2666 BY ROBERTO BOLANO
Didn't have time last year to finish one of 2008's most-hyped books? Well, that's what summer's for. 2666 is a sprawling volume of stories that crosses continents and spans lives searching for a mysterious author and a resolution to a series of murders in Juarez, Mexico. Now's the perfect time to pick up where you left off. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $30. 912 pp.
EVERYTHING RAVAGED, EVERYTHING BURNED BY WELLS TOWER
Equal parts hilarious and chilling, this set of short stories explores the subtle absurdities woven into contemporary American working-class life. Like a distant echo of Flannery O'Connor, Everything Ravaged builds comic energy into breathtaking tension. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $24. 256 pp.
THE KING JAMES CONSPIRACY BY PHILLIP DEPOY
This historical mystery novel from local author Phillip DePoy concerns a circle of 17th-century academics in charge of a new translation of the Bible. As members of the academic circle start turning up dead, the close-knit group is torn apart by religious secrets. St. Martin's Press. $25.95. 384 pp.
A MERCY BY TONI MORRISON
The masterful Toni Morrison returns to the traumas of slavery she first explored in Beloved. Set in a 17th-century Maryland plantation, A Mercy chronicles the painful experiences and decisions of a mother and daughter. Knopf. $23.95. 176 pp.
NINE LIVES: DEATH AND LIFE IN NEW ORLEANS BY DAN BAUM
In his epic work of creative nonfiction, Baum follows a loosely connected group of people in New Orleans from Hurricane Betsy in 1965 through Hurricane Katrina's devastation in 2005. Down to earth and evocative, Nine Lives manages to take a clear portrait of an out-of-focus city. Spiegel & Grau. $26. 352 pp.
NOBODY MOVE BY DENIS JOHNSON
Following his epic and harrowing Vietnam novel Tree of Smoke, the National Book Award-winning Johnson returns with a thin, fast-paced tale of cash and crime in California. Channeling the noir of Dashiell Hammet and the working-class poetics of Leonard Gardner into a story clearly written for Playboy magazine, Nobody Move might be the most fun and trashy book Johnson's written. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $23. 208 pp.
OUTCASTS UNITED BY WARREN ST. JOHN
More than just a feel-good story about an underdog soccer team, Outcasts United is a fascinating examination of the way refugee resettlement is changing the United States' culture. Based on months of reporting in Clarkston, Ga., Outcasts United should be required reading for the state of Georgia. Spiegel & Grau. $24.95. 320 pp.
PURE BY TERRA ELAN MCVOY
Atlanta's Terra Elan McVoy explores an adolescent voice in her novel about Tabitha, a young Christian struggling to cope with her sexuality in contemporary America. Tabitha's group of friends are forced to examine their friendships and faith after one admits to losing her virginity. Simon Pulse. 16.99. 336 pp.
RUINS BY ACHY OBEJAS
Narrated by a Cuban man named Usnavy after those big American boats anchored in Guantanamo Bay, Ruins is the story of a life lived according to rations and sanctions. As Obama gestures toward a new relationship with Cuba, Ruins glimpses into a history that might be changing. Akashic Books. $15.95. 250 pp.
THY NEIGHBOR'S WIFE BY GAY TALESE
After years out of print, this classic book about the sexual revolution is back. Talese did some — uh — "in-depth" research for the book at massage parlors, nudist colonies, and polygamist retreats, making for one hell of a paperback page-turner. Harper Perennial. $14.99. 608 pp.