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Almost Summer: 12 Books to Read in June

The hottest new novels include compelling literary fiction from Rachel Cusk and Andrew O’Hagan, historical fiction from Heather Marshall and thrillers from Morgan Talty and Nicola Yoon / BY Nathalie Atkinson / May 27th, 2024

Summer is almost here, and with warmer weather come days that stretch out longer. Put the extra hours to pleasurable use with our fiction picks for the month ahead, from topical suspense exploring racial dynamics and historical fiction about the Second World War and post-war Hollywood to rollicking cultural satire, heartwarming tragicomedy and even a Dickensian state-of-the-nation sprawl. Here are the fiction highlights to add to your reading list.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on a cover image or title.

1The Secret History of Audrey Jamesby Heather Marshall

When it comes to the established historical record, this Ontario author always wants to answer the question: What were the women doing? The story of Nova Scotia-born civilian Mona Parsons – who was imprisoned by the Nazis after she joined the Dutch resistance during the Second World War, while living in the Netherlands with her husband – proved irresistible. The resulting book is a drama, inspired by true stories about the contributions of women to the resistance movement. Marshall borrows from the experiences of history, just as she did with her No. 1 bestseller, Looking for Jane. (June 4)

2Fire Exitby Morgan Talty

Talty, who teaches English at the University of Maine and is a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation, returns to the familiar ground of his prize-winning short story collection Night of the Living Rez. The novel probes ideas of inheritance, identity and belonging (as well as blood quantum, or Indian blood laws) through the rueful reflections of Charles, a 50-something white man who lives in a cabin near the reservation where he was raised by his Native stepfather and mother. She’s now living with dementia, and Charles has to make a decision about revealing complicated truths in order to help his kin. (June 4)

3Godwinby Joseph O’Neill

The latest book from the Irish-Turkish writer, who previously wrote about cricket in Netherland, was inspired by his love of soccer, and it’s already being hailed as a great sports novel that’s not about a game. The story, about half-brothers – a freelance writer and a British agent – on a quest through West Africa to track down and recruit a teen soccer prodigy they spotted online, is soccer-adjacent (like Michael Lewis’s Moneyball). The focus is on the apparatus of capitalism, and its talent to corrupt, more than athletics. (June 4)

4The Future Was Colorby Patrick Nathan

This novel of 1950s Hollywood by a Minneapolis-St.Paul writer and bookseller covers similar terrain as the recent miniseries Fellow Travelers (starring Bridgerton heartthrob Jonathan Bailey), namely the McCarthy-era Lavender Scare. The story follows monster movie writer George (born György) as he attempts to outrun his identity as a gay Jew from Budapest by becoming the toast of faded star Madeline’s social circle. It’s about navigating the possibilities of queer life in the margins of a glittering period. (June 4)

5Tehrangelesby Porochista Khakpour

The L.A.-raised, Harlem-based essayist only half-jokingly calls her new novel “Crazy West Asians,” and the designer shoe fits. The lives of four Iranian-American snack food heiresses who want to become reality TV stars are turned inside-out by COVID-19 lockdowns when their influencer dreams are put on hold. Their dysfunctional family saga gives Khakpour an excuse to wander the landscape of flashy, affluent Los Angelenos for an entertaining culture-clash satire about belonging that draws on both the Kardashian clan and Little Women. (June 6)

6Paradeby Rachel Cusk

The Canadian-born English literary superstar of the acclaimed Outline Trilogy, and a two-time Giller Prize finalist, is a rarity among contemporary novelists in that any new novel is an event. The storytelling in this standalone is elliptical (confoundingly so), with multiple perspectives divided into four sections and populated by nameless characters whose relationships to one another, and the narrative, are seldom clear. But Cusk’s readers flock to her mesmerizing writing and serrated edge, which, in this novel, probes the violence and cruelty in human relationships and the making of art. (June 6)

7One of Our Kindby Nicola Yoon

This uneasy thriller, a must-read positioned as Get Out meets The Stepford Wives, confronts racial dynamics through the voice of Jasmyn Williams, who moves with her family to a utopian Black community near Los Angeles. This is the first adult novel for Yoon, the Jamaican-American author who wrote the No. 1 New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist The Sun is Also a Star. She has called One of Our Kind “the culmination of years of thinking about what freedom means when you’re Black, and the ways in which that freedom is complicated by the presumptions we make about ourselves and each other.” (June 11)

8Caledonian Roadby Andrew O’Hagan

This panoramic novel from the award-winning Scottish author of Mayflies and three-time Booker Prize nominee, begins in 2021 post-Brexit London – where O’Hagan lives – as pandemic lockdown measures ease. It charts the spectacular fall from grace of smugly privileged university lecturer and art critic Campbell Flynn, a celebrity intellectual in the vein of Christopher Hitchens (or Jordan Peterson), after he tangles with his outspoken working-class student, Milo Manghasa. Like John Lanchester’s Capital, it’s a state-of-the-nation doorstopper (more than 650 pages!) with searing social commentary on masculinity, cryptocurrency, foreign wealth and the class system in modern Britain. (June 11)

9The Art of Vanishingby Lynne Kutsukake

Two young Japanese women from opposite class backgrounds, both seeking creative freedom, meet while living at a Tokyo boarding house and form an intense friendship. But when they fall in with a cultish group of performance artists, their dreams diverge. In exploring the fallout of their choices, the writer, an award-winning writer and novelist, who previously worked as Japanese Studies librarian at the University of Toronto, paints a dynamic portrait of the rise of avant-garde culture (and rebellious posers) in 1970s Tokyo. (June 11)

10Sandwichby Catherine Newman

A family’s annual multigenerational summer trip to Cape Cod serves as fodder for a middle-aged woman’s trials and triumphs as she juggles nearly adult children and aging parents, while balancing the emotional see-saw caused by menopause. The grief observed by the Massachusetts writer in We All Want Impossible Things stayed with me a long time, and this novel is about learning to let go in other ways. If it’s even half as tenderhearted, expect to have a satisfying cry and laugh out loud. (June 18)

11We Used to Live Hereby Marcus Kliewer

We’ve reached the point in publishing where it’s not unusual to write the phrase “Reddit sensation” about a debut. The Vancouver-based writer and stop-motion animator initially serialized this buzzy story in Reddit’s ‘No Sleep’ thread  – a place for users to post original horror stories– and soon, it will be a thriller on Netflix starring Blake Lively. The palpable atmosphere of unease begins when a young couple allow a family, who claim to be the previous residents, into their latest house-flipping project to look around – and they never leave. Strange phenomena ensue, along with a break from reality. (June 18)

12Shanghaiby Joseph Kanon

The Edgar-winning master of the historical espionage thrillers like The Good German turns his attention to wartime noir themes in a new locale. The setting for the American writer’s latest suspenseful yarn is about the gritty criminal underbelly of glamourous Shanghai nightlife on the brink of the Second World War. A group of stateless European Jews, who flee corruption and evil in 1938, make their way to the self-governing port in Japanese-occupied China only to discover they’ve stumbled into a new variation of the same story. (June 25)


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