June Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated (This Month)

May 30, 2023 | 5 min read

We wouldn’t dream of abandoning our vast biannual Most Anticipated Book Previews, but we thought a monthly reminder would be helpful (and give us a chance to note titles we missed the first time around). Here’s what we’re looking out for this month. Let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments!

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June 6

The Wind Knows My Namecover by Isabel Allende, translated by Frances Riddle

Allende’s latest traces the effects of war and migration through the story of two children, one in 1938 Europe and the other in the modern-day U.S. A multi-generational tale of survival, sacrifice, and the ceaseless search for home, The Wind Knows My Name is proof that 80-year-old Allende has no intentions of slowing down, and is still at the top of her game—just as she has been for the past 40 years.

Where Are Your Boys Tonight?: The Oral History of Emo’s Mainstream Explosion 1999-2008cover by Chris Payne

Emo exploded just as I gained cultural, so for me and many of my peers emo music was a formative force in our lives, voicing the angst that many of us found ourselves newly harboring as adolescents. So I can’t wait to read Payne’s oral history of the genre, which uses interviews with My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and more to reconstruct emo’s meteoric ascent and profound cultural footprint. —SMS

coverSay Anarcha by J.C. Hallman

Hallman reveals the insidious origins of women’s healthcare with his biography of Anarcha, an enslaved woman who was forced to undergo un-anesthetized surgeries that would eventually save the lives of countless women. While the surgeon who forcibly operated on Anarcha was later touted as a hero, Anarcha vanished from history. Hallman uncovers Anarcha’s life story, painting her as a multifaceted woman as well as a physician in her own right. Marlon James writes: “Say Anarcha is more than a glorious corrective to an unjust erasure of history. It restores an extraordinary life to a time that denied it and refines the very notion of the great American Hero.” —Liv Albright

Happy Stories, Mostlycover by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, translated by Tiffany Tsao

Indonesian author Pasaribu’s short story collection centers on queer characters in speculative stories that explore the universal, yet highly subjective, experience of happiness. In one wild tale, a nun escapes and pursues a less restrictive life; in another, a mother who resents her son’s homosexuality learns to cope with his suicide. Dubbed as “one of the most important Indonesian writers today” by Litro Magazine, Pasaribu is an original new voice to look out for, and Tsao—who translated Budi Darma‘s PEN Translation Prize-winning People from Bloomington—is one of the foremost translators from the Indonesian working today. —LA

They Say Socover by Julia Franks

In 1950s North Carolina, Edie Carrigan becomes pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby. Edie’s unmarried status renders her, in the eyes of the state, ill-equipped to raise a child, and she is thus mandated to hand over her child to the state. Edie tries to seek support from her friend Luce, but Luce turns her back on Edie, until time passes and Luce’s own daughter becomes pregnant. Can these two women overcome their differences and learn to support each other, or will years of separation keep them apart and alone within a culture determined to keep women disconnected and vulnerable? —LA

And Then He Sang a Lullabycover by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

From Roxane Gay’s new imprint comes a queer romance set in Nigeria, where homosexuality is against the law. Meet August, a popular, closeted athlete at the University of Nigeria, who falls for fellow student Segun. Segun is unafraid to express his sexuality and soon becomes the target of homophobic acts of violence. Rumaan Alam calls Somtochukwu’s novel “a damning indictment of the hate and homophobia that are all too prevalent in the modern world.” –LA

June 13

Wannabe: Reckoning with the Pop Culture That Shapes Mecover by Aisha Harris

Harris, host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, always has a take on everything from movies to music to television. Adapting her radio presence into book form, Wannabe sees Harris turning her talents for critique and criticism inward, looking at the media that has shaped her life and examining its effects. From Clueless to the Spice Girls, New Girl to Chance the Rapper, Harris teases out the connections between her identity and her love of pop culture with wit and elan. —SMS

To Name the Bigger Liecover by Sarah Viren

After learning that her own wife has been accused of sexual harassment at the university where they both teach, Viren contemplates the intersections of deception and reality. As she investigates the truth behind the allegations, she interweaves her memories of her magnetic high school teacher who seduced her and her classmates with his profound insights and paranoid speculations. Set against the backdrop of the Trump presidency, this provocative and philosophical examination of authority and the #metoo movement takes a bold new approach to the genre of memoir.

Leg: The Story of a Limb and the Boy Who Grew From itcover june preview by Greg Marshall

Growing up gay in Mormon-country Utah has its challenges, as Marshall describes in his new memoir. But his differences extended even beyond his sexuality: he had mobility challenges from young age, receiving various medical treatments as a child including wheelchair rehabilitation. His mother, who was in and out of chemotherapy, hid the real reason behind Marshall’s visits to the doctor: cerebral palsy. Only as an adult does Marshall learns about his disability. Written with scintillating humor, Marshall has dazzled such writers as Chloé Cooper Jones, who writes: “Greg Marshall’s Leg is a generous gift to readers. It is also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.” —LA

June 20

Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migrationcover june preview by Alejandra Oliva

Oliva is a writer, translator and immigration activist who has translated for people seeking asylum along the US-Mexico border since 2016. In this work of memoir and journalism, which won a 2022 Whiting Nonfiction Award, Oliva describes her experiences of translation, describes her own Mexican-American family’s relationship to the border, and interrogates notions of citizenship and belonging. —Lydia Kiesling

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Homecover june preview by Lorrie Moore

Moore’s first novel since 2009’s A Gate at the StairsI Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home (that title!) is a ghost story set in the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries about grief, devotion, and narrative. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what this book is actually going to be about (the descriptive copy sums up the plot thusly: “A teacher visiting his dying brother in the Bronx. A mysterious journal from the nineteenth century stolen from a boarding house. A therapy clown and an assassin, both presumed dead, but perhaps not dead at all . . .”) but the intrigue makes it all the more anticipated. —SMS

Fresh Dirt from the Gravecover june preview by Giovanna Rivero, translated by Isabel Adey

Bolivian fiction writer Rivero’s latest story collection—which melds gothic horror, folklore, sci-fi, and eroticism—is also her first translated into English. The collection’s standout story explores the serial rapes that rocked a Bolivian Mennonite community in the late aughts, also the subject of Miriam Toews‘s novel Women Talking. In another harrowing story, a man makes a living by acting as a guinea pig for medical experiments, only to find out he is having frightening physical consequences. With compassion and unflinching precision, Rivero sheds light on savage crimes in modern-day Bolivia, while also casting her gaze into the past and future. —LA

The Sullivanians: Sex, Psychotherapy, and the Wild Life of an American Communecover june preview by Alexander Stille

In the 1950s, psychologists Saul Newton and Jane Pearce founded the Sullivan Institute, the goal of which was to eradicate the idealized, white-bread, all-American nuclear family. The duo originated an artists’ colony where celebrated painters like Jackson Pollock practiced free love and creativity along the margins of society. But things took a dangerous turn when Newton’s behavior became violent. Colony members were trapped in the commune, forced to comply with the founders’ commands or otherwise face Newton’s wrath. Journalist Stille offers a rigorous and shocking look into the utopia that never was. —LA

June 27

Directions to Myself: A Memoir of Four Yearscover june preview by Heidi Julavits 

My first introduction to Julavits was 2015’s The Folded Clock, which I read the week after I first moved to New York, back in 2020. I’ve been waiting for her next book ever since. It’s finally here—Directions to Myself sees Julavits studying what she calls “the end times of childhood.” She writes about her son’s upbringing as well as her own to find answers about motherhood, family life, and growing up. George Saunders calls it “an absolute stunner.” I predict I’ll feel the same. —SMS

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