Books to Look Out For Out for in August 2023

Cover image for Tom Lake by Ann PatchettWe’re in summer reading territory for this preview with the holiday season in full swing but there are still some gems to be found in the schedules starting with a big shiny one. I knew there was a new Ann Patchett on the horizon but wasn’t entirely sure of its publication date so when a proof of Tom Lake turned up out of the blue I was thrilled. It’s set on a Michigan fruit farm where Lara is entertaining her daughters with the story of her youth as they help to bring in the cherry harvest during the first summer of the pandemic. All three daughters are entranced by the idea of their mother having a life before them despite knowing bits and pieces about her brief acting career and her relationship with the man who became an Oscar-winning movie star. Unsurprisingly, I practically inhaled this one. Review shortly…Cover iumage for Lazy City by Rachel Connolly

Another month, another novel about a young Irish woman trying to find her way in life, this one grieving the death of her best friend in Rachel Connolly’s Lazy City. Erin has come home to Belfast from London, spending nights in the bar where an old friend works where she meets an American academic also at a loss. ‘Lazy City explores coming of age in a place where everyone is picking up the pieces and belongs to a generation that, at the precipice of climate crisis, isn’t going to get the future it was expecting. A startlingly fresh and original voice – jarringly funny, sometimes cranky, often hungover – Rachel Connolly sharply depicts the strange, meandering aftermath that follows disaster’ says the blurb which sounds like an interesting take on a well worn theme.

Cover image for I Will Greet the Sun Again by Kashayar J. KabushubaniComing of age is also the theme in Khashayar J. Khabushani’s quietly beautiful I Will Greet the Sun Again which follows K, the youngest of three sons born to a coercive father and hardworking mother living in California whose marriage is strained to breaking point. Their father whisks the boys off to his ancestral home in Iran without warning, sending them back on their own to pick up the pieces of their lives, months later. There’s a great deal of heartbreak for K but his brothers’ support helps him emerge from the long shadow his father has cast. A quietly impressive debut, well worth looking out for. Review soon… Cover image for Cheri by Jo Ann Beard

The eponymous protagonist of Jo Ann Beard’s Cheri is dying from the cancer she was diagnosed with many years ago. She spends her final weeks, traveling across the country with her beloved daughters and friends, remembering her childhood and soaking up the beauty of autumn. ‘A masterpiece of fiction and memory, Cheri is a heart-breaking but glorious celebration of all the moments of beauty and pain that make an individual life, right up until its very last moments’ according to the blurb. I’m anticipating a tough read with this one but it sounds well worth it.

Cover image for The Applicant by Nazli KocaNazli Koca’s The Applicant follows a left-leaning Turkish student, cleaning toilets in Berlin while she awaits a decision on her visa, who falls in love with a right-wing Swedish tourist, despite the political chasm that divides them. ‘Written in wry, propulsive diary form and with probing self-reflection, Koca radically and courageously explores one’s place in a deeply uncertain world, examining the bounds of state violence and self-destruction, of social dissociation and intense familial love. The Applicant is a stunning dissection of a liminal life lived between borders and identities’ according to the blurb. I’m intrigued by that opposites attract set-up.Cover image for Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo

Veronica Raimo’s Lost on Me sees Vero, the daughter of a somewhat neurotic family, first attempting to run away from home, aged fifteen, then moving into an older boyfriend’s house after just one week together. Eyes set on travelling to Mexico, she sets up a street clothing store, before becoming a writer while continuing to fall in love with all and sundry. ‘Narrated in a voice as wryly ironic as it is warm and affectionate, Lost on Me seductively explores the slippery relationship between deceitfulness and creativity (beginning with Vero’s first artistic achievement: a painting she steals from a school classmate and successfully claims as her own). Deceptively simple, its tenderness offset by moments of cool brutality, Lost on Me is a masterwork of human observation’ says the blurb, whetting my appetite nicely.

Cover image for Cleaner by Brandi WellsThe narrator of Brandi Wells’ Cleaner works the night shift, cleaning an office block, giving the occupants of her favourite floor nicknames reflecting the personalities she assigns them while adjusting their desks in ways she thinks will help their work along. She’s a woman of very strong opinions, taking increasingly baroque revenge on those who offend her. An entertaining novel, if a bit too long, with a satisfying ending and a salutary message: we don’t give enough time or attention to those who quietly do the dirty work, cleaning up the mess we leave behind us. Review to follow… Cover image for Normal RTules Don't Apply by Kate Atkinson

August’s short story collection is Kate Atkinson’s Normal Rules Don’t Apply whose title gives us a hint that the contents are unlikely to be straightforward. ‘Witty and wise, with subtle connections between the stories, Normal Rules Don’t Apply is a startling, and funny feast for the imagination. In Kate Atkinson’s world nothing is over until the talking dog speaks’ say the publishers. The blurb also mentions a talking horse which would usually have me running screaming for the exit but it’s Kate Atkinson so I will, of course, give it a try.

That’s it for August’s new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more. Paperbacks soon…

30 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in August 2023”

  1. Beauteous Patchett cover. I’m also quite interested by Lost On Me (wondering if the closeness of the name “Vero” to the author’s name, Veronica, is coincidental or not…)

  2. I cannot wait for Ann’s book and I am also interested in Cleaner. Thank you for sharing these reviews.

  3. Lazy City sounds interesting, and I really like the cover. Do you think you’ll read it, Susan? As you say, there are lots of Irish women writing novels in this vein at the moment, but the climate crisis element might give it a different edge…

  4. I have been eyeing two of these on NetGalley but have been able to exercise restraint so far but The Applicant and Cleaner from your list are certainly jumping out at me, and I think will make their way onto the TBR when I come across a copy!

    1. NetGalley is very seductive, isn’t it. I did find Cleaner a bit too long but I liked the premise and certainly the idea that we should value the people who clear up after us. Keen to read The Applicant.

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