Books to Look Out For Out for in July 2023: Part One

July’s the month when holiday reading kicks in with a vengeance in the publishing schedules. There’s some of that in the second part of my July preview but Cover image for Kala by Colin Walshon the whole my taste for what to read when away doesn’t tend to chime with publishers’ suggestions. That said I’m kicking off with a title which might fit the bill for some.

Colin Walsh’s Kala was the subject of the kind of prepublication brouhaha that usually puts me off plus it’s a thriller but Walsh is a Stinging Fly contributor which was enough to make me want to read it. Set in an Irish seaside town, Kala sees three old schoolfriends reunited just before the remains of one of their group are found, unearthed at a building site fifteen years after her disappearance. The discovery sets in train a series of events that reveals who has been controlling the well-established web of corruption and brutality in this picturesque small town. I found Walsh’s debut gripping, a proper literary page-turner with a little bit of The Secret History about it. Review shortly…Cover image for Penzance by Eliza Clark

From one seaside teenage death to another, this time in Cornwall with Eliza Clark’s Penzance, also the subject of much prepublication anticipation. A journalist sets about constructing an account of a murder ten years after the event, piecing together hours of interviews, historical research and correspondence with sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson’s killers. ‘The result is a riveting snapshot of lives rocked by tragedy, and a town left in turmoil. The only question is: how much of it is true?’ asks the blurb. Not entirely sure about this one but it sounds worth a try.

Cover iumage for Crook Manifesto by Colson WhiteheadCrook Manifesto is the sequel to Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle which I still haven’t got around to reading despite a copy sitting patiently on my shelves. Set in 1971 as New York City heads towards bankruptcy, it follows Ray who’s trying to keep on the straight and narrow despite events conspiring against him. ‘In scalpel-sharp prose and with unnerving clarity and wit, Colson Whitehead writes about a city that runs on cronyism, threats, ego, ambition, incompetence and even, sometimes, pride. Crook Manifesto is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Harlem, and a searching portrait of how families work in the face of indifference, chaos and hostility’ say the publishers whetting my appetite nicely.Cover image for Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens

Claudia Cravens’ Lucky Red offers an interesting spin on the Western genre following sixteen-year-old Bridget, orphaned when a rattlesnake gets the better of her father, who lands up in a Dodge City brothel, taking to her work with alacrity then putting everything at risk when she falls hard for a female bounty hunter. Cravens’ story is neatly plotted, its pleasingly clever setup smartly coming together at the end in a satisfying denouement. A thoroughly entertaining yarn which would make a brilliant movie in the right hands. Review to follow..

Cover image for Other Names, Other Places by Ola MustaphaFairlight Books is one of those small indies whose new titles are always worth a look. Their latest is Ola Mustapha’s Other Names, Other Places which follow the young daughter of Tunisian parents now living in London as she struggles to find where she fits in. The arrival of Mrs Brown who becomes friendly with Nessie’s parents eases these tensions until a terrible betrayal results in her disappearance. ‘Years later, Nessie seeks independence but struggles to escape a pattern of self-sabotage. As unsolved family mysteries resurface, she begins to wonder: what really happened between her parents and Mrs Brown?’ according to the blurb.

A new Patrick deWitt is always cause for celebration and Cover image for The LibrarianistThe Librarianist sounds like a treat to me. The titular librarian is Bob Comet, retired and solitary until he begins to volunteer at his local senior centre where he attracts a coterie of eccentrics. Bob may appear a dull man who’s led a quiet life but there’s more to him than might be expected. ‘With his inimitable verve, skewed humor, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert’s condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity’ say the publishers promisingly. Very much like the sound of that.

That’s it for July’s first batch of new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis for any that take you fancy. No more from me for ten days or so as I’ll be heading north on a train very shortly. Too late to be having doubts about the books I’ve packed…

26 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in July 2023: Part One”

  1. I’ve already got The Librarianist on order from the library Currently muddling my way through Fairlight Books’ website. It’s not the most intuitive, is it? An interesting round-up. Thanks.

  2. The Librarianist is going to make it to my list, somehow I haven’t encountered Patrick DeWitt before. Summer reads are not really my bag either but you seem to have still found an interesting selection.

    1. I thought of you when I spotted The Librarianist, Annabel. It’s on NetGalley if you use that. Very much enjoyed Kala and Lucky Red is brilliant. I’d be amazed if you didn’t like it.

  3. Ha ha, yes, civilisation can be found even there 😉 I did my Master’s in Leeds but the town centre will have changed a lot since then. We’re ending a Scottish holiday in Glasgow late this month. An excuse to see the city, which I’ve never really explored before.

    1. Me, neither. Slightly ashamed to say it will only be my third visit to Scotland. From what I’ve seen so far, Leeds civic centre is very grand. Lots of students around enjoying the sun in nearby Park Square.

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