Paperbacks to Look Out For in June 2024: Part One

The first instalment of June’s paperbacks includes three tried and tested titles, two of which made it on to my books of last year list, beginning with one by a Cover image for Tom Lake by Ann Patchettfavourite writer of mine. If you’re on the lookout for intelligent summer reading Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake is just the ticket. 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. For Lara, that summer is a small part of the happy life she’s led but for her daughters her story is a revelation. As ever, Patchett is the consummate storyteller, her novel immersive and involving.
Cover image for The Fire by Daniela Krien

Daniela Krien’s The Fire more than lived up to expectations raised by Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything back in 2015 and Love in Five Acts, one of my books of 2021. It explores a long marriage at a point of crisis over three summer weeks spent housesitting in the countryside during which the question of paternity, something that has long haunted Rahel, looms large. Nothing much happens in this novella which lays bare our need to know who we are and our interconnectedness with those with whom we share our lives but by the end much has been resolved. All three of the novels I’ve read by Krien have been characterised by a quietly perceptive understanding of human nature and relationships, each of them expertly translated by Jamie Bulloch.

Cover image for Four Seasons in JapanNick Bradley’s second novel, Four Seasons in Japan, sees a young translator whose appetite for life is ebbing away, becoming captivated by an abandoned book she finds on the subway, transported by the story of a young man sent to live with the grandmother he barely knows when he fails his medical exams. When her editor shares her enthusiasm, she’s determined to find the author. Bradley’s a dab hand at intricately structuring novels as the cleverly interlocking narratives of his debut The Cat and the City demonstrated. This new one is a novel within a novel with a third story woven through, a tricky device which Bradley handles beautifully. Cover image for I Am Homeless If This is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore

It’s been quite some time since Lorrie Moore’s last novel, the much acclaimed A Gate on the Stairs. Sporting a gorgeous cover, her new one, I am Homeless If This is Not My Home, follows Finn, horrified by the state of his country and on an enforced break from his job teaching history while his brother lies dying in a hospice. The phone call that interrupts his reverie with a jolt ‘will prompt a questioning of life and death, grief and the past, comedy and tragedy, and the diaphanous separations that lie between them all’ says the blurb promisingly.

Cover iumage for The Story of the Forest by Linda GrantLinda Grant’s The Story of the Forest follows Mina who in 1913 becomes involved with a group of revolutionaries resulting in her fleeing the Baltic to begin a new life in Liverpool, later passing on tales of her native land to the next generation. ‘From the flour mills of Latvia to Liverpool suburbia to post-war Soho, The Story of the Forest is about myths and memory and about how families adapt in order to survive. It is a story full of the humour and wisdom we have come to relish from this wonderful writer’ says the blurb. I’ve enjoyed several of Grant’s previous novels.Cover image for Elsewhere by Yan Ge

June’s first paperback short story collection comes garlanded with praise from all sorts of starry names, from Sarah Hall to Madeleine Thien. According to the blurb, Yan Ge’s Elsewhere explores the theme of isolation, ranging far and wide from Dublin to China with a touch of the surreal here and there. ‘These are strange and beguiling stories of dispossession, longing and the diasporic experience.’ say the publishers which sounds right up my alley.

That’s it for the first batch of June paperbacks. A click on a title will take you to either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with new fiction it’s here and here. Part two soon…

33 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For in June 2024: Part One”

  1. Love the cover for Elsewhere.
    Will look out for the Krien – I enjoyed Love in Five Acts.
    The Moore looks interesting as well – will await your review!

    1. Same image as the initial publication but a much more eye-catching colour! Krien’s such an interesting writer. She explores similar themes of identity to Jenny Erpenbeck

  2. Loved Tom Lake though I preferred the typography on the hardback edition to that new look paperback. I was impressed by Ge’s Strange Beasts of China so I might check out Elsewhere.

  3. I’m about to read Tom Lake (in hardback from the library, but still) and can’t wait! The other one of these that I’ve read is the Lorrie Moore, which didn’t do it for me in any way, though others may feel differently.

  4. I love Linda Grant, and have read most of her books so I will be looking out for this new one. I didn’t find Tom Lake as strong as other Patchett books. I have just finished reading her older award winning Bel Canto, which was so good, with really good characterization and storytelling. I really liked Lorrie Moore’s book, although it is a bit whimsical and not to everyone’s taste. But I am a fan of Moore’s work. Some great recommendations for the June summer time Susan.

    1. It’s a great month with another very promising batch of titles to come. I wondered if the Grant might draw on her family history as several of her earlier novels did.

          1. I have read the former, not the latter. I particularly loved When We Lived in Modern Times

  5. A couple of my colleagues loved the Ann Patchett when they read it last year, so it’s good to see the paperback release coming through. I’m sure it will suit quite a few of my subscription readers!

  6. Several of these books sound excellent. I have never read Lorrie Moore despite having had a slim collection of hers tbr for years. Although I have only read one book by Ann Paychett years ago, I am tempted by Tom Lake. It’s going to be a good month for paperbacks

  7. I do hope I get a chance to try Bradley soon–I’ve been meaning to ever since I discovered he did his phd on cats in (Japanese?) fiction. The Story of the Forest sounds rather interesting too!

  8. Well, I’m keen to try The Fire, as I enjoyed Love in Five Acts. I enjoyed Four Seasons in Japan too. And I got the Linda Grant for Christmas – I’m not sure why it remains unread so far. So much to read, so little time?

    1. It was ever thus! Krien’s become a favourite for me although not a prolific one. I’d be interested to know how you get on with the Grant when you get to it.

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