Rachel Cusk! Francine Prose! Thom Gunn! 27 new books out today.


June 18, 2024, 4:03am

It’s another Tuesday, and—against the depressing impulses of doomscrollers to begin each day with bad news—I fortunately have good news to offer: there’s a veritable salmagundi of new books out today in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In fact, I have no less than twenty-seven to suggest checking out, with an especially strong showing in nonfiction.

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Below, you’ll find highly anticipated fiction from Akwaeke Emezi, Rachel Cusk, Joseph Earl Thomas, Juliet Escoria, Andrew O’Hagan, Matt Young, and many others. Frederick Joseph has a new poetry collection on offer. And in nonfiction, Francine Prose offers up a personal look at a significant, yet tumultuous literary period; Michael Nott explores the queer life and poetics of Thom Gunn; Trudier Harris examines the inescapable figure of Bigger Thomas from Richard Wright’s seminal novel, Native Son; Tiya Miles has a new book centered around Harriet Tubman’s dreams, philosophy, and beliefs; and more.

It’s a little treasure trove of tomes. I hope you’ll check out some, or many, of these great new books!

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Little Rot - Emezi, Akwaeke

Akwaeke Emezi, Little Rot
(Riverhead)

“Multimedia polymath and gender-norm disrupter Emezi…examines taboo and trauma in their creative work…Emezi can be counted upon for an ambience of dread and a feverish momentum.”
The Millions

Parade - Cusk, Rachel

Rachel Cusk, Parade
(FSG)

Parade pulls off a brilliant, stark and unsettling feat….It pursues and deepens [Cusk’s] lifelong interest in the relationship between art and life in a narrative sequence that also explores fraught alliances between men and women, the nature of gender and the complications involved in losing a parent….While Cusk’s painter concentrates on painting the world upside down, Cusk keeps turning it inside out.”
The Observer

God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer - Thomas, Joseph Earl

Joseph Earl Thomas, God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer
(Grand Central Publishing)

Spunkmeyer is a staggering literary achievement, one of those rare books that breaks and remakes the very idea of the novel. With unflinching courage, luminous spirit, and a virtuosic flow, Joseph Earl Thomas has written a Joycean Ulysses inside a Philly E.R., bodying forth the voice of a true American original.”
–Roy Scranton

1974: A Personal History - Prose, Francine

Francine Prose, 1974: A Personal History
(Harper)

“In this, her first memoir, Prose succeeds where many before her have failed, enlivening—without demonizing or idealizing—the valiant, creative, idealistic movement that almost brought capitalism down. The era Prose profiles under the title 1974 produced crucial social advances, and did collateral damage to those, such as Russo, who were driven mad by the effort required. Fortunately…that period also yielded the best book yet by the wildly prolific, astonishingly talented Francine Prose.”
Los Angeles Times

Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life - Nott, Michael

Michael Nott, Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life
(FSG)

“The great achievement of Nott’s biography is that it shows how poetry influenced Gunn’s life and how his life influenced his poetry, discussing, for instance, how reading Shakespeare and Stendhal made Gunn feel ‘as if anything were possible’ and how he intended his 1971 collection, Moly, to be ‘an invitation to discuss homosexuality and LSD.’ The result is a triumphant celebration of a larger-than-life writer.”
Publishers Weekly

Bird Milk & Mosquito Bones: A Memoir - Mattoo, Priyanka

Priyanka Mattoo, Bird Milk & Mosquito Bones: A Memoir
(Knopf)

“I was enchanted by Mattoo’s Bird Milk & Mosquito Bones, a remarkably vivid, moving epic of displacement and its aftermath. With brio, insight, and great warmth, this exceptional debut offers, as art can, a lasting home.”
–R. O. Kwon

We Alive, Beloved: Poems - Joseph, Frederick

Frederick Joseph, We Alive, Beloved: Poems
(Row House)

“In We Alive, Beloved, a marvelous and heartrending collection of poetry, Frederick Joseph unabashedly confronts some of our most pressing issues with grace and incisiveness. These poems are truth balms. Allow them to trouble your soul. Then soothe it.”
–Robert Jones, Jr.

You Are the Snake: Stories - Escoria, Juliet

Juliet Escoria, You Are the Snake: Stories
(Soft Skull)

You Are the Snake expounds upon Juliet Escoria’s original and charming voice. Examining girlhood, desire, and yearning, Escoria’s stories are jolts of electricity that call to mind Mary Gaitskill, Elle Nash, or Julia Armfield, often pulling you in in just a few quick moments.”
–Sam Franzini

Devil Is Fine - Vercher, John

John Vercher, Devil Is Fine
(Celadon Books)

“In John Vercher’s profoundly moving Devil Is Fine, an unforeseen and unwanted inheritance of a long-forgotten plantation haunts a mixed-race man with the ghosts of his past and his present while they play hide-and-seek with his sanity. Vercher plays the conceit to perfection in this taut, surreal novel as the legacies of colonialism, racism, and family trauma conspire to push a good man to the very reach of his limits.”
–Ben Fountain

Caledonian Road - O'Hagan, Andrew

Andrew O’Hagan, Caledonian Road
(Norton)

“A brilliant, barnstorming state-of-the-nation novel that blasts the doors off shady workplaces, pulls down the facades of high society, and knocks over the ‘good liberal’ house of cards. But Andrew O’Hagan is not only a peerless chronicler of our times. He has other gifts—of generosity, humor, and tenderness—which make this novel an utter joy to read.”
–Monica Ali

Bigger: A Literary Life - Harris, Trudier

Trudier Harris, Bigger: A Literary Life
(Yale University Press)

“Bigger Thomas is unquestionably one of the most memorable figures in American fiction. Scrupulously charting his literary life, Trudier Harris richly illuminates the complex meanings of Wright’s masterpiece.”
–Arnold Rampersad

Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People - Miles, Tiya

Tiya Miles, Henry Louis Gates (editor), Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People
(Penguin Press)

“Drawing on and extending accounts of Harriet Tubman’s life…Tiya Miles’s Night Flyer situates Tubman as a thinker, dreamer, and doer. An intellectual, physical, and spiritual force embedded in multiple worlds—ecological, geographical, familial, dream, and spiritual—acquiring and acting on knowledge drawn from each of them. Beautifully conceived and written, Night Flyer speaks powerfully of the worlds Tubman navigated and refused, and to our own perilous times.”
–Christina Sharpe

Rooted: The American Legacy of Land Theft and the Modern Movement for Black Land Ownership - Baker, Brea

Brea Baker, Rooted: The American Legacy of Land Theft and the Modern Movement for Black Land Ownership
(One World)

“In her vigorous debut history…[Baker] writes evocatively about Black farmers’ relationship with the land and argues passionately for Black Americans to return to family farms (she’s unabashedly utopian on this point, and her frustration with Black people uninterested in rural life is palpable). Baker keeps tightly focused on the topic and writes in a conversational prose that casually draws on a wide range of thinkers. Educators in particular will find this invaluable.”
Publishers Weekly

End of Active Service - Young, Matt

Matt Young, End of Active Service
(Bloomsbury)

“Young writes with howling musicality, bounding between Iraq and Indiana with the dexterity of a pro and the mania of truth. The effect is irresistible, hilarious, and poignant when least expected. At once a raw portrait of trauma and a takedown of macho brouhaha, End of Active Service delivers shock and awe on every page.”
–Jakob Guanzon

Four Squares - Finger, Bobby

Bobby Fingers, Four Squares
(Putnam)

“Five stars for Four Squares! A beautiful and immersive story of often achingly relatable moments of being gay and longing for love during trying times. This journey of a writer seeking to perfectly capture imperfect joys of friendships and family—trying to put words to life’s sometimes indescribable experiences—is hopeful, insightful, and absolutely delightful.”
–Byron Lane

Sandwich - Newman, Catherine

Catherine Newman, Sandwich
(Harper)

“[Sandwich] practically glows with family feeling….[It] has much in common with Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake, though Patchett’s novel doesn’t have an older generation, a key element here….The laughter begins on the first page…and the great lines and witty observations never stop.”
The Washington Post

This Earthly Globe: A Venetian Geographer and the Quest to Map the World - Di Robilant, Andrea

Andrea di Robilant, This Earthly Globe: A Venetian Geographer and the Quest to Map the World
(Knopf)

“What happens when the whole world-picture changes rapidly and decisively?….The epochal voyages of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century tore up the traditional European map of the globe and its inhabitants. Andrea di Robilant’s wonderful book explores a succession of thrilling, often terrifying encounters with the other and reconstructs the career of the visionary collector who gave the public access to knowledge of how profoundly their world had changed.”
–Stephen Greenblatt

The Nature of Our Cities: Harnessing the Power of the Natural World to Survive a Changing Planet - Galle, Nadina

Nadina Galle, The Nature of Our Cities: Harnessing the Power of the Natural World to Survive a Changing Planet
(Mariner)

“Where we live has an immense impact on longevity, and as an advocate for healthy living, I understand the pivotal role nature plays in shaping our communities. Galle’s exploration of urban ecology and tech innovation offers hope for transforming our living spaces. I’m optimistic her work will guide us towards practical steps for a greener, brighter future, benefiting generations young and old.”
Dan Buettner

Adventures in Volcanoland: What Volcanoes Tell Us about the World and Ourselves (Original) - Mather, Tamsin

Tamsin Mather, Adventures in Volcanoland: What Volcanoes Tell Us about the World and Ourselves
(Hanover Square Press)

“Using gorgeously evocative prose, Adventures in Volcanoland beautifully weaves together personal, cultural, and geological histories. It’s part action-packed research travelogue, part science of volcanoes, and part fascinating examination of the history of human interaction with volcanoes and the indelible impact of volcanoes on nature and societies. Deeply researched and compellingly composed, it’s a luminous literary journey that is at once intimate and galactic, timeless and urgent.”
–Olivia Campbell

Same as It Ever Was - Lombardo, Claire

Claire Lombardo, Same as It Ever Was
(Doubleday)

“Lombardo loves her characters, taking time to peel back each of their layers through the time-lapse structure of the novel and her rich descriptions….A sure bet for fans of Richard Russo and Jane Smiley.”
Booklist

Make It Count: My Fight to Become the First Transgender Olympic Runner - Telfer, Cecé

Cecé Telfer, Make It Count: My Fight to Become the First Transgender Olympic Runner
(Grand Central Publishing)

“In this intimate glimpse into her life and career, the author candidly shares her story of perseverance to overcome the hateful backlash from her path toward the Olympics, where eligibility rules prevented her from competing in the women’s 400-meter hurdles….An inspirational portrait of trailblazing sports excellence.”
Kirkus Reviews

The New Tourist: Waking Up to the Power and Perils of Travel - McClanahan, Paige

Paige McClanahan, The New Tourist: Waking Up to the Power and Perils of Travel
(Scribner)

“In this lively and rewarding book, Paige McClanahan wrestles with the complexities of twenty-first century tourism, deftly exploring the joys and the real-world consequences of world travel. I highly recommend The New Tourist.”
–Elizabeth Becker

Playing with Reality: How Games Have Shaped Our World - Clancy, Kelly

Kelly Clancy, Playing with Reality: How Games Have Shaped Our World
(Riverhead)

Playing With Reality is as surprising, and as delightful, as the many games it analyzes. From ancient games of chance to the latest advances in AI, Kelly Clancy has written the definitive account of how we—as individuals and as a society—learn through play.”
–Steven Johnson

Happy Apocalypse: A History of Technological Risk - Fressoz, Jean-Baptiste

Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, Happy Apocalypse: A History of Technological Risk
(Verso)

“This book is a luminous enquiry into how society was remade to acquiesce in the risks presented by new medical procedures, new forms of lighting and industrial waste. Instead of fables of ignorance, a naïve belief in progress, or ridiculous opposition to the novel Fressoz shows how, in nineteenth-century France in particular, a powerful environmental consciousness was remolded through complex political and juridical processes to make possible the use of the new…[E]ssential reading.”
–David Edgerton

When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists, and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s - Ganz, John

John Ganz, When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists, and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s
(FSG)

“A searching history of a time, not so long ago, when the social contract went out the window and Hobbesian war beset America….Ganz makes a convincing, well-documented case that everything old is indeed new again. A significant, provocative work.”
Kirkus Reviews

Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass - Setoodeh, Ramin

Ramin Setoodeh, Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass
(Harper)

“It is by now a truism of the Trump era that the 45th president rose to power in large part thanks to the persona he popularized on The Apprentice….Few readers will be surprised to learn that the character he played on the show…was more reality-TV invention than reality. But [Setoodeh]’s peek behind the scenes of…arguably the most consequential television show in history is still revealing….[Setoodeh] also offers new details about the experience of being a woman on the set.”
The Atlantic

We Were Illegal: Uncovering a Texas Family's Mythmaking and Migration - Goudeau, Jessica

Jessica Goudeau, We Were Illegal: Uncovering a Texas Family’s Mythmaking and Migration
(Viking)

“This is not just a book about one family, or one state. At a time when history has become a primary battlefield in the culture wars, We Were Illegal models for us how to engage the darker chapters of our individual and collective stories, and shows us why we must. With unflinching honesty and deep empathy, Jessica Goudeau brings readers to a place of hard-earned hope. Thoroughly engrossing, this book is a gift to a divided nation.”
–Kristen Kobes Du Mez



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