Tuesday, June 2, 2015
5 Novels to Watch for This June
I guess I'm feeling fiction-y this month as all of my selections for June are novels. But, it's finally time to grab a lawn chair and hit the patio with a great book--why not a novel? If you need some ideas for what to take, here are a few great choices, all being released this June.
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg (June 2). A quirkly little novel to start this month, Saint Maizie is the story of the female proprietress of a New York City movie theatre beginning in the early 20th Century--inspired by a woman profiled in Joseph Mitchell's classic essays of New Yorkers Up In the Old Hotel. "It's the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty--even when Prohibition kicks in--and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets. When the Great Depression hits, Mazie's life is on the brink of transformation. Addicts and bums roam the Bowery; homelessness is rampant. If Mazie won't help them, then who? When she opens the doors of The Venice to those in need, this ticket taking, fun-time girl becomes the beating heart of the Lower East Side, and in defining one neighborhood helps define the city.Then, more than ninety years after Mazie began her diary, it's discovered by a documentarian in search of a good story. Who was Mazie Phillips, really? A chorus of voices from the past and present fill in some of the mysterious blanks of her adventurous life."
Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark (June 9). From an Atlantic Canadian favourite, a sad and beautiful story about a family coming to terms with a death. "Free-spirited Lily has always played the peacemaker between her fierce, doting sister, Laverne, and her own loving, garrulous husband, Hal, as they competed for her attention. The competition has only grown worse since the three of them moved into a large house in the town of Sussex, New Brunswick. On Lily’s 58th birthday, a steamy day in late June, Laverne feels she has bested Hal by winning her sister’s company for a gourmet lunch, but it becomes a bitter and short-lived victory when the day’s events take an unexpected and tragic turn."
A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman. (June 18). British actress turned author Sarah Winman returns with her 2nd novel following the acclaimed When God Was a Rabbit. Set after the close of World War II, it is the story of Marvellous Ways, a 90 year old woman in Cornwall, UK and Drake, a soldier returned from the war. The book's Australian publisher has called it a "glorious, life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life and the pull of the sea, the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, love and death and how we carry on when grief comes snapping at our heels." Want to know more? Here's a brief interview with the author describing it.
Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (June 23). I've been watching this one for awhile, and I think it could be a bit summer hit. On GoodReads, 5 star preview reviews abound and readers seem to be so excited in their love for this book. The story of a young librarian, a crumbling house, a mysterious book and a strange pattern of death by drowning on the same date each year. This is a dark, gothic read set in " a melancholy world with hints of magic at the edges" (Library Journal). Comparisons are being made to Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, which got similar pre-release buzz on social media before its release in 2012
Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera (June 23). Czech writer Kundera, best known for his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, turned 89 this year--this short novel is being heralded as a major event from an important author. "Set in modern-day Paris, The Festival of Insignificance follows four friends who run into each other in the Luxembourg Gardens, attend parties, and conduct a long-running exchange on sex, desire, history, art, and even the meaning of human existence. Kundera pokes fun at our sense of self-importance, and one of the friends, Ramon, proposes that we rejoice in the freedom of recognizing our own insignificance. What a liberating thought! The Festival of Insignificance takes up all the themes that have informed this great writer's fiction, embracing the comic and laughing at a culture that has lost what is most vital to life: that necessary and seemingly elusive sense of humor."