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 Turnout by Megan Abbott (August 3, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Megan Abbott’s The Turnout is centered around a pair of sisters who run a ballet studio, inherited after the tragic death of their parents. The sisters strike a fine balance between their different teaching styles: Marie’s is warm and soft, Dara’s is more precise. They get help from Dara’s husband, Charlie, who was once their mother’s prized student and who now works in the back office. A shocking accident at the beginning of the annual Nutcracker performance puts pressure on their thriving studio, and an interloper’s arrival adds to the anxiety, threatening everything Dara, Charlie, and Marie have worked for. The Turnout is an intriguing crime novel about family, power, and sexuality.
Savage Tongues by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi (August 3, Mariner Books)
In Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi’s third novel, a thirtysomething Iranian American woman named Arezu returns to Marbella, Spain, where two decades prior she had a catastrophic affair with an older man. “...I had last been there at seventeen—raw, restless, with a savage temperament that had led me into Omar’s arms,” Van Der Vliet Oloomi writes in Savage Tongues’ opening pages. While Arezu digs through her estranged father’s old apartment in Marbella, she performs a similar excavation of her traumatic relationship with Omar. In this compulsive novel, Van Der Vliet Oloomi—a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and PEN/Faulkner Award winner—explores questions surrounding sexuality, agency, and displacement.
American Estrangement by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh (August 10, W.W. Norton)
Bookending Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s latest collection is two short stories that detail the distances that can grow between fathers and sons—the “estrangement” of the book’s title is not just national. “I wasn’t sure if I should call him Dad and he wasn’t sure if he should call me Danush, so we wisely avoided the conundrum by calling each other nothing,” says the narrator of “A Beginner’s Guide To Estrangement,” a man who hasn’t seen his Iranian father in 15 years. Sayrafiezadeh’s prose is direct and rhythmic, his short and sure sentences moving with the confidence of stated fact. His stories have a tendency to unfold evenly, their structures traditional and to a point predictable, until Sayrafiezadeh reaches their ends and he vaults into the future in the last paragraph of one story or tightly delivers a heartbreaker of a last line in another.
This Will All Be Over Soon by Cecily Strong (August 10, Simon & Schuster)
Almost more common now than the one-hour stand-up special is the comedian memoir. Or the collection of slight if witty essays or (more rarely) mildly satirical or oddball short stories. The nonfiction often traces the comedian’s path to comedy, when it was they first realized they could be funny for a living. Beyond professional obligation or a large advance, there’s little sense from the writer that they needed to write the book. That’s partly why Cecily Strong’s new memoir feels so notable. This Will All Be Over Soon details the Saturday Night Live cast member’s grieving of her cousin Owen, who died in early 2020 at age 30 due to cancer. After Owen’s death, Strong left New York City—during the pandemic’s early surge—and wrote the book in an isolated cabin upstate; its diary-like passages reflect the immediacy of the emotions she conveys.
The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (August 17, One World)
Sometimes a story—or any short piece of writing—can get by on the strength of a single scrap of language, be it an unusual description or surprising line of dialogue. In the title short story of Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut collection, such a moment comes just after a john approaches a young sex worker on the street and wonders aloud why he’s the only one there. “‘I’m the onliest one you need,’” he hauntingly responds. In The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You—which follows Ruffin’s novel We Cast A Shadow, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner and the PEN/Open Book Awards—the writer traces the lives of a cast of characters living on the margins in his hometown of New Orleans.
More in August: Something New Under The Sun by Alexandra Kleeman (August 3, Hogarth); The Glassy, Burning Floor Of Hell by Brian Evenson (August 3, Coffee House); All’s Well by Mona Awad (August 3, Simon & Schuster); Songs For The Flames by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (August 3, Riverhead); Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So (August 3, Ecco); Blind Man’s Bluff by James Tate Hill (August 3, W.W. Norton); Year Of Plagues: A Memoir Of 2020 by Fred D’Aguiar (August 3, Harper); Billy Summers by Stephen King (Scribner, August 3); On Compromise: Art, Politics, And The Fate Of An American Ideal by Rachel Greenwald Smith (August 3, Graywolf); You Are Beautiful And You Are Alone: The Biography Of Nico by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike (August 10, Hachette); The Most Fun Thing: Dispatches From A Skateboard Life by Kyle Beachy (August 10, Grand Central); Edge Case by YZ Chin (August 10, Ecco); The Human Zoo by Sabina Murray (August 10, Grove); Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho (April 10, Small Beer); Gordo by Jaime Cortez (August 17, Grove); Skinship by Yoon Choi (August 17, Knopf); Baby Girl: Better Known As Aaliyah by Kathy Iandoli (August 17, Atria); The History Of Bones by John Lurie (August 17, Random House); Against White Feminism: Notes On Disruption by Rafia Zakaria (August 17, W.W. Norton); Four Minutes by Nataliya Deleva (August 17, Open Letter); Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow (August 24, Grand Central); Real Estate: A Living Autobiography by Deborah Levy (August 24, Bloomsbury); The Love Songs Of W.E.B. DuBois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (August 24, Harper Collins); Meaningful Work by JoAnna Novak (August 24, University of Alabama); My Heart Is A Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (August 31, Gallery/Saga); Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke (August 31, Doubleday); A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (August 31, Riverhead)