Books to Look Out For Out for in May 2024: Part One

Cover image for Moon Road by Sarah LeipcigerI’m beginning May’s first batch of new fiction with a novel I dived into as soon as I spotted it on NetGalley having loved the author’s previous two books. Sarah Leipciger returns to her native Canada for Moon Road, the story of a missing girl and her parents who receive news decades after she disappeared. Yannick has remarried several times since Una went missing but Kathleen has remained alone, reluctantly agreeing to travel with him to talk to the police in Vancouver where Una had been living. Although we discover what happened to Una, Leipciger’s novel is about her parents rather than her, portraying the upending of their lives by a loss that has never been resolved with a touching compassion and tenderness. Leipciger’s writing is as striking as I remembered from The Mountain Can Wait and Coming Up for Air. A novel to savour and return to. Review shortly…Cover image for A Perfect Day to Be Alone by Nanae Aoyama

Nanae Aoyama’s A Perfect Day to Be Alone spans a year in which twenty-year-old Chizu lives with her elderly distant relative. Nothing much happens in Aoyama’s understated novella, narrated in Chizu’s laconic, deadpan voice, but her protagonist changes a great deal in the year she spends with Ginko. Chizu finds herself astonished that older people might fall in love albeit with less obsessive passion than she does with the handsome Fujita. Beneath her apparent uncaring persona lies a vulnerable young woman, keen to grow a thick skin to protect herself from hurt, an idea Ginko gently dismisses. A quiet, enjoyable coming-of-age novel, inevitably compared with Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman in the blurb. Review soon…

Cover image for Great Expectations by Vinson CunninghamVinson Cunningham’s debut, Great Expectations, follows a young man as he becomes a part of the campaign which results in the election of the country’s first Black president. What he experiences during the eighteen months that take the candidate from the Senate to the White House leads him to reassess his own life and identity as a Black man in America. ‘Meditating on politics and politicians, religion and preachers, fathers and family, Great Expectations is both an emotionally resonant coming-of-age story and a rich novel of ideas, marking the arrival of a major new writer’ which sounds like catnip for me. I’m sure I’m not the only one dreading this year’s American presidential campaign.Cover image for The Ministry of Time by Kalianne Bradley

I have my doubts about Kaliane Bradley’s The Ministry of Time which is quite some way outside my usual reading territory but a host of starry names from Max Porter to Elinor Catton seem to love it. A civil servant is recruited to take part in a project to test the limits of time-travel, gathering in several historical figures including Commander Graham Gore who’s a wee bit surprised to be alive in the here and now having died as part of Sir John Franklin’s Arctic expedition in 1847. A love affair ensues, apparently. You can see why I might have doubts…

Cover image for All Fours by Miranda JulyMiranda July’s second novel, All Fours, sees a forty-five-year-old ‘semi-famous’ artist ensconce herself in a motel after announcing her plan to drive across the US, leaving her husband and child behind in their LA home. ‘With July’s wry voice, perfect comic timing, unabashed curiosity about human intimacy and palpable delight in pushing boundaries, All Fours tells the story of one woman’s quest for a new kind of freedom’ says the blurb. Not entirely sure about this one, either.Cover image for The SafeKeep by Yael Van der Wouden

Yael Van der Wouden’s The Safekeep is set in a rural Dutch province in 1961 where Isabel is living a settled life alone in her late mother’s house until her brother installs his new girlfriend for the summer. Eva provokes Isabel’s fury with her disruptive behaviour which turns to paranoia when things begin to go missing then, unexpectedly, to desire. ‘The war might not be well and truly over after all, and neither Eva – nor the house in which they live – are what they seem’ according to the blurb hinting at a dark secret or two.

Cover image for This Strange Eventful History by Claire MessudClaire Messud’s This Strange Eventful History begins in 1940 with Paris about to fall to the Germans. Gaston Cassar has been posted to Salonica hoping that he will eventually be reunited with his family when the war is over. ‘A work of breathtaking historical sweep and vivid psychological intimacy, This Strange Eventful History charts the Cassars’ unfolding story as its members move between Salonica and Algeria, the US, Cuba, Canada, Argentina, Australia and France – their itinerary shaped as much by a search for an elusive wholeness, as by the imperatives of politics, faith, family, industry and desire’ says the blurb rather grandly but a new novel from Messud is always worth investigating.

That’s it for May’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. Part two soon…

39 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in May 2024: Part One”

  1. I’m pretty excited for the Miranda July, I loved The First Bad Man so I’m hopeful for this one. The Ministry of Time book sounds not too far adrift from the (rather fun) Spanish TV show of the same name. The Messud looks pretty interesting as well.
    Always a fascinating selection.

  2. Thank you for an introduction to new writers, quite eclectic. Some of them sound like they are worth exploring. The Messud book, although its fiction sounds a little bit like Hadley Freeman’s non-fiction book House of Glass, which I found riveting.

    1. You’re welcome. Always enjoy putting these posts together. I’ve liked several of Messud’s previous novels so will get round to this one eventually, I’m sure.

  3. I heard the author talk about The Ministry of Time at the Women’s Prize Live event last summer and I’m Intrigued enough to have requested it on NetGalley. If I don’t enjoy I can always turn back time and unrequest it 🙂

  4. I’ve actually read really good things about The Ministry of Time, and it was already on my radar. I’m also keen to get hold of Great Expectations!

  5. I’m attracted to Moon Road but having just read Gone..another novel about the effects of a disappearance..afraid that it may be another study in unrelenting sorrow…

    1. I can see that you would feel that. Inevitably, there is sadness in Moon Road but it’s more about the relationship between Yannick and Kathleen, and the people that they’ve become.

      1. Novellas are very welcome. I struggled over downloading but luckily mixed up my dates and didn’t end up taking a review copy of stories set in the Indian state of Meghalaya which I every much wanted to read, only the book was 1000 + pages which I was certainly not up for.

          1. Exactly–I spent too much time wondering how I would read it, luckily they took it off the catalogue. I might get a physical copy at some point to work through at my own pace.

  6. Moon Road sounds promising – I shall await your review. But the one that appeals most is The Ministry of Time, which could be great if it’s done well!

  7. I’ll make a mental note of a few of these as possible options for my subscription readers, once they’re out in paperback. (And they should have been widely reviewed by then, which often makes it easier to find the right match!)

  8. This is such an excellent sounding selection, there are at least four there that I really like the sound of. Great Expectations sounds very interesting considering the US election later this year.

Leave a comment ...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.