Summer Reads 2016

by  WLT

Whether spent at home, driving cross-country, or venturing abroad, summer demands its own reading list. These new books of 2016 will more than fill a backseat, suitcase, Kindle, or hammock. 

For Daytripping to Surreal PopSTock!, Mexico

The Cowboy BibleCarlos Velázquez

The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories

Trans. Achy Obejas
Restless Books, January


For Friends Falling Out

Mon amie americaineMichèle Halberstadt

Mon amie américaine

Trans. Bruce Benderson
Other Press, April


For a Tragicomic Trip in Proustian Style

The CloudsJuan José Saer

The Clouds

Trans. Hilary Vaughn Dobel
Open Letter, May


For Comprehensive Consideration of the Refugee Crisis

ChargesElfriede Jelinek

Charges (The Supplicants)

Trans. Gitta Honegger
Seagull Books, May


For a Dose of Narrative Verve

PapiRita Indiana


Trans. Achy Obejas
Univ. of Chicago Press, April


For the Restlessly Creative

Mutants: Selected EssaysToby Litt

Mutants: Selected Essays

Seagull Books, May


For Serious Contemplation

Summer Reads booksAlejandra Pizarnik

Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962–1972

Trans. Yvett Siegert
New Directions, May

Referencing an ancient medical practice, immortalized in a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, Alejandra Pizarnik’s collection of poems explores themes of depression, childhood, death, and the border between language and silence. Her poetry from the last ten years of her life, before her suicide at the age of thirty-six, is the first full collection translated into English and filled with a trepid balance between frenzy and melancholia.


For Dangerous Short Adventures

The Pier FallsMark Haddon

The Pier Falls

Doubleday, May


For Thoughtful Travelers

Almost Home: Finding a Place in the World from Kashmir to New YorkGitha Hariharan

Almost Home: Finding a Place in the World from Kashmir to New York

Restless Books, March

Straddling the past and present of such cities as New York, New Delhi, Mumbai, Tokyo, and such places as Kashmir and Palestine, Githa Hariharan’s ten politically charged essays narrate the way people, history, and landscape merge. Each travel essay shows the influence of colonization, poverty, and war, among other topics, on geography and people.


Take One Plague; Add One Hard-boiled Hero . . .

The Transmigration of BodiesYuri Herrera

The Transmigration of Bodies

Trans. Lisa Dillman
And Other Stories, July


For Translators Seeking Authors in Hiding

Ways to DisappearIdra Novey

Ways to Disappear

Little, Brown, February


For Exploring Distances

Cities I've Never Lived InSara Majka

Cities I’ve Never Lived In

Graywolf Press, February


Pick a Quiet Place . . .

99 PoemsDana Gioia

99 Poems: New and Selected

Graywolf Press, March


For Electoral and Romantic Drama in Haiti

PeacekeepingMischa Berlinski


Sarah Crichton Books, March


For Trips in the Afterlife

Bardo or Not BardoAntoine Volodine

Bardo or Not Bardo

Trans. J. T. Mahany
Open Letter, April


For Those Returning Home

VoroshilovgradSerhiy Zhadan


Trans. Reilly Costigan-Humes & Isaac Wheeler
Deep Vellum, April

Blurring the boundaries between time and space as well as place, Voroshilovgrad narrates the journey of Herman, an advertising executive, who returns to his remote home after years of city living to find his missing brother.


One of Us is SleepingJosefine Klougart

One of Us Is Sleeping

Trans. Martin Aitken
Open Letter, July


For the Intellectually Curious

At the Existentialist CafeSarah Bakewell

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others

Other Press, March


For Those Being Visited

The Children's HomeCharles Lambert

The Children’s Home

Scribner, January


For Haunting a 1950s Paris Café

In the Cafe of Lost YouthPatrick Modiano

In the Café of Lost Youth

Trans. Chris Clarke
New York Review Books, March


For Those in Flight

So Much for That Winter: NovellasDorthe Nors

So Much for That Winter: Novellas

Trans. Misha Hoekstra
Graywolf Press, June

Comprised of two novellas, So Much for That Winter explores contemporary heartache through the breakups of two women. The novella Days uses lists to describe the disjointed life and emotional turmoil of a thirty-year-old woman. Minna Needs Rehearsal Space describes Minna’s flight from her friends to an island near Sweden, and also unfriending them on Facebook, after she is dumped by text message.


Among Strange VictimsDaniel Saldaña París

Among Strange Victims

Trans. Christina MacSweeney
Coffee House Press, June