Essential reading

Queer mountain lions and teenage beauty queens: HERO’s summer 2023 reading list
By Barry Pierce | Art | 13 June 2023

Still, ‘La Collectionneuse’ by Eric Rohmer, 1967

Ah, summer. That time of year where we shed our jumpers for…slightly lighter jumpers, we bring a jacket with us everywhere just in case, and we slap on our SPF in the vain hope for a single ray of sunshine. For many, summer means finally having the time to take some time off and read a couple of books. Nowadays however, with the oversaturation of streaming services and our phones slowly turning our brains into boiled rhubarb, getting through a whole book can feel like an Olympic sport.

Don’t worry though, that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best books coming out this summer. You won’t want to miss any of these!

Earth Angel by Madeline Cash

When she isn’t busy editing literary journal Forever Mag, Madeline Cash likes to casually synthesise our digital age into short, sharp stories that the LA Review of Books has called “uncanny, poetic and bleakly funny.” The stories in her debut collection Earth Angel, which range from tales of adolescent beauty queens to Isis recruits, have been described as the “musings of a brilliant boarding school girl sucking on a DMT vape pen.” What more could you want?

Earth Angel is out now from Clash Books.


Scammer by Caroline Calloway

Look, none of us believe this thing is actually written. But it’s got a June publication date so something has to come out, surely? The much-anticipated memoir from the influencer-turned-scammer Caroline Calloway will be a landmark no matter how bad it is likely to be. Currently only available to pre-order on Calloway’s website for, eh, $65, if you want to take a bet and see whether anything actually comes through your letter box then good luck to you.

Scammer by Caroline Calloway will be published in June. Or July. Or August. Or September…


The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor

Not many of us can boast that we were Booker-nominated for the novel we wrote in just six weeks, but that is simply the reality that Brandon Taylor is living. After the huge success of Real Life and his interconnected short story collection Filthy Animals, Taylor is back with The Late Americans. Staying firmly placed in the familiar landscape of Iowa City, the novel is about a social circle of lovers and friends navigating tangled webs of connection as they try to figure out what they want, and who they are.

The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor will be published by Jonathan Cape on June 22nd.


Bellies by Nicola Dinan

Many readers may already be familiar with Nicola Dinan through her work as a model, but with her debut novel Bellies she is here to prove that she chose books and looks. The novel starts out as a typical tale of boy meets boy: Tom buys Ming a drink at a drag night, and soon their relationship blossoms. Shifting from London to Kuala Lumpur, New York to Cologne, Bellies follows Tom and Ming as they face shifts in their relationship after Ming’s realisation that she is trans. At once a love story and a searing critique of our contemporary society, Bellies is an unmissable debut from an incredible new writer.

Bellies by Nicola Dinan will be published by Doubleday on June 29th.


Penance by Eliza Clark

After impressing (and disgusting) everyone with her debut novel Boy Parts, Eliza Clark is back with her hugely anticipated second novel Penance. A novel disguised as a work of true crime, it’s been nearly a decade since the horrifying murder of sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson rocked Crow-on-Sea, and the events of that terrible night are now being published for the first time. Pieced together through interviews, podcast transcripts, newspaper cuttings, and reportage, Penance is a meta-novel that questions our obsession with true crime and whether we care more about the story rather than the truth.

Penance by Eliza Clark will be published by Faber on July 6th.


Corey Fah Does Social Mobility by Isabel Waidner

Isabel Waidner’s wonderfully deranged approach to fiction has won them accolades from Ali Smith and Bernardine Evaristo, and seen them snatch the Goldsmiths Prize in 2021 for Sterling Karat Gold. Now, in Corey Fah Does Social Mobility, Waidner gifts us with another wild and radical tale. Corey Fah, a writer on the cusp of a windfall courtesy of the Social Evils prize committee, navigates through wormholes and time loops, and ends up on reality TV, along with their partner Drew and an eight-legged companion called Bambi Pavok. Sounds insane, we’re in!

Corey Fah Does Social Mobility by Isabel Waidner will be published by Hamish Hamilton on July 13th.


Open Throat by Henry Hoke

Look, let’s get straight to the point, this is a novel written from the perspective of a queer mountain lion who stalks hikers in the Hollywood hills. We really don’t know what more we can say. If you don’t want to read this immediately then honestly, we’re not going to get along.

Open Throat by Henry Hoke will be published by Picador on July 27th.


Lazy City by Rachel Connolly

Rachel Connolly has raised through the ranks in the last couple of years to become one of the most prominent and essential cultural critics working in the UK today. Those familiar with her sharp style and dissenting voice will be delighted to know that she has a novel, Lazy City, coming out in August.

Following the death of her best friend, Erin has to get out of London. Returning home to Belfast, an au pair job provides a partial refuge from her grief and her volatile relationship with her mother. She spends late nights at the bar where her old friend Declan works, and there Erin meets an American academic who is also looking to get lost. This looks set to be a major book of the summer.

Lazy City by Rachel Connolly will be published by Canongate on August 24th.

Nothing Ever Just Disappears: Seven Hidden Histories by Diarmuid Hester

From the radical cultural historian and author of Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper, Diarmuid Hester’s Nothing Ever Just Disappears is a new history of queer identity through seven lives and the spaces that made them. Focusing on E.M. Forster, Josephine Baker, Claude Cahun, James Baldwin, Jack Smith, Kevin Killian and Derek Jarman, Hester illuminates the connections between where they lived, who they loved, and the art they created. This one is set to be a major event!

Nothing Ever Just Disappears: Seven Hidden Histories by Diarmuid Hester will be published by Allen Lane on August 31st.


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