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9 New Books to Read in June

9 New Books to Read in June

THE VISUALS

A new monograph celebrates and contextualizes the work of a burgeoning contemporary artist. —Kayla Holliday

Gio Swaby, Gyalavantin’; thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 2021.

COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND CLAIRE OLIVER GALLERY.

“I make work for people to see, but the process is for me,” says Gio Swaby, the Bahamian portrait artist who positions Black joy as an act of resistance. Last spring, not long after starting as an MFA student at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, she sold out her solo debut at Claire Oliver Gallery in Harlem: Her large-scale textiles unencumber Black femmes from the politicization of the Black female form. (Roxane Gay was among those collectors.) “The big moments have a lot of duality,” Swaby says. Her recent success, which arrived during a time of mourning, was one such moment. Her mother, whose work as a seamstress proved influential, passed away the year before the show.

In Gio Swaby: Fresh Up, out from Rizzoli Electa in conjunction with her first solo museum show at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida, coauthors including Nikole Hannah-Jones frame Swaby’s practice in the contexts of racial politics, Black portraiture, and textile traditions. Still, at its core, art remains “a visual practice for me,” Swaby tells V.F. “I love to play with color. I love to play with pattern…. The heart is a really important aspect of my decision-making process too.” She often returns to the words of bell hooks: “What we cannot imagine cannot come into being.” 

FICTION

High-octane love, time travel, and more new novels. —Keziah Weir

THE EVENING HERO

Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s sweeping portrait reveals the life of Dr. Yungman Kwak, newly employed at a health start-up, from his Korean childhood to his adult travails. (Simon & Schuster)

TRACY FLICK CAN’T WIN

Tom Perrotta’s sequel to his 1998 satire, Election, finds titular Tracy vying for a high-school-principal position (and reframing her own adolescent experiences) amid the tensions of an impending school hall-of-fame ceremony. (Scribner)

THIS TIME TOMORROW

Like 13 Going on 30 in reverse, Emma Straub’s time-warp novel finds 40-year-old Alice reliving her 16th birthday, her sick dad’s health restored. (Riverhead)

AN OLIVE GROVE IN ENDS

In Bristol, a star-crossed love unfurls between Sayon and Shona, derailed and strengthened by drugs, family ties, violence, and religious animosities, in this debut from Moses McKenzie. (Little, Brown)

EITHER/OR

In another follow-up to a beloved original, Elif Batuman brings The Idiot’s sex-curious protagonist, Selin, through year two at Harvard and a trip to Turkey. (Penguin Press)

YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY

Mourning and desire collide in Akwaeke Emezi’s story of Feyi, a rising artist who becomes entangled with a connected young man—and his father. (Atria)

INSPIRATIONS

In Sloane Crosley’s novel Cult Classic, a calculated plot coordinates run-ins with protagonist Lola’s former lovers. Below, a few of Crosley’s inspirations.

Song: “When I think of Lola meandering the streets, I hear Karen O’s ‘Ooo.’ The lyric ‘Don’t tell me that they’re all the same’ could be this novel’s tagline.”

Television show: “I was almost done with Cult Classic when Russian Doll (Netflix) premiered, so it’s retroactive inspiration, but I saw it as an affirming thirst for downtown magic.”

Play: The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard. “Stoppard’s masterpiece has some great structural tricks. I often think of love as blurring ‘the distinction between everyone who isn’t one’s lover.’ ”

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