Best summer books 2017: John Grisham's ‘Camino Island,’ Tom Perrotta's ‘Mrs. Fletcher,' more

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Don’t imagine that the publishing industry takes a summer vacation — they’re cranking out a wide-ranging list of fiction and nonfiction so that you have things to read at the beach all season long. Here are 12 highlights of the coming months, including John Grisham’s 30th novel, Booker Prize-winner Arundhati Roy’s first novel in 20 years, a take-no-prisoners memoir by Roxane Gay and a new novel by “The Leftovers” author Tom Perrotta. 

‘Camino Island,’ by John Grisham

In case you were keeping score, this is
(Credit: Doubleday)

In case you were keeping score, this is the 30th novel from the prolific author who began his long reign on the bestseller lists with “The Firm” back in 1991. Grisham will bring out his regularly scheduled legal thriller in October, but in the meantime here’s a heist caper involving stolen manuscripts by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a Florida bookstore owner and a novelist with writer’s block who’s drawn into some amateur sleuthing. (Doubleday, June 6)

‘Hué 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam,’ by Mark Bowden

On Jan. 31, 1968 -- the first day
(Credit: Atlantic Monthly Press)

On Jan. 31, 1968 — the first day of the Lunar New Year known as Tet — the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive, capturing the old capital of Huếé. For the next 24 days, U.S. Marines waged an intense and bloody battle to retake the city. Bowden (“Black Hawk Down”) recounts this pivotal struggle in a book that has already been optioned for a miniseries by director Michael Mann. (Atlantic Monthly Press, June 6)

‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,’ by Arundhati Roy

It's been 20 years since
(Credit: Knopf)

It’s been 20 years since “The God of Small Things,” the debut novel from Indian author Roy, dazzled readers and picked up a Man Booker Prize. Roy has been busy writing nonfiction and working as a political activist, but she hasn’t written another novel — until now. Overflowing with characters, stories and Indian history, “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” recalls Jeffrey Eugenides’ “Middlesex” by way of Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children.” (Alfred A. Knopf, June 6)

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‘Do Not Become Alarmed,’ by Maile Meloy

Two California cousins take their families on a
(Credit: Riverhead)

Two California cousins take their families on a cruise to Central America that goes horribly wrong in this intelligent thriller by an author known for literary fiction such as “Liars and Saints” and “Half in Love.” While the husbands are playing golf, Liv and Nora set off with the kids for a zip line adventure, along with an Argentine mother and her children they met onboard. But the six kids get separated from the adults, setting in motion a dramatic high-stakes plot. (Riverhead, June 6)

‘Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,’ by Roxane Gay

Already celebrated for her fiction (
(Credit: HarperCollins)

Already celebrated for her fiction (“An Untamed State,” “Difficult Women”), her essays (“Bad Feminist”) and her lively Twitter feed, Gay turns to memoir in this powerful reflection on her childhood traumas — she was raped at age 12 — and struggles with her weight and body image, observing that she “ate and ate and ate” as a coping mechanism. Timely and resonant, you can be sure that “Hunger” will touch a nerve, as so much of Roxane Gay’s writing does. (Harper, June 13)

‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,’ by Sherman Alexie

The author of
(Credit: Little, Brown)

The author of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” which won a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, grew up poor on the Spokane Indian reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. In this adult memoir — full of bleak memories but graceful prose and poetry — Alexie reckons with the complicated legacy of his alcoholic, sometimes abusive mother, Lillian — a woman whose own childhood was filled with hardship. (Little, Brown; June 13)
 

 

 

‘The Force,’ by Don Winslow

Riding high on the acclaim from his 2015
(Credit: William Morrow)

Riding high on the acclaim from his 2015 novel, “The Cartel,” inspired by the Mexican drug lord El Chapo, Winslow turns to the streets of New York in this dark novel about an NYPD special task force led by Denny Malone, whose brother died as a first responder on 9/11. Malone and his team get results, but after a major drug bust, he surreptitiously helps himself to a few million dollars and some heroin — a crime that’s dwarfed by the corrupt system around him. (William Morrow, June 20)

‘Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Creatures’

Can scientists use biotechnology to resurrect the Woolly
(Credit: Atria)

Can scientists use biotechnology to resurrect the Woolly Mammoth, which died out thousands of years ago? Geneticist George M. Church and his Harvard labmates are trying to do just that in this work of nonfiction — not science fiction — by the author of “The Accidental Billionaire” (basis for the film “The Social Network”). (Atria, July 4)

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‘The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II,’ by Svetlana Alexievich

The winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for
(Credit: Random House)

The winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature has chronicled life in the Soviet Union in works of oral history often called “symphonic.” Three of her books — “Secondhand Time,” “Voices from Chernobyl” and “Zinky Boys” — have been translated into English; they’re now joined by Alexievich’s first book, built from her interviews with women who joined the Red Army during the Second World War. (Random House, July 25)

‘New People,’ by Danzy Senna

In her shrewd and funny new novel, the
(Credit: Riverhead)

In her shrewd and funny new novel, the author of “Caucasia” introduces Khalil and Maria, a pair of biracial Stanford grads who were the “King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom” and now engaged to be married. They’re starring in a documentary about “new people” such as themselves, and the future is bright — until Maria loses faith in the dream, stalls out on her dissertation on the Jonestown massacre and finds herself obsessed with a black poet. (Riverhead, Aug. 1)
 

‘Mrs. Fletcher,’ by Tom Perrotta

The author of
(Credit: Scribner)

The author of “The Leftovers” (adapted for the HBO series now in its third season) is back with a new novel. The title character, first name of Eve, is 46, recently divorced and on her own after depositing her only child, Brendan, at college. Perrotta traces the growth of mother and son, as Eve takes a course in “Gender and Society” and befriends a transgender professor, and Brendan sheds his frat-boy bravado and even joins a protest. (Scribner, Aug. 1)
 

 

“Mrs. Fletcher” by Tom Perrotta (Scribner, August 2017)

‘The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek,’ by Howard Markel

As the author of this sibling biography observes,
(Credit: Pantheon)

As the author of this sibling biography observes, more than 350 million people eat a bowl of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes each morning. They have John Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith Kellogg to thank, but their story is about much more than cereal. First they were the founders of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, and John was one of the county’s best-known physicians, and their decades-long feud — complete with multiple lawsuits — is the stuff of “grand opera,” the author writes. (Pantheon, Aug. 8)

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