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All We Ever Wanted

Emily Giffin (Ballantine)

The latest from the bestselling author of Something Borrowed hinges on a photograph taken at Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school. As the photograph causes shock waves to ripple through Nashville’s wealthy neighborhoods, Nina Browning (who married into money), single father Tom Volpe, and Tom’s daughter, Lyla (the subject of the photo) find their lives becoming intertwined.

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Baby Teeth

Zoje Stage (St. Martin’s)

Stage’s debut novel is a deviously fun domestic horror story that takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Frustrated stay-at-home mom Suzette attempts to pacify her seven-year-old daughter Hanna, who adores her father but distrusts Suzette, has dangerous tantrums, and only speaks in the voice of a 17th-century girl who was burned at the stake. As Suzette tries to connect with Hanna, Hanna plots ways to “step up her game against Mommy.”

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Brother

David Chariandy (Bloomsbury)

Set during the summer of 1991 in the Park, a housing complex in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Chariandy’s powerful and incendiary novel tracks the coming of age of two mixed-heritage brothers. Sensitive Michael fumbles through his first relationship while volatile Francis becomes obsessed with the burgeoning hip-hop scene. Chariandy imbues his resilient characters with strength and hope.

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Comemadre

Roque Larraquy, trans. from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Coffee House)

The most delightfully terrifying novel of the summer starts with a disquieting experiment in a sanatorium outside Buenos Aires in 1907, involving decapitating patients and, in the few seconds while the head maintains life, asking it what it sees. Then the novel shuttles to 2009 and follows a shock artist attempting his most twisted installation to date. How the novel connects the two halves is surprising and brilliant. This novel will appeal to fans of both B-movie horror and exceedingly dark comedy.

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Compulsory Games

Robert Aickman (New York Review Books)

For readers of Poe, Kafka, and Lovecraft, this insidious and haunting collection from the master of the “strange story” presents dreamlike, inexplicable realities in prose both strangely sensual and entirely disarming. A man discovers a river behind his house that leads to an island seemingly outside of time; a man enters into a strange marriage with the daughter of a sinister carpenter; a holiday in the country seems to cross over to a netherworld of carnivorous cows.

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Confessions of the Fox

Jordy Rosenberg (One World)

Academic intrigue meets the 18th-century underworld in Rosenberg’s absurdly fun debut. University professor R. Voth finds a 1724 manuscript purported to be the memoirs of real-life 18th-century British thief and folk hero Jack Sheppard. But this Jack was born female, falls in love with a mixed-race sex worker, and clashes with a ring of London conspirators attempting to monetize a potentially priceless masculinizing elixir, and the results are dazzling.

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Convenience Store Woman

Sayaka Murata, trans. from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori (Grove)

Murata’s moving, funny, and unsettling novel about how to be a “functioning adult” in today’s world follows 36-year-old Keiko Furukura, who has been working at the same convenience store for the past 18 years. Drawn to the clear directions of the job, Keiko finds that the older she gets, the further she drifts from milestones like having a “real” job and having children. When she enters into a sham marriage with a lazy ex-coworker, her life and psyche are thrown into turmoil.

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The Ensemble

Aja Gabel (Riverhead)

Gabel’s wonderful debut centers on the talented members of the Van Ness String Quartet over the course of 18 event-filled years. There’s Jana, first violin, the natural leader; Henry, viola, the prodigy; Daniel, cello, the charming one who brings intensity to the group; and Brit, second violin, the unknown quantity. They sleep together and have jealousies and rivalries, as well as families. The four characters are individually memorable, but as a quartet, they’re unforgettable.

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The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai (Viking)

Makkai’s layered, satisfying novel follows two characters 30 years apart. In the mid-1980s, Chicago art gallery director Yale Tishman, on the verge of his biggest career accomplishment, finds his life falling apart around him as more and more of his friends die in the AIDS crisis. In 2015, Fiona, the sister of Yale’s friend Nico, desperately searches for her daughter, who has joined a cult. Makkai’s novel about resilience and hope is sure to win readers over.

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Kudos

Rachel Cusk (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Cusk’s final book in a trilogy (after Outline and Transit) expertly concludes the story of protagonist British author Faye. Like its predecessors, the novel eschews chronicling Faye’s life via traditional narrative, instead filling each page with conversations with and monologues by the many writers, journalists, and publicists she meets during her travels. As always, Cusk’s ear for dialogue and language is stunning. The author ends Faye’s trilogy with yet another gem.

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The Verdun Affair

Nick Dybek (Scribner)

Dybek’s gripping novel is a cleverly constructed page-turner that travels back and forth in time between a European continent devastated by World War I and 1950s Hollywood. American ambulance driver Tom stays behind in Verdun after the war, where he falls in love with Sarah, who has come to France looking for her missing husband. When a mysterious soldier shows up at a hospital, both Tom’s and Sarah’s lives will be changed. This is a transportive tale of memory, choice, and sacrifice.

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What We Were Promised

Lucy Tan (Little, Brown)

The Zhen family—Wei, Lina, and their daughter, Karen—has returned to China from America, settling into a luxury apartment in Shanghai. Two events rock the family: an ivory bracelet disappears, and Qiang, the prodigal son, reappears after years away. Tan’s novel is a vivid family chronicle, a compelling mystery, and an incisive look at wealth and privilege among Chinese-born, American-educated citizens.

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