'The Galaxie and Other Rides'

By Josie Sigler, June 30

A lesbian horse healer has a codependent relationship with a terminally ill singer. A hooker's daughter comes of age in a motel. A disillusioned father douses himself in gasoline. Josie Sigler's The Galaxie and Other Rides, a violent, sexy, intense debut story collection jammed with high-stakes surprises and complex characters, nails, as few writers have in recent memory, lives and voices from America's 99 Percent—or maybe 50 Percent. Sigler crams these 12 tales of trashy rural Michigan, each linked to a representative used car, with dazzling sentences and stories that take more risks than Denis Johnson and prove she's more of a man than Jim Shepard. Livingston Press, University of West Alabama, 192 pages, $32

'Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady'

By Kate Summerscale, June 19

From Madame Bovary to Belle de Jour to Desperate Housewives, the unruly sexual fantasies and exploits of wealthy married women have always made for exciting narratives. Summerscale, known for excavating Victorian misbehavior, has uncovered the equivalent of a lost city in the story of Isabella Walker, a British society lady whose extensive diary became a matter of public record after her husband read it and discovered confessions he judged to be adulterous, at a time when divorce had just become easier, recalling a period when dishonor had an elegant cast. Nowadays, we'd call it looking at her Facebook page. Bloomsbury USA, 320 pages, $26

'Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz'

By C. Carr, July 17

He was the quintessential gay hustler outsider artist with AIDS of the East Village scene in the late '80s and early '90s. Which is actually saying a lot. Even if, like most people, you can't pronounce "Wojnarowicz," you live in his artistic shadow. C. Carr, who made her name in these pages chronicling the scene from which he arose, knows how to pronounce "Wojnarowicz," and here describes his disturbing upbringing and uncanny rise, shedding light on why his art and writing are still important and were controversial enough to shut down the National Portrait Gallery in 2010, 18 years after his death. Bloomsbury, 624 pages, $35

'Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities (Historical Studies of Urban America)'

By Carl H. Nightingale, June 1

It's called Segregation, and the cover shows a division between black and white buildings, but don't let that mislead you. SUNY Buffalo urban and world-history prof Nightingale's book is an ambitious, comprehensive history of divided cities and ghettos all over the globe, not just Jim Crow American–style. We're going all the way back to Mesopotamia, y'all. We're talking about Belfast; we're talking about Nazi Germany and Jerusalem. Not only that, but we're facing up to the idea that "such movements to segregate cities spread because they were interconnected." Not exactly a conspiracy, he says—more like an open-source segregation Wiki. University of Chicago Press, 536 pages, $35

'Meta-Geopolitics of Outer Space: An Analysis of Space Power, Security, and Governance'

By Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan, July 3

At first, it seems like madness, a book that fell out of the future. But consider the pedigree of the author—Oxford prof, long-titled Swiss Geopolitics think tank official, "philosopher, neuroscientist, and geostrategist," author of 19 books, etc.—and that powerful people are making decisions about how to carve space into the shape of the globe, and you begin asking the appropriate questions, probably with your jaw slackened. How can geographic issues persist beyond the confines of the planet Earth? Are they already doing so? What are the powers of the state in outer space? Why haven't I worried about this before? Palgrave Macmillan, 288 pages, $90

'The Devil in Silver'

By Victor LaValle, August 21

"My three obsessions are mental illness, horror, and religion," novelist Victor LaValle has admitted, and after the success of 2009's Big Machine, he doubtless felt freer to indulge those obsessions. His upcoming book sounds like even more of a straight-up horror novel, about an X-Men-esque team of mental patients in a psychiatric hospital in Queens who do battle with a quasi-minotaur that patrols the institution at night. OK, maybe LaValle's obsession with religion doesn't figure in much here—this gang doesn't seem to have a prayer. Spiegel & Grau, 464 pages, $27

'No Animals We Could Name: Stories'

By Ted Sanders, July 3

Ted Sanders writes stories like an alien. Specifically, that guy from Starman who doesn't understand how anything works on Earth. He writes from the perspective of a halibut, a fisherman, a passing octopus. In other pieces, he writes about a man's encounter with a tiny female acquaintance almost as if he were a crash-test dummy. Sanders has an obsession with air bags. And another with lizards. Maybe cats, too. And at least in one story, "The Heart As a Fist," the word "fist." These stories have a blissfully clinical precision, redolent of David Foster Wallace, that we should perhaps dub "New Autism." Graywolf Press, 272 pages, $15

'Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans'

By John Marzluff, illustrated by Tony Angell, June 5

When U of Washington forest-sciences prof Marzluff claims that smart birds "behave like humans," he does not mean that they drive cars, shoot guns, or play basketball. He does mean that they can solve problems by making tools, that they have spectacular memory and social intelligence, they rock at shell games, and, actually, they can windsurf. This sweetly eccentric but earnest volume weaves together many tales of crow ability, assessed by scientific inquiry, together with a cultural history of corvids as a defense of their "often maligned" image. Will you see these birds in the same light once you've read this book? Nevermore. Free Press, 304 pages, $25

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