Here Are the 14 New Books You Should Read in May

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From Brittney Griner’s eagerly anticipated memoir to a long-awaited sequel to Colm Tóibín’s beloved novel Brooklyn, the best books coming in May offer a range of choices for every reader. Those looking for a good laugh should check out the latest high-society comedy from Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan or filmmaker Miranda July’s first novel in 10 years, which offers a profoundly humorous take on menopause and mortality. R.O. Kwon’s sensual followup to her 2018 best-seller The Incendiaries is sure to keep readers on their toes, while scholar Deborah Paredez’s tribute to America’s finest divas offers an important lesson in pop-culture etymology.    

Here, the 14 new books to read this month.

Coming Home, Brittney Griner (May 7)

On Feb. 17, 2022, WNBA player Brittney Griner was detained in Russia, where she played professionally in the offseason, for possessing cannabis oil, a substance that is illegal in the country. (At the time, Griner’s Russian lawyers stated that she had been prescribed medical cannabis for pain management by her doctors in the U.S.) The celebrated athlete was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug smuggling and served in a Russian penal colony until the U.S. government was able to broker a prisoner swap in December 2022, trading her for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner’s memoir, Coming Home, which she co-authored with Michelle Burford, details all of this and more, offering a raw look at the harrowing experience that has turned her into an outspoken advocate for Americans who have been wrongfully detained abroad.

Buy Now: Coming Home on Bookshop | Amazon

Shanghailanders, Juli Min (May 7)

Juli Min’s ambitious debut novel, Shanghailanders, is a thrilling, futuristic family drama that captures the joys, disappointments, and inside jokes of one Shanghai family in reverse chronological order. Starting in 2040 and working its way back to 2014, the book unspools the shared and separate lives of the wealthy Yangs: Chinese real estate investor Leo, his elegant Japanese French wife Eko, their precocious eldest daughters Yumi and Yoko, and the baby of the family, aspiring actress Kiko. By giving readers the gift of hindsight, Min shows how one enigmatic family falls apart and comes back together over several decades.

Buy Now: Shanghailanders on Bookshop | Amazon

Long Island, Colm Tóibín (May 7)

Best-selling Irish author Colm Tóibín returns with Long Island, a well-observed sequel to his much loved 2009 novel Brooklyn, set 20 years after Eilis, the inscrutable heroine of the aforementioned book, emigrated from Ireland. Picking up in the spring of 1976, Eilis, now in her 40s, is still married to Italian American plumber Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbs outside of New York City with their two teenage children and her in-laws. All is well, if a little boring, until she is confronted by an irate Irishman who claims Tony has gotten his wife pregnant and he plans to leave the baby on Eilis’ doorstep once it’s born. Tóibín’s 11th novel offers an absorbing look at a middle-aged woman at a crossroads in not only her marriage, but also in a life she worries has gone unfulfilled.

Buy Now: Long Island on Bookshop | Amazon

The Skunks, Fiona Warnick (May 7)

In Fiona Warnick’s quirky debut, The Skunks, Isabel returns to her hometown after college graduation to take on a few odd jobs and figure out what she wants to do with her life. To take her mind off of her post-adolescent fears and anxieties, she starts thinking about the book’s titular creatures. Specifically, the three baby skunks that unexpectedly show up in the yard of the place she is house sitting. Their presence forces her to ponder life’s existential questions—and question her own romantic desires. The Skunks is a hilarious look at post-grad life and the loneliness, uncertainty, and occasional joy that comes with it.

Buy Now: The Skunks on Bookshop | Amazon

All Fours, Miranda July (May 14)

Filmmaker, artist, and best-selling author Miranda July’s first novel in a decade is an intimate, fearless, and sexy coming-of-middle-age story about a woman hellbent on reinventing herself. All Fours begins with the unnamed narrator, a 45-year-old semi-famous artist, learning that someone has been peering into her window with a telephoto lens. She decides to leave her husband and child behind to drive from Los Angeles to New York for a writing retreat. Unfortunately, she only makes it as far as Monrovia, Calif., less than an hour from home. It’s there she finds herself tackling fluctuating hormones, an increased libido, and a rather impractical motel room renovation in this wonderfully weird adventure.

Buy Now: All Fours on Bookshop | Amazon

Blue Ruin, Hari Kunzru (May 14)

Hari Kunzru’s seventh novel, Blue Ruin, is a provocative portrait of a once-promising artist as a disillusioned man of a certain age. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Jay, a 40-something undocumented performance artist, is living out of his car and delivering groceries to wealthy residents in upstate New York. On one of his runs, he finds himself face-to-face with Alice, a woman he dated nearly two decades earlier. Alice invites him to ride out the crisis in the luxurious home where she is quarantining with her painter husband, the art school rival for whom she ghosted Jay. The unexpected run-in leads to a possible big career break for Jay, who worries the deal may just cost him his soul.

Buy Now: Blue Ruin on Bookshop | Amazon

This Strange Eventful History, Claire Messud (May 14)

This Strange Eventful History is a sprawling yet intimate saga that draws inspiration from author Claire Messud’s own family history. (She has called this novel, her seventh, the “most significant work” of her life.) Spanning several decades, from 1940 to 2010, Messud follows the Cassar family, a fictional French Algerian clan first displaced by World War II, and again, nearly 20 years later, by Algeria’s war of independence. With great empathy, Messud shows the effects war, colonialism, and later sovereignty had on three generations of the Cassars, most notably, the family’s youngest member, aspiring writer Chloe, a stand-in for Messud, who believes the truth will finally set her relatives free.

Buy Now: This Strange Eventful History on Bookshop | Amazon

Very Bad Company, Emma Rosenblum (May 14)

With her latest novel, Very Bad Company, best-selling author and journalist Emma Rosenblum takes a page from Rian Johnson’s Knives Out playbook. Despite her lack of experience, former TV producer Caitlin Levy is hired as the new head of events at Aurora, a trendy ad-tech startup led by an eccentric CEO. To welcome her to the team, Caitlin is invited to take part in Aurora’s annual corporate retreat in Miami. This year, the company is preparing for an impending billion-dollar merger. But when one of Aurora’s high-level executives turns up dead, everyone on sight is forced to ignore the crisis so as to not sink the deal. What ensues is a darkly funny mystery about toxic corporate culture.

Buy Now: Very Bad Company on Bookshop | Amazon

In Tongues, Thomas Grattan (May 21)

In Thomas Grattan’s rollicking sophomore release, In Tongues, the charming if naive Gordon moves from Minnesota to New York City where he gets a job walking the dogs of Manhattan’s elite, including gallery owners Phillip and Nicola. Soon he is hobnobbing and bed-hopping with the high-powered couple, turning their lives upside down with little regard for the consequences of his actions. In this delightfully modern comedy of manners, Gordon wonders if he has the ability to change his ways as he begins to understand the damage his impulses have caused.

Buy Now: In Tongues on Bookshop | Amazon

Lies and Weddings, Kevin Kwan (May 21)

From Kevin Kwan, the author of Crazy Rich Asians, a high comedy sure to delight fans of Jane Austen. Rufus Leung Gresham, the protagonist of Lies and Weddings, is the future Earl of Greshambury (a clever nod to the fictional setting of Anthony Trollope’s 1858 novel Doctor Thorne) and son of a former Hong Kong supermodel. He’s also been buried underneath a mountain of debt thanks to his family’s reckless spending. To dig himself out, Rufus’ always scheming mother suggests he find a wealthy woman to marry at his sister’s upcoming high-society wedding. What could possibly go wrong?

Buy Now: Lies and Weddings on Bookshop | Amazon

Exhibit, R. O. Kwon (May 21)

R. O. Kwon’s Exhibit is a hypnotic queer love story full of lust and longing. The sultry novel follows two women, talented photographer Jin and injured prima ballerina Lidija, and the ancient familial curse that stands to keep them apart. Exhibit is a haunting romance about desire, obsession, and ambition that is sure to get your heart rate up.

Buy Now: Exhibit on Bookshop | Amazon

American Diva, Deborah Paredez (May 21)

Fifteen years ago, poet and cultural critic Deborah Paredez tackled the posthumous legacy of Selena Quintanilla with Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Now, with American Diva, she has put together an insightful ode to the famous women—Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Serena Williams, to name a few—who have come to embody the often misconstrued term. Combining cultural criticism and memoir, Paredez shows how the word “diva,” once used to describe a powerhouse opera singer, evolved to become a condemnation of confident and powerful women, many of whom are women of color. American Diva is Paredez’s attempt to reclaim the word.

Buy Now: American Diva on Bookshop | Amazon

Accordion Eulogies, Noé Álvarez (May 28)

Growing up, Noé Álvarez’s working class Mexican immigrant parents rarely spoke of his larger-than-life grandfather. All Álvarez ever knew of the relative who was more myth than man was that he played the accordion and possibly put a curse on his descendents with his questionable behavior. In his poignant new memoir, Accordion Eulogies, Álvarez traces the history of the humble titular instrument in hopes of better understanding his own family’s mysterious lineage. With empathy and humor, the author dares to find the root cause of his generational trauma with the hope of finally breaking the cycle.

Buy Now: Accordion Eulogies on Bookshop | Amazon

In These Streets, Josiah Bates (May 28)

With In These Streets, journalist and former TIME reporter Josiah Bates takes a closer look at the recent surge in gun violence throughout the United States, particularly in marginalized communities. Bates travels the country speaking with those on the frontlines of what many have deemed a public health crisis that has only gotten worse since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He interviews victims, perpetrators, activists, law enforcement, and academics in hopes of gaining new insight into the epidemic.

Buy Now: In These Streets on Bookshop | Amazon

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