Best new books: August 2019
From a seriously hyped essay collection to a sharply funny debut novel: the new paperbacks and hardbacks to get lost in this August
This is the book we needed as teenagers, but it is by no means a teenage book. Following in the bildungsroman tradition, Dana Czapnik captures the strange interplay of insight, ambition and innocence of being 17. The majesty of The Falconer is all wrapped up in its heroine, sporty, spunky Lucy Adler. We follow as she negotiates an Jewish-Italian family, a love of basketball and a crush on the cool boy.
Sports journalist turned novelist Czapnik has an ear for the thud of asphalt and the high of an unlikely goal. Not much really happens, but emotional landscape and setting is so warm it engulfs you, transporting you right back to the thrills and fears of growing up.
The Falconer is published in paperback on 1 August. Click here to buy now.
Italian writer Livia Franchini fleshes out the highs and lows of a failed relationship in her English language debut, Shelf Life. Suddenly single, 30-year-old Ruth reflects on her current heartbreak and romantic history, from adolescent MSN rambles to surreal dreamscapes.
Structured around a shopping list, the non-linear narrative is as droll as it is disarming. The playful form gives a new, distinctly millennial shape to perennial struggles of love and dating.
Shelf Life is published in hardback on 29 August. Click here to buy now.
It feels like the whole internet is alight with hype for The New Yorker and Jezebel journalist Jia Tolentino's essay collection. Like Joan Didion for the woke generation, Tolentino distils and re-considers the zeitgeist spanning Trumpism, reality TV and female self-awareness.
Don't be fooled into thinking the slew of recommendations and glowing reviews means Trick Mirror is easy reading. The prose is so erudite you want to savour each sentence and the broader ideas lodge in your brain, taking root and dissolving delusions long after the final page.
Trick Mirror is published in hardback on 8 August. Click here to buy now.
Ask Again, Yes is the most delicious kind of family drama, with a rich web of themes, nuanced story-telling and a satisfying plot that resonates long after the final page.
Writer Mary Beth Keane charts the bond and rift between the Stanhope family and the Gleeson family, who live in neighbouring houses. They are connected by both tragedy and affection, which unfurl over two generations. Keane combines emotional intensity with piercing lucidity in a story that is as artfully accomplished as it is empathetic.
Ask Again, Yes is published in hardback on 8 August. Click here to buy now.
Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Underground Railway Colson Whitehead continues to mine the uncomfortable underbelly of American history in his new book, The Nickel Boys.
Based on the real life history of a Florida reform school that destroyed the lives of innumerable children over 111 years, this story hones in on one boy. Inspired by Martin Luther King, Elwood Curtis is full of hope. But when he enrols in The Nickel Academy for 'physical, intellectual and moral training', Elwood becomes embroiled in abuse and corruption. The cruelty erodes Elwood's idealism, leading to a choice that has repercussions over his whole life.
The Nickel Boys is published in hardback on 1 August. Click here to buy now.
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