The booksellers who sit on the selection committee for our Discover Great New Writers program really knocked it out of the park with our Summer 2018 list. Here are fifteen novels and seven standout works of nonfiction that wowed us and broke our hearts (sometimes in the same sentence); twenty-two books publishing between April and August that we can’t stop thinking about, because the writing is just that sharp and snappy and good and the narrative voice just that unforgettable.
(And this is the same team of booksellers who tapped Spring ’18 picks The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin; The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn; Heart Berries, by Teresa Mailhot; and Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover, so…)
If you love stories about family and identity, start with Fatima Farheen Mizra’s stunning debut, A Place for Us, a beautiful story of love, identity, and belonging. In July, road trip with unexpected—and delightful—company in America for Beginners, by Leah Franqui. Lucy Tan’s What We Were Promised is a luminous debut novel that asks: What happens after the American Dream fails and the prodigal son returns home, family in tow? Set against a backdrop of unspeakable violence in 1990s Colombia, and told from the perspectives of two young girls, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is inspired by the author’s own life. Tommy Orange’s There, There is fierce and wild and wonderful, digging deep into a world few have encountered, that of Native Americans on urban soil.
Journalist Alex Wagner’s family history is complicated, but her memoir Futureface is smart, sharp, and wonderfully wry. Tessa Fontaine’s worst nightmare is coming true: her mother is dying, but what Tessa does in response is an incredible call to face your fears in The Electric Woman. Darnell L. Moore’s beautiful and deeply honest memoir about his own coming of age and coming out, No Ashes in the Fire, had us in tears more than once. Like Paul Kalanthi’s When Breath Becomes Air, The Inward Empire is an incredible, and elegantly written, story of life and death and fatherhood. New York of the 1970s and ’80s looms large in fiction and in movies, but for Amanda Stern, her panic disorder loomed even larger; Little Panic is a memoir of mental illness written with a gentle hand and terrific sense of humor.
What if your friends (and frenemies) are your family? There is, as one of our bookseller reviewers said, “WOW on every page” in The Ensemble, the story of four friends bound by their art and their ambition in this striking debut. Do you miss Friday Night Lights? Stephen Markley’s debut novel, Ohio, plunged us into small-town America, in a story of four classmates returning to their Rust Belt hometown in the wake of the Great Recession that shocked and amazed us. Social Creature is Gossip Girl meets The Talented Mr. Ripley, a Tangerine (Discover Spring ’18) for the digital age, but it’s not the only thriller we’re featuring for Summer 2018. Bearskin, by James A. McLaughlin, is a classic slow-burn story of man vs. nature and a perfect blend of gorgeous prose and narrative tension. Sex Money Murder is a heart-stopping true story of gangs and drugs and justice that reads like a crime novel by Richard Price.
We love the impossible and the improbable, magical and haunting stories like The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry; The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler; and The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. In What Should be Wild, by Julia Fine, Maisie is a girl born with an extraordinary power, and when her father disappears, she sets off into the wild woods to find him. The Poppy War is a cinematic story that reads like a fantastic mashup of Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy and the best Shaolin action film and features a smart, sharp heroine. If you only had 100 words a day, what would you do to be heard? Mark your calendars now for August 21st and Christina Dalcher’s Vox.
In the midst of a terrible drought, the bees are dying, and a woman opens her failing farm to outsiders in hopes of saving it. But like The Lightkeepers, by Abby Geni; Euphoria, by Lily King; and State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett, nothing is quite what is seems in The Honey Farm. If you loved A Man Called Ove, don’t miss the wildly imaginative and darkly comic novel Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, which features matter-of-fact Maud Drennan and her elderly charge, Mr. Flood. Dear Mrs. Bird is straight-up comedy, a coming of age with heart, in which a young woman becomes a secret advice columnist in WWII-era London.
And, there’s this, the memoir that made us want to pull up stakes and move to France: Killing It: An Education, by Camas Davis. It is, as one Discover reader said, “Eat, Pray, Love with pigs.”
We hope you love the Summer 2018 Discover picks as much as we do.