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12 Must-Read Titles of May

12 Must-Read Titles of May

  • The new books you should read in May 2022.

Do you feel it, dear readers? The April rains and winds are starting to die down, and the sunshine is lingering for longer. Do you hear it, dear readers? It’s the sound of coats being doffed and kids (and teachers) celebrating the imminent end of the school year. Spring has finally arrived, and as you begin heading back out into the world, don’t forget to take along a good book. Below are twelve new releases coming out this month that would make great traveling companions any time of year.

Cover image of Trust

By Hernan Diaz
Riverhead Books

Hernan Diaz made a huge splash with his debut novel In the Distance, which was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, so expectations are high for his follow-up. A historical novel set partly in the roaring twenties of New York might seem like a bit of a swerve at first, but Trust proves that Diaz is a writer of singular talent. This book is a kaleidoscopic dazzler that works as both an engrossing literary mystery and a capitalistic takedown for the ages. Don’t miss it.

Cover image of Patience is a Subtle Thief

Patience is a Subtle Thief
By Abi Ishola-Ayodeji

Abi Ishola-Ayodeji has covered communities across the globe through her award-winning multimedia reportage for CUNY TV’s Channel 75 and publications such as Essence and With her first novel Patience is a Subtle Thief, she returns to West Africa, immersing readers in Nigeria during its storied 1993 election. Shifting deftly between its affluent insulated neighborhoods and the neglected districts of the poor, it’s a politically engaged and engaging debut.

Cover image of Siren Queen

Siren Queen
By Nghi Vo

Illinois-born writer Nghi Vo may live on the shores of Lake Michigan according to her bio, but her fiction is positively stratospheric. Her latest novel is a spellbinding blend of historical and speculative fiction, set in a pre-Code Hollywood where the magic of the movies is literal. In the midst of it all is Luli Wei, who is eager to rise above the limited roles available for a Chinese American actress. But is she willing to become a monster to achieve the stardom she desires?

Cover image of Metaphysical Animals

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life
By Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman

There’s been a surge of interest lately in the works of British writer Iris Murdoch. Readers wanting to know more about her early years will devour this lively portrait of Murdoch and her Oxford classmates Philippa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Mary Midgley, who together created a new way of thinking ethically about life in the shadow of World War II. Dishy and intimate, you’ll feel as if you’ve been invited to afternoon tea with the smartest set on campus.

Cover of Abolition Geography

Abolition Geography: Essays Toward Liberation
By Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Verso Books

Anyone with an interest in the critical theory of mass incarceration and social justice can’t miss this first-ever compendium of writing by one of the most brilliant and radical minds in the field. Edited and introduced by Brenna Bhandar and Alberto Toscano, Abolition Geography gathers thirty years’ worth of Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s essays, articles, and interviews into a hefty and impactful guidebook for a whole new generation looking to join the movement. 

Cover of Teenager

By Bud Smith

Much has been made in the press of author Bud Smith’s unusual background as a heavy construction worker living in New Jersey, but the authenticity of his prose can’t be denied. Drawing on such symbols of Americana as Elvis Presley, Bonnie and Clyde, and Jack Kerouac’s road tripping, Teenager is the sort of offbeat love story that proves Bud Smith can sit comfortably beside Denis Johnson as a poet laureate of rundown carnivals and dimly lit bars. 

Cover of The Hurting Kind

The Hurting Kind
By Ada Limón
Milkweed Editions

A new collection from Ada Limón, whose previous works have won the National Book Critics Circle Award and have been finalists for scores of other prizes, is always reason to celebrate. Her empathetic and clarifying voice has always been a balm in trying times, and The Hurting Kind arrives at just the right moment, a tender exploration of what it means to be connected to the world and the pain and joy of daily living when such things feel increasingly difficult.

Cover image of Translating Myself and Others

Translating Myself and Others
By Jhumpa Lahiri
Princeton University Press

Jhumpa Lahiri needs little introduction as one of our most revered writers of contemporary fiction, but readers may not be aware of her similarly accomplished translation work. She explores that topic with her customary rigor and candidness in this new essay collection, featuring several pieces originally written in Italian and translated into English by Lahiri for the first time, an act of metamorphosis as dazzling to her as it is to the reader.

See Also

Cover image of Either/Or

By Elif Batuman
Penguin Press

The Idiot, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, remains a staff favorite here at the CHIRB so we have been eagerly anticipating Elif Batuman’s follow-up, which just happens to be a sequel. Picking up a few months after the previous novel, it finds Selin in her sophomore year at Harvard, muddling through the questions of what happened that summer in Hungary. Featuring Batuman’s trademark linguistic dexterity and infectious spirit, it’s a perfect read to start off your summer.

Cover of Clandestinity

By Antonio Moresco; Translated by Richard Dixon
Deep Vellum Publishing

Antonio Moresco is considered one of the founders of modern Italian literature and is regularly tipped as a contender for the Nobel Prize, yet only one of his books has been translated into English so far. Richard Dixon and Deep Vellum Publishing seek to rectify that with this piquant collection of Moresco’s earliest novella and short stories. Governed by a dreamlike logic but infused with the corporeal vulgarities of life, it’s a long overdue introduction to a master writer. 

Cover image of Boys Come First

Boys Come First
By Aaron Foley
Belt Publishing

Aaron Foley’s previous book was the delightfully titled How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass, and his first foray into fiction promises to be as hilarious, touching, and informed by a deep affection for his birthplace as his reportage. Following three Black gay men as they seek love, friendship, and professional success in the Motor City, Boys Come First has such richly drawn characters and sense of place that you’ll forget you’re not reading about real people.

Cover image of Rainbow Rainbow

Rainbow Rainbow
By Lydia Conklin

Debut author Lydia Conklin has already received a formidable string of honors, including a Stegner Fellowship, Rona Jaffe Award, and three Pushcart Prizes, but their first story collection has the confident fearlessness of a writer decades into a career. Both effervescent and incisive, these odes to queer life in all its joys and contradictions stake a strong claim for Conklin as the voice of a generation and one that needs to be heard now more than ever.

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