As summer publishing heats up, we at Boston Review thought we would offer some help in getting your beach reads in order.
We have scoured through our book reviews and excerpts from the first half of 2021 to find the new releases that our writers loved the most. From a transatlantic tour of gay bars to what marine mammals can teach us about Black feminism, and from Asian autofiction that rivals Knausgaard to a new economic history of the United States, this eclectic list includes biographies, novels, political theory, and more.
And don’t forget that in addition to our regular web content, Boston Review publishes four print books each year, with recent titles exploring artificial intelligence, women’s suffrage, and climate action—as well as an annual literary issue, this year on the theme of ancestors. You can purchase them directly from our site with free domestic shipping, or become a member to receive our next books before anyone else.
- Petra by Shaena Lambert
Reviewed by Stephen Milder, this novel is inspired by the original Green Party leader and political activist who fought for the planet in 1980s Germany.
- Undrowned by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
An excerpt that looks at how our global financial system that prioritizes above all else entangles marine mammals in its web.
- Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin
The pandemic may spell the end of many gay bars. Samuel Clowes Huneke asks whether we should mourn their passing.
- Pure America by Elizabeth Catte
The logic of eugenics still haunts Virginia – as seen in national parks and prisons. Reviewed by Ellen Wayland-Smith.
- An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura
Reviewed by Houman Barekat, this novel is a vivid contemporary example of Japan’s autofiction tradition, which predates even Proust.
- Machiavelli by Patrick Boucheron
Camila Vergara welcomes the English translation of this biography, deeming Machiavelli a good companion for these turbulent times.
- The Education Trap by Cristina Viviana Groeger
Marshall Steinbaum considers why the left’s turn from higher education has coincided with a newfound conservatives appreciation for it.
- Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said by Timothy Brennan
Brennan breathes new life in a crowded field of Said studies, Esmat Elhalaby argues.
- Privacy Is Power by Carissa Véliz
The more someone knows about us, this excerpt contends, the more they can influence us. We can wield democratic power only if our privacy is protected.
- Ages of American Capitalism by Jonathan Levy
A sweeping new history of U.S. capitalism finds that economic gains have always been driven by the state. Reviewed by Justin H. Vassallo.
- Black Marxism by Cedric J. Robinson
“What did Robinson mean by the Black radical tradition, and why is it relevant now?” An excerpt from Robin D. G. Kelley’s foreword to the third edition.
- The Machine Has a Soul by Katy Hull
The history of American fascist sympathy reveals a legacy with which we must reckon. Reviewed by Justin H. Vassallo
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Roasted not once but twice in our pages – by Charisse Burden-Stelly and Panashe Chigumadzi – this is one to avoid.