August is, traditionally, a slower period in the publishing biz, but in a year that’s been anything but conventional, anything can happen—including an August of new release fireworks! This week showcases powerhouse debuts, the return of a few bookseller favorites and—yes, you’re reading this correctly—a new addition to the Twilight saga. Get crackin’ and read more about these new releases below!
Luster by Raven Leilani
Our top pick of the week is Luster—the sharp, comic, disruptive, tender debut novel by Raven Leilani! Here’s what a few of our booksellers had to say ahead of pub day:
Molly M.: “An acid-tipped portrait of the artist as a young broke millennial, Luster pushes on painful pressure points of modern life with humor, precision, and a bruised, beating heart. Edie is a futureless editor at a publishing house when she begins a Tinder-borne affair with a much older man. He’s white, married, and wealthy; she’s black, orphaned, and completely broke. I won’t spoil anything else, but know that as this story complicates, Leilani skillfully excavates truths about power, class, racism, gender, manners, and trauma that exist even in our most minor interactions. I loved this book for its sexiness, its embrace of complexity, and its careful attention to pain.”
Uriel P.: “It’s impossible not to see a little bit of yourself in Edie, the twenty-three year old narrator of LUSTER — a wayward millennial, victim of abject rejection, losing a grip on the tattered rungs of a faulty job market and wading in a romantic cesspool. She is frustratingly careless, promiscuous, an aspiring artist trapped in the crosshairs of cutthroat office politics. And when Edie loses her job, life spirals uncontrollably, but its her involvement in an open marriage that proves to be both her undoing and the key to a visceral re-awakening. The writing is precise, and Raven Leilani exhibits an exhilarating command of language, spilling her guts to tell a story about art, class, race, and power. LUSTER is depraved, dark, funny, and so deeply in touch with the modern human condition.”
Raul C.: “This novel was SO SO JUICY! I could not put it down, which naturally had me going skimming the pages like a knife with butter. Edie the main character is in her young 20s’ trying to find herself and make a stamp on the world. Through the the story I found myself in complete shock with Edie’s promiscuity. Each chapter I began to understand the complexity of the main character. Edie, a very self-aware, self-destructive, self-deprecating, and impulsive individual had me laughing during passages of her inner thoughts about the things she COULD do, but of course stopped herself due to what little moral compass she has. This novel is definitely a must-read.”
We love it so much we’ve made it the latest pick in our Trust Fall subscription service! So if you’re as excited about Luster as we are, order this box today to get ahold of a signed, first edition copy of the book with a few goodies to go along with it. Learn more here and help us celebrate this stellar debut!
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
From Tomoko B., Graphic Designer: “I love the way Akwaeke Emezi writes in The Death of Vivek Oji. Their skill in crafting non-linear plot revelations with deeply developed characters whose flaws and selfishness, virtues and joys, passions, depressions and motivations I came to know as well as I do some of my own family gave me chills to read. As they have done in Freshwater and Pet, Emezi engages every sentence and word in the task of submerging the reader in a complete and complex world, providing a space–and pain–that feels as real as our own. Impressively, given the slimness of the novel, they have created a profound moment that will cause the heart to ache and burn over a death that, 256 pages before we knew nothing about. A beautifully written exercise in secrets, death, and family; the effect (or lack thereof) of time on narrative and emotion; the impact (or lack thereof) of secret-keeping on our constructed realities; and the depth of unfairness at having to live/grow in an intolerant society, The Death of Vivek Oji is an incredible work of literary art that I hope to see on all the lists this year!”
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth Of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
“As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark’s health is failing, her magic refuses to cooperate, her sword makes her throw up, and even her mind threatens to betray her. What’s worse, someone is trying to kill her. And she has to wonder: if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?
This hotly-anticipated sequel to the bookseller favorite, Gideon the Ninth, is already generating the buzz you’d expect from our booksellers. They call it “exuberant, deeply fun, quasi-psychadelic, mind-melting, heart-throbbing,” (Molly M.) “a brilliant revelation in prose,” (Christine H.), just “a blast!” (Gina C.) Order it today!
Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.
True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump by Jeffrey Toobin
From CNN chief legal analyst and bestselling author Jeffrey Toobin, a real-life legal thriller about the prosecutors and congressional investigators pursuing the truth about Donald Trump’s complicity in several crimes—and why they failed.
Donald Trump’s campaign chairman went to jail. So did his personal lawyer. His long-time political consigliere was convicted of serious federal crimes, and his national security advisor pled guilty to others. Several Russian spies were indicted in absentia. Career intelligence agents and military officers were alarmed enough by the president’s actions that they alerted senior government officials and ignited the impeachment process.
Yet despite all this, a years-long inquiry led by special counsel Robert Mueller, and the third impeachment of a president in American history, Donald Trump survived to run for re-election. Why?
Jeffrey Toobin’s highly entertaining definitive account of the Mueller investigation and the impeachment of the president takes readers behind the scenes of the epic legal and political struggle to call Trump to account for his misdeeds. With his superb storytelling and analytic skills Toobin recounts all the mind-boggling twists and turns in the case—Trump’s son met with a Russian operative promising Kremlin support! Trump paid a porn star $130,000 to hush up an affair! Rudy Giuliani and a pair of shady Ukrainian-American businessmen got the Justice Department to look at Russian-created conspiracy theories! Toobin shows how Trump’s canny lawyers used Mueller’s famous integrity against him, and how Trump’s bullying and bluster cowed Republican legislators into ignoring the clear evidence of the impeachment hearings.
Based on dozens of interviews with prosecutors in Mueller’s office, Trump’s legal team, Congressional investigators, White House staffers, and several of the key players, including some who are now in prison, True Crimes and Misdemeanors is a revelatory narrative that makes sense of the seemingly endless chaos of the Trump years. Filled with never-before-reported details of the high-stakes legal battles and political machinations, the book weaves a tale of a rogue president guilty of historic misconduct, and how he got away with it.
True Story by Kate Reed Petty
Tracing the fifteen-year fallout of a toxic high school rumor, a riveting, astonishingly original debut novel about the power of stories—and who gets to tell them
2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can’t tell: the story of, as she puts it, “the things that happened while I was asleep.”
1999. Nick Brothers and his lacrosse teammates return for their senior year at their wealthy Maryland high school as the reigning state champions. They’re on top of the world—until two of his friends drive a passed-out girl home from of the team’s “legendary” parties, and a rumor about what happened in the backseat spreads through the town like wildfire.
The boys deny the allegations, and, eventually, the town moves on. But not everyone can. Nick descends into alcoholism, and Alice builds a life in fits and starts, underestimating herself and placing her trust in the wrong people. When she finally gets the opportunity to confront the past she can’t remember—but which has nevertheless shaped her life—will she take it?
An inventive and breathtaking exploration of a woman finding her voice in the wake of trauma, True Story is part psychological thriller, part fever dream, and part timely comment on sexual assault, power, and the very nature of truth. Ingeniously constructed and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final pages, it marks the debut of a singular and daring new voice in fiction.
Guillotine by Eduardo C. Corral
The astonishing second collection by the author of Slow Lightning, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize
Guillotine traverses desert landscapes cut through by migrants, the grief of loss, betrayal’s lingering scars, the border itself—great distances in which violence and yearning find roots. Through the voices of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and scorned lovers, the award-winning poet Eduardo C. Corral writes dramatic portraits of contradiction, survival, and a deeply human, relentless interiority. With extraordinary lyric imagination, these poems wonder about being unwanted or renounced. What do we do with unrequited love? Is it with or without it that we would waste away?
In the sequence “Testaments Scratched into Water Station Barrels,” with Corral’s seamless integration of Spanish and English, poems curve around the surfaces upon which they are written, overlapping like graffiti left by those who may or may not have survived crossing the border. A harrowing second collection, Guillotine solidifies Corral’s place in the expanding ecosystem of American poetry.
Talking Animals by Joni Murphy
An Animal Farm for the Anthropocene
Parrots own cafés and lemurs run the espresso machines. Badgers tend bar, raccoons write for The Post, and a racehorse is mayor. There are dogs on Wall Street and cats on Broadway. Sea creatures are viewed with fear and disgust. Maybe a big wall should be built to keep them out. It’s New York City, now-ish. No big deal.
Alfonzo is an alpaca. His hip friend Mitchell is a llama. They both work at City Hall and are trying to navigate the great furry city collapsing around them. Partly to meet girls, and partly out of a sense that the world might be ending, these lowly city employees embark on an unlikely mission to take down the corrupt system selling the city out from beneath its real inhabitants. Their journey soon leads them to the Sea Front, a clandestine group that could as easily be a hive of dangerous radicals as an inspirational liberation movement.
This world without humans teems with creatures stuck in frustrating jobs and surrounded by crumbling infrastructure and worsening environmental catastrophes. Joni Murphy’s Talking Animals is Animal Farm by way of Annie Hall by way of The Sixth Extinction. At once delicate and urgent, it is a contemporary allegory about community and capitalism, art and protest, the physical and emotional devastation of global warming, and the elemental struggle to change one’s life.
Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.
His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.
Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.
The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
A horrific crime that defies explanation, a rookie FBI agent in uncharted territory, and an extraordinary hero for the ages: an investigation spirals out of control in this heart-pounding thriller.
From the authors who brought you The Strain Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, and darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, and literary horror. The Hollow Ones is a chilling, spell-binding tale, a hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.
A Saint from Texas by Edmund White
From Edmund White, a bold and sweeping new novel that traces the extraordinary fates of twin sisters, one destined for Parisian nobility and the other for Catholic sainthood.
Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. Just as an untold fortune of oil lies beneath their daddy’s land, both girls harbor their own secrets and dreams—ones that will carry them far from Texas and from each other. As the decades unfold, Yvonne will ascend the highest ranks of Parisian society as Yvette gives herself to a lifetime of worship and service in the streets of Jericó, Colombia. And yet, even as they remake themselves in their radically different lives, the twins find that the bonds of family and the past are unbreakable.
Spanning the 1950s to the recent past, Edmund White’s marvelous novel serves up an immensely pleasurable epic of two Texas women as their lives traverse varied worlds: the swaggering opulence of the Dallas nouveau riche, the airless pretention of the Paris gratin, and the strict piety of a Colombian convent. For nearly half a century, Edmund White’s work has revitalized American literature, blithely breaking down boundaries of class and sexuality, and A Saint from Texas is one of his most joyous, gorgeously written, and piercing works to date.
Wandering In Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins
From the acclaimed cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing—a writer whom Roxane Gay has hailed as “a force to be reckoned with”—comes this powerful story of her journey to understand her northern and southern roots, the Great Migration, and the displacement of black people across America.
“One of the smartest young writers of her generation.”—Book Riot
Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California.
Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way—the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history.
Incisive and illuminating, Wandering in Strange Lands is a timely and enthralling look at America’s past and present, one family’s legacy, and a young black woman’s life, filtered through her sharp and curious eyes.
Life of a Klansmen by Edward Ball
A trenchant exploration of a family’s legacy of white supremacy from National Book Award–winner Edward Ball.
Life of a Klansman tells the story of Constant Lecorgne, a carpenter in Louisiana who took up the cause of fanatical racism during the years after the Civil War. Edward Ball, Lecorgne’s descendant, paints a portrait of his family’s anti-black militant that is part history, part memoir rich in personal detail.
Sifting through family lore as well as public and private records, Ball reconstructs Lecorgne’s story. A white French Creole and father of five, he had a career in white terror of notable and bloody completeness: massacres, night riding, masked marches, street rampages—all part of a tireless effort that he and other Klansmen made to restore white power when it was threatened by the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. To offer a non-white view of the Ku-klux, Ball seeks out descendants of African Americans who were once victimized by “our Klansman” and his comrades, and shares their stories.
Demography suggests that fifty percent of whites in the United States have at least one ancestor who belonged to the Klan at some point in its history. In an era when racist ideology and violence are again loose in the public square, Life of a Klansman offers a personal origin story of white supremacy. Ball traces the vines that have grown from militant roots in the Old South into the bitter fruit of the present, when whiteness is again a cause that can veer into hate and domestic terror.
The Book of Atlantis Black by Betsy Bonner
The Book of Atlantis Black: The Search for a Sister Gone Missing will have you questioning facts, rooting for secrets, and asking what it means to know the truth.
A young woman is found dead on the floor of a Tijuana hotel room. An ID in a nearby purse reads “Atlantis Black.” The police report states that the body does not seem to match the identification, yet the body is quickly cremated and the case is considered closed.
So begins Betsy Bonner’s search for her sister, Atlantis, and the unraveling of the mysterious final months before Atlantis’s disappearance, alleged overdose, and death. With access to her sister’s email and social media accounts, Bonner attempts to decipher and construct a narrative: frantic and unintelligible Facebook posts, alarming images of a woman with a handgun, Craigslist companionship ads, DEA agent testimony, video surveillance, police reports, and various phone calls and moments in the flesh conjured from memory. Through a history only she and Atlantis shared—a childhood fraught with abuse and mental illness, Atlantis’s precocious yet short rise in the music world, and through it all an unshakable bond of sisterhood—Bonner finds questions that lead only to more questions and possible clues that seem to point in no particular direction. In this haunting memoir and piercing true crime account, Bonner must decide how far she will go to understand a sister who, like the mythical island she renamed herself for, might prove impossible to find.
Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall
An enthralling, irresistible novel of psychological suspense about three women and the destructive power of buried secrets
When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves.
A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?
Imperfect Women explores guilt and retribution, love and betrayal, and the compromises we make that alter our lives irrevocably. With the wickedly sharp insights and finely tuned suspense that has drawn her comparisons to Patricia Highsmith and Paula Hawkins, Araminta Hall returns with another page-turning, thought-provoking tour de force.
Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
An electrifying novel of love in its messiest forms—a complicated marriage, an unconventional family, and the shocking secrets that unite them—from an award-winning Trinidadian author.
After Betty Ramdin’s abusive husband dies, she invites a colleague, Mr. Chetan, to move in with her and her son, Solo, as their lodger. Over time, these three form an unconventional family, loving each other deeply and depending upon one another. Then, one fateful night, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan and learns a secret that plunges him into torment. His despair ultimately sends him running to live a lonely life in New York City, devastating Betty in the process. Yet both Solo and Betty are buoyed by the continuing love and friendship of Mr. Chetan—until his own burdensome secret is uncovered with heartbreaking repercussions.
In vibrant, addictive Trinidadian prose, Love After Love questions who and how we love, the obligations of family, and the consequences of choices made in desperation.
What Happens at Night by Peter Cameron
A couple find themselves at a fading, grand European hotel full of eccentric and sometimes unsettling patrons in this “faultlessly elegant and quietly menacing” allegorical story that examines the significance of shifting desires and the uncertainty of reality (Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness).
An American couple travel to a strange, snowy European city to adopt a baby, who they hope will resurrect their failing marriage. This difficult journey leaves the wife, who is struggling with cancer, desperately weak, and her husband worries that her apparent illness will prevent the orphanage from releasing their child.
The couple check into the cavernous and eerily deserted Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel where the bar is always open and the restaurant serves thirteen-course dinners from centuries past. Their attempt to claim their baby is both helped and hampered by the people they encounter: an ancient, flamboyant chanteuse, a debauched businessman, an enigmatic faith healer, and a stoic bartender who dispenses an addictive, lichen-flavored schnapps. Nothing is as it seems in this mysterious, frozen world, and the longer the couple endure the punishing cold the less they seem to know about their marriage, themselves, and life itself.
What Happens at Night is a “masterpiece” (Edmund White) poised on the cusp of reality, told by “an elegantly acute and mysteriously beguiling writer” (Richard Eder, The Boston Globe).
Now in Paperback
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington
Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer
These titles and more are available to order from BookPeople today.