So many books, so little time—even in the summer. Of the many new choices, here are six that caught our eye, a handful of fiction and nonfiction that promises reflection, adventure, and, yes, even fun.
You Could Make This Place Beautiful
Simon & Schuster
Best-selling poet Maggie Smith’s memoir interrogates family, work, and patriarchy. At 320 pages, it’s the perfect length for a long flight, either in print or audio, with Smith providing the narration. After You Could Make This Place Beautiful, go online to the Poetry Foundation and listen to Smith read “Good Bones,” where you’ll see the memoir’s title.
Trans. Alison Anderson
New Vessel Press
Are you a people-watcher? In his follow-up to the hit novel The 6:41 to Paris, Jean-Philippe Blondel peers into the lives of various characters who share a Parisian café as their nexus. WLT contributor and former Neustadt Prize juror Alison Anderson provides the English translation.
A fake residency, researchers on the run, and a student using her old band as cover to gather reconnaissance: this novel in verse—a metafictional work of literary speculative fiction—takes on weighty topics in imaginative ways.
Trans. Eric Abrahamsen & Jeremy Tiang
Two Lines Press
June brings Xu Zechen’s Beijing Sprawl, translated by Eric Abrahamsen and Jeremy Tiang. Zechen, who lives in Beijing, is the author of three novels. In these connected short stories, the characters jog excessively, herd pigeons, and build cars from scraps—getting by as best they can.
To the Lake
Trans. Maria Wiltshire
You may be familiar with Yana Vagner as the author of Vongozero, which is available on Netflix as the series To the Lake. Maria Wiltshire’s English translation of this story of a group with a complicated family dynamic fleeing an epidemic in Moscow dropped in June.
The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth
Elizabeth Rush’s Rising was a Pulitzer finalist in the general nonfiction category. In her new book—an expedition tale for those on an adventure or feet-up on staycation—Rush documents the voyage of a group of scientists to Antarctica.