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Indie Next August Book List

Afterparties: Stories

Afterparties: Stories

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A Roxane Gay's Audacious Book Club Pick!

Named a Best Book of Summer by: Wall Street Journal * Thrillist * Vogue * Lit Hub * Refinery29 * New York Observer * The Daily Beast * Time * BuzzFeed * Entertainment Weekly

A vibrant story collection about Cambodian-American life--immersive and comic, yet unsparing--that offers profound insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities

Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family.

A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle's snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a "safe space" app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter.

The stories in Afterparties, "powered by So's skill with the telling detail, are like beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community" (George Saunders).

All's Well

All's Well

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From the author of Bunny, which Margaret Atwood hails as "genius," comes a dazzling and darkly funny novel about a theater professor who is convinced staging Shakespeare's most maligned play will remedy all that ails her--but at what cost?

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF SUMMER 2021 SELECTED BY * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * VULTURE * LITHUB * REFINERY29 * GOODREADS * POPSUGAR * NOW MAGAZINE * BOSTON * AND MORE

"[A] sparkling valentine to the Bard. A dream of a novel, perfect for a midsummer night's read."--OPRAH DAILY
"A dazzling wild ride of a novel--daring, fresh, entertaining, and magical." --GEORGE SAUNDERS
"Wild and exhilarating and so fresh it takes your breath away." --LAUREN GROFF
"Oh my lord what a fabulous novel--knocked me out!"--MARY KARR

Miranda Fitch's life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic back pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she's on the verge of losing her job as a college theater director. Determined to put on Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, the play that promised, and cost, her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hellbent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.

That's when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda's past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what's coming to them, and the invisible, doubted pain that's kept her from the spotlight is made known.

With prose Margaret Atwood has described as "no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged...genius," Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All's Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.

Appleseed

Appleseed

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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF SUMMER BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * USA TODAY * ESQUIRE * PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER * LITERARY HUB * GOODREADS

Woven together out of the strands of myth, science fiction, and ecological warning, Matt Bell's Appleseed is as urgent as it is audacious. --Kelly Link, Get in Trouble

A work of incandescent imagination (Karen Russell) from Young Lions Fiction Award-finalist Matt Bell, a breakout book that explores climate change, manifest destiny, humanity's unchecked exploitation of natural resources, and the small but powerful magic contained within every single apple.

In eighteenth-century Ohio, two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they remake the wilderness in their own image, planning for a future of settlement and civilization, the long-held bonds and secrets between the two will be tested, fractured and broken--and possibly healed.

Fifty years from now, in the second half of the twenty-first century, climate change has ravaged the Earth. Having invested early in genetic engineering and food science, one company now owns all the world's resources. But a growing resistance is working to redistribute both land and power--and in a pivotal moment for the future of humanity, one of the company's original founders will return to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build.

A thousand years in the future, North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier--and in a daring and seemingly impossible quest, sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilization.

Hugely ambitious in scope and theme, Appleseed is the breakout novel from a writer "as self-assured as he is audacious" (NPR) who "may well have invented the pulse-pounding novel of ideas" (Jess Walter). Part speculative epic, part tech thriller, part reinvented fairy tale, Appleseed is an unforgettable meditation on climate change; corporate, civic, and familial responsibility; manifest destiny; and the myths and legends that sustain us all.

Book of Accidents

Book of Accidents

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A family returns to their hometown--and to the dark past that haunts them still--in this masterpiece of literary horror by the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderers

"The dread, the scope, the pacing, the turns--I haven't felt all this so intensely since The Shining."--Stephen Graham Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father--and has never told his family what happened there.

Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn't have--and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures.

Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.

And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic.

This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family--and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.

Born Into This

Born Into This

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With its wit, intelligence and restless exploration of the parameters of race and place, Thompson's debut collection is a welcome addition to the canon of Indigenous Australian writers. --Thuy On, The Guardian
The remarkable stories in Born Into This are eye-opening, razor-sharp, and entertaining, often all at once.

From an Aboriginal ranger trying to instill some pride in wayward urban teens on the harsh islands off the coast of Tasmania, to those scraping by on the margins of white society railroaded into complex and compromised decisions, Adam Thompson presents a powerful indictment of colonialism and racism.

With humor, pathos, and the occasional sly twist, Thompson's characters confront discrimination, untimely funerals, classroom politics, the ongoing legacy of cultural destruction, and -- overhanging all like a discomforting, burgeoning awareness for both black and white Australia -- the inexorable disappearance of the remnant natural world.

Clark and Division

Clark and Division

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Set in 1944 Chicago, Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara's eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister's death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II.

Chicago, 1944: Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been released from Manzanar, where they have been detained by the US government since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, together with thousands of other Japanese Americans. The life in California the Itos were forced to leave behind is gone; instead, they are being resettled two thousand miles away in Chicago, where Aki's older sister, Rose, was sent months earlier and moved to the new Japanese American neighborhood near Clark and Division streets. But on the eve of the Ito family's reunion, Rose is killed by a subway train.

Aki, who worshipped her sister, is stunned. Officials are ruling Rose's death a suicide. Aki cannot believe her perfect, polished, and optimistic sister would end her life. Her instinct tells her there is much more to the story, and she knows she is the only person who could ever learn the truth.

Inspired by historical events, Clark and Division infuses an atmospheric and heartbreakingly real crime fiction plot with rich period details and delicately wrought personal stories Naomi Hirahara has gleaned from thirty years of research and archival work in Japanese American history.

Damnation Spring

Damnation Spring

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An epic, immersive debut, Damnation Spring is the deeply human story of a Pacific Northwest logging town wrenched in two by a mystery that threatens to derail its way of life.

For generations, Rich Gundersen's family has chopped a livelihood out of the redwood forest along California's rugged coast. Now Rich and his wife, Colleen, are raising their own young son near Damnation Grove, a swath of ancient redwoods on which Rich's employer, Sanderson Timber Co., plans to make a killing. In 1977, with most of the forest cleared or protected, a grove like Damnation--and beyond it 24-7 Ridge--is a logger's dream.

It's dangerous work. Rich has already lived decades longer than his father, killed on the job. Rich wants better for his son, Chub, so when the opportunity arises to buy 24-7 Ridge--costing them all the savings they've squirreled away for their growing family--he grabs it, unbeknownst to Colleen. Because the reality is their family isn't growing; Colleen has lost several pregnancies. And she isn't alone. As a midwife, Colleen has seen it with her own eyes.

For decades, the herbicides the logging company uses were considered harmless. But Colleen is no longer so sure. What if these miscarriages aren't isolated strokes of bad luck? As mudslides take out clear-cut hillsides and salmon vanish from creeks, her search for answers threatens to unravel not just Rich's plans for the 24-7, but their marriage too, dividing a town that lives and dies on timber along the way.

Told from the perspectives of Rich, Colleen, and Chub, in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, this intimate, compassionate portrait of a community clinging to a vanishing way of life amid the perils of environmental degradation makes Damnation Spring an essential novel for our time.

Goldenrod: Poems

Goldenrod: Poems

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"To read Maggie Smith is to embrace the achingly precious beauty of the present moment." --Time

From the award-winning poet and bestselling author of Keep Moving and Good Bones, a stunning poetry collection that celebrates the beauty and messiness of life.

With her breakout bestseller Keep Moving, Maggie Smith captured the nation with her "meditations on kindness and hope" (NPR). Now, with Goldenrod, the award-winning poet returns with a powerful collection of poems that look at parenthood, solitude, love, and memory. Pulling objects from everyday life--a hallway mirror, a rock found in her son's pocket, a field of goldenrods at the side of the road--she reveals the magic of the present moment. Only Maggie Smith could turn an autocorrect mistake into a line of poetry, musing that her phone "doesn't observe / the high holidays, autocorrecting / shana tova to shaman tobacco, / Rosh Hashanah to rose has hands."​

Slate called Smith's "superpower as a writer" her "ability to find the perfect concrete metaphor for inchoate human emotions and explore it with empathy and honesty." The poems in Goldenrod celebrate the contours of daily life, explore and delight in the space between thought and experience, and remind us that we decide what is beautiful.

Hunter and the Old Woman

Hunter and the Old Woman

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The intertwined story of a cougar and a man that portrays the strength, vulnerability, and consciousness of two top predators. Not since Life of Pi have we encountered such transcendence or walked so fully in the footsteps of a big cat.

The "Old Woman" lives in the wild, searching for food, raising her cubs, and avoiding the two-legged creatures who come into her territory. But she is more than an animal -- she is a mythic creature who haunts the lives and the dreams of men. Joseph Brandt has been captivated by the mountain lion's legend since childhood, and one day he steps into the forest to seek her out. A classic in the making, The Hunter and the Old Woman is a mesmerizing portrait of two animals united by a shared destiny.

If the Shoe Fits: A Meant to Be Novel

If the Shoe Fits: A Meant to Be Novel

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If the Shoe Fits encompasses everything I love about rom-coms. I laughed, I swooned, I smiled. Another hit for Julie Murphy!
--Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Hopeless


If the shoe doesn't fit, maybe it's time to design your own.


Cindy loves shoes. A well-placed bow or a chic stacked heel is her form of self-expression. As a fashion-obsessed plus-size woman, she can never find designer clothes that work on her body, but a special pair of shoes always fits just right.

With a shiny new design degree but no job in sight, Cindy moves back in with her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, the executive producer of the world's biggest dating reality show. When a contestant on Before Midnight bows out at the last minute, Cindy is thrust into the spotlight. Showcasing her killer shoe collection on network TV seems like a great way to jump-start her career. And, while she's at it, why not go on a few lavish dates with an eligible suitor?

But being the first and only fat contestant on Before Midnight turns her into a viral sensation--and a body-positivity icon--overnight. Even harder to believe? She can actually see herself falling for this Prince Charming. To make it to the end, despite the fans, the haters, and a house full of fellow contestants she's not sure she can trust, Cindy will have to take a leap of faith and hope her heels-- and her heart--don't break in the process.

Best-selling author Julie Murphy's reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is an enchanting story of self-love and believing in the happy ending each and every one of us deserves.

Intimacies

Intimacies

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"A perfect novel--taut and seductive." --Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life and Filthy Animals

"Intimacies is a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.... Katie Kitamura is a wonder." --Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others and Eat the Document

A novel from the author of A Separation, an electrifying story about a woman caught between many truths.

An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home.

She's drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim's sister. And she's pulled into an explosive political controversy when she's asked to interpret for a former president accused of war crimes.

A woman of quiet passion, she confronts power, love, and violence, both in her personal intimacies and in her work at the Court. She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her, forcing her to decide what she wants from her life.

It Happened One Summer

It Happened One Summer

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Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt's Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood "It Girl" who's cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town... where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn't belong.

As seen on E!Online, PopSugar, CNN, EliteDaily, Vulture, Buzzfeed, Bustle, the Nerd Daily, PARADE, LA Magazine, Country Living, USA Today, and more!

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father's dive bar... in Washington.

Piper hasn't even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won't last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can't do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She's determined to show her stepfather--and the hot, grumpy local--that she's more than a pretty face.

Except it's a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there's an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn't want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan--and this town full of memories--may have already caught her heart.