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Jessa CrispinBack to OpinionJessa Crispin

Five titles to look forward to this summer

For many years, publishing suffered from the same blockbuster mentality as the movie industry. Things that go boom or rom-coms in the summer, brainy award winners in the fall. Despite not having its own Oscar race, it crammed every major release by every major author into the final months of the year, leaving summer reading to the chick lit, the “beach read,” the spy novel. But perhaps learning that each book can breathe a little more easily if it isn’t fighting for shelf space with 100 other books, publishers have started to gift us with smart, wonderful books in the hottest months. Here are a few to look forward to:

Book-The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell SimThe Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim
Publication Date: May 27

Somehow, even with a top-notch British writer, known for his cutting satire and madcap storylines, an addictive writing style and a sharp political eye, there is as of yet no American release date. Jonathan Coe, the author of “The House of Sleep” and “What a Carve Up!,” may be UK-only for now, but this is why the benevolent force behind the universe has given us and, which will ship United Kingdom literary gems to deprived Americans. As timely as ever, Coe’s latest novel takes on loneliness, suburban displacement and social media.

Old Men in Love: John Tunnock’s Posthumous Papers
Publication Date: June 8

Since the release of 1980’s epic “Lanark,” Gray has been considered one of the best living Scottish writers. His novels, plays, and short stories are fantastical, political, darkly funny and often dirty as all hell. His latest, finally being released in the U.S. by Small Beer Press, is something of a patchwork, weaving together stories of Socrates’s trial, a Scottish utopian cult, the Iraq War protests and a boy coming of age on the streets of post-WWII Glasgow.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Publication Date: June 29

After the brilliant dorkiness of “number9dream,” “Cloud Atlas,” “Black Swan Green,” and “Ghostwritten,” I would follow David Mitchell anywhere. A 500-page historical novel, dealing with the Dutch East Indies Company in the 18th century? Anyone else and I’d be skipping it, but it’s Mitchell. I’m not asking any questions or expressing any doubts. I’m just waiting calmly for the release date.

Book-The Mountain Lion by Jean StaffordThe Mountain Lion
Publication Date: July 6

Thirty-some years after her death, Jean Stafford’s work has tragically fallen into limbo. Despite writing brilliantly observed, beautifully nuanced novels and short stories, much of her work has languished out of print. The NYRB Classics publishing house has taken it upon themselves to rescue neglected literature, and has selected Stafford’s “The Mountain Lion,” the story of a young brother and sister duo’s coming of age, for revival this summer.

Book-The Private Lifes of Trees by Alejandro ZambraThe Private Lives of Trees
Publication Date: July 14

Two years ago, Melville House published the first Zambra book in English, a tiny slip of a novella called “Bonsai.” He had been widely considered one of the most promising novelists in his native Chile, and with the release of that book it was clear why. It was lean, poetic, heartbreaking. And at 90-some pages, over much too quickly. Now Open Letters is finally sating our thirst for a follow up. While “The Private Lives of Trees” is not exactly suffering from great heft — it comes in at just under 150 pages — you know what they say: brevity, soul, wit, blah blah blah. We can only hope the gap between Book No. 2 and Book No. 3 — he has two untranslated books of poetry — is not too long.

More of Jessa Crispin’s writing can be found at Bookslut.