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Fly Me

Daniel Riley (Little, Brown)

What a trip this novel is, the story of a whip-smart Vassar grad named Suzy who, facing a life of respectability, does the responsible thing and ducks out to southern California to be a stewardess like her older sister. It’s the early 1970s, and so things get weird really fast. Is Suzy really going to get wrapped up in a drug smuggling scheme? Yes! Then there’s all those skyjackings that were going on… It’s Riley’s debut novel (full disclosure: I’ve worked with him on other projects) and it’s the perfect balance of grit and gloss. —Jonathan Segura, executive editor.


Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties

Dav Pilkey (Graphix)

In the third of this comic-style series for middle graders, the eponymous hero is half-dog, half-man. Plus he’s a cop, whose nemesis is a cat criminal named Petey. On a more existential level, Dog Man has to wrestle with his baser canine instincts (like the desire to tinkle on the carpet) as he battles crime. It’s not just my internal 10-year-old who finds Pilkey’s blend of complete absurdity, wordplay, and pee references hilarious—it’s every bit my adult self, too. —Matia Burnett, assistant editor, children’s


Stephen Florida

Gabe Habash (Coffee House)

The titular character of this debut novel by Habash, PW’s deputy reviews editor, is a Midwestern college senior, an orphan, and above all else on earth, a wrestler with a single-minded determination to “win the Division IV NCAA Championship in the 133 weight class.” Now, perhaps you’re thinking, “Why the hell would I want to spend almost 300 pages with a wrestler?” I wrestled in junior high and would have avoided myself if I could. But, don’t worry. In this novel, wrestling is really a pretext to introduce us to a powerful and engrossing new consciousness—Stephen’s struggle is to come to grips with the grinding willfulness that both enables and hobbles everything he does. Plus, Habash’s prose is dryly hilarious. Take this book to the beach and read it while you sweat out your excess water weight. —Craig Morgan Teicher, director of digital operations


Full Wolf Moon

Lincoln Child (Doubleday)

I’ve enjoyed Relic and other books in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s bestselling thriller series featuring FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast. I got a real kick out of Preston’s Blasphemy, about a particle physicist’s attempts to prove the existence of God. Now I’m curious to try one of Child’s solo efforts, the fifth entry in his series starring paranormal investigator Jeremy Logan, which PW starred. Werewolves in the Adirondacks—sounds like fun to me. —Peter Cannon, senior editor


Priestdaddy: A Memoir

Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead)

Patricia Lockwood is a delightfully eccentric poet, so it should come as no surprise that she is the product of an equally eccentric family. And her memoir is full of other surprises. For one, she’s the daughter of a gun-toting, feline-hating, Baileys Irish Cream–sipping Catholic priest (let that sink in for a second). In Priestdaddy, we get a rollicking inside view of this unique family dynamic. The image of her dad seated in the living room conducting a family meeting in only his underwear is hard to forget: “He adopted his most lordly and intimidating position, with thighs spread so wide it seemed like there might be a gateway to another dimension between them.” —Annie Coreno, reviews editor


October: The Story of the Russian Revolution

China Miéville (Verso)

For four decades now, the world has been bludgeoned by the demands of neoliberalism’s technocratic, managerial austerity politics. Many of us seem to have lost the capacity to believe that a better world is possible and to imagine bringing that world into existence. A century ago that possibility didn’t seem so far-fetched; the revolution is “a tragically lost opportunity and an ongoing source of inspiration,” as our review says. —Alex Crowley, reviews editor


Things That Happened Before the Earthquake

Chiara Barzini (Doubleday)

What’s better for a summer read than a fish out of water? Italian writer Chiara Barzini’s literary debut follows the travails of Eugenia, a privileged Roman teenager whose free-spirited parents move the family to L.A. right after the 1992 riots. They don’t much understand American culture, though, and naively plop Eugenia into a public high school rife with gangs. She’s a feisty, singular character: watch her navigate her new life, with the 1994 earthquake as catalyst. —Louisa Ermelino, reviews director



Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Transit)

I recommend Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu, a sprawling, striking epic that traces a curse on one Ugandan family’s bloodline through the centuries. It reminded me of some of my favorite long novels from the past few years, including Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound, and Annie Proulx’s Barkskins. —Gabe Habash, deputy reviews editor



Jeff VanderMeer (MCD)

About that thing on the cover—is it a genetically modified bird-of-paradise? Some cousin of the odoriferous corpse flower? I was intrigued from the moment I saw it, as is Rachel, the postapocalyptic scavenger who finds the improbably sentient and mutable creature—who “smelled of beach reeds on lazy summer afternoons and, beneath the sea salt, of passionflowers”—while picking through the fur of the gargantuan flying bear that terrorizes her devastated city. And then things start to get weird. —Carolyn Juris, features editor


Letters to His Neighbor

Marcel Proust, trans. from the French by Lydia Davis (New Directions)

I just started reading this unique collection, which gathers together Proust’s surviving correspondence with another tenant in the apartment building he lived in. The selections here weren’t written for literary posterity, but to accomplish a very specific aim: lessening the noise from the dentistry practice, belonging to his correspondent’s husband, right above the notoriously noise-allergic Proust’s head. The notes I’ve read so far are drenched in style, courtesy, and hilarious passive-aggression. —Everett Jones, reviews editor


Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Al Franken (Twelve)

I think this memoir by Senator Al Franken will be the buzz book of the summer among my friends, who, like me, grew up watching Saturday Night Live and remember well the positive affirmations of Franken’s famous character Stuart Smalley. Franken’s no-holds-barred depiction of how he evolved from a comedian and satirist into a politician demonstrates why he’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and, doggone it, why people like him. —Claire Kirch, Midwest correspondent



Amelia Gray (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Gray's most recent book, the story collection Gutshot, was weird as hell and as visceral as its title. Whose life would be better for her to fictionalize, then, than that of notorious mother of modern dance Isadora Duncan? An openly bisexual communist and atheist in an era that condemned all three, Duncan was famous for wearing long, flowing scarves even up until her death, when her scarf got caught in one of the axles of the car she was riding in. Flung from the vehicle, Duncan died of a broken neck—a tragic end that will surely make for a riveting finale in Gray's novel. —John Maher, assistant news editor


Infinite Summer

Edoardo Nesi, trans. from the Italian by Alice Kilgarriff (Other Press)

Politician and author Nesi has chronicled Italy’s devolution from economic powerhouse to near pauper in numerous books. This new novel takes a more sanguine view and returns to a time when romance and dreams ruled Italy, serving up the tale of three Tuscan textile entrepreneurs and the women they love in the 1970s. —Ed Nawotka, bookselling and international news editor


The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South

John T. Edge (Penguin Press)

This superb cultural history is “a work of remembering through food,” writes Edge, a James Beard Award–winning writer, columnist for Garden & Gun, and director of the Southern Foodway Alliance at the University of Mississippi. The stories he covers—of the women who cooked church dinners during the 1970s civil rights era, the 1970s back-to-the-land movements, the boom of fast-food restaurants such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, the culinary renaissance of the 1990s—are as rich as potlikker, the savory juices from boiled collard greens. —Mark Rotella, senior editor



Philippe Djian, trans. from the French by Michael Katims (Other Press)

I have to admit, reading a first person account of a female rape victim, written by a male author, is a jarring experience. Should a man be allowed to write about the experience of a woman being raped? Djian’s darkly comic heroine is blunt about her trauma—which opens the book. Witnessing how she processes the sexual assault is compelling and complicated. I often squirmed while reading. Yet read this book expecting to laugh. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable while laughing. —Seth Satterlee, reviews editor


The Fog

Kyo Maclear, illus. by Kenard Pak (Tundra)

Have you ever felt (recently, perhaps) that things have changed in dramatic, even unsettling, ways? And that not everyone fully appreciates the significance of those changes? Then this is the book for you, a smart allegory about a strange fog that descends on an island. One local bird is unnerved by the development; others simply accept it. It’s the picture book equivalent of “this is not normal,” and it places a premium on paying attention. —John A. Sellers, children’s reviews editor


Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight out of This Wild and Glorious Life

Jen Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson)

In her first book since publicly supporting same-sex marriage, Hatmaker considers her evolution as a Christian and as an author through stories on doubt, disappointment, and perseverance. The HGTV star and bestselling author of 2015’s For the Love puts a light touch on issues such as inclusivity, emotional pain, and the weight of motherhood, offering a distinct voice that Christians and non-Christians alike will find relatable. —Emma Koonse Wenner, religion news editor


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