Best New Fiction: July 2013

Best New Fiction

The dog days of summer are almost upon us.  We’re here to remind you to stay hydrated and well read as it continues to heat up out there.

July looks like a great month for translation, with new titles becoming available in English for the first time from Best Translated Book Award winner László Krasznahorkai, Prix Goncourt winner Marguerite Duras, and Italian author Maurizio de Giovanni.  It’s also shaping up to be a great month for female fiction writers with a new novel from Booker nominee Rachel Joyce, a new short story collection from Giller nominee Lynn Coady, and a debut from author Sarah Bruni that looks so stunning that we simply had to chose it as an official Critical Era book club selection.

The_Night_Gwen_Stacy_DiedThe Night Gwen Stacy Died
By Sarah Bruni

Bruni’s debut novel has been officially selected as our July Critical Era read.  We could write our own summary, but we’d rather share with you the description from the publisher that so completely hooked us:

Sheila Gower is seventeen, more comfortable confiding in a taxidermic coyote at the Museum of Natural History than her one high school friend. She practices her French while working at a small-town gas station in Iowa, vaguely dreaming of escape. When one of her regulars, taxi-driver Peter Parker asks her if she wants to get the hell out, she jumps at the chance. The two unlikely criminals stage their escape as an abduction—gun, robbery, kidnapping—but by the time they get to Chicago their adventure begins to resemble a surreal love story. He begins to call her Gwen Stacy, after Spider-Man’s first love; she takes the name and runs with it.  With otherworldly elements and a wry, offbeat heroine, The Night Gwen Stacy Died is an examination of how the stories we read inform the identities we create, and a tribute to the people we love, the people we lose, and the people we save.

Release Date: July 2nd (United States)

The_CrocodileThe Crocodile
By Maurizio de Giovanni
Translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar

If you’re a fan of crime fiction in translation then you’re going to be pumped for this first novel in a new series from the creator of Commissario Ricciardi.

Naples.  Three seemingly unconnected young persons are found murdered execution style.  Arriving via transfer from Sicily, Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono is a disgraced police agent looking to clear his name.  Can he find a link between the victims and bring the perpetrator to justice or this case simply too difficult to crack?

Release Date: July 2nd (United States)

By Rachel Joyce

We didn’t exactly fall head over heels in love with Joyce’s Booker nominated debut The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, but we have to admit that it did contain some flashes of creative brilliance.  That’s why we’re excited to see what Joyce has in store for us with this second novel.

Taking place in the 1970s, Perfect promises to be a story about time, about the complexities involved with growing up, and how the decisions we make along the way constantly inform our future.

Release Date: July 4th (United Kingdom)

By Marguerite Duras
Translated from the French by Kazim Ali and Libby Murphy

L’amour is the 1971 sequel to author Marguerite Duras’ (1914–1996) 1964 novel The Ravishing of Lol Stein. Yes, we just threw a lot of dates at you. You’re welcome.

We’ve read neither, but we’re planning on reading both back-to-back. L’amour promises to explore the deeply flawed structures of human memory by way of a man known only as “the traveler” as he recalls his engagement to a nameless woman from his past.

Release Date: July 16th (United States)

Nearer_HomeNearer Home
By Joy Castro

Investigative reporter Nola Cespedes is back for a second go round in this follow-up to Joy Castro’s dazzling crime thriller and Critical Era favorite Hell or High Water.

It’s one year later.  Out for her typical morning jog, Nola stumbles upon the dead body of her former journalism professor, Judith Taffner. Of course she’s compelled to launch her own investigation into the crime and when another dead body surfaces under equally as suspicious circumstances during New Orleans’ Jazz Fest Nola realizes that what she’s uncovered may just put her own life at risk.

Release Date: July 16th (United States)

Seiobo_There_BelowSeiobo There Below
By László Krasznahorkai
Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet

Krasznahorkai and translator George Szirtes took home this year’s Best Translated Book Award for the brilliant Satantango. Seiobo There Below finds Mulzet, not Szirtes, handling the translation (she previously worked on Krasznahorkai’s Animalinside) of this 2008 novel centered around a Japanese goddess and a peach tree in her garden that blossoms with the fruit of immortality. Throughout his work Krasznahorkai seems obsessed with the inevitability of decay. Seiobo There Below doesn’t appear to deviate from that path, but does appear to be upping the ante considerably as it finds the author expanding outside of Europe and tackling the confrontational issues of culture and language.

Release Date: July 23rd (United States)

By Lynn Coady

Coady’s Giller nominated novel The Antagonist was one of our favorite reads of 2011 and this new short story collection is one of our most anticipated reads of 2013.

Eight highly charged, character driven tales are offered up here.  From the nun who is tasked with helping an anorexic, to the teacher that forms a unique bond with a student, to the bride-to-be in trouble, Coady is sure to pull no punches as she explores life in all its strange glory.

Release Date: July 27th (Canada)

Do any of our picks look interesting to you? Which titles are you most looking forward to in July?

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.