No matter how well you think you know yourself, there’s somehow always something more to discover. That’s evident in the most exciting new books coming in May. In Cleyvis Natera’s debut novel, Neruda in the Park, a family reckons with what “home” means to them. In Rachel M. Harper’sThe Other Mother, a young pianist seeks out the truth about his origins—despite the ripple effects that will surely play out. And in Adrian McKinty’s taut thriller The Island, a new stepmom tests the limits of how far she’ll go to protect her kids.
These are the top 14 new books you should read this May.
Chef’s Kiss, TJ Alexander (May 3)
Simone, a meticulous pastry chef who works in an a Bon Appétit-style test kitchen, where she’d prefer to stay behind the scenes. But when her company decides to pivot to video, she’s forced into the spotlight—and has to deal with her unbearably chirpy colleague Ray. They bond eventually and Simone is able to make friends when Ray reveals that they are both non-binary. It’s hard to say what’s sweeter: the pair’s slow-burn romance or the drool-worthy descriptions of decadent desserts.
Get it now Chef’s Kiss Bookshop | Amazon
All Night LoversMieko Kawakami (May 3).
If you’ve ever caught your reflection in a storefront window and been shocked—not in a good way—by what’s staring back at you, you’ll understand Fuyoko Irie. She’s a Japanese 30-something who’s unable to form meaningful relationships, but resolves to change once she meets a man named Mitsutsuka. Her protective wall around her self begins to fall and she discovers more about herself. Kawakami—the author of titles such as Breasts Eggs Heaven—has crafted another atmospheric, subtly beautiful novel.
Get it now All Night Lovers Bookshop | Amazon
Companion PieceAli Smith, Mai 3)
Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet—composed of the novels Autumn, Winter, SpringPlease see the following: Sommer—was lauded by many as a fantastic literary feat. The novel she has just published is her latest. Companion Piece It is both lyrical as well as timely. It’s about Sandy, an artist whose elderly father is in the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic. Sandy is determined to stay well, and she does everything in her power to protect herself from unwanted houseguests. Smith’s novel will push readers to consider what it means to let people into your life, even when you don’t want to.
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The Dark is where we do what we do, Michelle Hart (May 3)
When Mallory is a freshman in college, she begins an obsessive affair with an older, married woman—fueled, perhaps, by her loneliness and the void created by her mother’s death. The relationship between them is complex and can have a profound impact on their lives. Years later, after they’ve long been apart, Mallory has to decide whether to confront the woman about how the affair affected her. Michelle Hart’s coming-of-age novel skillfully depicts forbidden romance and the shame it can foster.
Get it now The Dark is where we do what we do Bookshop | Amazon
Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad RomanceJohn Waters, May 3
Filmmaker John Waters—the man behind movies like Pink Flamingos, PolyesterPlease see the following: Hairspray—delivers his first novel: a rollicking “feel-bad romance” about Liarmouth, a woman on the run who’s universally loathed. She steals, she forges, she squats in places she doesn’t belong, and she rubs everyone she meets the wrong way. Then she encounters a man who’s determined to make her tell the truth. It’s exactly what you’d expect from Waters: weird, perverse, and gloriously fun.
Get it now Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance Bookshop | Amazon
The Other Mother, Rachel M. Harper (May 3)
Jenry is a musical prodigy who was brought up in Miami by his mom. He goes to Brown University to receive a scholarship and to discover his history. His search for Jasper, his father who died in a tragic accident, leads him to discover more about the man he didn’t know. The Other Mother, Rachel M. Harper’s gripping follow-up to This Side of Providence. When Jenry meets Jasper’s father, he learns that the person he should really be searching for is Jasper’s sister—his mother’s ex-girlfriend. Jenry was once certain he could trust his relationships, but Jenry soon discovers that the past is being reconstructed and old secrets are revealed.
Get it now The Other Mother Bookshop | Amazon
Bitter Orange Tree, Jokha Alharthi (May 10)
Jokha Alharthi’s novel Celestial BodiesIn 2019, Alharthi won the Booker International Prize. Alharthi now tells the story of Zuhur, an Omani girl who attends school in Britain and struggles with reconciling her past and present. Zuhur frequently thinks back on the relationship she had with her grandmother. She hopes this will enable her to find new friends and adjust to her new circumstances. The slim novel is a bittersweet, non-linear exploration of social status and a young woman’s agency.
Get it now Bitter Orange Tree Bookshop | Amazon
Siren Queen, Nghi Vo (May 10)
The sequel to her novel 2021 The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo weaves dark magic into Siren QueenThe novel is speculative fiction. It’s about Luli, a Chinese American girl who’s determined to become an Old Hollywood star. Luli is forced to deal with demons and monsters in Hollywood. She wants fame, but Hollywood has its own set of problems. This could mean that Luli is a monster.
Get it now Siren Queen Bookshop | Amazon
The IslandAdrian McKinty (17 May)
Tom, a widowed father of two young children, marries Heather. He decides to travel with his new family overseas for an Australian adventure. One bad decision later, they’re running for their lives in a remote outback town in this tense, adrenaline-fueled thriller. Adrian McKinty has just finished the successful novel The ChainExtreme weather is possible because of this. The IslandHeather will feel like a character and her readers will support her as she struggles to save her family. Hulu bought the rights for a series of limited-run episodes.
Get it now The Island Bookshop | Amazon
All the Seas of the World, Guy Gavriel Kay (May 17)
Guy Gavriel Kay’s historical fantasy sees him returning to the Renaissance-like realm he created in A brightness long ago Children of Earth and Sky. Enjoy these titles by reading them first. All the Seas of the WorldThe new novel is available as a standalone. All the Seas of the WorldThe story centers on Rafel (a captain of a ship) and Nadia (his partner), who agree to a risky job: assassinating a leader. They are transformed by the experience. Kay’s latest is a sweeping, nearly 600-page narrative about family, fate, love, and war.
Get it now All the Seas of the World Bookshop | Amazon
In 10A, You have a friend, Maggie Shipstead (May 17)
Last year, Maggie Shipstead’s novel Great Circle—which made excellent book-club fodder—was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She is back with In 10A, You have a friendThis is her first collection. The first takes readers on a trip to Montana, where a love triangle is playing out. Another story involves a horseback ride in the backcountry. A third recounts the tale of an unhappy Romanian honeymoon. These 10 stories are deep and complex, featuring flawed characters as well as complicated characters.
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Translation of myself and others, Jhumpa Lahiri (May 17)
Jhumpa Lari won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction 2000 for her first collection of short stories. Translator of Maladies. Since then, she’s established herself as both a writer and a translator. In this new collection of essays, Lahiri reflects on the art of translation—including how she translated her own work from Italian to English. Lahiri also considers other great novelists’ approach to translation, as well as the value of the process more broadly.
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Neruda in the Park, Cleyvis Natera (May 24)
Cleyvis Natera’s debut novel introduces the Guerreros to readers. They are a Dominican family who have lived in New York City for over 20 years. Eusebia and Vladimir’s parents and Luz, their daughter, respond to the gentrification in starkly differing ways. Complicating matters: Luz’s boyfriend is one of the people planning to develop luxury apartments in the family’s neighborhood. The plot revolves around themes like community and survival, and Natera deftly explores what it means to call a place home—especially when that place is under threat.
Get it now Neruda in the Park Bookshop | Amazon
What to Eat, Maria Adelmann (May 31)
This feminist version of the classic fairytales sees six women enroll in group therapy to deal with past traumas. One of them fell for a tech billionaire. He was known for his penchant for holding women captive and later murdering them. Another dated a literal predator—a wolf—whose fur she now wears as a coat. Adelmann’s debut is a darkly funny, thought-provoking take on what happens after happily ever after.
Get it now What to Eat Bookshop | Amazon
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