10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in August 2022

The summer isn't over yet! Here's another round of hot books, coming out in August.

ALL THIS COULD BE DIFFERENT by Sarah Thankam Mathews
Sneha, fresh out of college, moves to Milwaukee for a corporate job she lands despite the recession. She gets an apartment, finds a community of friends, and a first love with the beguiling dancer Marina.  But challenges loom, with possible eviction, threat of being laid off, and rejection from her parents. “Mathews somehow tackles the big abstractions—capitalism, gender, sexuality, Western individualism, etc.—while at the same time imbuing her characters with such real, flawed humanity that they seem ready to walk right off the page. Rarely is dialogue rendered so accurately... a book that is, as a whole, beautifully written, lusciously felt, and marvelously envisioned. Resplendent with intelligence, wit, and feeling.” (Kirkus Reviews)

THE WOMEN COULD FLY by Megan Giddings
The government requires all women to marry by age 30 or submit to their surveillance program. As a queer Black woman, Jo is vulnerable to witchcraft accusations, just like her mother was when she disappeared fourteen years ago. As her twenties run out, Josephine wonders which path she will take while her mother’s absence weighs on her more than ever. “Giddings (Lakewood) pulls off a dynamite story of a Black woman’s resistance in an oppressive dystopia... Giddings ingeniously blends her harrowing parable of an all-powerful patriarchy with insights into racial imbalances… This is brilliant.” (Publishers Weekly)

AFTERLIVES by Abdulrazak Gurnah
In his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Gurnah writes about young people who have been scarred by German colonialism and war in early 20th century east Africa. The story builds around a love story between Hamza and Afiya, as they strive to find Afiya’s missing brother. “In this story of a love that transcends pain, suffering, tragedy, and misfortune, Gurnah constructs a remarkable portrait of tenderness, deep affection, and longing that stretches over time and across continents… Absorbing, powerful, and enduring, Afterlives is an extraordinary reading experience by one of the great writers of our time.”

DOGS OF SUMMER by Andrea Abreu, translated by Julia Sanches
In a harsh, working-class neighborhood in the Canary Islands, two ten-year-old girls push the boundaries of their volatile friendship as they fend for themselves during the summer of 2005. Isora has the upper hand in this relationship, and calls her less self-assured friend by the nickname “Shit”, which does nothing to diminish her obsession with bold, bossy Isora. “Abreu offers brave and unvarnished renderings of complicated female friendships, painful sexual awakenings (with an LGBTQ twist), and gritty dialects, but she is in a category by herself. Her prose is bold and direct, and her characterization of two similar but different girls on the cusp of adolescence is as vivid as anything being written today… violent, graphic, scatological, and poetic.” (Booklist)

Economically depressed Vacca Vale, Indiana is home to the La Lapiniere Affordable Housing Complex, AKA the Rabbit Hutch, which is home to a cast of misfits including teens who have aged out of foster care, a Hildegard von Bingen enthusiast, an obituary editor, and a glow stick man. “Darkly funny, surprising, and mesmerizing… Gunty pans swiftly from room to room, perspective to perspective, molding a story that—despite its chaotic variousness—is extremely suspenseful and culminates in a finale that will leave readers breathless. With sharp prose and startling imagery, the novel touches on subjects from environmental trauma to rampant consumerism to sexual power dynamics to mysticism to mental illness, all with an astonishing wisdom and imaginativeness... A stunning and original debut that is as smart as it is entertaining.” (Kirkus Reviews)

DIARY OF A VOID by Emi Yagi, translated by David Boyd and Lucy North
Thirty-four-year-old Ms. Shibata left her last job to escape sexual harassment, but at her new job she’s asked to do tasks like serve coffee and clean up because she’s the only woman. One day, she announces she can no longer do so, falsely claiming that she’s pregnant. But how long can she keep up the ruse? “Yagi, in her riveting and surreal debut, offers a close inspection of the demands of motherhood… Absurdist, amusing and clever, the story brings subtlety and tact to its depiction of workplace discrimination—as well as a touch of magic. Readers will eagerly turn the pages all the way to the bold conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly)

WITCHES by Brenda Lozano, translated by Heather Cleary
Zoé is a journalist investigating the murder of Paloma, a muxe person (third gender among the Zapotec people) and healer from a long line of healers. Zoé travels from Mexico City to San Felipe to meet and interview Paloma’s cousin Feliciana, a renowned healer who learned her craft from Paloma. “The stories weave around both women's struggles to find their voices and make their own ways… Lozano eschews traditional narrative for the discursive pleasures of voice… A fascinating immersion into a little-known world, written with tenderness and humanity.” (Kirkus Reviews) Lozano is one of Mexico’s most celebrated authors, and her novel Loop (2021) received the PEN Translation prize.

Young, Black and gay Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his well-off family and hometown of Indianapolis for New York City. There he discovers the city, himself, and activism—going head-to-head with a landlord named Trump and helping start ACT UP. “TV writer and producer Newson debuts with a crisp fictitious memoir of a gay Black man’s coming-of-age in mid-1980s New York City… an eloquent story of the struggle for gay liberation.” (Publishers Weekly)

A MAP FOR THE MISSING by Belinda Huijuan Tang
Mathematician Tang Yitian has lived in the United States for ten years when he receives a frantic call from his mother: his father is missing. Awash in unresolved feelings, Yitian returns to China to assist his family while reconnecting with his childhood love. “In this spectacular debut, Tang places an everyman at the center of her narrative and traces his unease with himself and the larger world through expanding circles that define his life… A breathtaking portrait of the regret that can forever shape a life when someone helplessly sticks to the path of least resistance.” (Booklist)

Sixteen-year-old Hira is a Pakistani exchange student in rural Oregon during the Obama era, adjusting to new friendships, volleyball and islamophobia. “A fascinating mix of immigrant tale, coming-of-age narrative, and cultural exposition. Aziz Amna achieves a fine balance in capturing both meaningful and mundane aspects of Hira’s experiences as a newcomer to America. Imbued with humor and perceptiveness, Hira is a compelling, emotionally astute narrator as she shares her observations of Pakistani society, life in Oregon, and the relationship dynamics between her parents and among her host family members. Hira’s freshness in the way she assesses the world and herself while skewering the inconsistencies of those around her makes for a layered read.” (Booklist)