From Horowitz to Homes | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Jun. 2018

Backman, Fredrik. Us Against You. Atria. Jun. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781501160790. $26.99. CD. LITERARY
Sweden’s literary contribution to the New York Times best sellers list, Backman revisits Beartown, where the cherished hockey team is slated for the dust heap. The players join a rival team in Hed, a new team forms (with a surprise coach), a tense match with Hed looms, and tragedy makes everyone wonder whether a simple love of the game can be reclaimed.

Black, Cara. Murder on the Left Bank. Soho Crime. Jun. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781616959272. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616959289. MYSTERY
When lawyer Éric Besson receives a notebook from a wheezing old man detailing how he laundered dirty money for dirty cops, Besson sends it straight to the authorities via his assistant/nephew. But the nephew is murdered and the notebook stolen, so Besson turns to Paris’s coolest PI, Aimée Leduc. Shatteringly, the cops listed in the book murdered Aimée’s father. Love that Aimée!

Burton, Tara Isabella. Social Creature. Doubleday. Jun. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780385543521. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385543538. Downloadable. THRILLER/PSYCHOLOGICAL
A small-town girl with an equally small purse, Louise knows how to scrape by in New York. Then she meets wealthy, off-kilter Lavinia Williams, who introduces her to private opera boxes, Shakespearean masked balls, underground cabarets, and all the champagne she can drink, and there’s no letting go. The publisher expects this debut to be huge.

Clinton, Bill & James Patterson. The President Is Missing. Little, Brown. Jun. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780316412698. $30. THRILLER
Now here’s a big collaboration: the former president of the United States joins with the author who holds the record for the most No. 1 New York Times best sellers to craft a thriller about the disappearance of POTUS from the stringently guarded White House. You’ll definitely get a feel for what life in the Oval Office is like.

Crace, Jim. The Melody. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Jun. 2018. 240p. ISBN9780385543712. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385543729. Downloadable. LITERARY
Celebrated for his beautiful music, Alfred Busi now sits alone in his villa, mourning his recently deceased wife. One night, he’s attacked in his courtyard, by whom or what he doesn’t know, and the townsfolk revive rumors of an ancient people in the nearby woods while bemoaning the dangers posed by the homeless. Again, the Whitbread Award–winning, Man Booker short-listed author creates a one-of-a-kind world.

Cusk, Rachel. Kudos. Farrar. Jun. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9780374279868. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374714581. LITERARY
Granta Best Young British Novelist Cusk completes the trilogy begun with Outline and Transit, which features a penetrating but elusive woman writer. Here she visits a Europe in turmoil, with the people she meets troubled about who they are, what their nation stands for, and how to distinguish between truth and outward, publicly sanctioned appearance. Looking forward.

Groff, Lauren. Florida: Stories. Riverhead. Jun. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781594634512. $27; ebk. ISBN 970698405141. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. SHORT STORIES/LITERARY
The New York Times best-selling author of three novels, including Fates and Furies, a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle finalist, Groff also wins prizes (and hearts) for her short stories; see the collection Delicate Edible Birds. She grounds this new collection in the heat and storminess of her adopted state, Florida, while plumbing human heat and storminess as well.

Homes, A.M. Days of Awe: Stories. Viking. Jun. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9780670025497. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780525558934. Downloadable. SHORT STORIES/LITERARY
Homes’s first work since 2012’s film-optioned May We Be Forgiven, winner of the Women’s Prize in Fiction (once graced by Orange and Bailey’s sponsorship), this collection forthrightly addresses our unsettled world. In the title story, old friends meet at a conference on genocide and find solace in ancient traditions, while several stories address the fears of a Los Angeles family.

Horowitz, Anthony. The Word Is Murder. Harper. Jun. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780062676788. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062676818. lrg. prnt. MYSTERY
The source of hit TV shows like the BAFTA-winning Foyle’s War and the New York Times best-selling Moriarty, Horowitz offers meta-mystery that opens with a woman arranging her own funeral. Later that day, she’s strangled to death, and famously difficult detective Daniel Hawthorne gets the case. Fortunately, he has accomplished novelist Anthony Horowitz as a partner.

King, Stephen. The Outsider. Scribner. Jun. 2018. 576p. ISBN 9781501180989. $30. CD. THRILLER
When the corpse of a sexually assaulted 11-year-old boy is found, fingerprint evidence and eyewitness accounts implicate upstanding citizen Terry Maitland, an English teacher, Little League coach, and father. He’s got an alibi, but Det. Ralph Anderson soon has DNA evidence, and the investigation ratchets up to some scarily King-worthy puzzles.

Millet, Lydia. Fight No More: Stories. Norton. Jun. 2018. 176p. ISBN 9780393635485. $24.95. SHORT STORIES/LITERARY
In her first book since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven and her first collection since the Pulitzer Prize finalist Love in Infant Monkeys, Millet presents linked stories that investigate our longing for home. At its center is a real estate broker whose splintered family manages to bridge gaps. Look for outspoken women, stumbling or unkind men, and business folks behaving badly.

O’Neill, Joseph. Good Trouble: Stories. Pantheon. Jun. 2018. 176p. ISBN 9781524747350. $22; ebk. ISBN 9781524747367. Downloadable. SHORT STORIES/LITERARY
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Netherland, which had critic friends gasping, and most recently the Man Booker long-listed The Dog, O’Neill shows us characters undone by contemporary life. Two poets wonder whether they should participate in a “pardon Edward Snowden” verse petition, for instance, while a hopeful New York co-op buyer can’t secure a character reference.

Orange, Tommy. There There. Knopf. Jun. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780525520375. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525520382. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. LITERARY
Drummer Thomas Frank. Sobered-up Jacquie Red Feather. Self-trained dancer Orvil Red Feather (thank YouTube) and his aunt Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield. Edwin Black, looking for his father. And young Tony Loneman, whose aspirations could blow everyone sky high. They’ve all come to the Big Oakland Powwow in a debut from Oakland-raised Native American Orange, a MacDowell Fellow, that has publishing insiders dancing with enthusiasm.

Pearson, Allison. How Hard Can It Be? St. Martin’s. Jun. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781250086082. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250086105. CD. POP FICTION
Ever wonder what happened to Kate Reddy, star of Pearson’s celebrated look at working motherhood, I Don’t Know How She Does It? (Sarah Jessica Parker starred in the movie.) In this sequel, husband Richard quits his job and goes into counseling, so Kate creatively polishes her résumé, joins a Women Returners group, and lands a job at the hedge fund she founded. One of the publisher’s big books of the year.

Pittard, Hannah. Visible Empire. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780544748064. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544748989. LITERARY
I truly admired Pittard’s Listen to Me, an intensely telescoped tale of marital crisis, so I am anticipating this fictional look at the horrific 1962 crash of Paris-to-Atlanta Air France Flight 007. Over 100 of Atlanta’s cultural leaders were lost, and Atlanta-born Pittard chronicles the reactions of the city’s residents, from the stunned mayor to a teenager denied admission to an integrated school wondering what might change.

Umrigar, Thrity. The Secrets Between Us. Harper. Jun. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780062442208. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062442239. lrg. prnt. LITERARY
In the luminous Umrigar’s sequel to The Space Between Us, Bhima has long served the upper-middle-class Dubashes, but speaking up about a crime visited on her own family gets her summarily fired.  Soon, though, she begins selling fruits and vegetables with an older woman named Parvati and discovers her one true friend. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Weisberger, Lauren. When Life Gives You Lululemons. S. & S. Jun. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781476778440. $26.99. CD. WOMEN’S
Remember Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s assistant in The Devil Wears Prada? Now she’s an image consultant, working in Hollywood and desperate for a shiny new client. Through Miriam, lawyer–turned–suburban mom and not happy about it, Emily lands mega-model Karolina Hartwell, living in Greenwich, CT, married to a presidential hopeful, and just arrested for DUI with a carload of kids.

Winton, Tim. The Shepherd’s Hut. Farrar. Jun. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9780374262327. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374718169. LITERARY
A stand-out four-time Miles Franklin Award winner, twice short-listed for the Booker, Winton will likely dazzle with this story of life-battered Jaxie Clackton, who leaves behind his father’s violent death for the wilds of Western Australia. He’s barely surviving the brutal saltlands when he realizes that he has a neighbor, a disgraced priest, whom he isn’t sure whether to trust.

Wood, James. Upstate. Farrar. Jun. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9780374279530. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374718206. LITERARY
Having left England to teach philosophy in America, Vanessa has been visited by neither her business-obsessed father nor the sister with whom she feels fiercely competitive. But they both jump on the plane when Vanessa’s new boyfriend reports that she is severely depressed. From New Yorker book critic Woods, questions on why life is so hard for some of us and what’s the best way to live.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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