Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney, the New York Times bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends, has written a new book entitled Beautiful World, Where Are You?
Alice, a writer, meets Felix, a warehouse worker, and invites him to accompany her to Rome. After a breakup, her best friend Eileen flirts with Simon, a man she’s known since childhood in Dublin. Life is catching up with Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon, even though they are still very young people. Desire and deception lead to a relationship and then a breakup. All of these things are on their minds: sexuality, friendships, and the world in which they live. What are they doing in the last room that’s still lit before the darkness falls? Does anyone believe in an ideal world?
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
About the strange, unexpected bond that forms between a married couple and two college students.
Twenty-one-year-old Frances has a calm demeanor and an uncanny ability to see the gloom in the world around her. With Bobbi, her best friend and fellow soldier-in-arms, she devotes herself to a life of the mind as she pursues her dreams of becoming a novelist. Melissa, a journalist in Dublin, spotting their potential, invites the two young women to perform their spoken-word poetry together. Frances is drawn into Melissa’s orbit by the sophistication of her home and the handsomeness of her husband. Patriarchy is embodied in Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, according to Frances, who sees private property as a cultural evil. Initially, their flirtation appears to be amusing, but it soon evolves into a strange intimacy that neither of them expected. At first, Frances’ relationship with Nick is easy to manage; later, her difficult and unhappy father and finally Bobbi become difficult to control. Frances’ intellectual certainty begins to give way to a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment as she tries to reconcile herself to her body’s desires and vulnerabilities.
Conversations With Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth because it is written with gem-like precision and probing intelligence.
Boy Parts by Eliza Clark
As a model for Irina, Irina scouts men on the streets of Newcastle and takes explicit pictures of them for her portfolio.
Her dead-end bar job is replaced with a sabbatical at a fashionable London gallery, which promises to revive her career in the arts and provide an escape from her rut of drugs, alcohol, and extreme movies. Irina’s obsessive best friend and a shy young man from her local supermarket are the focus of a self-destructive spiral triggered by the news.
Eliza Clark’s explosive debut novel, Boy Parts, is a dark comedy that is both shocking and hilarious, delving head-on into the taboo areas of modern sexuality and gender roles.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident, is the protagonist of Convenience Store Woman, a heartwarming and unexpected story. After years of feeling isolated and dissatisfied, Keiko finds a sense of belonging at the “Smile Mart” store in the Hiiromachi district of Tokyo. Unlike anywhere else, the store has clearly defined social rules, and she follows them to the letter, dressing and speaking exactly as her coworkers do. She does an admirable job of portraying a “normal” person, and her coworkers are impressed by her ability to pull it off. After 18 years at the same location, Keiko is the store’s longest-serving manager. You can’t tell where she starts and the store ends. Keiko is very happy, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, increasingly pressure her to find a husband, and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action…
Convenience Store Woman is a brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and a hidden world, as well as an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform.
Milk Fed by Melissa Broder
The acclaimed author of The Pisces and So Sad Today returns with a scathingly funny, wildly erotic, and fiercely imaginative tale of food, sex, and god.
A lapsed Jew in her twenties, Rachel has taken up the practice of calorie restriction as a form of spirituality. In her day job as a talent agent’s assistant, she keeps up a facade of control over her own life by engaging in ritualistic eating habits. She does nothing on the elliptical machine at night. The therapist encourages Rachel to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of counting calories. Rachel is content to continue subsisting.
Before long, Rachel meets the dapper young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is determined to feed the famished woman. As Rachel and Miriam’s relationship deepens, she finds herself drawn into a world of mirrors, mysticism, mothers, and the sweet smell of honey and ice cream.
Broder tells a story of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual longing, and the ways in which we as humans can compartmentalize these so often interdependent instincts through the prism of emotion. “Milk Fed,” by one of our most important writers on the human psyche, is a tender and hilarious meditation on love, certitude, and what we’re all being fed.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
First-person account of a millennial Irish expat’s love triangle with a male banker and a female lawyer in an intimate, bracingly intelligent debut novel
Despite her best efforts, Ava’s move to Hong Kong has failed to bring her happiness. Her days are now spent teaching English to wealthy students (she’s been put in charge of the grammar classes because she’s cold) and her nights are spent avoiding her petulant roommates in her cramped apartment since she left Dublin.
The British banker, Julian, who Ava befriends, offers her a shortcut to an extravagant lifestyle that her meager salary couldn’t afford. Even though she’s a strong supporter of women’s rights and doesn’t want to, Ava ends up living with Julian and letting him buy her clothes, all while developing a sexual attraction to him. The two of them decide to stay put while Julian returns to London for work. She’s not sure where she stands with Julian.
Edith is here to greet you. While at the theater, Edith takes Ava and leaves her flowers for her in the hallway. Ava aspires to be like her and craves her. Ava is faced with a choice when Julian tells her that he’s returning to Hong Kong, and she’s been keeping a low profile about him. Is it safer for her to stick with Julian, who she has a good relationship with, or should she try something new with Edith?
It’s exciting to see a novel that’s so politically aware, yet also so heartbreakingly raw and dryly funny, take on the great liberties and greater uncertainties of modern love. By deconstructing the personal and financial transactions that constitute a life, Naoise Dolan establishes herself as an original new voice with elegant, uncluttered prose.
Bunny by Mona Awad
At Warren University in New England, a small, highly selective MFA program, Samantha Heather Mackey stands out as an outcast. Students in her fiction writing class, an unwieldy posse of overly sweet rich girls who call each other “Bunny” and act and speak as one, repulse this scholarship student, who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most others.
But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door—ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. With each step Samantha takes deeper into the sinister yet sweet world of the Bunnies and into their ritualistic off-campus “Workshop,” the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur. In the near future, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will collide.
Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrifying power of the imagination from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience.