Our Most Anticipated Books of August 2023
To read Shane McCrae's poetry is to fall in love. To read his memoir is revelatory. An unforgettable memoir by an award-winning poet about being kidnapped from his Black father and raised by his white supremacist grandparents.
In 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea, Lee Woo-cheol was a running prodigy and a contender for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. But he would have had to run under the Japanese flag. A sweeping, majestic novel about a family that endured death, love, betrayal, war, political upheaval, and ghosts, both vengeful and wistful.
Sixteenth Century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe is one of those historical figures whose life already reads like a work of fiction. Famously hedonistic, constantly surrounded by a circus-like entourage, and adorned with a golden nose (his real nose having been lost in a schoolboy's duel over who was the better mathematician), Brahe was also instrumenal in the calculation of the planets orbits and the creation of modern astronomical science. I can't wait to see what Danish novelist Harald Voetmann makes of this colorful character.
Jacqueline Rose’s trenchant new book unravels recent history via the lives and works of three extraordinary thinkers—Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud, and Simone Weil, each one afflicted by catastrophe. Rose, one of the most insightful thinkers on politics and psychoanalysis alike, has written a story of unusual range, spanning World War II to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, surging domestic violence to emboldened anti-racist protest, the Spanish influenza to Omicron, Boris Johnson’s deranged optimism to Vladimir Putin’s megalomania.
For just over a decade, from 1956 to 1967, a collection of dilapidated former sail-making warehouses clustered at the lower tip of Manhattan became the quiet epicenter of the art world. Coenties Slip, a dead-end street near the water, was home to a circle of wildly talented and varied artists that included Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Delphine Seyrig, Lenore Tawney, and Jack Youngerman.
“Hangman is a gripping story of homecoming and loss, of recuperation and letting go, all of it told in a voice that is at turns ruthlessly honest and startlingly beautiful. Maya Binyam is an immensely gifted writer and every page of this deeply moving novel offers us compelling and hard-earned truths. But what remains by the end is something that resembles a loving gesture from a long-lost relative: necessary and seismic, profound and unforgettable.”
—Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King
A new novel from Guadalupe Nettel just in time for August? It's a Women in Translation Month miracle! In prose that is as gripping as it is insightful, Guadalupe Nettel explores maternal ambivalence with a surgeon's touch, carefully dissecting the contradictions that make up the lived experiences of women.
Compelling and perceptive, Tomb Sweeping probes the loyalties we hold: to relatives, to strangers, and to ourselves. In stories set across the US and Asia, Alexandra Chang immerses us in the lives of immigrant families, grocery store employees, expecting parents, and guileless lab assistants.
What starts with a skeleton at the bottom of a well evolves into a rich brocade of long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Bringing his masterly storytelling skills and his deep faith in humanity to The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, James McBride has written a novel as compassionate as Deacon King Kong and as inventive as The Good Lord Bird.
Liquid Snakes is an immersive, white-knuckle ride with the spookiness of speculative fiction and the propulsion of binge-worthy shows like FX’s Atlanta and HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness. Transfiguring a whodunit plot into a labyrinthine reinterpretation of a crime procedural, Stephen Kearse offers an uncanny commentary on an alternative world, poisoned.
"Three of the nation’s top poverty scholars deliver a profound inquiry into the most disadvantaged communities in America. Combining historical and statistical analysis with on-the-ground interviewing, the authors present novel and provocative arguments for many social ills that plague these regions. This book challenges and enrages, humbles and indicts—and forces you to see American poverty in a whole new light.”
— Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted and Poverty, by America
Do you hate math? No you don't, says mathematician and author Eugenia Cheng, you just hate how we teach it. Is Math Real? is a much-needed repudiation of the rigid ways we’re taught to do math, and a celebration of the true, curious spirit of the discipline. Written with intelligence and passion, Is Math Real? brings us math as we’ve never seen it before, revealing how profound insights can emerge from seemingly unlikely sources.
“Swim Home to the Vanished is a lush and fantastic journey through strange lands and minds from an incandescent new voice full of my kind of melancholic brilliance and unromantic magic.”
—Tommy Orange, author of There, There
Emma Donoghue (Room and The Wonder) is back with a beautiful historical novel about two girls who fall secretly, deeply, and dangerously in love at boarding school in 19th century York. Perfect for lovers of Gentleman Jack, Sarah Waters, and those who felt Jane Eyre's real true love was Helen Burns.
“Hilary Leichter, one of our most original novelists, amazes us again with a beautifully unclassifiable novel. Step out onto the terrace, where space and time, cause and effect, and fiction and reality have been redefined and gorgeously subverted. Terrace Story isn’t a novel you merely read; it’s a book you inhabit.”
— Hernan Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Trust
“We didn’t call the police right away.” Those are the electric first words of this extraordinary novel about a biracial Korean American family in Virginia whose lives are upended when their beloved father and husband goes missing. A fresh, wonderfully literary spin on the mystery novel that's perfect for soaking up the last glory days of summer.
A scathingly funny look at a group of quirky graduate students majoring in Disaster Studies who are forced to reconsider their cynicism when they confront a new student who, remarkably, has the same name as the 20th Century Catholic mystic philosopher Simone Weil.
Few, if any, historians have brought such insight, wisdom, and empathy to public discourse as Jill Lepore. The Deadline is a collection of Lepore's works, including some previously unpublished pieces, that exemplifies the phrase 'the art of the essay'.
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