When I chose this month’s Essential Reading theme, I was musing on the possibilities of summer adventure. (Don’t we all feel like we’re embarking on a daring Voyage of Discovery when we stuff the family into the car and set off on a road trip?) Of course, discovery can be a slow, quiet event that unfolds unexpectedly, not necessarily a matter of decisive action; it can also be more disheartening than triumphant. Every good book can be an occasion for discovery, however—and the same might be said even for many of the rotten ones. One of my recent literary discoveries (the good kind) has been the short stories of Etgar Keret, an Israeli writer whose work manages to be modern without being vacuous and experimental without being pretentious. I’m reading Suddenly, A Knock on the Door, a 2012 translation from the original Hebrew, and I find its cleverness utterly endearing. Two of my favorite stories, “What Do We Have in Our Pockets?” and “Lieland,” are about the wild possibilities inherent in (respectively) our most mundane possessions and our most casual distortions of the truth. May your own summer reading discoveries be equally rewarding! Read on for more helpful recommendations.
Fiction Co-Editor Kristina Riggle writes, “The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty is about a shocking discovery, but more than that, it’s about the characters discovering what’s possible within them, given both the dark and light sides of human nature. Secrets form the center of many novels—maybe even most novels, because without secrets we have fewer troubles—but this book takes its rich and complex characters in surprising directions.”
Avery Fischer Udagawa, “Four Worlds” Columnist, shares, “I have been re-discovering a 19th-century British narrative thanks to a 21st-century Japanese novel. Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel, in translation by Juliet Winters Carpenter, pays homage to Wuthering Heights by following the entanglements of two Japanese families over four generations, as viewed by multiple Lockwood-like interlocutors. Far more than a rehearsal of Emily Bronte’s themes, this sweeping re-imagination brims with emotional acuity and relatable characters, portrayed against the backdrop of Long Island, greater Tokyo, and the mountain resort of Karuizawa. It deservedly won the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award’s Grand Prize in Fiction.”