Always the sleeper month, poised on the edge of beach weather, June often yields the best mix of diverting and satisfying reads. And, this year, they come in pairs. Take the absurdist visions of Etgar Keret and Milan Kundera, or the deep internet excavations of Joshua Cohen and Jamie Bartlett, or the debut fictions of Mia Alvar and Rebecca Dinerstein… June of 2015 strikes the perfect balance ahead of the autumnal slog through literary seriousness.
Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels (Drawn and Quarterly, June 2)
This enormous book doubles as a “thank you letter” to the cartoonists of Drawn & Quarterly, the storied Canadian micro-publisher of many of the world’s best comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. And it features original writing by Margaret Atwood, Sheila Heti, Jonathan Lethem, and others.
The Dark Net, Jamie Bartlett (Melville House, June 2)
Jamie Bartlett’s book arrives with impeccable timing. Now that Ross Ulbricht of the Silk Road faces a life sentence, many readers will be curious about the “trolls, pornographers, drug dealers, hackers, political extremists, Bitcoin programmers, and vigilantes” that populate his world. And Bartlett is the ideal guide: capable and ever-ready to ferry the reader to the dark side of the Internet.
The Sunlit Night, Rebecca Dinerstein (Bloomsbury USA, June 2)
Dinerstein’s debut, which launched a bidding war among U.S. publishers, is the result of time spent on fellowship in the arctic, with its alien sense of day and night. Complete with Balzacian section titles, The Sunlit Night is already being hailed as the work of a “young master.”
The Meursault Investigation, Kamel Daoud (trans. John Cullen) (Other Press, June 2)
Winner of the 2015 Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman (for a first novel), this retelling of Albert Camus’ The Stranger takes the perspective of the anonymous Arab’s brother. Some in France are referring to it as that book’s equal.
The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty, Vendela Vida (Ecco, June 2)
Imagine Marienbad-era Alain Resnais directing a film set in Morocco, and you’ll have something like Vendela Vida’s The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty, an elegant novel of identity and ideas told in the second person.
The Book of Numbers, Joshua Cohen (Random House, June 9)
Inevitably compared to Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, Cohen’s Internet novel is more like Joseph O’Neil’s The Dog mixed with Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island — only it’s better than all of these novels.
In the Country, Mia Alvar (Knopf, June 16)
When Mia Alvar’s In the Country arrives on the scene in mid-June, it will already be indispensable. These nine stories of the Filipino diaspora seem somehow to have always existed.
The Seven Good Years, Etgar Keret (Riverhead, June 16)
Keret is a widely admired novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. Now because of this worldly, absurdist book, he will be a beloved memoirist. The Seven Good Years charts the author’s life from his son’s birth to the death of his father and the (supposedly) little moments in between.
Black Glass, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood/Putnam, June 23)
Fowler, who won last year’s PEN/Faulkner prize, is one of the most dextrous and persistently surprising authors we have. This reissue, which won the 1998 World Fantasy Award, is among her best books.
The Festival of Insignificance, Milan Kundera (Harper, June 23)
An attempt on Kundera’s part to fulfill his lifelong dream of writing a novel “that would have not a single serious word in it,” The Festival of Insignificance is Kundera’s first book since the 2009 essay collection Encounter. And it may be his last. How can you not read it?