Best New Fiction: July 2014


Best New Fiction is a monthly segment dedicated to highlighting the most interesting and noteworthy releases that will be published over the next thirty days.

The_Great_Glass_SeaThe Great Glass Sea
By Josh Weil
Grove Press
400 Pages
ISBN 9780802122155

2009 National Book Award Five Under Thirty-Five Award winning author Josh Weil delivers his first full length novel, an earnest tale of inseparable twin brothers living in a slightly alternate version of current day Russian reality. “They were ten years old—Dimitryi Levovich Zhuvov and Yaroslav Levovich Zhuvov—and they had never been this far out in the lake, this lost, this on their own. Around them the water was wide as a second sky, darkening beneath the one above, the rowboat a moonsliver winking on the waves. In it, they sat side by side, hands buried in the pockets of their coats, leaning slightly into each other with each sway of the skiff.” As the brothers grow their bond will be tested, and in epic storytelling fashion Weil delivers a stunner—one that’s sprinkled with flourishes of magical realism throughout—that touches on themes of love, family, tradition, and labor.

Release Date: July 2nd (United States)

The_Symmetry_TeacherThe Symmetry Teacher
By Andrei Bitov
Translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
288 Pages
ISBN 9780374273514

Widely considered the godfather of the postmodern novel, Bitov (Pushkin House) returns with a book that finds a fictionalized version of himself reconstructing a translation he once did of an obscure English novel he can no longer locate, with only his recollections of what the piece was about to guide him. The result is a fascinating “collection” of interlocking pieces featuring space aliens, devils, and kings that’s filled with fake footnotes and manufactured references. The Symmetry Teacher is a complex, heady puzzle that blurs the boundaries between a writer and that which he creates.

Release Date: July 8th (United States)

Chinese_Cooking_For_Diamond_ThievesChinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves
By Dave Lowry
Mariner Books
288 Pages
ISBN 9780547973319

Dave Lowry, Restaurant critic for the St. Louis Magazine, delivers his debut work of fiction, a funny novel about a man who gets expelled from college and winds up working as a chef in a Chinese joint. Tucker isn’t Chinese himself, but his cooking skills mightily impress the regulars. All seems to be going well, that is, until some Chinese gangsters show up and start harassing Corinne—his, umm, sexy “almost” girlfriend who works there as a waitress—and accuse her of stealing some very valuable bling. A most unusual story meets an unlikely hero (who possesses some kick ass abilities) meets culinary delight. Fun for all.

Release Date: July 8th (United States)

Mr_GwynMr. Gwyn
By Alessandro Baricco
Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
150 Pages
ISBN 9781938073960

Baricco (Silk), returns with a slim novel billed as two intertwined novellas that question the role of art and the impact of words. Much to the dismay of his agent, at the age of 43, internationally successful writer Jasper Gwyn announces to the world that he will never write another book. Instead, he takes up the role of a “copyist,” creating portraits of his subjects using words instead of paint. Those he copies—his terminally ill agent, his assistant Rebecca, a pair of newlywedsare overjoyed with the results. All’s well until Rebecca makes a shocking discovery that calls Gwyn’s talent into question, and Gwyn up and disappears.

Release Date: July 8th (United States)

The_Stone_BoyThe Stone Boy
By Sophie Loubiere
Translated from the French by Nora Mahoney

Grand Central Publishing
304 Pages
ISBN 9781455547623

Winner of the Prix Lion Noir, Sophie Loubiere’s psychological thriller follows Madame Préau, a woman returning home after years spent in a nursing home. What she immediately notices is that the neighborhood she once knew so well has changed significantly. Where there once was a garden next door there is now a house, and living there is a seemingly ordinary family, with the exception that one of the their three children appears to be severely abused. When Préau gets social services involved they don’t believe her and the family denies the existence of the boy altogether. Is she slowly going crazy or is what she sees horribly real?  Either way, Préau will take matters into her own hands in a desperate attempt to do what she believes to be right.

Release Date: July 8th (United States)

The_Radio_FamilyThe Radio Family
By Ingeborg Bachmann
Translated from the German by Michael Mitchell

Seagull Books
400 Pages
ISBN 9780857421913

When they were first published in German, Ingeborg Bachmann’s (1926-1974) newly rediscovered scripts (crafted for a radio series about an Austrian family that aired in the 1950s) caused quite a commotion for being unlike anything else the award winning novelist and poet had ever written. The bulk of the controversy lied in the fact that the program was broadcast on the United States Occupation Radio Network and was part of an offensive launched against the promotion of Communism in the country. In total, 15 scripts are collected here and they offer a unique glimpse at Bachmann’s early writing style and an interesting peek at a snapshot in Vienna’s history.

Release Date: July 15th (United States)

If_It_Is_Your_LifeIf it is Your Life
By James Kelman
Other Press
256 Pages
ISBN 9781590516225

Words can’t adequately express how much I fucking love the work of Scottish author James Kelman. In my pre-blogging days I devoured just about everything the man ever wrote including his controversial Man Booker Prize winning novel How Late it Was, How Late, the strange fractured, dystopian world he presented in Traveling Accounts, and the beauty and pain of youth he so vividly brought to life in Keiron Smith, Boy. Here Kelman returns to what he does best, offering up nineteen short stories about everyday individuals that are all just struggling to survive another day.  Raw, honest, funny, powerful, moving, and entertaining. This volume packs it all, and it’s also home to my new favorite short story title: Pieces of shit do not have the power to speak. If you like Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting), then you’ll love Kelman.

Release Date: July 15th (United States)

Animals in MotionAnimals_In_Motion
By David Ryan
Roundabout Press
232 Pages
ISBN 9780985881238

The thirteen stories that comprise Sarah Lawrence College professor David Ryan’s debut collection, Animals in Motion are all gripping, edgy, and thoroughly inescapable. Don’t take my word for it though, you can try before you buy by checking out At Night (a mental patient stalks a waitress) in BOMB Magazine and Mouth (two brothers face tragedy head on the day before a wedding) at to get a taste of just how great Ryan’s writing is. Once you’re hooked (it’s a question of when, not if), remember to pick up this full volume to devour even more stunning examples of expertly crafted storytelling goodness.

Release Date: July 15th (United States)

What books are you looking forward to reading 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.