Outback Murder and an American Reckoning
Your Waterstones Books of the Month for June
Be it warrior rabbits or terrible secrets from the scorched Australian outback, there’s plenty this month to divert from June’s race to a certain black door on Downing Street. Politics does however play its part in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, a nuanced and decidedly humanising portrait of the communities most pivotal in Trump’s electoral success. For those perhaps somewhat nonplussed by the bedrock of support the President enjoys, the book at least furnishes a welcome insight toward that division.
Fiction Book of the Month
‘If I were to look at my mother just once in a certain way, I would turn her to stone.’
After a decade’s break from fiction, Deborah Levy swung straight bank into the front ranks with the Man Booker-shortlisted Swimming Home. Now Levy resolutely triumphs with our Fiction Book of the Month, Hot Milk, a sensuous portrait of a half-Greek daughter locked in a labyrinthine cycle of need with her demanding, needful mother. Hot Milk itself narrowly missed out on a 2016 Man Booker win.
Its bleached-out settings – largely split between a southern Spanish beach house and a strange, almost malevolent clinic where her mother seeks treatment – neatly counterpoint the novel’s heady carnality.
‘Hot Milk is a powerful novel of the interior life, which Levy creates with a vividness that recalls Virginia Woolf,’ noted the Guardian. ‘Like a medusa, this novel has a transfixing gaze and a terrible sting that burns long after the final page is turned.’
Non-Fiction Book of the Month
J. D. Vance
The Presidential victory of a reality TV star blindsided the affluent left. J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, our Non-Fiction Book of the Month, has become something of a sobering, best-selling touchstone for those who felt they had little other choice.
Vance, now safely installed in a leading Silicon Valley investment firm, was raised under very different circumstance, a witness to abuse (both drug and domestic) and the grinding, relentless poverty of being born a ‘hillbilly’. His lucid account of his family is however no polemic of misery, but rather a hymn to a certain kind of America, hopelessly adrift in a country transfixed by technology and the economies of the future. Throughout, the ex-Marine author holds up an uncomfortable mirror of discrimination to the affluent set he now mixes with: the malaise of ignorance is embedded on either side.
‘Only an insider can speak about his community with honest anguish. Hillbilly Elegy is especially compelling because Vance writes with the sorrowful judgment of a betrayed yet loyal son.’ – The New Yorker
Children's Book of the Month
Combining something of the grand drama of Richard Adams’ Watership Down and an adventure worthy of Patrick Rothfuss, our Children’s Book of the Month The Five Realms: The Legend of Podkin One-Ear firmly sits author Kieran Larwood in the top flight of children’s fantasy fiction.
Stunningly illustrated throughout by The Hobbit and Alan Garner artist David Wyatt, this tale of how young rabbit Podkin ultimately rises to become a legendary warrior recently bagged the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story.
Exclusively for Waterstones, our edition also sports spectacular cover artwork by animator and illustrator Fernando Juarez. Its sequel, The Five Realms: The Gift of Darkhollow will be available in the autumn.
Thriller of the Month
‘When I set out to write the novel that became The Dry, my main aim was simply to write the kind of book I thought I'd like to read.’
Jane Harper’s motivation behind this superlative thriller is as measured and direct as the novel itself, a descent into a flyblown, small-town Australia where a policeman’s sometime friend has murdered his own wife and child, before turning the gun on himself. What follows is a dizzying series of twists and revelations as we are edged ever nearer to the truth of what actually elapsed.
‘Solid storytelling that… never loses momentum,’ concluded the Guardian. ‘Strong characterisation and a sense of place so vivid that you can almost feel the blistering heat add up to a remarkably assured debut.’
As ever, it has been our honour to source what we feel is June’s finest reading and we will return next month with further temptations for your home library.