Quick book picks for May

A new month means a whole new bunch of books coming out (probably more books than sun coming out, at least in the UK). To help you choose what to read, here are some of my favourites coming out this month, with quick summaries and links to reviews.

  • Little Gold by Allie Rogers – A moving and life-affirming tale of growing up different in Brighton in the 1980s.
  • House of Names by Colm Toíbín – A retelling of the House of Agamemnon in modern prose, with tense character relationships and intense revenge.
  • Girlhood by Cat Clarke – A fantastically tense YA novel about friendship and grief in a Scottish boarding school, with a gripping and funny narrative.
  • New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – The next in the Hogarth Shakespeare series is an unforgettable retelling of Othello in a single day in a Washington schoolyard.
  • Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallet – A time-spanning novel about changes and connections, set mostly in the grounds of an old house after the Restoration and during the Cold War.
  • The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi – A darkly comic and characteristic new novella from Hanif Kureishi, trapped in the head of an increasingly bed-bound aging filmmaker.
  • Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee – A powerful memoir of a trans man dealing with ideas of masculinity in the wake of violence.
  • I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland – The female-led modern version of 80s and 90s alternative American satirical fiction like American Psycho, exposing darkness in an industry full of drugs, sex, and battles for the top (review coming soon).
  • The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace – An enchanting story about a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in Liverpool Lime Street station and has never known where she truly comes from.

Man Alive

Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee

Man Alive is a powerful memoir about the past and the future, capturing McBee’s attempts to move beyond the violence done to him in the past and work out how it affects who he is as he goes through transitioning. It is about being alive and seeing that life in the face of terrible things. The book is an exploration of masculinity, but also how to navigate a masculinity tinged by trauma and negative experience and still emerge with a sense of the man that it would be good to be.

Though the subject is serious and reflective, the style of the book is uplifting and well-written, keeping a kind of positive force pushing forward through the narrative. McBee plays around with the word ‘man’, punning on pop culture references and displaying how disparate and changing the term can be. Man Alive is an important book, the kind of memoir that should be published to celebrate life and provide a variety of models and inspiration for others who may or may not have similar circumstances.