When I sat down to write my post on May fiction this month, I was surprised with the number of books that I had compiled to include in the post. Summer is coming and publishers know that book hungry readers are looking to fill their vacation reading calendars, so they’ve got lots of juicy titles to tempt us.
So, here’s a surprise bonus post of even more great looking books coming out this month! (Actually, looking back I did two such posts last May, so maybe this is no surprise at all … how quickly we forget!)
Colonial Hotel by Jonathan Bennett (May 1). From a Canadian author of six critically acclaimed books: “A lyrical, heartbreaking story of ardour and devastation. In this powerful novel of love and family, a doctor named Paris follows a nurse to a country on the brink of civil war. When a confrontation does break out, they are swept up by rebel forces and separated. The nurse, Helen, is pregnant; she escapes, but Paris is left behind, imprisoned by rebels as war rages. A narrative of brutal power about parental bonds, forgiveness, and identity, The Colonial Hotel recasts for the 21st century the ancient story of Paris, Helen, and Oenone. While the action might be ripped from international headlines, Bennett creates a wholly new take on an age-old tale set in the bleakest aspect of our unstable, yet remarkable, world.”
Authority by Jeff Vandermeer (May 6): I’m currently about halfway through Vandermeer’s Annihilation which came out in February. It’s the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy: Authority is the second. The third also comes out this year (Acceptance, in September) and the whole trilogy is in development for a movie. The cynic in me might write this off as a marketing gimmick: the three slim volumes could easily have been published as a single book, but I have to admit I’m drawn in by the momentum created by close release dates. Doesn’t hurt either that I’m totally absorbed in the first book: the story of a government directed expedition into Area X, a mysterious zone that’s been cut off for the rest of society for decades. The story follows the latest expedition’s team members—the biologist, the psychologist, the
anthropologist and the surveyor—into the unknown. They are expedition 12—things didn’t go well at all for expeditions 1-11 and they’re not looking great for our latest team either. A mix of thriller and science fiction (of the post-apocalyptic kind): I’m finding myself racing through volume one to be ready for volume two. This one has potential to be the book everyone will be talking about by the end of summer—get in early.
The Bees by Laline Paull (May 6): My early notes on this debut novel tell me its themes are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s more speculative/dystopian titles and in fact, the book promotion includes a blurb (pulled from Twitter) from Atwood herself who called it ““[A] gripping Cinderella/Arthurian tale with lush Keatsian adjectives.” An allegorical story of Flora 717: a bee in a working hive. “Born into the lowest class of an ancient hierarchical society, Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, an Untouchable, whose labour is at her ancient orchard hive’s command. As part of the collective, she is taught to accept, obey and serve. Altruism is the highest virtue, and worship of her beloved Queen, the only religion. Her society is governed by the priestess class, questions are forbidden and all thoughts belong to the Hive Mind. But Flora is not like other bees. Her curiosity is a dangerous flaw, especially once she is exposed to the mysteries of the Queen’s Library.”
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (May 13): This one has been popping up on lots of this season’s anticipated book lists: sure to be a great read for those looking for something insightful yet funny.”Paul O’Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn’t know how to live in it. He’s a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the real thing. As Paul’s quest to learn why his identity has been stolen deepens, he is forced to confront his troubled past and his uncertain future in a life disturbingly split between the real and the virtual.”
Little Bastards in Springtime by Katja Rudolph (May 27). All of the biographical information I come across on Katja Rudolph, proclaims she is currently at work on her third novel, but from what I can tell Little Bastards in Springtime is her first to be published (I guess she’s well prepared if this one piques readers’ interests). “It’s spring 1992. Jevrem Andric is eleven years old, and brutal civil war is erupting in Sarajevo. At first it’s just boring, as kids shut in apartments run out of ways to entertain themselves. A few weeks later, boredom is a luxury. Hell has arrived. They are trapped and face starvation and death. Jevrem’s only comfort is his beloved grandmother, a tough World War II partisan who has seen everything there is to see in war. Five years later, what’s left of his family has immigrated to Toronto, where spring feels like mid-winter, his grandmother is broken and ill, and sixteen-year-old Jevrem is on a rampage, drinking, doing drugs and breaking into houses with his small gang of Yugoslav friends.”