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The People We Hate at the Wedding

Grant Ginder (Flatiron)

Ginder takes family dysfunction to its hysterical limit in this joyously ribald novel about siblings Alice and Paul begrudgingly attending the lavish wedding of their half-sister, Eloise, in England. Lovesick Alice and Paul—both in doomed relationships—see Eloise as the snotty daughter of a rich dad, and Donna, their mother, as a coldhearted widow who ditched all remnants of their father after his death. During the boozy pre-wedding days, the resentment and secrets come tumbling out in outbursts and hilariously bad decisions.


Found Audio

N.J. Campbell (Two Dollar Radio)

Audio analyst Amrapali Anna Singh claims a man has offered her a very large amount of money to analyze some audio recordings. The core of the book is Singh’s transcription of the recordings themselves, in which an intrepid unnamed journalist recounts a series of strange and dangerous journeys in search of the so-called City of Dreams. This strange little book, full of momentum, intrigue, and weighty ideas to mull over, is a bona fide literary page-turner.


Do Not Become Alarmed

Maile Meloy (Riverhead)

Two families go ashore while on a tropical cruise, only to find their children have disappeared. The parents turn into helpless basket cases, while the kids stumble onto a freshly dug grave, get kidnapped by a pair of drug-dealing brothers, hold on for dear life during a high-speed car chase, and get separated while on a freight train headed toward Nicaragua. This is an addictive, suspenseful read.


The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Arundhati Roy (Knopf)

When an abandoned infant girl appears amid urban litter outside the walls of Old Delhi and two women, Anjum and Tilo, have reasons to try to claim her, all their lives converge. Roy shifts fluidly between moods and time frames, juxtaposing first person and omniscient narration with “found” documents to weave her characters’ stories with India’s social and political tensions, particularly the violent retaliations to Kashmir’s long fight for self-rule. A haunting, complex novel about a bewilderingly beautiful, contradictory, and broken world.


The Seventh Function of Language

Laurent Binet, trans. from the French by Sam Taylor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

It’s Paris, 1980, and Roland Barthes has just been hit by a laundry van—but was it murder? Binet’s (HHhH) wild ride through the secret history of the French intelligentsia includes appearances by Derrida, Eco, Foucault, and Kristeva, as detective Jacques Bayard searches for a lost manuscript about the mythic “seventh function of language.”


Black Moses

Alain Mabanckou, trans. from the French by Helen Stevenson (New Press)

A small book with a big narrative voice, this wacky, vibrant novel follows the misfortunes and adventures of an orphan whose “kilometrically extended name” means, “Thanks be to God, the black Moses is born on the earth of our ancestors.” Moses escapes his orphanage in Loango and heads for the city of Pointe-Noire, where he joins a gang of petty thieves, is taken in by a kindly Zairean madam, and strikes out on a last noble and violent quest worthy of his long name.


Made for Love

Alissa Nutting (Ecco)

As she did in Tampa, her novel about an eighth-grade teacher’s affair with a student, Nutting deftly exploits the comic potential of perverse attachments, in this case involving sex dolls, aquatic mammals, and technological devices. Hazel has fled her controlling husband, Byron, CEO of ominous tech giant Gogol Industries, for her father’s trailer park home, only to discover he’s bought a sex doll. Hazel hopes to avoid Byron and forge a new, unsurveilled life.


The Burning Girl

Claire Messud (Norton)

In her first novel since The Woman Upstairs, Messud follows two childhood friends, Julia and Cassie, in their hometown of Royston, Mass. But after Cassie makes a life-threatening journey and damages their relationship, the two drift apart. Messud brings her incisive psychological skills to this blend of coming-of-age story and fable.


Pretend We Are Lovely

Noley Reid (Tin House)

Set in Blacksburg, Va., in 1982, Reid’s tense and poignant novel revolves around food. All four members of the Sobel family have complicated relationships to it: mother Francie counts calories and exercises; her 12-year-old daughter, Vivvy, models herself after Francie; father Tate snacks on refrigerated raw dough and is semi-estranged from Francie; and for 10-year-old Enid, food is an equal source of comfort and shame. The death of the Sobels’ son seven years earlier and Francie’s sudden disappearance drive this complex family drama to its conclusion.


The Changeling

Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau)

Apollo Kagwa has just gotten used to being a conscientious, diaper-changing dad when his family is torn apart in a shocking scene. In his quest to put his family back together, Apollo journeys into New York City’s hidden enchanted places, encountering old magic, monsters, and wicked fathers. Treading in the unpredictable realm of dark fairy tales, LaValle brings his unique brand of trippy fabulism to this gripping story about a devoted father’s confrontation with evil.


Shadow of the Lions

Christopher Swann (Algonquin)

Swann’s noirish mystery, set at a prestigious boys’ boarding school named Blackburne, centers on the unsolved disappearance of student Fritz Davenport, the roommate and best friend of Matthias Glass. Ten years after, when Matthias, now a declining novelist, returns to Blackburne as an English teacher, he finds himself pulled back to Fritz’s disappearance and the guilt he feels for the role he played.


Kiss Carlo

Adriana Trigiani (Harper)

Bestselling author Trigiani has a huge fan base, and her latest, an Italian-American family saga that starts out in South Philadelphia during the post-WWII boom, will have them lining up. Of course, there’s a mountaintop village in Italy, an urgent telegram, and an orphaned nephew who must choose between devotion to his fiancé, the family (and the family business), and following his dream of the theater. Romance, secrets, Shakespeare: pure Trigiani.


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