Here are my picks for the month. Big Sky, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and Stalingrad are all out in June.
Kate Atkinson is back with a new Jackson Brodie novel called Big Sky
Jackson has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire, in the company of his teenage son and an ageing Labrador. It’s a picturesque setting but something dark lurks behind the scenes. A woman hires Jackson to find out who is following her. The story is dark and old secrets and new lies intersect with its main theme; human trafficking.
Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize in 1995 for Behind the scenes at the Museum and the Costa Book Awards in 2013 for Life after life and again in 2015 for A God in Ruins. The first four Jackson Brodie novels have been adapted for the BBC under the series called Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs as Brodie.
Big Sky is out on 18 June.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a debut novel written by the poet Ocean Vuong, who won both the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the T S Eliot Prize for Night Sky with Exit Wounds.
Vuong’s literary masterpiece is a shattering portrait of a family in Vietnam and it’s told in the form of a letter from a son to his illiterate mother. The story is heartbreakingly beautiful and brings up the question of how to survive. Michael Cunningham said “One is not often given the chance to apply words like “brilliant” and “remarkable” to any novels, certainly not first novels. Thank you, Ocean Vuong, for this brilliant and remarkable first novel.”
Vuong is coming to the UK for the publication date on the 20 June.
Stalingrad is the prequel to Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, the book which by some critics was held to be the greatest Russian novel of the 20th century.
Stalingrad isn’t only about war but all of human life. The characters are mothers and daughters, husbands and brothers, generals and tractor girls. It is tender and epic; Grossman brings us another testament to the power of the human spirit.
There will be a four-hour dramatisation on BBC Radio 4 in the autumn. Stalingrad is published on the 6 June and this is its first publication in English.
Annakarin Klerfalk is the founder of literary agency Intersaga