May has a mammoth slate of releases. Narrowing it down to five was quite difficult, but I somehow managed to do it. Maybe you don’t know exactly how terrific this month is for books, though. Here’s a hint: I left off Julian Barnes’ follow-up to his Man Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending. Here are the five that made the cut, though.
This historically rich novel about an important thoroughbred family isn’t just a terrific sports novel. It transcends beyond a horse racing story and touches on themes ranging from racism and class status. Morgan’s lengthy novel offers multiple threads that are all strong by themselves but become a formidable novel once they intertwine.
The Mother – Yvette Edwards (5/10)
A mother becomes consumed with grief after the murder of her teenage son. It’s a story that’s been told, and maybe told better than this take, but what makes this novel by Edwards stand out is the characters and how they develop. There may not be a lot happening in this terse story, but the development of the mother and her surrounding cast are superbly handled.
Zero K – Don DeLillo (5/10)
One of the best modern American writers is back. Not that he ever left. A man who has made billions in the death business – he owns a compound where the dying experience a comfortable end – must come to terms with his wife’s mortality. The man’s son, who is also the narrator, clashes with his father’s opinion of death. Its cryptic plot is easily devoured and already being optioned for a television series.
The Fox Was Ever the Hunter – Herta Müller (5/10)
During the waning months of a communist regime, a group of friends struggle to manage to keep their heads above water. One of them, however, is a member of the secret police and is keeping tabs on the other three. This is an eloquent book that was originally published in 1992 but is finally being translated into English. The Nobel Prize-winning author’s beautiful prose isn’t lost in translation at all.
Girls on Fire – Robin Wassermann (5/17)
When a high school basketball star is found murdered after three days missing, rumors spread about Satanic worship in a small Pennsylvanian town. It’s 1991 and the novel follows a typical innocent girl as she deals with the murder and discovers the pains of growing up. The book is a strong coming of age story with a keen insight into the transition into womanhood.