Diversify your summer reading list with these hot new reads from a variety of voices.
There There by Tommy Orange
A fierce, angry, funny, and heartbreaking debut—There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people.
It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
An astonishingly tender-hearted debut novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today.
As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children—each in their own way—tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.
Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin
The incredible true story of a boy living in war-torn Somalia who escapes to America—first by way of the movies; years later, through a miraculous green card.
Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee.
In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America did not come easily.
Death Notice by Zhou Haohui
A wild thriller and deadly game of cat-and-mouse from one of China’s most popular authors where an elite police squad hunts a manipulative mastermind out to publically execute criminals the law cannot reach.
The brutal murder of respected police officer Sergeant Zheng Haoming sends shock waves through Chengdu, a modern metropolis in the heart of China’s stunning Sichuan province. He had been obsessed by an unsolved, eighteen-year-old murder case until an entity calling itself Eumenides (after the Greek goddess of vengeance and retribution) releases a terrifying manifesto. Is the manifesto a sick joke, or something more sinister? Soon, the public starts nominating worthy targets for Eumenides to kill, and, two days later, Sergeant Zheng is dead.
Eumenides’ cunning game is only getting started. The police receive a “death notice,” a chilling note announcing the killer’s next target, the crimes they have committed, and the date of their execution. The note is both a challenge and a taunt to the police. When the first victim dies in public, under their complete protection, the police are left stunned. More death notices are coming. The chase is on.
Small Country by Gaël Faye
A novel of extraordinary power and beauty, Small Country describes an end of innocence as seen through the eyes of a child caught in the maelstrom of history. Shot through with shadows and light, tragedy and humor, it is a stirring tribute not only to a dark chapter in Africa’s past, but also to the bright days that preceded it.
Burundi, 1992. For ten-year-old Gabriel, life in his comfortable expatriate neighborhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother and little sister Ana, is something close to paradise. These are carefree days of laughter and adventure as he and his mischievous gang of friends transform their tiny cul-de-sac into their kingdom.
But dark clouds are gathering over this small country, and soon their peaceful existence will shatter when Burundi, and neighboring Rwanda, are brutally hit by civil war and genocide.
Patriot Number One by Lauren Hilgers
The deeply reported story of one indelible family transplanted from rural China to New York City, forging a life between two worlds.
In 2014, in a snow-covered house in Flushing, Queens, a village revolutionary from Southern China considered his options. Zhuang Liehong was the son of a fisherman, the former owner of a small tea shop, and the spark that had sent his village into an uproar—pitting residents against a corrupt local government. Under the alias Patriot Number One, he had stoked a series of pro-democracy protests, hoping to change his home for the better. Instead, sensing an impending crackdown, Zhuang and his wife, Little Yan, left their infant son with relatives and traveled to America.
In Patriot Number One, Hilgers follows this dauntless family through a world hidden in plain sight: a byzantine network of employment agencies and language schools, of underground asylum brokers and illegal dormitories that Flushing’s Chinese community relies on for survival.
Born with Wings by Daisy Khan
The dramatic, spiritual memoir of a prominent Muslim woman working to empower women and girls across the world.
Raised in a progressive Muslim family in the shadows of the Himalayan mountains, where she attended a Catholic girls’ school, Daisy experienced culture shock when her family sent her to the States to attend high school in a mostly Jewish Long Island suburb. Ambitious and talented, she quickly climbed the corporate ladder after college as an architectural designer in New York City. Though she loved the freedom that came with being a career woman, she felt that something was missing from her life.
One day a friend suggested that she visit a Sufi mosque in Tribeca. To her surprise, she discovered a home there, eventually marrying the mosque’s imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, and finding herself, as his wife, at the center of a community in which women turned to her for advice. Guided by her faith, she embraced her role as a women’s advocate and has devised innovative ways to help end child marriage, fight against genital mutilation, and, most recently, educate young Muslims to resist the false promises of ISIS recruiters.
The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú
Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River goes behind the headlines, making urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line.
For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there.
Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
A mesmerizing debut set in Colombia at the height Pablo Escobar’s violent reign about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.
Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.
When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city’s guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona’s mysterious ways. But Petrona’s unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls’ families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal.
Brothers of the Gun by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple
A bracingly immediate memoir by a young man coming of age during the Syrian war, Brothers of the Gun is an intimate lens on the century’s bloodiest conflict and a profound meditation on kinship, home, and freedom.
In 2011, Marwan Hisham and his two friends joined the first protests of the Arab Spring in Syria, in response to a recent massacre. A long-bottled revolution was finally erupting, and freedom from a brutal dictator seemed, at last, imminent. Five years later, the three young friends were scattered: one now an Islamist revolutionary, another dead at the hands of government soldiers, and the last, Marwan, now a journalist in Turkish exile, trying to find a way back to a homeland reduced to rubble.
Marwan was there to witness and document firsthand the Syrian war, from its inception to the present. He watched from the rooftops as regime warplanes bombed soldiers; as revolutionary activist groups spray-painted hope on Raqqa; as his friends died or threw in their lot with Islamist fighters. He became a journalist by courageously tweeting out news from a city under siege by ISIS, the Russians, and the Americans all at once. He saw the country that ran through his veins be destroyed in front of him, and eventually joined the relentless stream of refugees risking their lives to escape.
Beneath a Ruthless Sun by Gilbert King
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Devil in the Grove, the powerful, page-turning story rooted in the fears that rippled through the South as integration began to take hold, sparking a surge of virulent racism that savaged the vulnerable, debased the powerful, and roils our own times still.
In December 1957, the wife of a Florida citrus baron is raped in her home while her husband is away. She claims a “husky Negro” did it, and the sheriff, the infamous racist Willis McCall, does not hesitate to round up a herd of suspects. But within days, McCall turns his sights on Jesse Daniels, a gentle, mentally impaired white nineteen-year-old. Soon Jesse is railroaded up to the state hospital for the insane, and locked away without trial.
But crusading journalist Mabel Norris Reese cannot stop fretting over the case and its baffling outcome. Who was protecting whom, or what? She pursues the story for years, chasing down leads, hitting dead ends, winning unlikely allies. Bit by bit, the unspeakable truths behind a conspiracy that shocked a community into silence begin to surface.