Yes, it’s that time of the week again: Wednesday is New Releases day! As it is the first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be looking at the new fiction releases, as per usual. Other new releases of June 2017 can be found by genre right here on Goodreads.
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Publication date: June 6th 2017
The engine of Roy’s story is a hijra (India’s third gender) named Anjum, and the story begins with her unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. Anjum’s charisma draws a vibrant assemblage of outcasts to join her–other hijras, Kashmiri freedom fighters, activists, orphans, low-caste Hindus and Muslims, and a host of animals. Anjum’s home is a place where the formerly unwanted embrace each other’s true selves. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her, including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover. Their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo’s landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul, and then we meet the two Miss Jebeens. The first is a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard. The second is found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi. As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication date: June 13th 2017
Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendour of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.
- The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro
Publication date: June 6th 2017
It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island. Ravenous caterpillars disrupt early summer serenity on Avalon, an islet off the coast of Long Island–dropping onto novels left open on picnic blankets, crawling across the T-shirts of children playing games of tag and capture the flag in the island’s leafy woods. The caterpillars become a relentless topic of island conversation and the inescapable soundtrack of the season. It is also the summer Leslie Day Marshall—only daughter of Avalon’s most prominent family—returns with her husband, a botanist, and their children to live in “The Castle,” the island’s grandest estate. Leslie’s husband Jules is African-American, and their children bi-racial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals. Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island’s bread-and-butter and birthplace of generations of bombers and war machines. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie’s and Jules’ son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. Could Grudder Aviation, the pride of the island—and its patriarch, the Colonel—be to blame? As the gypsy moths burst from cocoons in flocks that seem to eclipse the sun, Maddie’s and Brooks’ passion for each other grows and she begins planning a life for them off Avalon Island.
- The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance. Written with emotional insight and stunning prose, The Confusion of Languages is a shattering portrait of a collision between two women and two worlds, as well as a poignant glimpse into the private lives of American military families living overseas.
- The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
Publication date: June 13th 2017
Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. Just because twins look exactly the same doesn’t mean they’re anything alike–and Tabitha and Harper Frost have spent their whole lives trying to prove this point. When a family crisis forces them to band together–or at least appear to–the twins come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the resentments that have driven them apart.
This week, I’m adding none of these books to my to-read list. I was going to see that I was adding “nothing”, but that’s not true. I always stumble upon interesting things to read that get added to my list. But as far as this top 5 goes, I won’t be adding any of them. I’m not much into Indian stories, especially these human/hopeful ones that sees a band of ragtag people band together, so number one is off the list. I guess if I’d had to choose, I would be reading number 2 since Evelyn’s life sounds quite interesting – but I don’t much like all of the implied mysteries. The third one sounds like one of those small city family dramas with race-issues thrown in – meh. At first sight, I loved number four, purely because of the title, but I feel like the story is more about culture clashes than languages, so that one’s out too. And the fifth story is probably a good summer-read: two sisters that can’t stand each other being forced together because of family circumstances who re-examine their lives. To me, it just sounds so “been there, done that” that it doesn’t entice me to read.
So in conclusion, none of these books really spurred me to read them. So I’m not going to, my to-read list is long enough as it is. Which ones sparked your interest?