Your Summer Reading List

Your Summer Reading List

We’re sharing a selection of new books by NYFA affiliated artists that explore complex themes of identity and belonging.

Summer is an ideal time to kick back and relax with a good book, whether you’re on the go and at the beach or taking time from the comfort of your own home. In this post, we’re sharing some recently-published books by NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows and Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program artists, several of which highlight the LGBTQ experience.

American Genius, A Comedy by Lynne Tillman (Fellow in Fiction ’91, Film ’87)
In this newly-reissued book (Soft Skull Press), which was named a “Best Book of the Century” by Vulture, a former historian spending time in a residential home, mental institute, artist’s colony, or sanitarium, is spinning tales of her life and ruminating on her many and varied preoccupations: chair design, textiles, pet deaths, family trauma, a lost brother, the Manson family, the Zulu alphabet, loneliness, memory, and sensitive skin―and what “sensitivity” means in our culture and society. The new edition includes an introduction by novelist Lucy Ives.

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad (Fellow in Fiction ’15)
Sudbanthad’s highly-anticipated debut novel (Riverhead Books) follows multiple, linked storylines across time, voraciously making and remaking the amphibious, ever-morphing Thai capital. In its starred review, Kirkus Review wrote that Sudbanthad “creates a portrait of Bangkok that sweeps across a century and a teeming cast of characters yet shines with exquisite detail…This breathtakingly lovely novel is an accomplished debut, crafted and rich with history rendered in the most human terms.”

Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang (Fellow in Fiction ’15)
Wang’s first collection of short stories (Hogarth) reveals the new face of a generation of Chinese youth. Her characters navigate between their heritage and the chaos of contemporary life with stories that upend well-worn immigrant narratives to reveal a new experience of belonging. Home Remedies was named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Nylon, Electric Literature, The Millions, and Lit Hub and was highlighted as one of “The Best Summer Beach Reads of 2019″ by The Daily Beast.

Invasive species by Marwa Helal (IAP Mentee ’14, IAP Mentor ’16 & ’18)
“Marwa Helal has lived, not always by her own choice, both in Egypt and in America, belonging to both countries and to neither,” begins The New York Times’ review of Helal’s first book (Nightboat Books). Her poems touch on our collective humanity and build new pathways for empathy while centering on urgent themes in our cultural landscape, creating space for unseen victims of discriminatory foreign policy towards migrants, refugees, and the displaced. Helal transfers lived experiences of dislocation and relocation onto the reader by obscuring borders through language.

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden (Fellow in Nonfiction Literature ’17)
Acclaimed literary essayist Madden’s debut memoir (Bloomsbury Publishing) is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, FL. It was one of the most anticipated books of 2019 according to multiple publications, including Electric Literature, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, Hyphen, and The Advocate and was received an “Editor’s Choice” distinction from The New York Times Book Review

Patsy: A Novel by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Fellow in Fiction ’18)
The list of accolades for Dennis-Benn’s new novel (Liveright) is growing: from rave reviews from NPR, Kirkus, National Book Review, and The Atlantic to being included in The New York Times’ “12 New Books to Watch for in June,” Entertainment Weekly’s “This Season’s Hottest Reads,” and O Magazine’s “Best Books of Summer 2019.” Read for a stirring portrait of motherhood, immigration, and sacrifice that expertly evokes the rhythms of Jamaica and the bustling streets of New York.

Survival Math by Mitchell S. Jackson (Fellow in Nonfiction Literature ’17)
This candid new work (Scribner), which was included on TIME Magazine’s list of the “Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2019 So Far” and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly among other high-profile reviews, explores Mitchell’s tumultuous youth in what Jackson calls “the other America.” The book takes its name from the calculations Jackson and his family made to keep safe and stay alive in their small black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, which was blighted by drugs, violence, poverty, and governmental neglect.

The Falconer by Dana Czapnik (Fellow in Fiction ’18)
Czapnik’s debut novel (Atria Books) is set in 1990s New York City and follows 17-year-old Lucy Adler on and off the basketball court as she navigates complex relationships and prepares for life in the broader world. The Falconer was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice Pick and an O Magazine Reading Room Pick, and received praise from additional outlets including NPR, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Kirkus Review. Said Kirkus: “Coming-of-age in Manhattan may not have been done this brilliantly since Catcher in the Rye. That comparison has been made before, but this time, it’s true.” 

When Brooklyn Was Queer by Hugh Ryan (Fellow in Nonfiction Literature ’17)
Of Ryan’s book (St. Martin’s Press), Publishers Weekly wrote: “When Brooklyn Was Queer achieves everything one could want in history…Thorough research, engaging storytelling, fascinating stories and a history of obscurity makes this investigation of queer Brooklyn a compelling, essential read.” Also praised by The Guardian, Lambda Literary, The New Republic, and others, When Brooklyn Was Queer is a groundbreaking exploration of the LGBTQ history of Brooklyn.

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Image: Patsy book cover (detail), courtesy of Nicole Dennis-Benn

Amy Aronoff
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