The calendar is finally catching up to our summer temperatures, and it’s time to contemplate your (local) summer book plans. All the authors listed below have some link to Austin, either as a resident or through an upcoming event. Read on, mark your calendars, and enjoy dipping into literary worlds both familiar and new.
Ottessa Moshfegh, ‘Lapvona’
Ottessa Moshfegh’s accolades are many: “Eileen” won the PEN/Hemingway prize for debut fiction, and both “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” and “Death in Her Hands” were New York Times bestsellers. Ella’s Moshfegh’s newest, “Lapvona” (Penguin Press, $27), takes place in a medieval fiefdom where a young shepherd boy’s faith is tested through a series of bizarre, sometimes gory, happenings. She’ll talk about the book at 7 pm June 26 at BookPeople.
Dalia Azim, ‘Country of Origin’
A multigenerational saga that begins with a teenage girl watching the fall of Cairo from the safety of her cosseted existence, Dalia Azim’s “Country of Origin” (A Strange Object/Deep Vellum, $16.95) explores freedom in all its forms. Azim, who by day is the manager of special projects at the Blanton Museum of Art, will talk about her debut novel by Ella at 1 pm June 12 in a virtual event as part of the Lone Star Lit book-club series at Malvern Books.
May Cobb, ‘My Summer Darlings’
Women who do what they want – no matter the cost – populate Austinite May Cobb’s dishy, twisty thrillers, and “My Summer Darlings” (Berkley, $27) is no exception. Cobb sets her sultry new tale in East Texas, where a trio of friends grapples with their relationships with each other and their children. The arrival of swoony (very) bad boy Will Harding stretches their sometimes-tenuous bonds to a breaking point.
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George M. Johnson, ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’
George M. Johnson’s New York Times-bestselling “memoir-manifesto,” “All Boys Aren’t Blue” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99), has attracted lots of attention from censors, landing on the American Library Association’s annual most- challenged books list. Now’s your chance to hear more about the substance of his work from him, currently slated for a TV adaptation from Gabrielle Union’s production company. His book of him has been lauded for its honest, affecting portrayal of growing up as a young Black gay man. Johnson appears at 6 pm June 16 at BookPeople.
Juli Berwald, ‘Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs’
Austin writer Juli Berwald’s debut “Spineless” showcased her gift for illuminating complex science about jellyfish alongside her own personal journey as a scientist. Now comes her follow-up to her, “Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs” (Riverhead Books, $28), which melds the often-Sisyphean tasks of combatting threats to our globe’s coral reefs and shepherding a child through mental illness. Berwald recently guested on “Queer Eye” star and Austin transplant Jonathan Van Ness’ podcast “Getting Curious.”
Amanda Eyre Ward, ‘The Lifeguards’
Central Texas readers will recognize lots of name-checked places in Austin author Amanda Eyre Ward’s “The Lifeguards” (Ballantine, $28), from Zilker Park to Home Slice Pizza. But aside from the familiar surroundings, Ward also maps a story of three mothers who stretch their own boundaries while wondering exactly what their 15-year-old sons are capable of. What starts with the discovery of a dead body on the greenbelt accelerates through multiple points of view and lots of questions about life’s tradeoffs. (Ward is also a freelance contributor to the Statesman.)
Gabino Iglesias, ‘The Devil Takes You Home’
Austin teacher, critic and writer Gabino Iglesias has won industry awards for his genre-bending “barrio noir,” which melds elements of horror, noir and magical realism. In August, “The Devil Takes You Home” (Mulholland Books, $28) arrives, poised to introduce his distinctive mix to a much wider audience. Circumstances make Mario a hitman, and tragedy sets him on one last job to get himself out of debt. There are real scares and supernatural ones, all enveloped in a propulsive, unforgettable journey.
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Sarah Bird, ‘Last Dance on the Starlight Pier’
Sarah Bird is part of Austin’s literary pantheon, from her award-winning novels (“The Flamenco Academy,” “Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen”) to her screenwriting, essays for the likes of Texas Monthly and even her hologram greeting visitors at the downtown branch of Austin Public Library. Her newest title, “Last Dance on the Starlight Pier” (St. Martin’s Press, $28.99), takes readers deep into 1930s-era Galveston. It spotlights an aspiring nurse seeking to escape her past de ella, who finds new purpose in the world of dance marathons.
Kelis Rowe, ‘Finding Jupiter’
When Ray meets Orion at a Memphis roller rink on her birthday, she’s not so sure he’s worth her time. But over time, the two build a fierce bond that transforms into an epic love story. Austin writer Kelis Rowe explains in a foreword that she started reading Black teen romance books as an adult, and “Finding Jupiter” (Crown Books, $18.99) has exactly that crossover appeal, with grace notes that include Rowe’s deft handling of how Orion copes with overwhelming sights and sounds, found poetry from snippets of classic books, and the secrets Ray eventually uncovers. Rowe launches the book at 5 pm May 31 at Black Pearl Books, and will also appear at 7 pm June 24 at BookPeople.
New books for young readers, too
As usual, Central Texas’s kidlit community has been prolific this year. Here’s a quick peek at some new reads from Austin writers for young people:
Jennifer Ziegler’s “Worser” (Margaret Ferguson Books, $17.99) has collected multiple starred reviews for its story of a bullied boy forced to learn new ways of navigating the world after his mother’s stroke. Precise wordplay and Ziegler’s sensitive characterization of William Wyatt Orser (dubbed the title nickname by his classmates of him) set this engaging novel apart.
Sue hopes to spend her summer reading and drawing, but her family has tons of other plans for her. Now on the agenda: a visit to relatives in Honduras and a way-too-fancy quinceañera, in “Miss Fifteen” (Scholastic/Graphix, $12.99), Kat Fajardo’s middle-grade graphic novel about being true to yourself.
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Two-time Newbery honoree Christina Soontornvat returns with the immersive “The Last Mapmaker” (Candlewick, $17.99). It’s a sweeping fantasy tale of one girl’s journey on the high seas, past her family’s secrets and moving toward dreams of a better world.
In “Ginger Mancino, Kid Comedian” (Bookbar Press, $8.99), prolific humorist Wendi Aarons spotlights a seventh-grader who learns to use her professional comedy skills offstage on the hardest of audiences – middle-school students. Aarons appears June 23 at BookPeople.
Yehudi Mercado’s graphic memoir “Chunky” introduced readers to a Mexican Jewish boy whose cartoon mascot helps him grapple with body image, parental expectations and the wide world of preteen sports. sequelChunky Goes to Camp” (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, $12.99) finds young Hudi headed to Jewish summer camp (Chunky in tow), where he encounters a prank war and new lessons about friendship.
K. A. Holt spins “This is Not a Drill” (Scholastic, $17.99) in text messages, a format that enhances and amplifies the sadly timely plot. Hiding in the bathroom at lunch after a disagreement with friends, middle-schooler Ava discovers she’s locked out of all the classrooms that are supposed to be safe havens when alarm bells start ringing.