10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in July 2017

Wondering what's coming out this month? Here are my 10 fiction picks for July.

What We Lose
by Zinzi Clemmons
Thandi, the daughter of a Black South African mother and a white American father, is a college student struggling to find her place in the world. When she loses her mother to cancer, her grief is compounded by the loss of the closest link to her African family. “Written in compact episodes that collage autofiction with '90 s rap lyrics, hand-drawn graphs, blog entries, and photographs, the novel pushes restlessly against its own boundaries—like Thandi herself. Clemmons manages to write with economy without ever making her book feel small, and with humor and frankness, so the novel is not overly steeped in grief. This is a big, brainy drama told by a fearless, funny young woman—part philosophy, part sociology, and part ghost story.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Goodbye Vitamin
by Rachel Khong
San Franciscan Ruth Young is still hurting from a bad breakup when she decides to move home to be with her father Howard, a history professor falling under the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. “A heartfelt family dramedy in a debut novel that ruminates on love, loss, and memory… Ruth and Howard are a hilarious father-daughter duo, at turns destructive and endearing… Khong's pithy observations and cynical humor round out a moving story that sparks empathy where you'd least expect it.” (Kirkus) Khong is the former executive editor of Lucky Peach

Less
by Andrew Sean Greer
Author Arthur Less is in crisis: he’s turning 50, his publisher has rejected his latest book, and his former boyfriend is getting married. He’s no literary big shot, but he does get invitations to speak here and there, so he organizes himself a global speaking tour that will help him avoid his ex’s wedding. “Of course, anything that can go wrong does—from falling out a window to having his favorite suit eaten by a stray dog, and as far as Less runs, he will not escape the fact that he really did lose the love of his life... Seasoned novelist Greer (The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, 2013, etc.) clearly knows whereof he speaks and has lived to joke about it. Nonstop puns on the character's surname aside, this is a very funny and occasionally wise book.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Made for Love
by Alissa Nutting
“Hazel is on the run from the one person she might not be able to escape: her tech-mogul husband, Byron, whose company, Gogol, is far-reaching and powerful. Hazel flees the pristine Gogol complex for her 76-year-old father's trailer, where she is shocked to find that her father is shacking up with a sex doll he has christened Diane… Just as she did in her first novel, Tampa (2013), Nutting pushes boundaries--this time via a subplot with a charming con man who finds himself attracted to dolphins--and though it's not as grounded as her debut, Nutting's second outing offers up a sly satire of our tech- and prosperity-obsessed society.” (Booklist)

A Life of Adventure and Delight
by Akhil Sharma
Sharma, author of New York Times Best Book and International Dublin Literary Award-winning Family Life, is also known for his short stories, which have been included in the Best American and O. Henry Award anthologies. He presents eight stories here, all examining the lives of Indian people in their home country and around the world. “Neither adventure nor delight await the characters of this ironically titled collection... Filled with a strong sense of the odds against any kind of happiness, these stories have a psychological acuity that redeems their dark worldview.” (Kirkus Reviews) You can read or listen to the title story at The New Yorker website here

The Tower of the Antilles
by Achy Obejas
“By turns searing and subtly magical, the stories in Obejas’ vividly imagined collection are propelled by her characters’ contradictory feelings about and unnerving experiences in Cuba... Obejas’ plots are ambushing, her characters startling, her metaphors fresh, her humor caustic, and her compassion potent in these intricate and haunting stories of displacement, loss, stoicism, and realization.” (Booklist) Obejas is the author of multiple acclaimed works including Ruins and Days of Awe and is the Director of the MFA in Translation program at Mills College.

Refuge
by Dina Nayeri
Niloo Hamadi left Iran as an eight-year-old, grew up in Oklahoma, and now is building a career as an anthropologist in Amsterdam. Her Father stayed behind in Iran, and Niloo has only seen him four times since, harboring feelings of disapproval toward him while she longs for connection. “Nayari uses gentle humor and evocative prose to illuminate the power of familial bonds and to bestow individuality on those anonymous people caught between love of country and need for refuge. A beautiful addition to the burgeoning literature of exile.” (Library Journal)

Live from Cairo
by Ian Bassingthwaighte
“When Iraqi American Hana lands in 2011 Cairo, Egypt, to work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, she is pointedly told that the desperate Arabs and Africans flooding its offices mostly don't get approved and remain trapped in the teeming city. That looks to be true for Dalia, whose husband disappeared in Baghdad after being attacked for his work with the U.S. Army; though he managed to make it to America, her visa is not forthcoming. Hana is clearly unsettled, as are readers, as Brassingthwaighte draws on his own legal aid work in Cairo to give us an intimate look at the refugee experience in language that's urgent, informed, and richly detailed... Absorbing and important reading.” (Library Journal)

Moving Kings
by Joshua Cohen
David King is the owner of New York-based Moving Kings, a successful moving business that specializes in evictions. His Israeli cousin Yoav and Yoav’s friend Uri, fresh from completing their compulsory military service, come to visit him in New York and find their military experience has prepared them well for the eviction moving business. “Their job storming the homes of New York’s dispossessed is uncomfortably reminiscent of their wartime experiences in Gaza, drawing parallels between race and class struggles in the Middle East and urban America. While Cohen’s comparison risks being heavy-handed, he pulls it off with lovingly personal character studies, an outrageous sense of humor, and a voice both stylish and astute.” (Booklist)

Pages for Her
by Sylvia Brownrigg
Flannery and Anne had an affair as students at Yale but went their separate ways. Twenty years later they cross paths at a writer’s conference and rekindle their relationship. Brownrigg continues the story that began in her 2001 novel Pages for You although you needn’t have read it to enjoy this one. “Brownrigg (The Delivery Room, 2008, etc.) approaches her characters with clarity and sensitivity, capturing the nuances in the women's relationships to the people they love—as mother, daughter, sister, friend, wife, or lover—and the power they give those people to define and inspire them... Brownrigg considers motherhood, romance, identity, and the changes brought by time in this tender, insightful novel.” (Kirkus Reviews)

 

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