1. I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story
By Michael Hastings
Released in paperback earlier this year with a new afterword, Michael Hastings’ superb debut is a searing, honest, and heart-wrenching combination of war journalism and memoir. As controversial as his most recent article “The Runaway General” in Rolling Stone, here is a book that matters. Both “a tribute and memorial” to Andi Parhamovich, the author’s fiancee who was tragically killed in 2007.
A significant portion of the book’s proceeds go to The Andi Foundation, providing college scholarships and other opportunities for young women.
2. The Tyranny of Email
By John Freeman
Talk about books that could change your life. Part history of correspondence and part self-help (and when it comes to e-mail, you do need help), Freeman’s debut is a love letter to the written word. And like the title of one of its chapters, it’s a “manifesto for a slow communication movement.”
3. Heartbreak Tango
By Manuel Puig, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine
Innovative and perhaps too easily dismissed in 1969 as “light literature,” Heartbreak Tango still titillates with a story and a style influenced by Manuel Puig’s love of the cinema. From the Argentine author of Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Betrayed by Rita Hayworth.
4. The Imperfectionists
By Tom Rachman
The Dial Press
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman’s wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it—and themselves—afloat.
5. The Serialist
By David Gordon
Simon & Schuster
Harry Bloch is a struggling writer who pumps out pulpy serial novels—from vampire books to detective stories—under various pseudonyms. But his life begins to imitate his fiction when he agrees to ghostwrite the memoir of Darian Clay, New York City’s infamous Photo Killer. Soon, three young women turn up dead, each one murdered in the Photo Killer’s gruesome signature style, and Harry must play detective in a real-life murder plot as he struggles to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.
By Evgenia Citkowitz
A debut story collection and a novella from an established screenwriter. These sexy, complex stories form a collage of heartbreak and humor like a Robert Altman film with desire and deceit on every page. We recommend reading the title novella “Ether” first, and then working your way backwards.
7. When Skateboards Will
Be Free, Said Sayrafiezadeh
The Dial Press
The Unknown Knowns,
Who says summer picks need to be released in thesummer. Let us break that silly rule right now. Here are two authors we interviewed recently with debut books that wowed our socks off. Newly released in beautiful paperbacks (Rotter’s comes with an added comic) these books have one major thing in common: heart.
8. Super Sad True Love Story
By Gary Shteyngart
The funniest novel you will read this year. It’s about the near future: the financial collapse of the United States, rendering it a Third World nation, China’s inevitable takeover, the science of eternal life, and the two lovers caught in the middle: Lenny and Eunice.
9. As a Friend
By Forrest Gander
As A Friend tells the story of a friendship as intense and doomed as a summer romance. Set in Arkansas in the late 1970s, it eulogizes a charismatic young poet whose appetite for life leads to his betrayal. This is poet Forrest Gander’s first novel and he gets more into this slim book than most novelists do in three times the page count. You’ll need tissues to get through it. Maybe also a shot of bourbon.
10. Learning to Lose
By David Trueba, Translated by Mara Faye Lethem
Suffering from World Cup withdrawal? Check out LEARNING TO LOSE, the English debut from acclaimed Spanish author and filmmaker David Trueba, which tells a powerful coming-of-age story anchored by love, obsession, and soccer in Madrid.
11. The Quickening
Set against the harsh climate of Midwestern farms during the Great Depression and loosely based on the author’s own family history, THE QUICKENING is a story of survival and hardship, violence and betrayal, and the discovery and loss of lifelong love.
12. A Visit from the Goon Squad
By Jennifer Egan
No, Mario Puzo isn’t ghostwriting from beyond the grave. Despite its title, Jennifer Egan’s newest novel is a gentle, melancholy, beautifully constructed meditation on music, youth, love, and time’s unstoppable forward march.