5 new books to read in May

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Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five of the books we’re most excited about.

Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (May 5, Riverhead)

Samanta Schweblin’s 2019 short story collection, Mouthful Of Birds, immersed readers in a “surrealist delirium.” The Argentinian writer’s new novel looks to be another unusual work of intoxicating speculative fiction, this time centered around technology, surveillance, and loneliness. In Little Eyes, Furby-like toys named kentukis have infiltrated households, stores, and public spaces across the globe. Behind every pair of adorable eyes is a stranger who can watch and listen and trace the whereabouts of each user, offering fun and connection. But this wouldn’t be any kind of science fiction story without bad actors to complicate it, and here the people on the other end of the line create as much danger as they do joy. With Little Eyes, Schweblin crafts an unsettling allegory of digital connectivity and social isolation.

Funny Weather: Art In An Emergency by Olivia Laing (May 5, W.W. Norton)

One doesn’t need to be living through one of the worst health crises of the modern age to spark to the “emergency” in the title of Olivia Laing’s new essay collection; there’s plenty of non-pandemic material that fits the description. Funny Weather: Art In An Emergency collects the Crudo author’s arts and culture writing—including artist profiles and appreciations, book reviews, and dispatches from a life spent valuing creativity and justice—all set within the context of Trumpism, Brexit, and climate change. Laing opens each piece with a deceptive ease, alights upon poetic insights, then drifts away. “I barely spoke, and my quietness allowed the world to emerge,” she writes of her time living in the woods of Dorset, England. Likewise, her light touch throughout these essays makes room for some stunning perceptions.