Key Literary Fiction: Aug. 2022, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

Award winners Acampora and Barnes, Hamid and Lozano, and more. 

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Acampora, Lauren. The Hundred Waters. Grove. Aug. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9780802159748. $26. LITERARY

Once a struggling model and photographer in glittering New York, Louisa Rader now lives with her architect husband and daughter in upscale suburban Connecticut, missing the energy of her old life even as she tries to spruce up the local art scene. Then vital young artist/environmentalist Gabriel arrives in town and upends everything. From the award-winning author of The Wonder Garden.

Barnes, Julian. Elizabeth Finch. Knopf. Aug. 2022. 192p. ISBN 9780593535431. $26. LITERARY

When he signed up for an adult class called Culture and Civilization, Neil didn’t expect to develop a sort of intellectual crush on demanding professor Elizabeth Finch. Their relationship shapes his life, even after she dies—she leaves him notes on his latest obsession, Julian the Apostate—as Booker Prize winner Barnes explores the many variations on love and the undercurrents of “culture and civilization” in our lives.

Hamid, Mohsin. The Last White Man. Riverhead. Aug. 2022. 192p. ISBN 9780593538814. $26. lrg. prnt. Downloadable. LITERARY/POLITICAL

Overnight, Anders’s skin has turned dark, a secret he initially shares only with new lover Oona. But soon people everywhere are being transformed, raising tough questions. How can you recognize friends and family? Can you love them as you once did, changed as they are? And is the old social order, with its attendant prejudices, about to be tossed out the window? Sharp-edged political/fantastical allegory from two-time Booker Prize finalist Hamid.

Janson, Julie. Benevolence. HarperVia. Aug. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780063140950. $27.99. LITERARY

A Burruberongal woman of Darug Aboriginal Nation, award-winning playwright/poet/novelist Janson draws on family history to tell the story of Muraging, who is still a child when white settlers violently seize what is now Australia for the British Empire, including in their claim the little strip of land between the river and the sea her family calls home. Soon Muraging is sent to the Parramatta Native School, where she is forced to abandon her language and culture, and she eventually runs away to face a strange and harsh new world. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Jones, Sadie. Amy & Lan. Harper. Aug. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780063240902. $25.99. LITERARY

On a farm in southwest England presided over by three sets of parents, best friends Amy and Lan frolic with the other children, plus chickens, goats, dogs, and a calf named Gabriella Christmas. Theirs is a carefree, even wild childhood that’s about to be disrupted by something stirring between Lan's mother and Amy's father. With a 25,000-copy first printing; check it out, as Jones’s novels range from The Outcast, a Costa First Novel Award winner, to 2019’s LJ-starred The Snakes.

Kumarasamy, Akil. Meet Us by the Roaring Sea. Farrar. Aug. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780374177706. $27. LITERARY

In this follow-up to Kumarasamy’s Bard Fiction Prize–winning story collection, Half Gods, a young woman responds to her mother’s violent death in a near-future Queens, NY, by working her way through language studies, artificial intelligence, and television, eventually translating an old manuscript about female medical students in a catastrophic world figuring out how best to help others. With the arrival of both a stranger and a childhood friend and the advent of a special AI project, the protagonist asks herself the same question. With 40,000-copy first printing.

Levin, Adam. Mount Chicago. Doubleday. Aug. 2022. 592p. ISBN 9780385548243. $30. Downloadable. LITERARY

A major disaster strikes Chicago, with the earth falling away beneath everyone’s feet, and a Jewish comedian, his most committed fan, and the city’s mayor are among the main characters struggling to survive. Meanwhile, NYPL Young Fiction Lions Levin gets to comment on issues like Chicago politics, stand-up comedy, Jewish identity, loss, and resilience.

Louis, Édouard. A Woman’s Battles and Transformations. Farrar. Aug. 2022. 128p. tr. from French by Tash Aw. ISBN 9780374606749. $25. LITERARY

“I did it. I left your father.” So proclaimed French novelist Louis’s mother in a phone call that ultimately inspired this novel, which follows the blistering international best sellers The End of Eddy and History of Violence. Here he writes not simply of one woman’s liberation but of mother and sons, class and control, and how we are all ground down by society’s strictures. With a 20,000-copy first printing.

Lozano, Brenda. Witches. Catapult. Aug. 2022. 240p. tr. from Spanish by Heather Cleary. ISBN 9781646220687. $26. LITERARY

In this new work from Mexican writer Lozano, whose Loop won the PEN Translation Prize, reporter Zoé travels from Mexico City to San Felipe to investigate the murder of Paloma, a muxe—that is, she belongs to a self-identifying third gender among the Indigenous people of Oaxaca, assigned male at birth and embracing dress and behavior typically associated with women. Before she became Paloma, she was Gaspar, a curandero (or traditional healer) who taught cousin Feliciana the secrets of her art. Examining Paloma’s death while learning how Feliciana has struggled to be accepted as a healer deepens Zoé’s understanding of her own hard experiences as a woman.

Yagi, Emi. Diary of a Void. Viking. Aug. 2022. 224p. tr. from Japanese by David Boyd & Lucy North. ISBN 9780143136873. $23. Downloadable. LITERARY

Winner of the Dazai Osamu Prize, awarded annually to the best debut work of fiction in Japan, Yagi’s satisfyingly acidulous works feature thirtyish Ms. Shibata, who leaves one job in Tokyo to escape sexual harassment yet finds in her new job that as the only woman on staff she is expected to do all the menial work. Insisting that she cannot clear away the coffee because the smell nauseates her as she’s pregnant—never mind that she’s not—Ms. Shibata finds herself released from overtime and various obnoxious tasks and soon begins losing her sense of reality. 

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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