Treacherous rogues appear here next to the otherworldly, the weird, and the wild. It takes all sorts to make our latest set of anticipated books!
Traitor King by Andrew Lownie
11 December 1936. The King of England, Edward VIII, has given up his crown, foregoing his duty for the love of Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée. Their courtship has been dogged by controversy and scandal, but with Edward’s abdication, they can live happily ever after.
But do they? Beginning this astonishing dual biography at the moment that most biographers turn away, bestselling historian Andrew Lownie reveals the dramatic lives of the Windsors post-abdication. This is a story of a royal shut out by his family and forced into exile; of the Nazi attempts to recruit the duke to their cause; and of why the duke, as Governor of the Bahamas, tried to shut down the investigation into the murder of a close friend. It is a story of a couple obsessed with their status, financially exploiting their position, all the while manipulating the media to portray themselves as victims.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were, in their day, the most glamorous exiles in the world, flitting from sumptuously appointed mansions in the south of France to luxurious residences in Palm Beach. But they were spoiled, selfish people, obsessed with their image, and revelling in adulterous affairs. Drawing upon previously unexplored archives, Lownie shows in dramatic fashion how their glittering world was riddled with treachery and betrayal—and why the royal family never forgave the duke for choosing love over duty.
Due July 5
The Men by Sandra Newman
Deep in the California woods on an evening in late August, Jane Pearson is camping with her husband Leo and their five-year-old son Benjamin. As dusk sets in, she drifts softly to sleep in a hammock strung outside the tent where Leo and Benjamin are preparing for bed. At that moment, every single person with a Y chromosome vanishes around the world, disappearing from operating theaters mid-surgery, from behind the wheels of cars, from arguments and acts of love. Children, adults, even fetuses are gone in an instant. Leo and Benjamin are gone. No one knows why, how, or where.
After the Disappearance, Jane forces herself to enter a world she barely recognizes, one where women must create new ways of living while coping with devastating grief. As people come together to rebuild depopulated industries and distribute scarce resources, Jane focuses on reuniting with an old college girlfriend, Evangelyne Moreau, leader of the Commensalist Party of America, a rising political force in this new world. Meanwhile, strange video footage called “The Men” is being broadcast online showing images of the vanished men marching through barren, otherworldly landscapes. Is this just a hoax, or could it hold the key to the Disappearance?
Due June 24
Shadowlands by Matthew Green
Drowned. Buried by sand. Decimated by plague. Plunged off a cliff. This is the extraordinary tale of Britain’s eerie and remarkable ghost towns and villages; shadowlands that once hummed with life. Peering through the cracks of history, we find Dunwich, a medieval city plunged off a cliff by sea storms; the abandoned village of Wharram Percy, wiped out by the Black Death; the lost city of Trellech unearthed by moles in 2002; and a Norfolk village zombified by the military and turned into a Nazi, Soviet, and Afghan village for training.
Matthew Green, a British historian and broadcaster, tells the astonishing tales of the rise and demise of these places, animating the people who lived, worked, dreamed, and died there. Traveling across Britain to explore their haunting and often-beautiful remains, Green transports the reader to these lost towns and cities as they teeter on the brink of oblivion, vividly capturing the sounds of the sea clawing away row upon row of houses, the taste of medieval wine, or the sights of puffin hunting on the tallest cliffs in the country. We experience them in their prime, look on at their destruction, and revisit their lingering remains as they are mourned by evictees and reimagined by artists, writers, and mavericks.
Due July 19
W. by Steve Sem-Sandberg
W., the astonishing new novel by August Prize– winning author Steve Sem-Sandberg, is a literary reimagining of one of modern literature’s touchstone texts, the play Woyzeck. Considered the first modern drama, Woyzeck tells the story of a loyal soldier and survivor of the Napoleonic Wars who, in a fit of jealous rage, kills the woman he loves. In 1836 this true story inspired Georg Büchner to write the play, unfinished at his death at just twenty-three years old.
W. grippingly recounts the lovers’ relationship, the murder case, and the soldier’s execution. The story unfolds as the soldier W. struggles to recount the events of his life. He grasps at understanding and experiences feelings of time and timelessness. He finds patterns and repetitions, but these are of no interest to those determining his fate.
Against a landscape devastated by inhumanity and greed that, yet, manages to sustain hope, Steve Sem-Sandberg’s W. tells a ruthless, moving, and utterly relevant story as the soldier W. desperately and humanly fights to make something of the life given to him.
Due June 28
I Used to Live Here Once by Miranda Seymour
An obsessive and troubled genius, Jean Rhys is one of the most compelling and unnerving writers of the twentieth century. Memories of a conflicted Caribbean childhood haunt the four fictions that Rhys wrote during her extraordinary years as an exile in 1920s Paris and later in England. Rhys’s experiences of heartbreak, poverty, notoriety, breakdowns and even imprisonment all became grist for her writing, forming an iconic ‘Rhys woman’ whose personality – vulnerable, witty, watchful and angry – was often mistaken, and still is, for a self-portrait.
Many details of Rhys’s life emerge from her memoir, Smile Please and the stories she wrote throughout her long and challenging career. But it’s a shock to discover that no biographer – until now – has researched the crucial seventeen years that Rhys spent living on the remote Caribbean island of Dominica; the island which haunted Rhys’s mind and her work for the rest of her life.
Luminous and penetrating, Seymour’s biography reveals a proud and fiercely independent artist, one who experienced tragedy and extreme poverty, alcohol and drug dependency, romantic and sexual turmoil – and yet was never a victim.
Due July 19
Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata
With Life Ceremony, the incomparable Sayaka Murata is back with her first collection of short stories ever to be translated into English. In Japan, Murata is particularly admired for her short stories, which are sometimes sweet, sometimes shocking, and always imbued with an otherworldly imagination and uncanniness.
In these twelve stories, Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror to portray both the loners and outcasts as well as turning the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. Whether the stories take place in modern-day Japan, the future, or an alternate reality is left to the reader’s interpretation, as the characters often seem strange in their normality in a frighteningly abnormal world. In “A First-Rate Material,” Nana and Naoki are happily engaged, but Naoki can’t stand the conventional use of deceased people’s bodies for clothing, accessories, and furniture, and a disagreement around this threatens to derail their perfect wedding day. “Lovers on the Breeze” is told from the perspective of a curtain in a child’s bedroom that jealously watches the young girl Naoko as she has her first kiss with a boy from her class and does its best to stop her. “Eating the City” explores the strange norms around food and foraging, while “Hatchling” closes the collection with an extraordinary depiction of the fractured personality of someone who tries too hard to fit in.
Due July 5
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
Leah is changed. A marine biologist, she left for a routine expedition months earlier, only this time her submarine sank to the sea floor. When she finally surfaces and returns home, her wife Miri knows that something is wrong. Barely eating and lost in her thoughts, Leah rotates between rooms in their apartment, running the taps morning and night. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded, Leah has carried part of it with her, onto dry land and into their home. As Miri searches for answers, desperate to understand what happened below the water, she must face the possibility that the woman she loves is slipping from her grasp.
By turns elegiac and furious, wry and heartbreaking, Our Wives Under the Sea is an exploration of the unknowable depths within each of us, and the love that compels us nevertheless toward one another.
Due July 12
The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy
One night, Elango has a dream that consumes him, driving him to give it shape. The potter is determined to create a terracotta horse whose beauty will be reason enough for its existence. Yet he cannot pin down from where it has galloped into his mind. The Mahabharata? The Trojan horse legend? His anonymous potter-ancestors? Once it’s finished, he does not know where his creation will belong. In a temple compound? Gracing a hotel lobby? Or should he gift it to Zohra, the woman he loves, yet despairs of ever marrying.
The astral, indefinable force driving Elango toward forbidden love and creation has unleashed other currents. He unexpectedly falls into a complicated relationship with a neighborhood girl who is beginning her bewildering journey into adulthood. He is suddenly adopted by a lost dog who steals his heart. While Elango’s life is changing, the community around him is as well, but it is a transformation driven by inflammatory passions of a different kind. Here, people, animals, and even the gods live on a knife’s edge and the consequences of daring to dream are cataclysmic.
Moving between India and England, The Earthspinner reflects the many ways in which the East and the West’s paths converge and diverge in constant conflict. Anuradha Roy breathes new life into ancient myths, giving allegorical shape to the terrifying war on reason and the imagination waged by increasingly powerful forces of fanaticism. An epic that is a metaphor for our age, The Earthspinner is an intricate, wrenching novel about the transformed ways of loving and living in an increasingly uncertain world.
Due July 5
Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe
Patrick Radden Keefe has garnered prizes ranging from the National Magazine Award to the Orwell Prize to the National Book Critics Circle Award for his meticulously reported, hypnotically engaging work on the many ways people behave badly. Rogues brings together a dozen of his most celebrated articles from The New Yorker. As Keefe says in his preface, “They reflect on some of my abiding preoccupations: crime and corruption, secrets and lies, the permeable membrane separating licit and illicit worlds, the bonds of family, the power of denial.”
Keefe brilliantly explores the intricacies of forging $150,000 vintage wines, examines whether a whistle-blower who dared to expose money laundering at a Swiss bank is a hero or a fabulist, spends time in Vietnam with Anthony Bourdain, chronicles the quest to bring down a cheerful international black-market arms merchant, and profiles a passionate death-penalty attorney who represents the “worst of the worst,” among other bravura works of literary journalism.
The appearance of his byline in The New Yorker is always an event, and collected here for the first time readers can see his work forms an always enthralling but deeply human portrait of criminals and rascals, as well as those who stand up against them.
Due June 28
Three by Valerie Perrin
1986: Adrien, Etienne and Nina are 10 years old when they meet at school and quickly become inseparable. They promise each other they will one day leave their provincial backwater, move to Paris, and never part.
2017: A car is pulled up from the bottom of the lake, a body inside. Virginie, a local journalist with an enigmatic past reports on the case while also reflecting on the relationship between the three friends, who were unusually close when younger but now no longer speak. . As Virginie moves closer to the surprising truth, relationships fray and others are formed.
Due June 17