.”
The Washington Post

Perilous Times - Lee, Thomas D.

Thomas D. Lee, Perilous Times
(Ballantine Books)

“Full of dark humor and insights into the ills of the twenty-first century, [Lee] hits close to home by asking readers to reflect on how King Arthur would save modern-day England if it were plagued by rampant racism and political infighting as well as the devastating effects of climate change….A fresh, irreverent perspective on the well-known myth.”

The Midnight News - Baker, Jo

Jo Baker, The Midnight News

“Jo Baker is a literary shapeshifter….Baker’s latest book, The Midnight News, integrates this protean quality into both its forms and themes. A vivid historical novel about London during the Blitz, it is also at times, or in parts, a mystery, a spy novel, a romance and a Bildungsroman….Jo Baker’s meticulous prose makes us feel the full weight of these hard truths, but with characteristic rigour she tests and explores, rather than proclaims faith in, the compensatory power of the novelist’s art.”
Times Literary Supplement

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