Listen, we love when things get weird, and this month there are some great, weird, and greatly weird genre-bending books to read! A cultish group of popular girls take on a new protégée in Bunny by Mona Awad; every Palestinian suddenly disappears in Ibtisam Azem’s The Book of Disappearance; plus a beautiful writing manifesto from SF superstar Nnedi Okorafor.
Head below for the full list of Genre-Bending titles heading your way in June!
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
A City Made of Words — Paul Park (June 1, PM Press)
Paul Park is one of modern fiction’s major innovators. With characters truly alien and disturbingly normal, his work explores the shifting interface between traditional narrative and luminous dream, all in the service of a deeper humanism. “Climate Change,” original to this volume, is an intimate and erotic take on a global environmental crisis. “A Resistance to Theory” chronicles the passionate (and bloody) competition between the armed adherents of postmodern literary schools. “A Conversation with the Author” gives readers a harrowing look behind the curtains of an MFA program. In “A Brief History of SF” a fan encounters the ruined man who first glimpsed the ruined cities of Mars. “Creative Nonfiction” showcases a professor’s eager collaboration with a student intent on wrecking his career. The only nonfiction piece, “A Homily for Good Friday,” was delivered to a stunned congregation at a New England church. Plus: a bibliography and a candid Outspoken Interview with one of today’s most accomplished and least conventional authors.
Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture — Claudia Schwabe (June 3, Wayne State University Press)
Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture analyzes supernatural creatures in order to demonstrate how German fairy tales treat difference, alterity, and Otherness with terror, distance, and negativity, whereas contemporary North American popular culture adaptations navigate diversity by humanizing and redeeming such figures. This trend of transformation reflects a greater tolerance of other marginalized groups (in regard to race, ethnicity, ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, social class, religion, etc.) and acceptance of diversity in society today. The fairy-tale adaptations examined here are more than just twists on old stories—they serve as the looking glasses of significant cultural trends, customs, and social challenges. Whereas the fairy-tale adaptations that Claudia Schwabe analyzes suggest that Otherness can and should be fully embraced, they also highlight the gap that still exists between the representation and the reality of embracing diversity wholeheartedly in twenty-first-century America.
Bunny — Mona Awad (June 11, Viking)
Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort—a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and are often found entangled in a group hug so tight they become one. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the sinister yet saccharine world of the Bunny cult and starts to take part in their ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they magically conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur, and her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies are brought into deadly collision.
The History of Living Forever — Jake Wolff (June 11, Farrar Straus and Giroux)
Conrad Aybinder is a boy with a secret; sixteen and ready for anything. A chemistry genius, he has spent the summer on an independent-study project with his favorite teacher, Sammy Tampari. Sammy is also Conrad’s first love. But the first day of senior year, the students are informed that Mr. Tampari is dead. Rumors suggest an overdose. How can it be? Drugs are for unhappy people, Conrad is sure, not for people who have fallen in love. Soon, though, it is clear that Sammy had a life hidden even from Conrad, evidenced by the journals he left for Conrad to discover after his death. The journals detail twenty years of research aimed at creating recipes for something called the Elixir of Life.
Spanning centuries of scientific and alchemical inquiry, ranging from New York to Romania to Easter Island, featuring drug kingpins, Big Pharma flunkies, centenarians, and a group of ambitious coin collectors, Jake Wolff’s The History of Living Forever is equal parts thrilling adventure and meditation on mortality, thoughtful investigation of mental illness, and a reminder to be on the lookout for magic in science and life.
The History of Soul 2065 — Barbara Krasnoff (June 11, Mythic Delirium Books)
Months before World War I breaks out, two young Jewish girls just on the edge of adolescence—one from a bustling Russian city, the other from a German estate—meet in an eerie, magical forest glade. They are immediately drawn to one another and swear an oath to meet again. Though war and an ocean will separate the two for the rest of their lives, the promise that they made to each other continues through the intertwined lives of their descendants. This epic tale of the supernatural follows their families from the turn of the 20th Century through the terrors of the Holocaust and ultimately to the wonders of a future they never could have imagined.
The Book of Disappearance — Ibtisam Azem, translated by Sinan Anton (June 14, Syracuse University Press)
What if all the Palestinians in Israel simply disappeared one day? What would happen next? How would Israelis react? These unsettling questions are posed in Azem’s powerfully imaginative novel. Set in contemporary Tel Aviv forty eight hours after Israelis discover all their Palestinian neighbors have vanished, the story unfolds through alternating narrators, Alaa, a young Palestinian man who converses with his dead grandmother in the journal he left behind when he disappeared, and his Jewish neighbor, Ariel, a journalist struggling to understand the traumatic event. The Book of Disappearance grapples with both the memory of loss and the loss of memory for the Palestinians.
Broken Places & Outer Spaces — Nnedi Okorafor (June 18, TED books)
Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan—something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks.
In Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed deep into her memories, from her painful first experiences with racism as a child in Chicago to her powerful visits to her parents’ hometown in Nigeria. From Frida Kahlo to Mary Shelly, she examines great artists and writers who have pushed through their limitations, using hardship to fuel their work. Through these compelling stories and her own, Nnedi reveals a universal truth: What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths—far greater than when we were unbroken.
FKA USA — Reed King (June 18, Flatiron Books)
It is 2085, and Truckee Wallace, a factory worker in Crunchtown 407 (formerly Little Rock, Arkansas, before the secessions), has no grand ambitions besides maybe, possibly, losing his virginity someday. But when Truckee is thrust unexpectedly into the spotlight he is tapped by the President for a sensitive political mission: to deliver a talking goat across the continent. The fate of the world depends upon it. The problem is―Truckee’s not sure it’s worth it.
Joined on the road by an android who wants to be human and a former convict lobotomized in Texas, Truckee will navigate an environmentally depleted and lawless continent with devastating―and hilarious―parallels to our own, dodging body pickers and Elvis-worshippers and logo girls, body subbers, and VR addicts.
The Record Keeper — Agnes Gomillion (June 18, Titan Books)
Arika Cobane is on the threshold of taking her place of privilege as a member of the Kongo elite after ten grueling years of training. But everything changes when a new student arrives speaking dangerous words of treason: What does peace matter if innocent lives are lost to maintain it? As Arika is exposed to new beliefs, she realizes that the laws she has dedicated herself to uphold are the root of her people’s misery. If Arika is to liberate her people, she must unearth her fierce heart and discover the true meaning of freedom: finding the courage to live—or die—without fear.
The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs — Katherine Howe (June 25, Henry Holt & Co)
Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows. Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.