10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in May 2017

Wondering what great books are arriving in May? Here are ten of them.

The Leavers
by Lisa Ko
Ko won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for her debut novel about Peilan Guo, an undocumented immigrant and young mother from China, and her American-born son, Deming. Deming is a fifth grader when his mom fails to return from her job at a Bronx nail shop. Foster care puts him in the care of a couple of white professors in upstate New York. After years of wondering, a struggling 21 year old Deming seeks answers about his mother. “Ko’s stunning tale of love and loyalty—to family, to country—is a fresh and moving look at the immigrant experience in America, and is as timely as ever.” (Publishers Weekly)

No One Can Pronounce My Name
by Rakesh Satyal
The Lambda Award-winning author of Blue Boy (2009) takes a look at Indian American lives in suburban Cleveland. Harit is an alcoholic, closeted gay man grieving the loss of his sister. At night, he dresses in saris in an effort to cheer his mother up with the pretense that her daughter is still alive. Ranjana’s only son has left home to attend Princeton, she suspects that her husband is having an affair and she secretly writes paranormal romances. When Harit and Ranjana cross paths, they strike up an unusual friendship. “A funny, uplifting novel that delivers emotionally complex characters.” (Kirkus Reviews)

A Good Country
by Laleh Khadivi
Rez is the son of successful Iranian immigrants, a Southern California teenager with good grades whose interests include girls, surfing and drugs. After a falling out with his surfing buddies, he joins a new circle of immigrant friends, begins embracing his heritage, and becomes more sensitive to the hostile treatment of Muslims in the United States. Is he on a path to radicalization? “Important, smart, timely.” (Library Journal) “Khadivi’s carefully crafted, masterful novel illustrates how the perfect storm of teenage cruelty, racism, and tragedy can create an extremist.” (Booklist) Award-winning novelist Khadivi is also the author of The Walking (2013) and The Age of Orphans (2009).

Miss Burma
by Charmaine Craig
In 1920s Rangoon, Benny, a second-generation Burmese citizen of Indian and Jewish descent, falls for Khin, a member of the Karen, an oppressed minority ethnic group. The complex and tumultuous history of Burma from World War II to foreign occupation followed by civil war and dictatorship is viewed through the eyes of Benny, Khin, and their eldest daughter Louisa, who attains fame when she becomes Burma’s first beauty queen. “A captivating second novel… Mesmerizing and haunting.” (Kirkus Reviews) Craig is also the author of The Good Men (2002).

Kintu
by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
In 1750 in East Africa, Kintu Kidda unintentionally kills his adopted son, leading to a curse that reverberates throughout the lives of the Kintu clan up through the early 21st century. “Makumbi's debut novel is a sprawling family chronicle that explores Uganda's national identity through a brilliant interlacing of history, politics, and myth… A masterpiece of cultural memory.” (Publishers Weekly)

Salt Houses 
by Hala Alyan
An award-winning poet offers a saga that traces four generations of an upper-middle class Palestinian family as they are forced into exile. First fleeing Israeli occupation in Jaffa, and later uprooted by the Six-Day War of 1967, the Yacoub family is scattered to Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, France and North America. “Alyan blends joy with pain, frustration with elation, longing with boredom in this beautiful debut novel… excellent storytelling and deft handling of the complex relationships ensures that readers will not soon forget the Yacoub family.” (Publishers Weekly)

The End of Eddy
by Edouard Louis, translated by Michael Lucey
In a working-class town in France, Eddy is effeminate, intellectual, and gay, and he’s tormented for it by both his classmates and his parents. In an effort to keep his oppressors at bay—and to resist his own desires—he assumes the role of a “tough guy” and tries to date girls. This autobiographical novel has been an international hit. “Arresting… courageous, necessary and deeply touching.” (The Guardian)

Augustown
by Kei Miller
In 1982 Jamaica, Kaia’s teacher punishes him by cutting off his dreadlocks. When he returns home to his great aunt Ma Taffy, she comforts him with the story of local prophet Alexander Bedward who captivated his followers in the 1920s. Told in patois with a large community of characters, award winning author and poet Miller weaves connections between Jamaica’s past and present. “Augustown is a gorgeously plotted, sharply convincing, achingly urgent novel deserving widespread attention.” (Publishers Weekly)

Chemistry
by Weike Wang
The unnamed heroine of this story is a Chinese immigrant earning her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Boston University. She’s always been an achiever, the child of a demanding father and a mother who never quite adjusted to living in America. When her boyfriend proposes, she feels anything but excitement. Meanwhile, her research project is taking a turn for the worse. “Moving and amusing, never predictable. Wry, unique, touching tale of the limits of parental and partnership pressure.” (Kirkus)

Touch
by Courtney Maum
Sloane Jacobsen is a powerful trend forecaster in the fashion and tech world. When she predicts a return to human connection and face-to-face contact, she finds herself at odds with her current client, a tech giant, and her lover, a French intellectual with a social media following who proclaims the end of in-person sex. “Incisive, charming, and funny.” (Booklist) “[A] trenchant satirical novel… a perceptive, thought-provoking read.” (Publishers Weekly) Maum is the author of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You (2014).

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