YOUNG MUNGO, by Douglas Stuart. (Grove, $27.) Just as tender, heartbreaking and evocative as his Booker-winning debut, ‘Shuggie Bain’, Stuart’s second novel takes us back to 1980s Glasgow and the impossible intensity of first love. In the words of our reviewer, Yen Pham: “Stuart writes beautifully, with a wonderful attunement to the poetry of the unlovable and the everyday. … The novel is accurate, primarily in rendering what is visible to the eye rather than fine-grained inwardness.
THE PROBLEM WITH HAPPINESS: and other stories, by Tove Ditlevensen. Translated by Michael Favala Goldman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) First published in the 1950s and 1960s, these stories sharply explore the ways in which maternity, marriage and midlife crises can alter dreams. “Whether the premise of these stories is a trip to the beauty salon or an abortion in a back street, their message is the same. Family life is a hell from which you cannot escape,” writes Fernanda Eberstadt in her review. The world depicted in her fiction is grim, but her clear, deadpan voice nonetheless emphasizes that art, beauty, and even a working-class girl’s dream that she would one day own a silky umbrella ‘like the radiant wings of a butterfly’ are things which must be fought for.”
LOVE MARRIAGE, by Monica Ali. (Scriber, $27.99.) When future in-laws get together in the run-up to a wedding, not only are the secrets of the supposedly happy couple revealed, but their parents’ problems as well. In her fifth novel, Ali delves into the wreckage of monogamy and surfaces with treasures that are both scandalous and moving. “Why is dysfunction so exciting if it’s not your problem?” writes Elisabeth Egan in her latest column Groeptekst. “And this is before we get into religious differences, cultural appropriation, gender roles, sexual inclinations and Brexit.”
DESIRINTATION, by Elaine Hsieh Chou. (Penguin Press, $28.) After a Ph.D. candidate at a high school in Massachusetts as she grapples with the work of a (fictional) Chinese-American poet, this funny and insightful campus satire has a lot to say about art, identity, orientalism, and the politics of academia. “The craziness is, on balance, entertaining, rising to a delightful climax,” writes Steph Cha, reviewing the book alongside another novel about the danger and wonder of art, Lisa Hsiao Chen’s “Activities of Daily Living” (below ). “The construction holds up, without a lack of charm or character.”