Best New Fiction: May 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_Sex_Lives_Of_Siamese_TwinsThe Sex Lives of Siamese Twins
By Irvine Welsh
Jonathan Cape
480 Pages
ISBN 9780224087889

Irvine Welsh (If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs) returns with what promises to be yet another deliciously filthy novel, this time about our favorite obsessions: eating, exercising, and hero worshiping. Throw some pedophiles, a gunman, a kidnapping, and a pair of siamese twins into the mix and the chances are high that what you’ll get is exactly what you’ve come to expect from the man responsible for Trainspotting: another outragous stunner.

Release Date: May 1st (United Kingdom)

Harlequins_MillionsHarlequin’s Millions
By Bohumil Hrabal
Translated from the Czech by Stacey Knecht

Archipelago Books
260 Pages
ISBN 9780981955735

Bohumil Hrabal has long been considered one of the greatest European writers of the 20th century and Harlequin’s Millions, a fairy-tale like novel about the elderly inhabitants of a nursing home, should only serve to strengthen that statement. Spilt into long, flowing chapters that are each a single paragraph in length, it grants readers access into the mind of fictional woman who is mentally coming to terms with her past as she explores the physical surroundings of her present.

Release Date: May 6th (United States)

The_Tao_Of_HumiliationThe Tao of Humiliation
By Lee Upton
BOA Editions Ltd.
312 Pages
ISBN 9781938160325

Author, poet, essay writer and Pushcart Prize winner Lee Upton returns with new collection of short stories about, you guessed it, humiliation. These 17 solidly structured tales look to investigate the many ways in which we choose to treat each other, and how even though embarrassment can get the better of us at times, it can also be a powerful motivating factor in our everyday lives.

Release Date: May 13th (United States)

Sworn_VirginSworn Virgin
By Elvira Dones
Translated from the Italian by Clarissa Botsford
And Other Stories
256 Pages
ISBN 9781908276346

The premise behind this one seems too good to pass up: In Albanian customs, a sworn virgin is man or a woman who decides to live like the opposite sex and gives up ever having intercourse with anyone. After literature student Hana Doda’s dying uncle attempts to force her into an arranged marriage that she wants no part of, she transforms herself into Mark and choses to live out her remaining days as a male shepherd instead.  What happens years later when the opportunity to travel to American calls though? Can Hana/Mark shed her/his promise and start over yet again in is wildly different setting?

Release Date: May 13th (United States)

Red_Or_DeadRed or Dead
By David Peace
Melville House
736 Pages
ISBN 9781612193687

Recently the Three Percent Podcast dedicated an entire episode to discussing the work of David Peace, which reminded me that I’ve had his Red Riding Quartet of books sitting on my nook since before I started blogging, and that I still haven’t read even a single page from any of them. The forthcoming Red or Dead takes place in 1960s Liverpool and tells the tale of a coal miner who takes over the city’s horrifically bad soccer team and transforms them into winners. Apparently there’s some sort of $250 dollar special edition of this one available?

Release Date: May 27th (United States)

My_Struggle_Book_3My Struggle: Book Three / Boyhood Island
By Karl Ove Knausgaard
Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

Archipelago Books
432 Pages
ISBN 9781935744863

Knausgaaard and Bartlett return with the third entry in translation of the epic six volume My Struggle set. If you’re following along at home, I loved book one and hated book two. Subtitled Boyhood Island, this third one finds Knausgaard focusing in on his childhood years spent growing up in 1970s Sørland. This piece by John Crace in The Guardian hilariously sums up my fears with regards to the Norwegian author tackling his tender years, but things can only get better from here on out, right?

Release Date: May 27th (United States)

The_Rise_And_Fall_Of_Great_PowersThe Rise & Fall of Great Powers
By Tom Rachman
384 Pages
ISBN 9781444752342

Tom Rachman (The Imperfectionists) returns with his second novel. It’s about a female bookshop owner who traverses the globe in an attempt to piece together the true story of her troubling past. How does her tale of abduction and criminal activity connect, if at all, to Paul Kennedy’s book bearing the same name? I’ll guess we’ll just have to read it to find out. Fear not North American fans, this one hits our shores a few short days later in early June.

Release Date: May 29th (United Kingdom)

Do any of my picks look interesting to you? Which titles are you most looking forward to reading in May?

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.