6 new books to read in June


Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five (or six) of the books we’re most excited about.

Sarah Gaileymashes hard-bitten detective noir into the magical YA world of Harry Potter in Magic For Liars. The author’s fantasy debut follows a set of estranged twins: One has magical abilities and teaches at this world’sversion of Hogwarts, while the other dedicates herself to mundanities like drinking and solving mysteries-the usual type in noir. Their worlds intersect after a murder at the magical academy brings the detective into the school, and back into her sister’s life. Resentment and magic abound. Gailey’s previous work has earned the author Hugo and Cambell Award nominations, and this could be their big breakthrough-it sounds like a Syfy series waiting to happen.

In My Parents: An Introduction / This Does Not Belong To You, Aleksandar Hemon continues to chronicle his family history with abundant skill and artistry. The dos-à-dos binding allows the reader to switch from exceptionally moving retellings of indelible moments from his parents’ respective childhoods and adolescences, to a more raucous series of ruminations pulled from Hemon’s own mind and shared with his usual withering wit. These histories are thoughtfully rendered in everything from composition to the point at which they literally meet in the middle, Hemon’s haunting, deceptively candid prose lending a voice to multiple generations. A Bosnian refugee who’s been in the U.S. for nearly three decades, Hemon has for years written eloquently about living in exile; this dual release poignantly captures yet again just how expansive and rich that life has been.

It seems almost unfair that BoJack Horseman creator and executive producer Raphael Bob-Waksberg should be as adept at delivering trenchant yet wrenching stories in his short story debut collection as he has in his Netflix series. But the move to published author is a rather intuitive pivot for Bob-Waksberg, who’s proven himself to be one of the most consistent and efficient purveyors of transcendent tragicomedy. Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory is just as achingly heartfelt and bitingly funny as any of Bob-Waksberg’s scripts, and he experiments just as much in form, whether he’s turning a game of Taboo into a revealing round of free association, or chronicling a case of bad timing in couplets. Prepare to be devastated and made whole again with each new entry.

Color us very intrigued by this one. Described in press materials as “something of a cross between L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard Of Oz, Douglas Adams’s A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One,” this satirical dystopian novel, published under a pseudonym, has already been optioned for a film adaptation by Warner Bros. in a reported seven-figure deal. FKA USA, set in 2085, follows an assembly line worker as he travels across the United States, ravaged by environmental disaster, along with a talking goat, android, and former convict, on a political mission to deliver said goat to the other side of the country. This trip (and book) sounds like a real go-for-broke venture, and we’re curious to see what “Reed King,” a New York Times bestselling author and TV writer, does with this wild premise.

This month Chanelle Benz, whose excellent (and excellently titled) The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead was named one of Electric Literature’s 15 Best Short Story Collections of 2017, publishes her debut novel, a noir-tinged story of race, justice, memory, and family set in the Mississippi Delta. The Gone Dead follows Billie James as she returns to the South after 30 years away to live in the shack once owned by her father, a renowned black poet who died under mysterious circumstances when she was 4 years old. As she familiarizes herself with her new surroundings, Billie learns that, while she has no memory of it herself, she went missing the day her father died, leading her to look into a mystery that has implications for both her family and beyond.

With I Like To Watch, Emily Nussbaum, television critic at The New Yorker since 2011, assembles an anthology of her best work, tracing television’s rise from “boob tube” and “idiot box,” to its golden era starting in the early 2000s, to our current content overload. The book features two new essays, including a piece that grapples with the question of “what to do when the artist you love is a monster.” Throughout her career, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer has been relied upon to more deeply consider works that stuffier viewers, or “sweater-vests” as she calls them, might dismiss out of hand, as in her retrospective defense of Sex And The City and her avowed fandom of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a show she says was integral to her becoming a critic. We get excited whenever her byline pops up (either online or in our mailboxes), and are looking forward to this look back on her career thus far.

More in June: Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly (June 4, Abrams Press); Naturally Tan by Tan France (June 4, St. Martin’s Press); On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (June 4, Random House); Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (June 4, Liveright); Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin (June 4, Knopf); by Kathryn Scanlan (June 4, MCD x FSG); Oval by Elvia Wilk (June 4, Soft Skull); Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (June 4, Tin House); The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks (June 11, Little, Brown); Song For The Unravelling World by Brian Evenson (June 11, Coffee House Press); The Sun On My Head by Geovani Martins (June 11, Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Blood Sisters by Kim Yideum (June 11, Deep Vellum); The History Of Living Forever by Jake Wolff (June 11, Farrar, Straus and Giroux); The Body In Question by Jill Ciment (June 11, Pantheon); Recursion by Blake Crouch (June 11, Crown); Bunny by Mona Awad (June 11, Viking); The Travelers by Regina Porter (June 18, Hogarth); Travelers by Helon Habila (June 18, W.W. Norton); The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung (June 18, Ecco); Lifelines by Heidi Diehl (June 18, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Roughhouse Friday by Jaed Coffin (June 18, Farrar, Straus and Giroux); The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (June 18, Gallery); The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean (June 25, Algonquin); Cygnet by Season Butler (June 25, Harper); This Wicked Tongue by Elise Levine (June 25, Biblioasis); Big Sky by Kate Atkinson (June 25, Little, Brown); Here Is What You Do by Chris Dennis (June 25, Soho)