“I Saw a Man” by Owen Sheers (Nan Talese, Doubleday, $26)
In this intense literary thriller, Michael Turner is a writer struggling with the death of his journalist wife in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. His healing is slow but is helped along by the friendship he develops with the Nelsons, a family living in his London neighborhood. When an unexpected tragedy strikes the Nelsons, one in which Michael plays an accidental but key role, he masterminds a calculating coverup. This Hitchcockian drama begs to be read in one sitting.
“Louisa Meets Bear” by Lisa Gornick (Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26)
Readers will find themselves identifying with the struggling men and women in this cleverly linked collection of short stories in which all the characters have some connection to the well-to-do Louisa and Bear, the son of a plumber. Their hot-and-cold love affair and the stories of the people around them take place from 1961 to 2009. Family problems, death, depression and betrayal mold their behavior in ways that readers will find quite relatable.
“Summerlong” by Dean Bakopoulos (Ecco, $27, available June 16)
It’s a long, hot summer in Grinnell, Iowa, for Don and Claire Lowry, who are on the verge of losing their home and their marriage. Things are just as heated for the suicidal woman known as ABC, who is mourning her dead lover, and failed actor Charlie Gulliver, who returns to Grinnell to sort through his incapacitated father’s papers. Pot smoking, pool parties and illicit sex fuel this novel about adults still struggling to grab a foothold in maturity even as they act like kids.
Bakopoulos will be in conversation with writer Charles Baxter at 7 p.m. June 26 at Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
“Let Me Explain You” by Annie Liontas (Scribner, $26, July 14)
Stavros Mavrakis has 10 days to live. At least that’s what a goat reveals to him in a dream, and that’s not the craziest thing that happens in this darkly comic novel. In preparing for his demise, Stavros sends an e-mail to his daughters and ex-wife, urging them to live better lives. Liontas shows compassion for her characters even as she plumbs their dysfunction. Seeded with family anecdotes, the novel’s true heart is one filled with love and forgiveness.
“Love May Fail” by Matthew Quick (Harper, $26, June 16)
Fed up with her cheating porno film producer husband, Portia Kane heads to New Jersey, where she grew up. Portia undertakes two journeys, one to find her authentic self, the other to locate her former high school English teacher, the recent victim of a heinous crime, who ignited her passion for life and learning. The author of “The Silver Linings Playbook” dishes up a story filled with damaged people who find a way to become whole again.
“China Rich Girlfriend” by Kevin Kwan (Doubleday, $27, June 16)
The protagonists in the 2013 hit “Crazy Rich Asians” continue their pursuit of status, opulence and money in this very enjoyable and equally satisfying follow-up. Just as funny as “Crazy Rich Asians,” this globe-spanning tale of excess includes enough snootiness and class snobbery to fill a multitude of designer handbags. It’s a modern-day comedy of manners that highlights what it means to be “China rich” as well as the things that money can never buy.
“Music for Wartime” by Rebecca Makkai (Viking, $27, June 23)
A woman who accidentally kills an albatross, and an escaped political prisoner who steals the identity of a physics professor, are just two of the beleaguered characters in this engrossing collection of short stories from the author of “The Hundred-Year House.” Ranging in length from two to 25 pages, they place ordinary people in bizarre or maudlin situations mostly centering on art, music, love, secrets and war. Three of the best are inspired by the author’s Hungarian ancestors’ experiences in the 1930s.
“Ana of California” by Andi Teran (Penguin, $16, June 30)
Generations grew up reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables,” the iconic novel about an orphan sent to live on Prince Edward Island. This debut offers a modern alternative to the spunky Anne Shirley in Mexican-American Ana Cortez. In the Los Angeles foster system since her parents were killed in a gang-related shooting, Ana gets a second chance on a northern California family farm. This bright, independent teen, who can’t stay out of trouble, is as endearing as the girl who inspired her.
“Everybody Rise” by Stephanie Clifford (St. Martin’s, $27, Aug. 18)
Like Lily Bart in Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth,” this debut novel’s main character struggles to maintain a toehold in New York’s high society even as she slowly self-destructs. This expertly told novel of manners follows Evelyn Beegan’s fall from lying, scheming rich girl wannabe to destitute social pariah. This relentlessly fascinating story of old money and callous ambition could very well be the most talked-about book of the summer.
“A Window Opens” by Elisabeth Egan (Simon & Schuster, $26, Aug. 25)
“When a door closes, a window opens” is the mantra running through this exquisitely told family drama. Alice Pearse is happy juggling her roles as wife, mother, book lover and part-time editor, until financial hardships upend her world. She’s forced to take a full-time job, but it’s not long before her 24-hour-a-day juggling act is rattled by her needy children, her husband’s drinking and her father’s failing health. Alice’s story reminds us that sometimes it’s necessary to lean out as well as in.
Carol Memmott’s reviews also appear in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.