10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in May 2016

You'll want to make room on your hold list for some of these books coming out in May.


by Louise Erdrich
In a terrible hunting accident, Landreaux Iron kills young Dusty, the son of his best friend and his wife’s half-sister. In an act of retribution, Landreaux and his wife offer the grieving couple their own son, LaRose. “LaRose is the fifteenth novel in Erdrich's magnificent North Dakota cycle about the painful and proud legacy and intricately entangled relationships among Native Americans, whites, and people of mixed heritage, a brilliantly imagined and constructed saga of empathy, elegy, spirituality, resilience, wit, wonder, and hope that will stand as a defining master work of American literature for generations to come” (Booklist). Erdrich is the recipient of multiple awards including the 2012 National Book Award for Fiction for The Round House.


The Sky Over Lima  
by Juan Gómez Bárcena, translation by Andrea Rosenberg
Two privileged young Peruvians, José Gálvez and Carlos Rodriguez, are obsessed with Spanish Nobel laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez but they can’t find his latest volume of poetry anywhere in Lima. They invent a young fan named Georgiana and compose a letter from her requesting a copy from the author, commencing a correspondence that takes a romantic turn. This historical novel, based on a real-life literary hoax, “is both a love letter to the creative process and a contemplation on the sometimes-blurred line between life and art” (Kirkus Reviews). Library Journal promises, “Readers will be unable to put down this gem.”


Book of Harlan
by Bernice McFadden
Born in Macon, Georgia, Harlan is a young musician coming of age in Jazz Age Harlem who receives an invitation to perform in Paris with his friend Lizard. His fortune turns to tragedy as Paris falls under Nazi occupation and the two men are sent to a concentration camp. “McFadden has constructed a vivid, compelling narrative that makes historical fiction an accessible, literary window into the African-American past and some of the contemporary dilemmas of the present” (Kirkus). McFadden is the author of nine novels including Gathering of Waters, a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of their 100 Notable Books of 2012.


Zero K
by Don DeLillo
Jeffrey Lockhart has been summoned by his billionaire father Ross to a remote compound in a former Soviet republic where a cult-like scientific organization provides cryogenic preservation. Jeffrey believes that the purpose of his visit is to say farewell to his dying stepmother Artis until his father informs him that he plans to join her. “In this magnificently edgy and profoundly inquisitive tale, DeLillo reflects on what we remember and forget, what we treasure and destroy, and what we fail to do for each other and for life itself” (Booklist). Acclaimed author DeLillo is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction and the National Book Awards Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In the New York Times, author Joshua Ferris called it “one of the most mysterious, emotionally moving and formally rewarding books of DeLillo’s long career.”


Desert Boys
by Chris McCormick
A collection of linked stories revolve around a young man growing up in a small desert town in California’s Antelope Valley. Multiple perspectives and voices illuminate Daley Kushner’s life as he  comes of age, comes out of the closet, and moves on to San Francisco to become a writer as an adult. Kirkus loves this “stunningly good debut,” calling it “achingly good” and “beautifully conceived.”


The Mother
Yvvette Edwards
Marcia’s sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, has been violently murdered. Still gripped with sorrow, she must attend the trial of his killer, another teenage boy. Booklist praises the book’s “delicate, lyrical prose” and calls it “a serious examination of how the social contract is failing a large portion of Britain’s urban population without moralizing in what is, ultimately, the story of one family’s road to acceptance and healing in the wake of a tragic loss.” Edwards’ debut novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats (2011), was nominated for the Booker Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the NAACP Image Award and won the Kirkus Best Book of the Year Award.


Imagine Me Gone
by Adam Haslett
Critics are loving this intimate look at depression and anxiety and its repercussions in a close-knit family. Matriarch Margaret, husband John and children Michael, Celia, and Alec take turns narrating as they love and care for each other in the face of mental health challenges and ensuing tragic consequences. Publishers Weekly calls this book “hypnotic and haunting,” saying it “tenderly and luminously deals with mental illness and with the life of the mind.” Haslett’s story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here (2002) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and his novel Union Atlantic (2010) won the Lambda Literary Award.


Born on a Tuesday
by Elnathan John
A teenage boy named Dantala is homeless until he is taken in by a mosque, where the imam becomes his mentor. Escalating conflicts within the Muslim community culminate in the murder of the imam, leaving Dantala’s life shattered. Dantala is a clever, curious and thoughtful narrator who offers a glimpse of contemporary Muslim life in Nigeria. Kirkus calls it “An action-packed, heartbreaking, and eye-opening debut from a great new talent” and Publishers Weekly calls it “poignant and compelling” and “a stunning, important coming-of-age story.”


by Kalisha Buckhanon
One night in a trailer park in rural Mississippi, young Solemn Redvine sees a man throw a baby in a well but doesn’t tell anyone. She thinks her dad may have been the baby’s father, but she keeps that a secret, too. Then the baby’s mother vanishes, Solemn starts seeing ghosts, and her father makes a terrible choice that sends her to a group home. Library Journal says, “Buckhanon's outstanding writing fills this work with wonderfully evocative phrasing that will linger with readers,” and Publishers Weekly calls it “a heartbreaking story of broken promises.” Buckhanon is also the author of Upstate (2005) and Conception (2008).


The Assistants
by Camille Perri
Tina’s job as an executive assistant for a multibillionaire corporate CEO leaves her underpaid, overworked and uninspired. Due to a clerical error, she receives a huge check—enough to pay off her school loans but peanuts as far as the company is concerned. She decides to cash it, but it doesn’t take long for her colleague to catch her and blackmail her into paying her loans as well. Publishers Weekly calls it “smart and fresh” and Library Journal calls it “a fun, modern twist on a Robin Hood story.”


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