It’s officially August! According to Chinese beliefs, August is the ghost month. It is believed that spirits are out to harm the old, the young, and the vulnerable. The economy and the market are also expected to slow down. Despite this, I hope everyone will have a great month ahead, and that the last five months of the year will be filled with blessings, great news, and good health. Before waving goodbye to my birth month, let me look back at the previous month. After two months immersing myself in the works of European literature, I spent July traveling across Japan for the best of Japanese literature; it is one of my favorite parts of the vast literary landscape.
During the month, I was also able to obtain a couple of books that I have listed in this book haul update. I will be dividing it into two parts, with the first part featuring books published this year. These books will help me in my goal of reading at least 20 new books. Before I go on, here are 2022 releases I was able to acquire in July. Happy reading!
Title: Sea of Tranquility
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 255
Synopsis: Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite English society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal – an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for spare change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery Roberts, a hotel detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City, who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the time line of the universe.
A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.
Title: Very Cold People
Author: Sarah Manguso
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 191
Synopsis: For Ruthie, the frozen town of Waitsfield, Massachusetts, is all she has ever known.
Once home to the country’s oldest and most illustrious families – the Cabots, the Lowells: the “first, best people” – by the tail end of the twentieth century, it is an unforgiving place awash with secrets.
Forged from this frigid landscape, and descended not from Boston Brahmins but from Italian and Jewish immigrants, Ruthie has been dogged by feelings of inadequacy her whole life. Hers is no picturesque New England childhood but one of swap meets and factory seconds and powdered milk. Shame blankets her like the thick snow that regularly buries nearly everything in Waitsfield.
As she grows older, Ruthie slowly learns how the town’s prim facade conceals a deeper, darker history, and how silence often masks a legacy of harm – from the violence that runs down her family line to the horrors endured by her high school friends, each suffering a fate worse than the last. For Ruthie, Waitsfield is a place to be survived, and a girl like her will be lucky to get out alive.
In her eagerly anticipated debut novel, Sarah Manguso has written, with characteristic precision, a masterwork on growing up in – and out of – the suffocating constraints of a very old, and very cold, small town. At once an ungilded portrait of girlhood at the crossroads of history and social class as well as a vital confrontation with an all-American whiteness where the ice of emotional restraint meets the embers of smoldering rage, Very Cold People is a haunted jewel of a novel from one of our most virtuosic literary writers.
Title: This Time Tomorrow
Author: Emma Straub
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 307
Synopsis: What if yu could take a vacation to your past?
On the eve of her fortieth birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, and her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But something is missing. Her father, the single parent who raised her, is ailing and out of reach. How did they get here so fast? Did she take too much for granted along the way?
When Alice wakes up the next morning, she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her sixteenth birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush – it’s her dad, the vital, charming, forty-nine-year-old version of her father with which she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything she would change if she could?
With her celebrated humor insight, and heart, beloved New York Times bestselling author Emma Straub offers her own twist on traditional time-travel tropes and a different kind of love story – about the lifelong, reverberating relationship between a parent and child.
Title: Neruda on the Park
Author: Cleyvis Natera
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 319
Synopsis: The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.
As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar ark as the novel races toward a near-fatal climax.
A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition that announces Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most.
Title: The Hacienda
Author: Isabel Cañas
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 337
Synopsis: During the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father was executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security that his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.
But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.
When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark the doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?
Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will save her.
Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.
Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.
Title: Young Mungo
Author: Douglas Stuart
Publisher: Grove Press
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 390
Synopsis: Douglas Stuart’s first novel, Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. Published or forthcoming in forty territories, it has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Now Stuart returns with Young Mungo, his extraordinary second novel. Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.
Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars – Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic – and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when, several months later, Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murk pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a lace of safety, place where he and James might still have a future.
Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.
Author: Tara M. Stringfellow
Publisher: John Murray
Publishing Date: April 27, 2022
No. of Pages: 245
Synopsis: Joan was only a child the last time she visited Memphis. She doesn’t remember the bustle of Beale Street on a summer’s night. She doesn’t know she’s as likely to hear a gunshot ring out as the sound of children playing. How the smell of honeysuckle is almost overwhelming as she climbs the porch steps to the house where her mother grew up. But when the front door opens, she does remember Derek.
This house full of history is home to the women of the North family. They are no strangers to adversity; resilience runs in their blood. Fifty years ago, Hazel’s husband was lynched by his all-white police squad, yet she made a life for herself and her daughters in the majestic house he built for them. August lives there still, running a salon where the neighbourhood women gather. And now this house is the only place Joan has left. It is in sketching portraits of the women in her life, her aunt and her mother, the women who come to have their hair done, the women who come to chat and gossip, that Joan begins laughing again, begins living.
Memphis is a celebration of the enduring strength of female bonds, of what we pass down, from mother to daughter. Epic in scope yet intimate in detail, it is a vivid portrait of three generations of a Southern black family, as well as an ode to the city they call home.
Title: People Person
Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Publishing Date: April 28, 2022
No. of Pages: 343
Synopsis: IF YOU COULD CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY…
YOU WOULDN’T CHOOSE THE PENNINGTONS.
Dimple Pennington knew of her half siblings, but she didn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues.
Dimple has bigger things to think about. She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone.
That is, until a catastrophic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.
Author: Eloghosa Osundae
Publishing Date: March 1, 2022
No. of Pages: 303
Synopsis: In Nigeria, vagabonds are those whose existence is literally outlawed: the queer, the poor, the displaced, the footloose and rogue spirits. They inhabit transient spaces, making their way invisibly through a world of old vengeance, shifting realities, and ever-lurking danger. Eloghosa Osunde’s brave, fiercely inventive novel traces a wild array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance: a driver for a debauched politician with the power to command life and death; a legendary fashion designer who gives birth to a grown daughter; a lesbian couple whose tender relationship sheds unexpected light on their experience with underground sex work; a wife and mother who attends a secret spiritual gathering that shifts her world. Whether running from danger, meeting with secret lovers, finding their identities, or vanquishing their shadowselves, Osunde’s characters confront and support one another, before converging for the once-in-a-lifetime gathering that gives the book its unexpectedly joyous conclusion.