10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in July 2022

As summer reading continues, here’s another round of hot new books arriving throughout the month of July. 

OUR WIVES UNDER THE SEA  by Julia Armfield
Happily married Miri and Leah’s planned three week separation becomes six months when Leah’s submarine expedition goes awry, forcing Miri to cope with her wife’s extended absence and perilous condition. When Leah finally returns, she’s strangely distant, changed, and struck with unexplained and unnerving maladies. “Structured like the ocean’s levels, deepening and darkening the further one descends… Armfield guides the reader through the liminal spaces in the couple’s lives and approaches them with an occasionally ironic humor. The bleakest horror story can also be a love story; Armfield deftly illustrates how.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

CALLING FOR A BLANKET DANCE  by Oscar Hokeah
A multigenerational chorus of Kiowa, Cherokee, and Mexican voices tells the life story of Ever Geimausaddle. As Ever and his family members encounter numerous challenges, he also feels the tug of numerous relatives’ wishes and aspirations for him. “Captivating… Throughout, Hokeah succeeds at making each character’s voice distinct and without losing a sense of cohesion. With striking insight into human nature and beautiful prose, this heralds an exciting new voice.” (Publishers Weekly) 

NIGHT OF THE LIVING REZ by Morgan Talty 
A character named David narrates these twelve linked stories set in the Panawahpskek (Penobscot) Nation of Maine, offering glimpses of his life from youth through adulthood. “Smart and gritty… Talty brings an abundance of love and skill to his accounts of troubled lives. The ingenious structure and heartbreaking stories make this unforgettable.” (Publishers Weekly) 

BRIEFLY, A DELICIOUS LIFE by Nell Stevens 
In 1473, fourteen-year-old Blanca died in childbirth and began haunting a monastery in Mallorca. After more than 300 years as a ghost, Blanca encounters the vacationing French writer George Sand and falls madly in love. “Stevens’ prose is by turns languid and visceral—she manages to capture both the alienation from the normal passage of time that comes with a lonely eternal life and the profound longing for and appreciation of the sensory that comes with lacking a physical body. An entrancing and singular exploration of a fascinating historical footnote and a queer life after death.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Moreno-Garcia’s latest is a retelling of a classic early science fiction novel. In 19th century Yucatán. Carlota lives an isolated life among the human-animal hybrid subjects of her mad scientist father’s experiments, while the terrors of colonialism loom outside the confines of the family ranch. “Moreno-Garcia’s previous work has spanned genres—horror in Mexican Gothic (2020), noir in Velvet Was the Night (2021)—and in this volume, she deftly combines fantasy, adventure, and even romance; the result is hard to classify but definitely a lot of fun. This isn’t the first book to riff on H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), but it’s definitely one of the better ones.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

BIG GIRL by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Malaya is a gifted student and talented artist, but all people around her seem to care about is her weight. “Sullivan (the collection Blue Talk and Love) charms in her stunning debut novel about a Black girl’s coming-of-age... Sullivan offers a nuanced portrayal of Malaya’s difficulties in navigating a world in which other people are unable to see her beyond her size, even after a terrible loss shakes Malaya’s world and reorients her family. All of Sullivan’s characters—even the cruel ones—brim with humanity, and the author shines when conveying the details of Malaya’s comforts, such as Biggie Smalls lyrics, the portraits she paints in her room, the colors she braids into her hair, and the sweet-smelling dulce de coco candies she eats with a classmate with whom she shares a close and sexually charged friendship. This is a treasure.” (Publishers Weekly) 

THE EARTHSPINNER by Anuradha Roy
Spanning both India and England, this novel revolves around Elango, a talented Hindu potter, who is stirred by a dream to create a monumental clay horse. Elango is tragically in love with a Muslim woman named Zohra, and when he decorates his horse with the Urdu poetry of her grandfather, this piece of art is so controversial they are forced to flee. “A story of love, loss and longing; tradition, creation and destruction; and the invisible lines that divide humans, animals and the divine...a quiet, gentle work, never gratuitous...Intricate yet intimate, the novel allows imagination to fill the rest – as all good fiction should.” (The Guardian) Roy is the Booker Prize-nominated author of Sleeping on Jupiter (2015) and All the Lives We Never Lived (2018). 

HONEY AND SPICE by Bolu Babalola
Host of a radio advice show at her university, Kiki Banjo warns her listeners to avoid heartache and go-nowhere relationships. She usually follows her own advice, but agrees to engage in a fake relationship with alluring transfer Malakai Korede. “Babalola, author of the short story collection Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold, has written a beautiful and witty novel that's a celebration of love, friendship and Black joy that will wend it's way into readers' hearts… Brimming with Afro-Caribbean culture, British banter, pop culture references, and plenty of steam, this book will appeal to fans of the fake dating trope, novels with a well-developed cast of characters, and feminist romances with strong themes of friendship.” (Library Journal) 

THE MERMAID OF BLACK CONCH by Monique Roffey
This magical realist novel won the UK’s Costa Award in 2020. When a mermaid is caught and brutalized by two white tourist fishermen off the coast of a fictional Caribbean island, local fisherman David Baptiste rescues her and takes her to his home to recover. Aycayia, the mermaid, has lived under a curse for 1,000 years but begins to transform into a young human woman. “A vivid phantasmagorical fairy tale based on a pre-Columbian Taino legend... With a lilting patois and rollicking prose, Roffey evokes the Antillean settings, characters, and culture.” (Publishers Weekly) 

THE WORK WIFE by Alison B. Hart 
A day in the exceptional lives of three women connected to a Hollywood mogul—Zanne, his assistant; Holly, his current wife; and Phoebe, his former wife and collaborator—and the sacrifices and compromises they make in order to boost and protect his life, ego and career. “Inside the perfectly curated fortress of privilege that is the estate of a Hollywood billionaire, threatening tremors of a #MeToo earthquake are felt... Riveting details of a fascinating hidden world support a ruthless takedown of misogyny and entitlement. One hell of a debut.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

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