36 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Month: May 2024

Cover of 36 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Month: May 2024


How to Make Your Mother Cry: Fictions by Sejal Shah – May 1 (West Virginia University Press)

“Each sentence is its own jewel box of pleasures and delights. Like works by Sara Ahmed, Audre Lorde, and Claudia Rankine, this groundbreaking collection will be a touchpoint for years and decades to come.” – Rahul Mehta, author of No Other World and Feeding the Ghosts


Pathologies: The Downfall of Johan van Vere de With by Jacob Isräel de Haan (translated by Brian Doyle-Du Breuil) – May 6 (Seagull Books)

One of the first novels to openly explore gay love and eroticism, Pathologies is a lost classic that is now translated into English for the first time. Johan is one of world literature’s most tragic, troubled young heroes, at par with Goethe’s Werther and Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov. His struggle to come to terms with his fantasies and desires—rife with taboos that continue to resonate today—forms the beating heart of this daring novel. Written in De Haan’s precise, lyrical prose, Pathologies has lost none of its force more than a century after it was first published.


Cinema Love by Jiaming Tang – May 7 (Dutton)

“Gentle and fierce, heartbreaking without sacrificing its sense of humor, Jiaming Tang’s Cinema Love perfectly mines the difficult-to-reach space between agony and pleasure. I have never read anything like it, but my most secret parts have always longed to know the hidden truths it reveals. Guided through these shadowy and sorrowful places by Tang’s plush and vivid prose, I found myself breathless until the very end–and even then barely able to exhale. This is the unforgettable work of a patient master.” –Robert Jones, Jr., author of The New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist The Prophets


The Skunks by Fiona Warnick – May 7 (Tin House Books)

“One summer can change everything in The Skunks. A relatable and heartwarming capture of that pivotal coming of age moment in early adulthood when the world is demanding you make declarations about who you are, but you aren’t quite sure yet. Warnick gets at the pangs of awkward encounters, the trials of returning to your hometown, and most of all, finding love within yourself. An inventive new novel that ensures you’ll never think of skunks the same way. A joy to read.” –Chelsea Bieker, author of Godshot and Heartbroke


Perfect Little Angels by Vincent Anioke – May 7 (Arsenal Pulp Press)

In Perfect Little Angels, Vincent Anioke writes with candour and tenderness, deep humanity, and an exacting eye for the details that reveal the inner truths of our lives. He creates a rich and nuanced world, unveiling the dynamics and the emotional and psychological toll of societal and interpersonal brutality, and he breathes life and complexity into his characters–we feel for them, ache for them, and root for them, recognizing ourselves in their struggles for belonging, wholeness, and transcendence. These stories are searing and unforgettable.” –Helen Elaine Lee, author of Pomegranate


Bad Seed: Stories by Gabriel Carle (translated by Heather Houde) – May 7 (Feminist Press)

The visceral, wildly imaginative stories in Bad Seed flick through working-class scenes of contemporary Puerto Rico, where friends and lovers melt into and defy their surroundings–night clubs, ruined streets, cramped rooms with cockroaches moving in the walls. A horny high schooler spends his summer break in front of the TV; a queer love triangle unravels on the emblematic theater steps of the University of Puerto Rico; a group of friends get high and watch San Juan burn from atop a clocktower; an HIV positive college student works the night shift at a local bathhouse. At turns playful and heartbreaking, Bad Seed is the long overdue English-language debut of one of Puerto Rico’s most exciting up-and-coming writers.


How It Works Out by Myriam LaCroix – May 7 (Overlook Press)

“What an audacious, breathtaking, and inspiring debut. The power of this formally innovative and deeply funny book is that everything exists to serve the compassionate heart at its core. Myriam Lacroix’s work is a cause for celebration.” — GEORGE SAUNDERS, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Liberation Day


The Lady Waiting by Magdalena Zyzak – May 7 (Riverhead Books)

“A deliciously madcap, wholly original tale of friendship, lust, and ambition. Zyzak ably explores what it takes to survive in a world turned upside down–and what is lost when one succeeds. I savored every word.” -Kirstin Chen, New York Times-Bestselling author of Counterfeit


The Novices of Lerna by Ángel Bonomini (translated by Jordan Landsman) – May 7 (Transit Books)

The Novices of Lerna introduces the enigmatic fictions of Ángel Bonomini to English readers for the first time. Shot through with wry humor and tender absurdity, these meditations on identity, surveillance, and isolation remain eerily prescient. An overlooked master of Argentine fantastic literature, Ángel Bonomini garnered praise among peers and contemporaries like Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares, before slipping mysteriously into obscurity. Born in Buenos Aires in 1929, Bonomini was forty-three years old in 1972 when he published The Novices of Lerna, the first of four books of short stories he released before his death at age sixty-four.


Pages of Mourning by Diego Gerard Morrison – May 7 (Two Dollar Radio)

“This propulsive novel contains many novels, written ones and unwritten ones, by invented authors as well as marquee names in twentieth-century fiction: Rulfo, García Márquez, Pynchon, Lowry… Places are haunted and rendered so convincingly that, while reading, more than once I had to remind myself I wasn’t in downtown New York; the subway in Mexico City; a farm on the Mexican Pacific coast; a coffee estate in, of all places, Comala… Diego Gerard Morrison has written a glorious kaleidoscope of a book in which the roads to artificial paradises lead to hell. When the dead are as restless as the living, how do we mourn them?” –Mónica de la Torre, author of Repetition 19


A Professional Lola by E. P. Tuazon – May 7 (Red Hen Press)

A Professional Lola is a collection of short stories that blend literary fiction with the surreal to present the contemporary Filipino American experience and its universal themes of love, family, and identity. A family hires an actress to play their beloved grandmother at a party; a couple craving Filipino food rob a panaderya; a coven of Filipino witches cast a spell on their husbands; a Lolo transforms into a Lola. These are just a few of the stories in the collection that represent its roster of stories beautifully grounded in culture and vividly and meticulously painted to make the absurd seem mundane and the commonplace, sinister. A Professional Lola embodies the joy, mystery, humor, sadness, hunger, and family that inhabit modern-day Filipino American virtues.


The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley – May 7 (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster)

The Ministry of Time is as electric, charming, whimsical, and strange as its ripped-from-history cast. (Extremely.) I loved every second I spent wrapped up in Kaliane Bradley’s stunning prose, the moments that made me laugh and those that made my heart ache. This is a book that surprises as much as it delights, and I’m already impatiently waiting for whatever Bradley concocts next.” –Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Happy Place


We Were the Universe by Kimberly King Parsons – May 14 (Knopf Publishing Group)

We Were the Universe is a grief-and-lust-and-breastmilk saturated psychedelic journey, a story told in the eternal present of an acid trip and the spiraling everyday life of a young Texan mother, pushing her daughter’s stroller around an unspeakable loss. This novel is a tonal masterpiece, a record I want to spin forever, and I feel so lucky that I can return to its deep magic.” —Karen Russell, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Swamplandia!


Nothing’s Ever the Same by Cyn Vargas – May 14 (Tortoise Books)

“With a keen sense of observation and a sharp sense of humor, Cyn Vargas fully inhabits the voice of Itzel, the narrator of Nothing’s Ever the Same. A moving story of family and the ways we hurt and survive one another, Nothing’s Ever the Same is like Itzel herself: smart, funny, poignant, and real. With this heartfelt novella, Cyn Vargas reminds readers once again why she was named “A Writer to Watch” by Chicago’s Guild Literary Complex. Watch her; read her.”

— Patricia Ann McNair, author of Responsible Adults


Woodworm by Layla Martinez (translated by Sophie Hughes and Annie McDermott) – May 14 (Two Lines Press)

“A house of women and shadows, built from poetry and revenge. Layla Martínez’ tense, chilling novel tells a story of specters, class war, violence, and loneliness, as naturally as if the witches had dictated this lucid, terrible nightmare to Martínez themselves.” –Mariana Enriquez, author of Our Share of Night


All Fours by Miranda July – May 14 (Riverhead Books)

A semi-famous artist announces her plan to drive cross-country, from LA to NY. Thirty minutes after leaving her husband and child at home, she spontaneously exits the freeway, checks into a nondescript motel, and immerses herself in an entirely different journey. Miranda July’s second novel confirms the brilliance of her unique approach to fiction. With July’s wry voice, perfect comic timing, unabashed curiosity about human intimacy, and palpable delight in pushing boundaries, All Fours tells the story of one woman’s quest for a new kind of freedom. Part absurd entertainment, part tender reinvention of the sexual, romantic, and domestic life of a forty-five-year-old female artist, All Fours transcends expectation while excavating our beliefs about life lived as a woman.


Monarch: Stories by Emily Jon Tobias – May 17 (Black Lawrence Press)

“This remarkable debut collection that traverses many of the parts of America that are unseen, or at least, unseen in this way, and gives us a wealth of material to engage with and themes that make a collection worth biting into—loyalty, betrayal, happiness and deep sorrow, addiction and victory and a reclamation of selves against the nearly impossible grind of modern American life.” —Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas


Perfume and Pain by Anna Dorn – May 21 (Simon & Schuster)

Perfume & Pain combines the very best impulses of pulp fiction (dysfunction, drama, deception) with Anna’s signature whip-smart, fearless style. Darkly funny and careening down every perverted, doomed spiral, this is the funniest novel of the year and Dorn’s best yet. Light on its feet yet endlessly probing, Perfume & Pain is as sharp as it is delicious.” –JENNY FRAN DAVIS, author of Dykette


Kittentits by Holly Wilson – May 21 (Zando – Gillian Flynn Books)

Kittentits is a bizarro wonderland of a book, a tasty kaleidoscopic freak show that will remind readers of a marvelously raunchy Katherine Dunn. The novel is just as much fun as it is juicy and disturbed–I enjoyed every wild and frenzied minute of it.” –Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of With Teeth


Exhibit by R. O. Kwon – May 21 (Riverhead Books)

Exhibit is sensational – a novel that’s both intimate and operatic, singular and world-encompassing. Kwon’s prose is soulful and piercing, chronicling the many ways we lose and find ourselves, blending love and sex and fables between the infinite folds that encompass desire. Exhibit is entirely captivating, and Kwon is truly masterful; it’s a book for the mind and the heart and the body, an actual tour de force.” –Bryan Washington, bestselling author of Family Meal and Memorial


Knife River by Justine Champine – May 28 (Dial Press)

“To say Justine Champine is an original would be a dramatic understatement. With the wry, crackling humor of Sally Rooney and Otessa Moshfegh, and a grip on the darkest, prickliest corners of consciousness, Champine will be read and championed as one of the greats, a Gaitskill of this generation, though completely singular in vision, skill, and the oneiric atmosphere of her stories. I’ve been waiting a decade for Champine’s debut, and I’m thrilled it’s here in Knife River, with all of her magic tricks on display. Champine writes dykes, outsiders, and desire like no one else; her work is a discovery, a marvel, a transcendence.”–T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls


I’m a Fool to Want You By Camila Sosa Villada (translated by Kit Maude)

“Camila Sosa Villada is an international treasure, a visionary writer of astounding originality and power. With I’m a Fool to Want You, she delivers another masterpiece: stories that thrill, delight, and shake the very world as we know it with their art and ferocity, their grit and grace, their extraordinary range. Latin American literature, queer and trans literature, and all of literature will never be the same. A triumph, a wonder, and a joy to read.” —Caro De Robertis, author of The Palace of Eros and Cantoras


The Default World by Naomi Kanakia – May 28 (Amethyst Editions)

The Default World is the best sort of novel, one where you fall in love with every one of the tragic, flawed characters, all of them in the midst of great change. And one which ends, as all novels probably should, with an apocalyptic, disastrous sex party! I loved reading this book not only for its story and characters but because it felt deeply honest to me. I was immersed in its world, and recommend it to everyone.” –Matthew Zapruder, author of Story of a Poem


Ninetails: Nine Tales by Sally Wen Mao – May 28 (Penguin Books)

“What I love most about Ninetails is its fierce allegiance to underdogs of all kinds, its careful and myriad empathy for its characters, but also its pure and artisanal delight in language and fictive possibilities. It marks, to my mind, the beginning of a poet’s long and potent exploration in literature’s most capacious genre. And it’s a welcomed sight to see.” –Ocean Vuong, New York Times-bestselling author of On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous and Time is a Mother


Non-Fiction & Poetry 


Gospel of a Whole Sun by Katerina Jeng – May 7 (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Gospel of a Whole Sun is a moving collection of poetry chronicling one woman’s journey of self-discovery over the course of three pivotal years. It documents the aftermath of a traumatic breakup, navigating anti-Asian violence during a global pandemic, coming out, and, ultimately, falling in love with life again. A joyous and inspired debut from a gifted creator and healer, Gospel of a Whole Sun is a poignant look at the relationship of art-making to personal liberation.


First Love: Essays on Friendship by Lilly Dancyger – May 7 (Dial Press)

“What if our first and deepest female friendships were the real love stories? Lilly Dancyger’s First Love inhabits the space between young women before their bodies, identities, ideas, and dreams get sucked into the social void of commodity and objectification. Like the moment just before capturing a photograph, female friendships in these stories are their own ontology, a magical space of being where anything is possible. It’s a dazzling array of essays.”–Lidia Yuknavitch, bestselling author of Thrus


Sluts: Anthology Edited by Michelle Tea – May 7 (Dopamine/Semiotext(e))

SLUTS, the first publication from vulgarian queer publisher DOPAMINE BOOKS, is an exploration of what it means to be sexually promiscuous in contemporary American culture. Featuring personal essays, spilled secrets, fiction, memoir, and experimental works, SLUTS asks writers and readers to investigate the many ways the notion of the slut impacts our inner and outer lives, as a threat or an identity, a punishment or an aspiration, a lifestyle, an aesthetic, a philosophy and rallying cry. From hideous and terrifying first encounters to postapocalyptic polyamory, from unionizing sex workers to backstage tableaux of sex and drugs and rock and roll, SLUTS‘s stories probe the liberating highs and abject lows of physical abandon.


Black Meme: A History of the Images That Make Us by Legacy Russell – May 7 (Verso)

“Unsettles, expands and deepens our understanding of the black meme. At the center of this book is work. How black bodies, divorced from context and circulating, are made to do all kinds of cultural work in perpetuity. Throughout, Russell stays with black/ness as viral material, encourages us to consider memes with “slowness,” and wonders what might intervene in and end this perpetual labor. Black Meme is necessary reading; brilliant and utterly convincing” –Christina Sharpe, author of Ordinary Notes


The Way You Make Me Feel: Love in Black and Brown by Nina Sharma – May 7 (Penguin Press)

“Nina Sharma is an ardent, fiercely intelligent explorer of American life in all its hybrid complexity. Indian American and African American worlds collide and collaborate; so do love and anger, art and politics, fear and ambition, grief and wit. ‘Collection’ is too temperate a word for these essays: each is an act in a suspenseful, still-unfolding play.” –Margo Jefferson, author of Constructing a Nervous System


Love Is a Burning Thing: A Memoir by Nina St Pierre – May 7 (Dutton)

“This book is like molten lava rushing down a slope, burning away everything in its path: dangerous and wild and unstoppable, and awe-strikingly beautiful. Love is a Burning Thing is a testament to the life-defining and sometimes life-shattering mother-daughter bond; a free dive into the depths of mysticism and mental illness, and the slippery, disorienting spaces where they overlap; an indictment of systems that leave the most vulnerable to fend for themselves; and a record of a self-determined, wise, embodied creative life rising from ashes–literally.” –Lilly Dancyger, author of Negative Space and the First Love


Exit the Body by Heather Bartel – May 14 (Split/Lip Press)

In Exit the Body, Heather Bartel makes an offering-as-essay-collection, if a collection of essays can include a tarot reading, a one-act starring dead and dreamed women, conversations with Sylvia Plath through a mirror, and letters to a living ghost. ​A dance with illusion and choice, Exit the Body is a meditation on the mind and its place within the body: what escapes, what ruptures, what is created, what echoes, and where we find ourselves on the other side.


Another Word for Love: A Memoir by Carvell Wallace – May 14 (MCD)

“Carvell Wallace’s devastating book vibrates with a rare power–the kind of power that will help save lives. Because not only is it a brilliant evocation of the effects of marginalization on generation after generation, it is the story of how hope persists, and nourishes, despite what has come before. An unforgettable treatise on pain–and love. This book is a gift.” –Hilton Als, author of My Pinup


A Mouth Holds Many Things Edited by Dao Strom and Jyothi Natarajan – May 14 (Poets & Writers)

A Mouth Holds Many Things collects hybrid-literary works from 36 women and nonbinary BIPOC writer-artists. Spanning experimental poetry and prose, image-text, collage, performance text, AI-generated writing, and more, this ground-breaking full-color print volume illuminates and expands the interstitial spaces where text blends, blurs, and morphs with visual and other media.


Magical/Realism: Essays on Music, Memory, Fantasy, and Borders by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal – May 14 (Tiny Reparations Books)

“A stunning, provocative, and essential book that lights up the mind. Villarreal’s ferocious imagination is matched only by a roving intellect and so much heart that these essays will stay with you for a long time after reading. One of my favorite nonfiction collections of the past decade.” –Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times bestselling author


Fake Piñata by Ashleah Gonzales – May 21 (Rose Books)

In this debut collection, Ashleah Gonzales cuts open and examines the pieces of a life as they fall. Hands full of rotten oranges, promises to ancestors, lost secrets, empty days in Paris—they begin to add up to “an eternity that’s entirely mine.” These poems sting with tenderness, intimacy, and a longing to find a place that finally feels like home.


The Story Game by Shze-Hui Tjoa – May 21 (Tin House Books)

“Shze-Hui Tjoa’s The Story Game is a patient excavation of selves: not the I of today, but the version before and the one before that, flawed and flawing, all the way back to childhood, reaching through history and memory to dust free so many cruel reflections. Ardently exquisite, Shze-Hui Tjoa tenders astonishment with blushing tenacity.” –Lily Hoàng, author of A Bestiary


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