Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year
So many good books coming out in the second half of the year! But I thought I would feature upcoming books that are, well, a bit more diverse. And also some that are translated.
Here’s what I found on Netgalley. Most of them are literary fiction. Release dates are for the US, if I’m not wrong!
The Conjoined – Jen Sookfong Lee (ECW Press, 13 Sep 2016, literary fiction)
On a sunny May morning, social worker Jessica Campbell sorts through her mother’s belongings after her recent funeral. In the basement, she makes a shocking discovery — two dead girls curled into the bottom of her mother’s chest freezers. She remembers a pair of foster children who lived with the family in 1988: Casey and Jamie Cheng — troubled, beautiful, and wild teenaged sisters from Vancouver’s Chinatown. After six weeks, they disappeared; social workers, police officers, and Jessica herself assumed they had run away.
As Jessica learns more about Casey, Jamie, and their troubled immigrant Chinese parents, she also unearths dark stories about Donna, whom she had always thought of as the perfect mother. The complicated truths she uncovers force her to take stock of her own life.
Moving between present and past, this riveting novel unflinchingly examines the myth of social heroism and traces the often-hidden fractures that divide our diverse cities.
Harmless like you – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (2017, Literary Fiction)
An exciting new voice in fiction captures the fragile personal histories of an estranged mother and son.
Written in startlingly beautiful prose, HARMLESS LIKE YOU is set across New York, Berlin and Connecticut, following the stories of Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old.
HARMLESS LIKE YOU is an unforgettable novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships and familial bonds, offering a unique exploration of love, loneliness and reconciliation.
Vampire in Love – Enrique Vila-Matas (New Directions, 6 Sep 2016, Literary Fiction)
Gathered for the first time in English, and spanning his entire career, Vampire in Love offers a selection of the Spanish master Enrique Vila-Matas’s finest short stories. An effeminate, hunchbacked barber on the verge of death falls in love with a choirboy. A fledgling writer on barbiturates visits Marguerite Duras’s Paris apartment and watches his dinner companion slip into the abyss. An unsuspecting man receives a mysterious phone call from a lonely ophthalmologist, visits his abandoned villa, and is privy to a secret. The stories in Vampire in Love, selected and brilliantly translated by the renowned translator Margaret Jull Costa, are all told with Vila-Matas’s signature erudition and wit and his provocative questioning of the interrelation of art and life.
Taduno’s Song – Odafe Atogun (Canongate Books, 4 Aug 2016, Literary Fiction)
The day a stained brown envelope arrives from Taduno’s homeland, he knows that the time has come to return from exile.
Arriving full of trepidation, the musician discovers that his community no longer recognises him, believing that Taduno is dead. His girlfriend Lela has disappeared, taken away by government agents. As he wanders through his house in search of clues, he realises that any traces of his old life have been erased. All that was left of his life and himself are memories. But Taduno finds a new purpose: to unravel the mystery of his lost life and to find his lost love. Through this search, he comes to face a difficult decision: to sing for love or to sing for his people.
Taduno’s Song is a moving tale of sacrifice, love and courage.
The Stationmaster – Jiro Asada (Shueisha, 10 Jun 2016, Literary fiction)
Jiro Asada’s The Stationmaster is among the most cherished works by this very well-known Japanese writer, and it’s a great pleasure to be able to introduce this version to English readers.….. Some of them—like the stationmaster of the title story—belong to a world that is traveling very fast and leaving them behind; their accomplishments are the kind nobody important recognizes or values; they fill positions that will soon be obsolete; they’ve spent a lifetime of hard work that has led to very little. What does the life of the old stationmaster, Otomatsu, add up to from the world’s point of view? Or the life of the dying sex-trade worker in “Love Letter”? Hardly a whisper.
–from “Introduction” by Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, and a current Vice-President of PEN International.
The Story of a Brief Marriage – Anuk Arudpragasam (Flatiron Books, 6 Sep 2016, Literary Fiction)
In the last months of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Dinesh’s world has contracted to an evacuee camp, where he measures his days by shells that fall like clockwork. Alienated from language, home, and family, he is brought back to life by an unexpected proposal from an old man in the camp: that he marry his daughter, Ganga. In the hours they spend together, Dinesh and Ganga attempt to awaken to one another, to reclaim their humanity.
The Angel of History – Rabih Alameddine (Grove Atlantic, Atlantic Monthly Press, 4 Oct 2016, Literary Fiction)
Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS. Hovered over by the presence of alluring, sassy Satan who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past and dour, frigid Death who urges him to forget and give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by 14 saints. Set in Cairo and Beirut; Sana’a, Stockholm, and San Francisco; Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrait of a brilliant mind in crisis. This is a profound, philosophical and hilariously winning story of the war between memory and oblivion we wrestle with every day of our lives.
The Wangs vs the World – Jade Chang (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 4 Oct 2016, Literary Fiction)
Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’sancestral lands—and his pride. Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China. Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.
Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt – Yasmine El Rashidi (Crown Publishing, 28 Jun 2016, Literary Fiction)
Cairo, 1984. A blisteringly hot summer. A young girl in a sprawling family house. Her days pass quietly: listening to a mother’s phone conversations, looking at the Nile from a bedroom window, watching the three state-sanctioned TV stations with the volume off, daydreaming about other lives. Underlying this claustrophobic routine is mystery and loss. Relatives mutter darkly about the newly-appointed President Mubarak. Everyone talks with melancholy about the past. People disappear overnight. Her own father has left, too—why, or to where, no one will say.
We meet her across three decades, from youth to adulthood: As a six-year old absorbing the world around her, filled with questions she can’t ask; as a college student and aspiring filmmaker pre-occupied with love, language, and the repression that surrounds her; and then later, in the turbulent aftermath of Mubarak’s overthrow, as a writer exploring her own past. Reunited with her father, she wonders about the silences that have marked and shaped her life.
At once a mapping of a city in transformation and a story about the shifting realities and fates of a single Egyptian family, Yasmine El Rashidi’s Chronicle of a Last Summer traces the fine line between survival and complicity, exploring the conscience of a generation raised in silence.
Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue (Random House, 23 Aug 2016, Literary Fiction)
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
How I Became a North Korean – Krys Lee (Viking, 2 Aug 2016, Literary Fiction)
Yongju is an accomplished student from one of North Korea’s most prominent families. Jangmi, on the other hand, has had to fend for herself since childhood, most recently by smuggling goods across the border. Then there is Danny, a Chinese-American teenager of North Korean descent whose quirks and precocious intelligence have long marked him as an outcast in his California high school.
These three disparate lives converge when each of them escapes to the region where China borders North Korea—Danny to visit his mother, who is working as a missionary there, after a humiliating incident keeps him out of school; Yongju to escape persecution after his father is killed at the hands of the Dear Leader himself; and Jangmi to protect her unborn child. As they struggle to survive in a place where danger seems to close in on all sides, in the form of government informants, husbands, thieves, abductors, and even missionaries, they come to form a kind of adoptive family. But will Yongju, Jangmi and Danny find their way to the better lives they risked everything for? Transporting the reader to one of the most little-known and threatening environments in the world, and exploring how humanity persists even in the most desperate circumstances, How I Became a North Koreanis a brilliant and essential first novel by one of our most promising writers.
Badawi – Mohed Altrad (Grove Atlantic, 6 Sep 2016, Literary Fiction)
Published to wide critical acclaim in France, Badawi is Mohed Altrad’s heartrending debut novel, inspired by the author’s own narrative arc from Bedouin orphan to engineer and finally billionaire businessman.
In the Syrian desert, a young boy watches as his mother dies. She was a repudiated woman, abandoned by the boy’s powerful father, leaving Maïouf to his scornful grandmother. Though the Bedouin tribes have stopped their centuries-long travels across the dunes—their tents long since converted into sedentary shacks—Maïouf’s grandmother wants him to carry on tradition as a shepherd. But from the first time he sneaks off to the white-walled schoolhouse to watch the other children learn, Maïouf envisions a different future for himself. This is one extraordinary child’s story of fighting for an education, and a life, he was never supposed to have, from a tiny desert village to the city of Raqqa, from the university halls of Montpellier on to the oil fields of Abu Dhabi. But is a life of exile the one he wants? Can a child whose name means “the abandoned one” ever make a home for himself? With each step forward, he feels the love of his youth—a steadfast young Syrian woman named Fadia—and the shifting, haunted sands of his native village pulling him back toward the past he thought he had left behind.
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race – Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, 2 Aug 2016, Nonfiction)
National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.
In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin’s 1962 “Letter to My Nephew,” which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time. Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote: “You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.”
Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward knows that Baldwin’s words ring as true as ever today. In response, she has gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she has turned to some of her generation’s most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns.
The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future. Of the eighteen pieces, ten were written specifically for this volume.
In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a “post-racial” society is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about.
Contributors include Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.