As you know, I’m an inveterate reader of those proliferating lists touting new and forthcoming books (most recently, I zipped through this). At any given moment, there are dozens of books I am looking forward to—in the very near future, in the middle distance, and farther down the road. Here are a few scheduled for publication in June, July, or August.
I’m a great admirer of Elizabeth Ferrars (1907–1995, mostly published as E. X. Ferrars in the U.S.), a versatile and prolific crime writer who mastered a number of different subgenres. I particularly enjoy the series of eight novels, written late in her long career, featuring a retired professor of botany, Andrew Basnett. The blessed publisher Felony & Mayhem has been reissuing some of her books, including the Basnett series, and the final two volumes, A Hobby of Murder and A Choice of Evils, are due later this month. Also coming this month: A Body of Water, Book 8 in Rhys Dylan’s series of police procedurals set in Wales. Try this one and, if you like it, go back to the start of the series.
One of the summer novels I’ve been looking forward to with great anticipation is Patrick Rambaud’s The Master, translated from the French by Nicole Ball and David Ball. I loved Rambaud’s trilogy of novels on Napoleon, which appeared some years ago. His new one centers on a “great man” of a very different sort, the enigmatic ancient Chinese sage Zhuang Zhou (Zhuangzi).
Among the nonfiction titles on my list due in June are G. Gabrielle Starr’s Just in Time: Temporality, Aesthetic Experience, and Cognitive Neuroscience, Diya Gupta’s India in the Second World War: An Emotional History (“History of the Emotions,” as you may have noticed, is a flourishing enterprise), Tracy Borman’s Anne Boleyn & Elizabeth I: The Mother and Daughter Who Forever Changed British History, Brian K. Goodman’s The Nonconformists: American and Czech Writers Across the Iron Curtain, and Francis Young’s Twilight of the Godlings: The Shadowy Beginnings of Britain’s Spiritual Beings.(I trust that some high-flying editor has already commissioned T. A. Shippey to review this.)
As for novels coming in July, keep an eye out for Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge, the first novel in a series by Spencer Quinn. If you are a longtime reader of this column, you already know how much I admire Spencer Quinn/Peter Abrahams, and this new enterprise—featuring “a recent widow in her seventies” who unexpectedly finds herself traveling from Florida to “a small village in Romania” after a scammer bankrupts her—sounds delicious. (By the way, there’s a new Chet & Bernie novel due in the fall.) And if you finish Rambaud’s novel with a taste for more good historical fiction, albeit set much closer to the present, acquire a copy of In Pieces, the first book in Rhonda Ortiz’s Molly Chase series (published in 2021), so that you will be up to speed for the second book in the series, Adrift, due in July as well.
In August, I will be looking forward to Michael Edwards’s The Bible and Poetry, translated from French (no, not a mistake) by Stephen E. Lewis, a book about which I know very little but which sounds intriguing. Also due at the end of that month is I Cannot Write My Life: Islam, Arabic, and Slavery in Omar ibn Said's America, by Mbaye Lo and Carl Ernst.
To a degree it seems arbitrary to mention these titles without including others. I could do a longish piece devoted solely to recent and forthcoming books dealing with “outer space,” a subject that fascinates me. (Maybe I will, down the road.) And poetry. And so on . . .
But I hope that, in addition to letting you know about at least a book or two that might be your cup of tea, I’ve managed to suggest the riches available to us, despite all the Bad Trends in publishing and in the world across the board. At my right hand is Adrian Johns’s massive (and massively learned) book The Science of Reading: Information, Media, & Mind in Modern America; at my left hand is Nick Ripatrazone’s blessedly companionable book The Habit of Poetry: The Literary Lives of Nuns in Mid-Century America, impeccably researched but slim enough for me to slip into the pocket of my blessed old tweed coat, if I ever have occasion to wear it again. Nick’s book sits lightly atop another superbly produced volume of Harry Gruyaert’s photographs, Between Worlds, from Thames & Hudson. (Do you remember the photos featured on the wonderful Penguin reissues of the entire run of Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels? Those are all by Harry Gruyaert.) Aren’t we all between worlds?
John Wilson is a contributing editor for The Englewood Review of Books and senior editor at The Marginalia Review of Books.
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