Catch up on your summer reading: The "Take It to the Lake" fiction series features author interviews all summer long.
"The Book of Harlan" by Bernice McFadden - June 8
"The Book of Harlan" follows Georgia-born musician Harlan Elliot as he leaves the south for New York City, landing in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance. His music takes him to the Montmarte neighborhood of Paris; but when the Germans occupy the city, he's imprisoned in a concentration camp. McFadden based on her book on the little known story of African-Americans in Europe who were caught up in World War II.
"The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - June 13
"The Nest" follows the Plumb family, a set of wealthy New England siblings just months away from receiving a massive payout from their joint trust fund. That is, they were going to get a payout, until their black-sheep brother crashed his car while drunk with a 19-year-old waitress riding shotgun. The accident puts their trust fund, "The Nest," in jeopardy, and emotional chaos ensues. Sweeney's wit is on full display, chronicling the damage money can cause to relationships.
"The Regional Office is Under Attack" by Manuel Gonzalez - June 16
Super-powered female assassins. A mysterious oracle. And a travel agency?
In Gonzales' send-up of action movie tropes, a travel agency is just a front for a highly trained group of deadly women with mysterious powers who fight against the "amassing forces of darkness." But someone has double-crossed the agency and — as the title suggests — the regional office is now under attack.
Gonzales ping-pongs between a teenage recruit roped into the chaos, a high level admin who just happens to have a robotic arm and the unwitting office workers caught in the crossfire. In the interstitial chapters, Gonzales provides an academic history of how the agency began and the dark secret at its core.
"Eligible" by Curtis Sittenfeld - June 21
What if "Pride and Prejudice" were set in Cincinnati? Sittenfeld provides a modern twist on the Jane Austen classic in this summer beach read. In her version, Elizabeth writes for a women's magazine and is tangled up with a married man, while her sister Jane is near 40 and seriously considering having a baby with a sperm donor. Throw in a dose of reality television, and the romance begins.
"Sweet Lamb of Heaven" by Lydia Millet - June 23
Millet's newest novel is a psychological thriller, told from the point of view of a wife fleeing her estranged husband. The husband is a businessman who has just launched his first political campaign, and the lengths he'll go to track down his wife and daughter prove chilling.
"Wintering" by Peter Geye - July 5
Geye returns to the wilderness of northern Minnesota for "Wintering," a standalone sequel to the acclaimed "The Lighthouse Road." When the elderly patriarch of the Eide family wanders off into the woods, it triggers a chain of events in the small town of Gunflint, Minn. Family secrets start to unfurl, as a grown son finally feels free to tell his story.
"Enchanted Islands" by Alison Amend - July 14
"Enchanted Islands" provides a fictionalized account of a real spy you've never heard of. Frances Conway worked as a secretary for the Office of Naval Intelligence. Through a marriage of convenience, she landed in the Galapagos Islands, where she and her husband were sent to gather intelligence during the early years of World War II. The book is based on Conway's memoirs, but introduces a fictionalized backstory for Conway.
"South Haven" by Hirsh Sawhney - Aug. 8
From the publisher:
Siddharth Arora lives an ordinary life in the New England suburb of South Haven, but his childhood comes to a grinding halt when his mother dies in a car accident. Siddharth soon gravitates toward a group of adolescent bullies, drinking and smoking instead of drawing and swimming. He takes great pains to care for his depressive father, Mohan Lal, an immigrant who finds solace in the hateful Hindu fundamentalism of his homeland and cheers on Indian fanatics who murder innocent Muslims. When a new woman enters their lives, Siddharth and his father have a chance at a fresh start. They form a new family, hoping to leave their pain behind them.
"Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi - August 18
Hailed as one of the most exciting debuts of the summer, Gyasi's has made must-read lists left and right. It's the story of two sisters in Ghana in the 18th century, and how fate divides them: One is sold into slavery in America, the other stays in Africa. The book follows the sisters' descendants, generation after generation, for 300 years.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.