Here's what's ~hot~ this season.
BuzzFeed Deputy Books Editor
Posted on May 17, 2017, at 9:59 a.m. ET
Zinzi Clemmons' stunning debut novel, What We Lose, is at heart a coming-of-age story — Thandi, a young African-American woman who has always felt like an outsider, must grapple with her identity after her mother dies from cancer. Powerfully moving and beautifully wrought, What We Lose reflects on family, love, loss, race, womanhood, and the places we feel home.
Publication date: July 11
Catherine Lacey's novel The Answers centers around people looking for the answers to love, to emotions, to ailing bodies. Mary, a young woman in New York City, is desperate for a cure for her paralyzing pain when she finally finds an effective treatment that she can't afford. To pay for it, she joins eccentric actor Kurt Sky's "Girlfriend Experiment" — a project for which Sky has recruited multiple women to fulfill different roles in an attempt to create the perfect romantic relationship — and becomes his "Emotional Girlfriend," along the way learning more about herself and the nature of connection.
Publication date: June 6
Jenny Zhang's debut short story collection, Sour Heart, takes a fresh new look at the immigrant experience in America through the lens of adolescent girls growing up in Chinese or Taiwanese families from Queens, New York, to Shanghai. Zhang portrays the courage, humor, and complex emotions of these young women struggling to come to terms with who they are, their families, their bodies, and growing up in poverty, in seven stories that feel true to life.
Publication date: Aug. 1
Gabe Habash's Stephen Florida is a coming-of-age novel about the senior year of an ambitious college wrestler determined to win the Division IV national championship at all costs. Unsettling yet emotionally compelling, Stephen Florida is an utterly original portrait of one young man's obsession, loneliness, and interior life.
Roxane Gay's Hunger is a powerful, unflinchingly honest memoir about her relationship with her body, with self-image, with food and consumption, and how our society looks at and treats women her size. Raw and vulnerable, Gay lays bare her experiences in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, bravely sharing her pain, insecurities, hope, and hunger for many things in the world.
Publication date: June 13
Trend forecaster Sloane Jacobsen is hired to lead a tech conference celebrating childlessness after her predictions that having children will soon be an "extravagant indulgence" with overpopulation on the rise, when she begins to sense that the next trend will be people shunning their electronics in favor of in-person connection. Taking a huge risk professionally and going against her employer, she sets out to defend "in-personism" over technological interaction, finally letting in more connection and empathy in her own life. Sharp, witty, and provocative, Touch will make you think twice about your reliance on the digital world.
Publication date: May 30
Heartbroken after her engagement is called off and feeling that her life has become a mess, 30-year-old Ruth quits her job and goes home to her parents to take care of her father, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. As his condition grows worse, Ruth devotes herself to researching supplements and meals that might restore his memory. Tender yet funny in turns, Goodbye, Vitamin offers poignant insight into family, memory, marriage, parenthood, love, and loss.
Alissa Nutting's new novel Made for Love will be one of the funniest, most absurd books you'll read this summer. In Made for Love, Hazel escapes from her husband Byron, a tech mogul who wants to use brain chips to combine their minds. She moves to a trailer park of senior citizens with her father and his sex doll, trying to make and adjust to a new life and home, while Byron uses his company's technology to track her down. Hilarious, clever, and strikingly original, Made for Love speaks to the absurdity of our societal obsessions with technology and wealth.
Publication date: July 4
In Weike Wang's Chemistry, a young female doctoral student's life doesn't go quite as planned — as she struggles with her research, her relationship with her boyfriend, and her Chinese parents' high expectations, her life begins to unravel. As the pressures from both her university and those around her push her deeper into depression, she is forced to re-evaluate who she is and what she really wants, and re-find her place in the world. A poignant tale of self-discovery that anyone who's ever felt a little lost will relate to.
Publication date: May 23
Gabe Hudson's Gork, the Teenage Dragon is like nothing you've read before — a quirky, wildly fun ride of a debut novel about a 16-year-old dragon with a big heart. A coming-of-age and love story, Gork, the Teenage Dragon follows the most human dragon you'll ever meet on his journey to find a mate and return to planet Earth.
Sherman Alexie's You Don't Have to Say You Love Me is a haunting, heartbreaking memoir about his complicated relationship with his alcoholic mother. With brazen honesty and humor throughout, Alexie writes about the many facets of his mother and her addiction’s effect on his family and childhood.
In Danzy Senna's New People, Maria seems like she's about to have the perfect life she's always wanted — she and her college sweetheart from Stanford are planning their wedding, they're living in a bohemian black Brooklyn neighborhood, and they will be starring in a documentary about biracial people. But Maria also has doubts about the marriage, and her crush on another man, a poet, soon develops into an obsession that threatens life as she knows it, as well as what she thought she knew about identity and race.
Omar Robert Hamilton's The City Always Wins is a vivid, powerful portrait of Egypt's failed revolution in 2011. Through the eyes of Mariam and Khalil, two young people fighting at the front lines of the revolution in the streets of Cairo and its political underground, The City Always Wins is an urgent and relevant work that captures the realities of class friction, war, torture, and dictatorships.
My Life With Bob is the ultimate book about reading books — New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul has kept a journal (named Bob) for 28 years, meticulously tracking every book she’s ever read. The result is an intimate look into her interior life and the ways in which the stories she has read have changed her own story. Clever and heartfelt, My Life With Bob will appeal to anyone with a deep love for reading.
Publication date: May 2
Percival Everett’s So Much Blue is a novel written with Everett's signature humor about a man reckoning with the past and the secrets he has kept from his family. Ten years ago, Kevin Pace had an affair with a young painter in Paris. In present day, he is working on a painting that he won’t allow his wife or children to see: an enormous canvas covered in different shades of blue.
Lindsay Hunter treats addiction with empathy and honesty in Eat Only When You're Hungry, a novel about an overweight 58-year-old man who rents an RV and drives from West Virginia to Florida in search of his missing addict son. Along the way, he comes to realize that his excessive eating and drinking may not be so different from his son's addictions, and he must reckon with his past mistakes and failings as a parent and as a husband.
Publication date: Aug. 8
Opening in New York in the 1970s, Alex Gilvarry's Eastman Was Here is the story of a war journalist in the middle of an existential crisis after his wife takes their kids and leaves him. When he receives a surprise phone call from a former college rival offering him an opportunity to go to Vietnam to write about the war, he makes plans to regain his reputation as a writer as well as his wife's admiration, but ultimately finds himself with a whole new set of problems on his quest for redemption.
Publication date: Aug. 22
Anne Helen Petersen's Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is a sharp analysis of how contemporary female celebrities are pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior for women as defined by our society. Petersen examines Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, Lena Dunham, and other provocative, controversial women in the spotlight and the ways in which they are punished for their nonconformism.
Publication date: June 20
Note: Anne Helen Petersen is currently an employee of BuzzFeed.
Jessica B. Harris's My Soul Looks Back is a memoir about her youth spent in New York City alongside Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison in the early 1970s. Harris intimately reflects on her friendships with these fascinating individuals and their social circle, capturing an era that was vibrant with creativity, art, activism, and intellectual life.
Publication date: May 9
In Tom Perrotta's Mrs. Fletcher, Eve is a middle-aged divorcée in the suburbs struggling with empty nest syndrome after her only child has left for college when she gets a mysterious, anonymous text message that calls her a MILF. Eve can't stop thinking about the message — and before long develops an obsession with porn website MILFateria.com that opens up new romantic possibilities. A witty, engaging contemplation of sexuality, motherhood, morality, and self-discovery.
Eugene Lim's genre-bending Dear Cyborgs follows two drastically different storylines: In one, two outcast Asian-American boys in the Midwest bond over their love for comic books before their friendship falls apart; in another, superheroes in a future or alternate universe contemplate the state of society. The result is a smart, inventive, highly unconventional novel that explores themes of resistance, art, capitalism, and contemporary culture.
Ellen Ullman's Life in Code is an insightful account of the past 20 years of change in technology, which has transformed both our economy and our culture. Through her expert lens, Ullman shares the story of the rise of digital technology, computers, and the internet into the mainstream as experienced in her extensive career as a programmer and software engineer.
Jarry Lee is the Deputy Books Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jarry Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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