Credit: Jennifer Bastian

May 2016 can’t come soon enough: That’s when Emma Straub, author of the darkly funny The Vacationers, will release her next book, Modern Lovers. The novelcenters around a group of college friends who live near each other in Brooklyn — but now have college-aged kids of their own. One summer, the original group’s easy transition to adulthood starts to show its cracks, and long-held secrets bubble up to the surface.

EW is thrilled to reveal the cover for Straub’s latest, designed by Brooklyn illustrator Leah Goren. Below, check out the lovely cover, and a Q&A with Straub and Goren.


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What excites you about this cover? How does it capture your story?

EMMA STRAUB: I think what I like most about the cover is that it conveys movement, and action, and all the frenetic possibility of sidewalk life. This book is about all the daily drama of the human experience, of what happens when you’re knocked slightly off your axis but still in your own walls and routines, still bumping into your neighbors, still doing your thing. I think that’s universal – like how my husband just went to the pharmacy to get medicine for our vomiting 2 year old and avoided a friend of mine from high school, because sometimes you just can’t deal, you know? The beautiful and terrible thing about New York City is living your life in shared spaces, and I think Leah’s cover really captures that, but in an attractive way that makes you want to pick the book up and fondle it a bit.

What do you enjoy about Leah’s work?

ES: There’s a lot of sex in this book, and I find Leah’s drawings very sexy. I also love that you can tell that her work was done by hand, by an actual person. There’s no false illusion of perfection – because who wants that? Leah’s work, like Maira Kalman’s, reminds us of what’s good and true about the mess of life. And hopefully my book does that, too.

What inspired the cover design?

LEAH GOREN: We began thinking we wanted the cover to depict the main characters of the book. I proposed a few directions that each showed a group of figures and highlighted a few of their traits: sitting around reading, playing guitar, or practicing yoga. In the end it was decided the cover should show everyday people instead of the specific characters. I put together a page with a wide range of the kind of people and things you’d see out and about. There was the bicyclist, the bros in long shorts, the ladies chatting on a bench, the trash can surrounded by garbage, the man walking his little dog. From there it was narrowed down by the designer to which spots fit well on the cover.

What were the most important elements to get across?

LG: I think it was important to boil down the diversity of the New York street into just a handful of drawings, and to make them feel kind of cool and effortless to reflect the language of the title.

What do you enjoy about Emma’s writing?

LG: I love being able to peer into the lives of other New Yorkers through her writing.

Modern Lovers hits shelves May 31, 2016.