11 New Books to Watch For in August
Welcome to August. This month brings some notable debuts, including the novels “The Dearly Beloved” and “A Particular Kind of Black Man,” and Sarah M. Broom’s memoir of New Orleans, “The Yellow House.” Olga Tokarczuk, the winner of last year’s Man Booker International Prize, returns with a new twist on a murder mystery, and literary criticism from Jess Row connects storytelling and gentrification.
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‘The Dearly Beloved,’ by Cara Wall (Simon & Schuster, Aug. 13)
This debut novel focuses on two ministers, their marriages and their faith. James and Charles lead Third Presbyterian Church in Greenwich Village in the ’60s, but their lives and histories are vastly different. Charles’s wife, Lily, is an avowed atheist, while James’s wife, Nan, is devout. The book is a moving portrait of love and friendship set against a backdrop of social change.
‘Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead,’ by Olga Tokarczuk (Riverhead, Aug. 13)
In a small Polish village, Janina spends her days devoted to William Blake and astrology, hoping to make sense of the world. But after news that her neighbor Big Foot has been found murdered, more people turn up dead, and Janina is drawn into the investigation. Part murder mystery, part fable, this novel — translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones — is elevated by Janina’s striking and original voice.
‘A Door in the Earth,’ by Amy Waldman (Little, Brown & Co., Aug. 27)
Parveen Shams, the young Afghan-American woman at the center of this novel, is galvanized by an American’s memoir of his time in Afghanistan. She moves to the same region to reconnect with her heritage, hoping to do good, but her expectations fall short: Much of the book that inspired her turns out to be false, and she finds that life in Afghanistan has been complicated far more than she imagined by the continuing American presence there. Waldman, a former reporter for The Times in Afghanistan, has crafted a story that doesn’t shrink from moral ambiguity and difficult questions.
‘Everything Inside: Stories,’ by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf, Aug. 27)
Haiti is the emotional core of this collection, though the characters roam the world. In these rich, vibrant stories, lovers reconcile after a catastrophe, a daughter meets her dying father for the first and last time and a family reunites at a baby’s christening.
‘Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have,’ by Tatiana Schlossberg (Grand Central, Aug. 27)
A former climate reporter for The Times, Schlossberg exposes the ways that our daily lives contribute to climate change. Focusing on food, fashion, technology and fuel, she shows how even the smallest decisions can have profound environmental consequences.
‘Inland,’ by Téa Obreht (Random House, Aug. 13)
This long-awaited new novel from the author of “The Tiger’s Wife” unfolds in the American West in the 1800s, shifting between the perspectives of two remarkable characters. Lurie, an outlaw who immigrated to the United States as a child, is haunted by ghosts and can see the dead. Nora is a homesteader awaiting the return of her husband, who has gone missing after going to retrieve water, and two of her sons, who have disappeared after an argument.
‘The Memory Police,’ by Yoko Ogawa (Pantheon, Aug. 13)
Objects are disappearing on an unnamed island — calendars, ribbons, even birds — and the people who notice are subject to frightening repercussions from the Memory Police. When a young novelist realizes her editor has become a police target, she hides him in her home. The novel, translated by Stephen Snyder, explores questions of power, trauma and state surveillance.
‘A Particular Kind of Black Man,’ by Tope Folarin (Simon & Schuster, Aug. 6)
Tunde Akinola, the son of Nigerian-born parents and the protagonist of this novel, never felt at home growing up in Utah. As his family disintegrates, his sense of estrangement intensifies, and follows him as he moves across various circles — African-American communities, the predominantly white Midwest of his childhood and Nigeria.
[ Tope Folarin is one of our writers to watch this summer. Read about him and the other three. ]
‘Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion,’ by Jia Tolentino (Random House, Aug. 6)
In nine new essays, Tolentino, a staff writer at The New Yorker, explores a number of pressing moral questions in the digital age. What does it mean for a generation of millennials to live under constant watch? What is lost when one is expected to maintain a relentless online presence? There’s a fatalistic streak running through these selections, but it’s one that might help us bring about a fairer world.
‘White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination,’ by Jess Row (Graywolf, Aug. 6)
Row, the author of “Your Face in Mine,” links contemporary storytelling with “white flight,” or the movement of white Americans into traditionally segregated communities. He considers the work of writers such as Marilynne Robinson, David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen in a study of how race might be used as a way “to approach each other again.”
‘The Yellow House,’ by Sarah M. Broom (Grove Atlantic, Aug. 13)
In this memoir of New Orleans, Broom tells 100 years of her family’s story, but the narrative is rooted in the home her mother bought in 1961, demolished after Hurricane Katrina. Weaving together interviews, archival research and her own recollections, Broom resurrects the house and ponders her place in the city’s mythology.
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