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Grab These 10 Great Summer Reads

Look for these new beach-bag-worthy books from local authors.

Illustration: Ben Wiseman

Already Out

‘The Making of Zombie Wars’ by Aleksandar Hemon

The Making of Zombie Wars

By Aleksandar Hemon
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The National Book Award finalist applies a touch of slapstick to some of his favorite themes—loneliness, dislocation—in this tale of a frustrated screenwriter tumbling through a series of ridiculous misadventures.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about things, delaying the moment of writing, because I’m lazy, but also I need the impetus,” says Hemon. “When I can’t stand not writing, this is when I’ll start writing.”


‘Mr. and Mrs. Doctor’ by Julie Iromuanya

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor

By Julie Iromuanya
(Coffee House Press)

Mining themes similar to those of Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go, the Northeastern Illinois University professor tackles the impossible hopes attached to the American dream in her debut novel about an ambitious Nigerian immigrant who lies about being a doctor to his new wife.


‘Paris, He Said’ by Christine Sneed

Paris, He Said

By Christine Sneed

In the follow-up to her well-regarded debut novel, Little Known Facts, the Evanston author exchanges Hollywood for the picturesque City of Lights in this flight of fantasy about a struggling New York artist’s affair with an older, wealthy Parisian gallerist.


‘The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic’ by Jessica Hopper

The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

By Jessica Hopper
(Featherproof Books)

Hopper, a vet of Chicago’s music scene, has had her nuanced musings on such topics as celebrity, feminism, and nostalgia published everywhere from Punk Planet to Spin to this magazine.

“Some of the early pieces were pre–digital era, so they had to be retyped from old issues of Punk Planet,” recalls Hopper. “I had to source some of the work from my friends’ garages and archives.”


June Releases

‘Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship’ by Robert Kurson

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

By Robert Kurson
(Random House, June 16)

Two divers try to uncover a 17th-century pirate ship in this true story, a follow-up to the best-selling Shadow Divers, by a former Chicago staff writer. Perfect for history buffs and lovers of Erik Larson’s adventure thrillers.


‘Music for Wartime’ by Rebecca Makkai

Music for Wartime

By Rebecca Makkai
(Viking, June 23)

After two celebrated novels—The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower—Makkai returns to the genre that first got her noticed. The stories’ settings vary from a reality TV show to post–World War II Romania, with the Lake Forest author’s sharp, compassionate writing uniting them all.


July Releases

‘Diane von Furstenberg: A Life Unwrapped’ by Gioia Diliberto

Diane von Furstenberg: A Life Unwrapped

By Gioia Diliberto
(HarperCollins, July 15)

This Lincoln Park resident has made a career profiling influential women: Jane Addams, Coco Chanel, Hadley Richardson. Now she turns her pen, and lively prose, to the Belgian-born fashion icon whose wrap dress became a symbol of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s.


‘A Cure for Suicide: A Novel’ by Jesse Ball

A Cure for Suicide: A Novel

By Jesse Ball
(Pantheon, July 21)

The School of the Art Institute writing professor follows his well-received Silence Once Begun with this experimental tale of a man simply known as the “claimant,” who, with the help of a mysterious woman, must relearn how to function in society.


‘Pretty Baby’ by Mary Kubica

Pretty Baby

By Mary Kubica
(Mira Books, July 28)

Much to her husband’s chagrin, an earnest do-gooder takes in a homeless teen and her baby in Kubica’s (The Good Girl) sophomore effort. The teenager’s mysterious story drives the plot, but Kubica’s portrait of the couple’s tenuous marriage especially compels.


August Release

‘Dragonfish’ by Vu Tran


By Vu Tran
(W.W. Norton, August 3)

Tran, a professor of creative writing at the University of Chicago, sets his first novel—about a cop searching for his missing Vietnamese ex-wife—on the streets of Las Vegas, using the trappings of classic mysteries to thoughtfully explore the immigrant experience.

“Las Vegas is an ideal backdrop for noir fiction,” says Tran. “In a place where there’s a constant dynamic between the surface and the substance of things, ambiguity suffuses everyone’s story.”


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