Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five of the books we’re most excited about.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1, Atria)
What at first looks exclusively like a sly satire morphs into a creeping office thriller in Zakiya Dalila Harris’ highly anticipated debut novel. In The Other Black Girl, young editorial assistant Nella is the only Black employee at Wagner Books, a New York publishing house, until one day Hazel appears in the cubicle beside hers and the two begin to bond. But after “a string of uncomfortable events,” Nella’s new ally overshadows her, and Nella begins to receive cryptic, threatening notes telling her to leave the company. Harris, who was an assistant editor at Knopf/Doubleday, told The New York Times that Jordan Peele’s Get Out was an inspiration for the book. Like Peele, Harris is also taking her work to the (small) screen: The Other Black Girl has already been picked up as a TV series by Hulu.
Future Feeling by Joss Lake (June 1, Soft Skull)
Joss Lake’s Future Feeling follows Penfield R. Henderson, a dog walker who lives with his two roommates, the Witch and Stoner-Hacker, in an alternate-reality Bushwick. (The pseudo-future of the year 20__ is indicated by things like Insta-holograms and subway cars that change colors à la mood rings.) Pen’s life revolves around hookups with B-list celebrities and his obsession over influencer Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man who’s documenting his (smoother) transition into masculinity on social media. The plot-filled Future Feeling includes hexes, a big brother-like agency that oversees trans matters, and a liminal space called the Shadowlands, the “dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization.” Probably the beachiest book of the bunch, this witty, inventive debut novel sounds like a lot of fun.
Changes: An Oral History Of Tupac Shakur by Sheldon Pearce (June 8)
Between a biopic, countless documentaries, and a podcast, there’s been no dearth of art, even in just the last five years, considering the significance of the life and death of Tupac Shakur. Because the rapper’s story is so well-tread at this point, Sheldon Pearce took a very specific tack in his oral history, Changes, published 25 years after Shakur’s death. The New Yorker editor and writer talked to dozens of people, but included solely new interviews, many from those who passed through Tupac’s life only tangentially, or sometimes not at all—Pac’s schoolmates and teachers, and reporters and writers. “This oral history is less about all-inclusive, full-scale documentation and more about texture—about getting to the heart of what Tupac meant to people,” writes Pearce.
The Storm Is Upon Us: How QAnon Became A Movement, Cult, And Conspiracy Theory Of Everything by Mike Rothschild (June 22, Melville House)
In April, independent publisher Melville House announced it would print 500,000 copies of Mike Rothschild’s book-length exposé on QAnon. While it’s understood that initial print run numbers are often inflated, it was still an attention-grabbing figure. In The Storm Is Upon Us, Rothschild, a journalist who specializes in conspiracy theories and who’s studied QAnon since early 2018, traces Q’s rise—from a fringe internet phenomenon, to a “movement” embraced by far-right politicians and the former president, to a group of people violently attacking the Capitol building. Still, with Republican lawmakers recently blocking the creation of a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection and upwards of 15% of Americans saying they believe in the dangerous conspiracy theory, there’s no denying the importance of the book’s subject—no matter how many copies are published.
Migratory Birds by Mariana Oliver (translated by Julia Sanches, June 22, Transit Books)
Last year, small press Transit Books published the inaugural entries in its Undelivered Lectures series: two short nonfiction books that probe and poke and make wagers instead of staking more fixed claims while circling their subjects. (We first got hooked on Transit two years ago when it released Maria Tumarkin’s ruminative, peripatetic essay collection, Axiomatic, one of The A.V. Club’s favorite books of 2019.) Now, joining Namwali Serpell and Mary Capello is Mexican writer Mariana Oliver, whose Migratory Birds won the José Vasconcelos National Young Essay Award when it was published in Spanish in 2016. In the essay collection, Oliver deploys a light touch in her consideration of migration in its many different iterations—from naturalist Bill Lishman’s migrating cranes to the underground city of Cappadocia.
More in June: Walkman by Michael Robbins (June 1, Penguin); Long Division by Kiese Laymon (June 1, Scribner); A Night At The Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, And Atlanta’s Gay Revolution by Martin Padgett (June 1, W.W. Norton); The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage by Sasha Issenberg (June 1, Pantheon); Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford (June 1, Flat Iron); How The Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With The History Of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (June 1, Little, Brown); Field Study by Chet’la Sebree (June 1, FSG Originals); We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto by Alice Waters (June 1, Penguin); Shoko’s Smile by Choi Eunyoung (June 1, Penguin); With Teeth by Kristen Arnett (June 1, Riverhead); The Fugitivities by Jesse McCarthy (June 8, Melville House); History In One Act: A Novel Of 9/11 by William M. Arkin (June 8, Featherproof); Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi (June 8, Riverhead); To Write As If Already Dead by Kate Zambreno (June 8, Columbia University); The Ugly Cry by Danielle Henderson (June 8, Viking); Animal by Lisa Taddeo (June 8, Avid Reader); Everyone Knows Your Mother Is A Witch by Rivka Galchen (June 8, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez (June 8, Doubleday); Nonbinary by Genesis P-Orridge (June 15, Abrams); The Killing Hills by Chris Offutt (June 15, Grove); Beginnings, Endings, And Salt: Essays On A Journey Through Writing And Literature by Edwidge Danticat (June 15, Books & Books); Ivory Shoals by John Brandon (June 15, McSweeney’s); The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee (June 15, Knopf); Miseducated: A Memoir by Brandon P. Fleming (June 15, Hachette); Everything Now: Lessons From The City-State Of Los Angeles by Rosecrans Baldwin (June 15, MCD x FSG); Seeing Serena by Gerald Marzorati (June 15, Scribner); Foucault In Warsaw by Remigiusz Ryzinski (June 15, Open Letter); The Brittanys by Brittany Ackerman (June 15, Vintage); Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor (June 22, Riverhead); Excavate! The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall by Bob Stanley and Tessa Norton (June 22, Faber Books); The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen (June 22, New York Review Books); Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir by Rajiv Mohabir (June 22, Restless); The Complete Memoirs: Expanded Edition by Pablo Neruda (June 22, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Dream Girl by Laura Lippman (June 22, William Morrow); When The Sparrow Falls by Neil Sharpson (June 29, Tor); Boston Adventure by Jean Stafford (June 29, NYRB Classics); Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze (June 29, Bloomsbury); Mona At Sea by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (June 30, Santa Fe Writers Project)