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5 new books to read in May

5 new books to read in May

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.


Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (May 5, Riverhead)

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Samanta Schweblin’s 2019 short story collection, Mouthful Of Birds, immersed readers in a “surrealist delirium.” The Argentinian writer’s new novel looks to be another unusual work of intoxicating speculative fiction, this time centered around technology, surveillance, and loneliness. In Little Eyes, Furby-like toys named kentukis have infiltrated households, stores, and public spaces across the globe. Behind every pair of adorable eyes is a stranger who can watch and listen and trace the whereabouts of each user, offering fun and connection. But this wouldn’t be any kind of science fiction story without bad actors to complicate it, and here the people on the other end of the line create as much danger as they do joy. With Little Eyes, Schweblin crafts an unsettling allegory of digital connectivity and social isolation.

Funny Weather: Art In An Emergency by Olivia Laing (May 5, W.W. Norton)

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One doesn’t need to be living through one of the worst health crises of the modern age to spark to the “emergency” in the title of Olivia Laing’s new essay collection; there’s plenty of non-pandemic material that fits the description. Funny Weather: Art In An Emergency collects the Crudo author’s arts and culture writing—including artist profiles and appreciations, book reviews, and dispatches from a life spent valuing creativity and justice—all set within the context of Trumpism, Brexit, and climate change. Laing opens each piece with a deceptive ease, alights upon poetic insights, then drifts away. “I barely spoke, and my quietness allowed the world to emerge,” she writes of her time living in the woods of Dorset, England. Likewise, her light touch throughout these essays makes room for some stunning perceptions.

Figure It Out by Wayne Koestenbaum (May 5, Soft Skull)

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In the first essay of Wayne Koestenbaum’s latest collection, the writer admires another man’s beard in an elevator, who then offers it up for handling. “Do You Want To Touch It?”—both the essay and the question that gives it its name—works as a metaphor for the writer’s curiosity about nearly any topic, and a jumping-off point for deeper considerations about identity, semantics, and his “suggestibility—the capacity to receive suggestions.” The rest of the collection, which ranges in topic from orgasms to Marguerite Duras, shows just how suggestible Koestenbaum is.

Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan (May 26, Viking)

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Meredith Talusan, a founding editor of Them, makes her debut with a gorgeous coming-of-age and -gender memoir. Fairest follows Talusan’s life as a boy born with albinism in the Philippines, which caused people to treat her with either special preference—as a “sun child”—or as an oddity. Once in the U.S., Talusan was perceived as white by many Americans, and the privilege this sometimes afforded her, alongside her time spent performing drag and studying in the hallowed halls of Harvard, proves to be fertile ground for explorations of race, class, love, and gender.

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad (May 26, Dutton)

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Book critic Ilana Masad’s debut novel does something of a reverse-take on Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers, in which Bill Murray’s protagonist tracks down a handful of former lovers after discovering he fathered a child with one of them. In All My Mother’s Lovers, 27-year-old Maggie flies home to California after her mother’s death in a car crash to join her withdrawn brother and distraught father for the funeral. There, along with her mother’s will, she finds five letters, all addressed to men she doesn’t know, and decides to set out on a road trip to hand-deliver the missives. As she discovers more about the complicated life of her mother, who did not approve of her daughter’s homosexuality, Maggie uncovers some demons of her own.


More in May: Don’t Shed Your Tears For Anyone Who Lives On These Streets by Patricio Pron (May 5, Knopf); The Down Days by Ilze Hugo (May 5, Skybound); Four By Four by Sara Mesa (May 5, Open Letter); Telephone by Percival Everett (May 5, Graywolf); Almond by Won-pyung Sohn (May 5, Harper Via); Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride (May 5, Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Resistance by Tori Amos (May 5, Atria Books); The Index Of Self-Destructive Acts by Christopher Beha (May 5, Tin House); Sorry For Your Trouble by Richard Ford (May 12, HarperLuxe); Shakespeare For Squirrels by Christopher Moore (May 12); A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet (May 12, W.W. Norton); 33⅓: Judy Garland’s Judy At Carnegie Hall by Manuel Betancourt (May 14, Bloomsbury); 33⅓: Elton John’s Blue Moves by Matthew Restall (May 14, Bloomsbury); The Brown Album by Porochista Khakpour (May 19, Vintage); Here We Are: My Friendship With Philip Roth by Benjamin Taylor (May 19, Penguin); Drifts by Kate Zambreno (May 19, Riverhead); Parasite: A Graphic Novel In Storyboards by Bong Joon Ho (May 19, Hachette); The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes by Suzanne Collins (May 19, Scholastic); The Death Of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee (May 26, Viking)

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