There are so many wonderful new stories hitting bookshop shelves at the moment. Here are three fantastic new releases that you might want to pick up this summer.
Chrysalis by Anna Metcalfe
“Through observing her, I came to love her differently, with mind and body together. I knew who she was, I thought, so I could love her consciously.”
Chrysalis is a fascinating novel, perfect for fans of The Vegetarian by Han Kang and The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya. Written in three perspectives, we follow Elliot, Bella and Susie, characters who are all fixated on someone who we never hear from directly: a woman who has decided to cut herself off from the rest of the world and drastically change her body. As the novel progresses, the characters invite us to stalk her, too — seemingly using her as a form of emotional photosynthesis. Chrysalis is as compelling as it is unsettling, asking us what it means to inhabit a body, to exist, to take up space. It’s a complex meditation on setting boundaries, observation, and control.
The Middle Daughter by Chika Unigwe
“Three girls. Udodi was the beginning. I [Nani] was the middle. Ugo the conclusion. ‘You are my short story,’ Doda said all the time. The perfect short story.”
Nani is only 17 when she loses her older sister, closely followed by the death of her father. This is not the story her family had hoped for. When a self-proclaimed preacher comes to their house, Nani is intrigued, and she follows him into the night. She describes him as a “man with no edges”, a man who makes the world come crashing down all over again. Nani’s mother is preoccupied with salvaging the stories of other young girls in the town, not her daughter’s, and so, with the author of her own story (her father) gone, and her eldest sister (the beginning) of her story also lost, Nani must work out how to regain control of her own narrative before it’s too late. Playing with storytelling structure, Igbo creation myth, and biblical imagery, Unigwe has crafted a layered novel I’d recommend for fans of Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo and The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini.
Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang
“I can tell she’s trying to add texture to her characters’ lives, to show the readers where they come from and the webs in which they exist, but she’s gone way overboard. It’s distracting from the central narrative. Reading should be an enjoyable experience, not a chore.”
Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang is a book you will want to read in one sitting (trust me, I started it late at night and could not get to sleep because I so desperately wanted to finish it). Successful Athena Liu is celebrating a Netflix deal with her “friend” June Hayward, a fellow writer whose debut novel flopped. When Athena chokes on a pancake and dies, June decides to steal Athena’s unpublished manuscript from her flat, and publish it under her own name — well, a “racially ambiguous” take on her own name: Juniper Song. This is something that’s suggested to her by her publisher, given her novel is about Chinese history, and Juniper is white. If you loved The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya or I’m A Fan by Sheena Patel, you will adore this book. At once a thriller, an exposé on racism in publishing, and a tensely hilarious novel, Yellowface is easily one of my favourite books of the year.
Jen Campbell is a bestselling author and disability advocate. She has written twelve books for children and adults, the latest of which is Please Do Not Touch This Exhibit. She also writes for TOAST Book Club.
Images courtesy of Jen Campbell.