It's August, and the great new fiction books are rolling in with the humidity and late-summer thunderstorms. You're going to want to take advantage of these last few weeks of summer outdoor reading by picking up some excellent new releases over the next few weeks.
More than one of these novels could be called The Handmaid's Tale of 2018. The books below tackle misogyny, abuse, and oppression through propulsive, thrilling, and unputdownable stories. These reads take on the patriarchy from a multitude of searing angles that go beyond anything you've read before. These books will put our current political moment into harsh perspective and provide even more clarity on the consequences of anti-feminist political action.
Plus, this month's best new books promise to take readers all around the world, with novels set in Korea, Zimbabwe, West Africa, Cuba, California, and more. What better way to learn about a place than through heart-wrenching, eye-opening fiction? And if you can't take a trip in the next few weeks, these books just might be the perfect, inexpensive escape.
So, kick off your shoes and finish off your summer reading with some remarkable new works of fiction. Here are the best fiction books coming out in August 2018.
'If You Leave Me' by Crystal Hana Kim (August 7; William Morrow)
When the armies from the North invade her home during the Korean War, 16-year-old Haemi Lee and her family are forced to flee to a refugee camp. Her only escape from her family's devastating situation is time spent with her childhood friend, Kyunghwan. But despite the deep feelings she has for Kyunghwan, in order to ensure security for her family, Haemi marries his wealthy cousin, setting forward a series of events that would affect their family for generations.
'The Third Hotel' by Laura van den Berg (August 7; Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux)
Shortly after arriving in Havana, Cuba, Clare sees her husband, Richard, standing outside a museum. But here's the thing: Richard's supposed to be dead. Not sure what to believe, Clare tails him through the streets of Havana and attempts to figure out what actually happened to her husband.
'Before She Sleeps' by Bina Shah (August 7; Delphinium)
In this dystopia, Green City is the capital of South West Asia, a place where gender selection, war, and disease have resulted in a population with many more men than women. Under the terror of the government, women are forced to take multiple husbands in order to have children as quickly as possible. But women are resisting, and an underground collective emerges, providing something that has become a high commodity in this oppressive society: intimacy without sex.
'The Bucket List' by Georgia Clark (August 7; Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
When Lacey Whitman is diagnosed with the "breast cancer" gene, facing the prospect of a preventative double mastectomy, she writes a bucket list... for her breasts.
'This Mournable Body' by Tsitsi Dangarembga (August 7; Graywolf)
In this exceptional novel, Tsitsi Dangarembga explores the obstacles faced by women in Zimbabwe. In this story, Tambudzai (the same protagonist from Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions) works tirelessly to hold down a job, facing humiliation at every turn. When circumstances finally force Tambudzai to move in with her parents, life becomes even more complicated.
'Rust & Stardust' by T. Greenwood (August 7; St. Martin's Press)
This chilling book fictionalizes the real-life kidnapping that inspired Vladimir Nabokov's classic, Lolita. In Camden, NJ in 1948, 11-year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth's. 52-year-old Frank LaSalle catches her in the act, and convinces her that he's an FBI agent and she must do everything he says. Over the next two years, the two travel westward, as LaSalle manipulates and abuses Sally every step of the way. This is a perfect read to pickup before Sarah Weinman's nonfiction account of the case, The Real Lolita, comes out in September.
'Certain American States: Stories' by Catherine Lacey (August 7; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
In this collection, Whiting Award winner Catherine Lacey delivers short stories that showcase an unforgettable cast of characters: there's the woman who leaves her dead husband's clothes on the street only to see them reappear on a stranger and another young woman whose Texan mother insists on moving to NYC with her as she copes with a family tragedy.
'Open Me' by Lisa Locascio (August 7; Grove Press)
An "erotic coming-of-age" novel, this book will sweep you up in a whirlwind of passion and self-discovery. After a mix-up, Roxana unexpectedly lands in Copenhagen for her summer studying abroad. There she meets Soren, her 28-year-old guide. They're instantly drawn to each other, and when Soren asks Roxana to accompany him to a small town in the north of Denmark, she immediately accepts, embarking on a journey that opens her up to a new world of pleasure and fantasy.
'A River of Stars' by Vanessa Hua (August 14; Ballantine Books)
Scarlett Chen is pregnant and staying in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles. She's been sent there from China by the father of her child — her factory boss who already has a wife and family at home, but wants his son to have every advantage by being born on U.S. soil. But when a new sonogram reveals something unexpected about her pregnancy, Scarlett panics, hijacks a van, and flees to San Francisco's Chinatown.
'Severance' by Ling Ma (August 14; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Candace Chen is a "millennial drone" working an office job, and since the death of her parents, she has found comfort in routine. But when a plague sweeps through NYC, igniting a mass evacuation, Candace agrees to be part of a skeleton crew that stays behind and keeps working. The subways are stopped, the streets are empty, and Candace is all alone. That is, until she encounters a group of survivors who are all on their way to a place called The Facility.
'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens (August 14; G.P. Putnam's Sons)
This lush mystery is perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver. It's 1969 in Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the coast of North Carolina, and rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have been circulating for years. So, when a body is found, suspicions fall on the so-called "Marsh Girl" Kya Clark, who has lived alone in the marshes for years. Kya has survived on her own, finding companionship in the gulls, until two men from town become intrigued by her, and she opens herself to a new life...one that could have dangerous consequences.
'Vox' by Christina Dalcher (August 21; Berkley)
Fittingly, this book about women being silenced has got everybody talking and calling it The Handmaid's Tale for 2018. This dystopian novel takes place in a near-future version of the United States where women are allotted just 100 words per day. Moreover, women are no longer allowed to have jobs, and girls are no longer taught to read and write. But the book's protagonist, Dr. Jean McClellan, is determined to reclaim her voice.
'Praise Song for the Butterflies' by Bernice L. McFadden (August 28; Akashic Books)
Set in West Africa, Praise Song of the Butterflies follows Abeo, the nine-year-old daughter of a privileged family. When her family falls on hard times, Abeo's father delivers her to a shrine to become a trokosi, a ritualized slave to the priest. For the next two decades, Abeo suffers unspeakably abuse in servitude to the shrine.
'Everyday People: The Color of Life — A Short Story Anthology' edited by Jennifer Baker (August 28; Atria Books)
There are so many reasons to get excited for this new anthology, which showcases a number of "multi-cultural, multi-ethnic ensemble of contemporary writers." This book features fourteen incredible new and republished stories by Jason Reynolds, Alexander Chee, Nelly Rosario, Mitchell S. Jackson, Nana Brew-Hammond, Yiyun Li, Mia Alvar, Courttia Newland, Hasanthika Sirisena, Carleigh Baker, Brandon Taylor and more.