Interesting New Books — 2011

For more lists, see this page

A running tally of interesting new books publishing in 2011 that have caught my attention. And don’t forget to check out the list I did for 2010.


The Empty Family: Stories by Colm Toibin

Release date: January 4
From Publishers Weekly:
“Tóibín returns to his native shores from Brooklyn for the bulk of these nine pristine stories, all–save one–contemporary tales of lives haunted by loss, whether it’s the legacy of a sexually abusive priest in an already complicated love triangle in “The Pearl Fishers,” the long-absent gay son who returns to Dublin from New York to attend to his mother’s last moments in “One Minus One,” or the aching void that greets an academic’s return to a family home on the Irish coast in the wistful title story. Affairs, airports, and deathbeds populate a mature prose that’s as tender with descriptions of sexual, often gay, love as it is with the heart’s more inexpressible reaches, never more so than in the complex “The Street,” where two Pakistanis find love in the repressive backdrop of blue-collar Barcelona only to be met with violence and a curious captivity.”

This Is Not a Tragedy: The Works of David Markson (Dalkey Archive Scholarly Series) by Françoise Palleau-Papin

Release date: January 6
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
The very first book-length study to focus on this seminal American author. This Is Not a Tragedy examines David Markson’s entire body of work, ranging from his early tongue-in-cheek Western and crime novels to contemporary classics such as Wittgenstein’s Mistress and Reader’s Block. Having begun in parody, Markson’s writing soon began to fragment, its pieces adding up to a peculiar sort of self-portrait—doubtful and unsteady—and in the process achieving nothing less than a redefinition of the novel form. Written on the verge of silence, David Markson’s fiction represents an intimate, unsettling, and unique voice in the cacophony of modern letters, and This Is Not a Tragedy charts Markson’s attempts to find, in art and language, the solace denied us by life.

Margaret Atwood: The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake (Continuum Studies in Contemporary North American Fiction) by J. Brooks Bouson

Release date: January 17
Publisher: Continuum

This is a collection of original essays by well-known Atwood scholars offering contemporary critical readings and assessments of three well known Atwood texts. In this critical collection, well-known Atwood scholars offer original readings and critical re-evaluations of three Atwood masterpieces – “The Robber Bride”, “The Blind Assassin”, and “Oryx and Crake”. Providing new critical assessments of Atwood’s novels in language that is both lively and accessible, Margaret Atwood reveals not only Atwood’s ongoing and evolving engagement with the issues that have long preoccupied her – ranging from the power politics of human relationships to a concern with human rights and the global environment – but also her increasing formal complexity as a novelist. If Atwood is a novelist who is part trickster, illusionist and con-artist, as she has often described herself, she is also, as the essays in this critical collection show, an author-ethicist with a finely honed sense of moral responsibility. This series offers up-to-date guides to the recent work of major contemporary North American authors. Written by leading scholars in the field, each book presents a range of original interpretations of three key texts published since 1990, showing how the same novel may be interpreted in a number of different ways. These informative, accessible volumes will appeal to advance undergraduate and postgraduate students, facilitating discussion and supporting close analysis of the most important contemporary American and Canadian fiction.

I Love a Broad Margin to My Life by Maxine Hong Kingston

Release date: January 18
Kingston’s swift, effortlessly flowing verse lines feel instantly natural in this fresh approach to the art of memoir, as she circles from present to past and back, from lunch with a writer friend to the funeral of a Vietnam veteran, from her long marriage (“can’t divorce until we get it right. / Love, that is. Get love right”) to her arrest at a peace march in Washington, where she and her “sisters” protested the Iraq war in the George W. Bush years. Kingston embraces Thoreau’s notion of a “broad margin,” hoping to expand her vista: “I’m standing on top of a hill; / I can see everywhichway— / the long way that I came, and the few / places I have yet to go. Treat / my whole life as if it were a day.”

On her journeys as writer, peace activist, teacher, and mother, Kingston revisits her most beloved characters: she learns the final fate of her Woman Warrior, and she takes her Tripmaster Monkey, a hip Chinese American, on a journey through China, where he has never been—a trip that becomes a beautiful meditation on the country then and now, on a culture where rice farmers still work in the age-old way, even as a new era is dawning. “All over China,” she writes, “and places where Chinese are, populations / are on the move, going home. That home / where Mother and Father are buried. Doors / between heaven and earth open wide.”

A Palace in the Old Village: A Novel by Tahar Ben Jelloun

Release date: January 25
Award-winning, internationally bestselling author Tahar Ben Jelloun’s new novel is the story of an immigrant named Mohammed who has spent forty years in France and is about to retire. Taking stock of his life- his devotion to Islam and to his assimilated children-he decides to return to Morocco, where he spends his life’s savings building the biggest house in the village and waits for his children and grandchildren to come be with him. A heartbreaking novel about parents and children, A Palace in the Old Village captures the sometimes stark contrasts between old- and new-world values, and an immigrant’s abiding pursuit of home.

Conquered City by Victor Serge

Release date: January 25
Publisher: NYRB Classics

1919–1920: St. Petersburg, city of the czars, has fallen to the revolution. Camped out in the splendid palaces of the former regime, the new masters of the city seek to cement their control, even as the counter-revolutionary White Army musters its forces. Conquered City, Victor Serge’s toughest and most unrelenting narrative, is structured like a detective story, one in which the new political regime seeks to track down and eliminate its enemies—the spies, speculators, and traitors hidden among the exhausted mass of common people. Conquered City is about terror: the Red Terror and the White Terror. But mainly about the Red, about the Communists who have dared to pick up the weapons of power—police, guns, jails, spies, treachery—in the gamble that by wielding them with purity, in a righteous cause, they can put an end to the need for terror, perhaps forever. And yet those who wield these weapons know that they are doomed. Conquered City is their tragedy and testament.


Deus Ex Machina by Andrew Foster Altschul

Release date: February 1
Publisher: Counterpoint

On a distant island, reality show contestants battle for bragging rights and a slot on next week’s episode. They’ve perfected their dramatic roles and are prepared to do whatever it takes to win. There’s the take-no-prisoners Marine sergeant, the gay hairdresser, the ruthless lawyer, the brainy poet. But one player refuses to compete—Gloria Hamm, a sullen dental hygienist, voted least likely to win by the show’s crew. The higher-ups are desperate for ratings and sensational twists to trump the plots of seasons past. But the producer—haunted by personal tragedies all too real—is losing control of the show and its crew.

Extinction: A Novel by Thomas Bernhard

Release date: February 8
Publisher: Vintage

From Publishers Weekly:
“Franz-Josef Murau, the “reserve heir” to Wolfsegg manor, savages his native Austria in this caustic fictional memoir distinguished by the late Bernhard’s (The Loser) hallmark unparagraphed invective and italicized loathing. In the novel’s first half, the self-exiled Murau, upon hearing of the deaths of his parents and elder brother in a car crash, reminisces obsessively about the stifling Wolfsegg and his philistine family. Rearranging a few unflattering photographs of them on his desk like Tarot cards, he unflaggingly and outrageously attacks his heritage, from his relatives’ crass tastes and his miserable childhood to his father’s Nazi ties and his mother’s affair with a papal nuncio. Just as Murau’s denunciation of Austria for its Nazism and Catholicism peaks in shrillness, however, his corrosive characterizations contract to caricature. Once Murau is back in Wolfsegg for the narrative’s livelier second half, his deceitful, hysterical character comes into its horrid own and betrays his role in extinguishing his better nature.”

Irretrievable by Theodor Fontane

Release date: February 15
Publisher: NYRB Classics

How a couple can slowly drift apart until one day they find themselves in a situation that is beyond recall, from which they cannot go back, is at the heart of this timeless story of everyday life. Theodor Fontane’s great gift is to tell the story effectively in his characters’ own words, listening to how they talk and fail to talk to each other, watching them turn away from their own true feelings as much as from each other. Irretrievable is a nuanced, urbane, affectionate, and profoundly humane reckoning with the blindness of love.


The Journals and Diaries of E M Forster

Release date: March 1
Publisher: Pickering & Chatto

A writer of fiction, literary criticism, travel narratives and libretti, Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970) is best known for his beautifully-structured novels which held a mirror up to the English class system. Though not a prolific novelist, Forster is nonetheless recognized as one of the giants of twentieth-century literature. This fascinating collection of diaries, travel journals and itineraries brings together all previously unpublished material Forster wrote which can be classed as ‘memoir’. A frank and lively diarist, Forster was not a dogged one, and his entries over the years are irregular and eclectic. Despite this the archival material, here newly transcribed, is substantial. Covering the period 1895-1967, the diaries and journals presented in these volumes will be of immense value to scholars researching this key figure of English literature. They will also be a useful resource to those interested in travel during the first half of the twentieth century, as well as the wider literary and social history of the period.

Coda: A Novel by Rene Belletto

Release date: March 1
Publisher: Bison Books

Playing with the expectations of the reader, Belletto constructs a logical puzzle that defies logic, much like the “almost-perpetual motion machine” invented by the narrator of this novel and his father. What sets the story in (perpetual) motion is a package of frozen seafood. This lowly mechanism triggers a series of picaresque and otherworldly events, from the storyteller’s meeting with Fate disguised as a beautiful woman, to the kidnapping of his daughter, to his amorous reunion with the younger half-sister of a high school friend, to the elimination of death from the world. It’s a funny business, but Belletto’s playful and falsely transparent language opens the book to such serious matters as explorations of death, immortality, love, and the innocence of children.

The Ice Trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin

Release date: March 8
Publisher: NYRB Classics

Written from the point of view of the sect, Ice now appears as the central panel of Vladimir Sorokin’s enormously ambitious and riveting Ice Trilogy. Bro, the first section of Sorokin’s chef d’oeuvre, relates the mysterious emergence of the brotherhood in the aftermath of a massive meteorite striking Siberia (a historical occurrence known as the Tungus event). The story of the group’s development then unfolds at the leisurely pace and with the vivid detail of a great nineteenth-century Russian novel. 23,000 brings the trilogy to a wildly suspenseful close. All 23,000 members of the brotherhood have at last been brought together and they are preparing to stage the global destruction that will return them to their origins in pure light. Will their vision of innocence redeemed at last succeed?

The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, edited by Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee

Release date: March 11
Publisher: Soft Skull

In The Late American Novel, Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee gather some of today’s finest writers to consider the sea change that is upon them. Lauren Groff imagines an array of fantastical futures for writers, from poets with groupies to novelists as vending machines. Rivka Galchen writes about the figurative and literal death of paper. Joe Meno expounds upon the idea of a book as a place set permanently aside for the imagination, regardless of format. These and other original essays by Reif Larsen, Benjamin Kunkel, Victoria Patterson, and many more provide a timely and much-needed commentary on this compelling cultural crossroad.

The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise by Georges Perec

Release date: March 14
Publisher: Verso

Darkly funny, never before published account of the office worker’s mindset by celebrated novelist. A long-suffering employee in a big corporation has summoned up the courage to ask for a raise. But as he runs through the coming encounter in his mind, his neuroses come to the surface: What’s the best day to see the boss? What if he doesn’t offer you a seat when you go into his office? And should you ask that tricky question about his daughter’s illness? The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise is a hilarious account of an employee losing his identity––and possibly his sanity––as he tries to put on the most acceptable face for the corporate world, with its rigid hierarchies and hostility to ideas and innovation. If he follows a certain course of action, so this logic goes, he will succeed––but, in accepting these conditions, are his attempts to challenge his world of work doomed from the outset? Neurotic and pessimistic, yet endearing, comic and never less than entertaining, Perec’s Woody Allen-esque underling presents an acute and penetrating vision of the world of office work, as pertinent today as it was when it was written in 1968.

Fiasco by Imre Kertész

Release date: March 22
Publisher: Melville House

Fiasco as Imre Kertesz himself has said, “is fiction founded on reality”-a Kafka-like account that is surprisingly funny in its unrelentingly pessimistic clarity, of the Communist takeover of his homeland. Forced into the army and assigned to escort military prisoners, the protagonist decides to feign insanity to be released from duty. But meanwhile, life under the new regime is portrayed almost as an uninterrupted continuation of life in the Nazi concentration camps-which in turn, is depicted as a continuation of the patriarchal dictatorship of joyless childhood. It is, in short, a searing extension of Kertesz’ fundamental theme: the totalitarian experience seen as trauma not only for an individual but for the whole civilization-ours-that made Auschwitz possible.

All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories by E.L. Doctorow

Release date: March 22
Publisher: Random House

Funeral for a Dog: A Novel by Thomas Pletzinger

Release date: March 28
Publisher: Norton

From Publishers Weekly:
tarred Review. When we first meet Daniel Mandelkern, an ethnologist moonlighting as a journalist for his newspaper editor wife, it’s through a series of postcards that the reader will spend the rest of this vibrant, intricate novel untangling. Dispatched to profile children’s book author Dirk Svensson, who reportedly lives with his three-legged dog near Milan, Mandelkern is nonplussed with his assignment but anxious to escape his wife. What unfolds, through flashbacks, Mandelkern’s observations, and excerpts from Svensson’s unpublished memoir, is a complex story about how people deal with love and loss–though it doesn’t hurt to remember what Svensson’s old friend and lover, says: “stories are one third truth, one third fiction and one third the attempt to glue the other two with words.” Pletzinger does an admirable job of revealing intriguing characters without being heavy-handed or coy . . .

Collected Short Fiction by V.S. Naipaul

Release date: March 29
Publisher: Everyman’s Library

Over the course of his distinguished career, V. S. Naipaul has written a remarkable array of short fiction that moves from Trinidad to London to Africa. Here are the stories from his Somerset Maugham Award–winning Miguel Street, in which he takes us into a derelict corner of Trinidad’s capital to meet, among others, Man-Man, who goes from running for public office to staging his own crucifixion. The tales in A Flag on the Island, meanwhile, roam from a Chinese bakery in Trinidad to a rooming house in London. And in the celebrated title story from the Booker Prize– winning In a Free State, an English couple traveling in an unnamed African country discover, under a veneer of civilization, a landscape of squalor and ethnic bloodletting.

Galore by Michael Crummey

Release date: March 29
Publisher: Other Press

When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon. Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.

Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews by Geoff Dyer

Release date: March 29
Publisher: Graywolf

Otherwise Known as the Human Condition collects twenty-five years of essays, reviews, and misadventures. Here he is pursuing the shadow of Camus in Algeria and remembering life on the dole in Brixton in the 1980s; reflecting on Richard Avedon and Ruth Orkin, on the status of jazz and the wonderous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, on the sculptor ZadKine and the saxophonist David Murray (in the same essay), on his heroes Rebecca West and Ryszard Kapus´cin´ski, on haute couture and sex in hotels. Whatever he writes about, his responses never fail to surprise. For Dyer there is no division between the reflective work of the critic and the novelist’s commitment to lived experience: they are mutually illuminating ways to sharpen our perceptions. His is the rare body of work that manages to both frame our world and enlarge it.


Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

Release date: April 1
Publisher: Grove

“In 2007, while attempting to bodysurf off the coast of Mexico, Francisco Goldman’s wife, Aura, was killed by a rogue wave. They’d been married for just under two years, but anyone who ever met them couldn’t deny how they seemed made for each other, even despite their 20-year age difference. Devastated and lost, the only thing that shocks Frank out of his heartbroken haze is the allegation Aura’s mother brings against him: Frank is the one responsible for Aura’s death and will be held legally accountable. Rudderless and half-mad with grief, he begins to contemplate his mother-in-law’s words, determined to trace Aura’s tragic destiny back to its source. Say Her Name is Frank’s fictional account of his relationship with Aura, of her past, and of his struggle to be reborn in a world without her.”

Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel

Release date: April 1
Publisher: Oneworld Classics

Cantarel, a scholarly scientist, whose enormous wealth imposes no limits upon his prolific ingenuity, is taking a group of visitors on a tour of “Locus Solus,” his secluded estate near Paris. One by one he introduces, demonstrates, and expounds the discoveries and inventions of his fertile, encyclopedic mind. An African mud-sculpture representing a naked child; a road-mender’s tool which, when activated by the weather, creates a mosaic of human teeth; a vast aquarium in which humans can breathe and in which a hairless cat is seen stimulating the partially decomposed head of Georges Danton to fresh flights of oratory. By each item in Cantarel’s exhibition there hangs a tale—a tale only Roussel could tell. As the inventions become more elaborate, the richness and brilliance of the author’s stories grow to match them; the flow of his imagination becomes a flood and the reader is swept along in a torrent of wonder and hilarity.

JUICE! by Ishmael Reed

Release date: April 5
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

In 2010, the Newseum in Washington D.C. finally obtained the suit O. J. Simpson wore in court the day he was acquitted, and it now stands as both an artifactin their “Trial of the Century” exhibit and a symbol of the American media’s endless hunger for the criminal and the celebrity. This event serves as a launching point for Ishmael Reed’s Juice!, a novelistic commentary on the post-Simpson American media frenzy from one of the most controversial figures in American literature today. Through Paul Blessings—a censored cartoonist suffering from diabetes—and his cohorts—serving as stand-ins for the various mediums of art—Ishmael Reed argues that since 1994, “O. J. has become a metaphor for things wrong with culture and politics.” A lament for the death of print media, the growth of the corporation, and the process of growing old, Juice! serves as a comi-tragedy, chronicling the increased anxieties of “post-race” America.

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal

Release date: April 15
Publisher: NYRB Classics

From Publishers Weekly:
“The unnamed narrator of this comic rant proclaims that any book worth its salt is “meant to make you jump out of bed in your underwear and run and beat the author’s brains out.” Czech novelist Hrabal (Closely Watched Trains) very nearly fills that peculiar bill in this humorous and breathless affair, which is told in one never-ending sentence?a technique that just may make readers pay him the ultimate compliment by looking around for handy blunt objects. The narrator, a scurrilous old man who claims to have been a shoemaker and a brewer, approaches six sunbathing women and embarks on a rambling monologue about his past loves, the past in general and his “magic hands for what we called contessa shoes.” He enjoys telling scandalous tales about his betters, including the one about the old emperor looking up women’s skirts. Hrabal, who has been cited as a major literary influence by Milan Kundera and Ivan Klima, among others, is generally considered the most revered living Czech author.”

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace

Release date: April 15
“The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, IL, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.

THE PALE KING remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace’s death, but it is a deeply intriguing and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions–questions of life’s meaning and of the ultimate value of work and family–through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace’s unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for a writer who dared to take on the most daunting subjects the human spirit can imagine. ”

Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolano

Release date: April 20
Publisher: New Directions

The essays of Roberto Bolaño in English at last. Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolaño wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues. “Taken together,” as the editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, they provide “a personal cartography of the writer: the closest thing, among all his writings, to a kind of fragmented ‘autobiography.’” Bolaño’s career as a nonfiction writer began in 1998, the year he became famous overnight for The Savage Detectives; he was suddenly in demand for articles and speeches, and he took to this new vocation like a duck to water. Cantankerous, irreverent, and insufferably opinionated, Bolaño also could be tender (about his family and favorite places) as well as a fierce advocate for his heroes (Borges, Cortázar, Parra) and his favorite contemporaries, whose books he read assiduously and promoted generously. A demanding critic, he declares that in his “ideal literary kitchen there lives a warrior”: he argues for courage, and especially for bravery in the face of failure. Between Parentheses fully lives up to his own demands: “I ask for creativity from literary criticism, creativity at all levels.”

Someday This Will Be Funny by Lynne Tillman

Release date: April 21
Publisher: Red Lemonade

The stories in Some Day This Will Be Funny marry memory to moment in a union of narrative form as immaculate and imperfect as the characters damned to act them out on page. Lynne Tillman, author of American Genius, presides over the ceremony; Clarence Thomas, Marvin Gaye, and Madame Realism mingle at the reception. Narrators – by turn infamous and nameless – shift within their own skin, struggling to unknot reminiscence from reality while scenes rush into warm focus, then cool, twist, and snap in the breeze of shifting thought. Epistle, quotation, and haiku bounce between lyrical passages of lucid beauty, echoing the scattered, cycling arpeggio of Tillman’s preferred subject: the unsettled mind. Collectively, these stories own a conscience shaped by oaths made and broken; by the skeleton silence and secrets of family; by love’s shifting chartreuse. They traffic in the quiet images of personal history, each one a flickering sacrament in danger of being swallowed up by the lust and desperation of their possessor: a fistful of parking tickets shoved in the glove compartment, a little black book hidden from a wife in a safe-deposit box, a planter stuffed with flowers to keep out the cooing mourning doves. They are stories fashioned with candor and animated by fits of wordplay and invention – stories that affirm Tillman’s unshakable talent for wedding the patterns and rituals of thought with the blushing immediacy of existence, defying genre and defining experimental short fiction.

Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud

Release date: April 25
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

“If we are absolutely modern—and we are—it’s because Rimbaud commanded us to be.”—John Ashbery, from the preface John Ashbery’s long-awaited, virtuosic translation of Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations is presented with the French text in parallel and a preface by its new translator. Given Rimbaud’s own cavalier attitude toward his most substantial work, few would have thought the “bunch of unpaginated and untitled pages” that Rimbaud handed his former lover Paul Verlaine (who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier) would turn out to be one of the greatest poems ever written. Yet, over time, this “collection of magic lantern slides,” each an “intense and rapid dream,” came to be recognized as an unparalleled masterpiece of world literature. Ashbery’s rendering of all forty-four poems powerfully evokes the kaleidoscopic beauty of the original and creates “a vision of postdiluvian freshness” out of “the chaos of ice floes and the polar night.”

Two Novels: The Stony Heart and B/Moondocks by Arno Schmidt

Release date: April 25
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

From Publishers Weekly:
“Rounding out Dalkey’s four-volume series covering modernist writer Schmidt’s (1914-1979) early period, these two novels (published in Germany in 1954 and 1960) give a glimpse of what was to come in Schmidt’s larger works like Zettel’s Traum (Zettel’s Dream). In a style often compared to that of Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, Schmidt creates a kind of dreamlike narration that relies heavily on wordplay (especially neologisms) and floats in and out of the characters’ subconsciouses. In The Stony Heart, about an historical biographer, Schmidt captures a colloquial German speech that Woods deftly translates into a kind of Brooklynese: “Ohsuah: theah’s a visitah’s bureau heah.” Schmidt’s experimental narrative is difficult to follow. Reprising Mark Twain’s famous warning to readers of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he writes in his introduction to B/Moondocks (which takes place both in a 1950s Bavarian town and on the moon in 1980): “Persons attempting to smell out or indeed to perceive herein a will be shot.”

Fatale by J. Manchette

Release date: April 26
Publisher: NYRB Classics

Whether you call her a coldhearted grifter or the soul of modern capitalism, for which nothing on heaven or earth has any value except its value in cash, there’s no question that Aimée is a killer and a more than professional one. Now she’s set her eyes on a backwater burg-where, while posing as an innocent (albeit drop-dead gorgeous) newcomer to town, she means to sniff out old grudges and engineer new opportunities, deftly playing different people and different interests against each other the better to, as always, make a killing. But then something snaps: the master manipulator falls prey to a pure and wayward passion. Aimée has become the avenging angel of her own nihilism, exacting the destruction of a whole society of destroyers. An unholy original, J.P. Manchette transformed the modern detective novel into a weapon of gleeful satire and anarchic fun. In Fatale he mixes equal measures of farce, mayhem, and madness to prepare a rare literary cocktail that packs a devastating punch.

AnimalInside by László Krasznahorkai

Release date: April 26
Publisher: New Directions

To create this work that strains against all constraints, László Krasznahorkai began from one of Max Neumann’s paintings; Neumann, spurred into action, created 14 more images, which unleashed an additional 13 texts from the author. Animalinside is the rare case of two matchless artists meeting across disciplines, and New Directions is very proud to publish a limited edition of this powerful novella, exquisitely produced by Sylph Editions and the Cahiers Series of the American University of Paris with a deluxe seven-stage printing process for the amazing Neumann images. 15 full-color illustrations

The Great Night by Chris Adrian

Release date: April 26
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Acclaimed as a “gifted, courageous writer” (The New York Times), Chris Adrian brings all his extraordinary talents to bear in The Great Night—a brilliant and mesmerizing retelling of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” On Midsummer Eve 2008, three people, each on the run from a failed relationship, become trapped in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park (the home in exile for Titania, Oberon, and their court) on their way to a party. On this night, something awful is happening in the faerie kingdom: in a fit of sadness over the end of her marriage, which broke up in the wake of the death of her adopted son, Titania has set loose an ancient menace, and the chaos that ensues threatens the lives of immortals and mortals alike. The three heartbroken lovers will become lost in the park and within the memories of the people they lost or drove away, and each will remember through the course of the night that this is not the first time their lives have been touched by magic.

Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky by Chris Adrian

Release date: April 26
Publisher: Europa Editions

From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Rosa Achmetowna, the frightening narrator of Bronsky’s dark and wily latest (after Broken Glass Park), is a difficult person to like, much less love. She lives in a cramped Soviet apartment with her husband, teenage daughter Sulfia, and a nosy, disagreeable roommate. Brusque, brimming with bile, and ever judgmental, she is less than pleased when the “rather stupid” Sulfia winds up pregnant. Rosa immediately tries a variety of crude home remedies for aborting Sulfia’s baby—but nine months later, Aminat, is born. Rosa is fundamentally nasty, yes, but she instantly falls in love with Aminat (who coincidentally bears a striking resemblance to Rosa), tries to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, and enjoys watching Aminat grow into a wild, willful thing as Rosa and Sulfia kidnap the little girl back and forth. Rosa’s machinations grow increasingly devious until Aminat matures and comes to a crossroads of her own. Rosa is absolutely outrageous, a one-woman wrecking crew with no remorse, an acid tongue, and a conniving opportunist’s sense of drive and desperation. Bronsky lands another hit with this hilarious, disturbing, and always irreverent blitz.

Leeches by David Albahari

Release date: April 28
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The place is Serbia, the time is the late 1990s. Our protagonist, a single man, writes a regular op-ed column for a Belgrade newspaper and spends the rest of his time with his best friend, smoking pot and talking about sex, politics, and life in general. One day on the shore of the Danube he spots a man slapping a beautiful woman. Intrigued, he follows the woman into the tangled streets of the city until he loses sight of her. A few days later he receives a mysterious manuscript whose contents seem to mutate each time he opens it. To decipher the manuscript—a collection of fragments on the Kabbalah and the history of the Jews of Zemun and Belgrade—he contacts an old schoolmate, now an eccentric mathematician, and a group of men from the Jewish community. As the narrator delves deeper into arcane topics, he begins to see signs of anti-Semitism, past and present, throughout the city and he feels impelled to denounce it. But his increasingly passionate columns erupt in a scandal culminating in murder. Following in the footsteps of Foucault’s Pendulum, Leeches is a cerebral adventure into the underground worlds of secret societies and conspiracy theories.

Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions by Charles Bernstein

Release date: April 30
Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Charles Bernstein is our postmodern jester of American poesy, equal part surveyor of democratic vistas and scholar of avant-garde sensibilities. In a career spanning thirty-five years and forty books, he has challenged and provoked us with writing that is decidedly unafraid of the tensions between ordinary and poetic language, and between everyday life and its adversaries. Attack of the Difficult Poems, his latest collection of essays, gathers some of his most memorably irreverent work while addressing seriously and comprehensively the state of contemporary humanities, the teaching of unconventional forms, fresh approaches to translation, the history of language media, and the connections between poetry and visual art. Applying an array of essayistic styles, Attack of the Difficult Poems ardently engages with the promise of its title. Bernstein introduces his key theme of the difficulty of poems and defends, often in comedic ways, not just difficult poetry but poetry itself. Bernstein never loses his ingenious ability to argue or his consummate attention to detail. Along the way, he offers a wide-ranging critique of literature’s place in the academy, taking on the vexed role of innovation and approaching it from the perspective of both teacher and practitioner.


I Am a Japanese Writer by Dany LaFerriere

Release date: May 1
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
A black writer from Montreal has found the perfect title for his next book I Am a Japanese Writer. His publisher loves it and gives him an advance. The problem is, he can’t seem to write a word of it. He nurses his writer’s block by taking baths, re-reading the Japanese poet Basho and engaging in amorous intrigues with rising pop star Midori. The book, still unwritten, becomes a cult phenomenon in Japan, and the writer an international celebrity. A Japanese writer publishes a book called I Am a Malagasy Writer. Even the Japanese consulate is intrigued. Our hero is delighted—until things start to go wrong. Part postmodern fantasy, part Kafkaesque nightmare and part travelogue to the inner reaches of the self, I Am a Japanese Writer calls into question everything we think we know about what-and who-makes a work of art

The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness by Lila Azam Zanganeh

Release date: May 2
Publisher: Norton

The protagonist of Vladimir Nabokov’s The Gift playfully dreamed of writing “A Practical Handbook: How to Be Happy.” Now, Nabokov’s own creative reader Lila Azam Zanganeh lends life to this vision with sly sophistication and ebullient charm, as she shares the delirious joy to be found in reading the masterpieces of “the great writer of happiness.” Plunging into the enchanted and luminous worlds of Speak, Memory; Ada, or Ardor; and the infamous Lolita, Azam Zanganeh seeks out the Nabokovian experience of time, memory, sexual passion, nature, loss, love in all its forms, and language in all its allusions. She explores Nabokov’s geography-from his Russian childhood to the landscapes of “his” America-suffers encounters with his beloved “nature,” hallucinates an interview with the master, and seeks the “crunch of happiness” in his singular vocabulary. This beautifully illuminated book will both reignite the passion of experienced Nabokovians and lure the innocent reader to a well of delights as yet unseen.

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

Release date: May 3
While The Lake shows off many of the features that have made Banana Yoshimoto famous—a cast of vivid and quirky characters, simple yet nuanced prose, a tight plot with an upbeat pace—it’s also one of the most darkly mysterious books she’s ever written. It tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though … until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing a young man across the street staring out his window, too. They eventually embark on a hesitant romance, until she learns that he has been the victim of some form of childhood trauma. Visiting two of his friends who live a monastic life beside a beautiful lake, she begins to piece together a series of clues that lead her to suspect his experience may have had something to do with a bizarre religious cult. . . . With its echoes of the infamous, real-life Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group that released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system), The Lake unfolds as the most powerful novel Banana Yoshimoto has written. And as the two young lovers overcome their troubled past to discover hope in the beautiful solitude of the lake in the country- side, it’s also one of her most moving.

Write On: Occasional Essays by David Lodge

Release date: May 5
Publisher: Vintage

The wit and intellectual verve of one of our most distinguished writers is evident on every page of this volume of essays, in which he tackles writers including Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger, D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce; visits America and Poland; discusses Catholicism, the structuralists, The Dam Busters; and, explores his own attitudes to the craft of writing.

Dark Desires and the Others by Luisa Valenzuela

Release date: May 17
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

“Here I am,” writes Luisa Valenzuela, “submerged in a sea of notebooks . . .” Dark Desires is the author’s autobiographical fantasia on the ten years she spent living in New York City. Valenzuela has called this book her “apocryphal autobiography,” and in it she says very little about her work as a writer, about the city itself, or even about literature. Instead, Dark Desires is a dialogue between the sometimes harmonious, sometimes contradictory worlds of writing and human interaction: for Valenzuela, writing, like love, is an attempt to reach out to another person, to make some sort of connection possible. Here, Valenzuela confronts her own “dark desires”: her need for sexual fulfillment and human tenderness, her indecisiveness about who or what she truly wants, and, overall, the compulsion to keep a written record of all her triumphs and disasters, encounters and obsessions.

Zazen by Vanessa Veselka

Release date: May 22
Publisher: Red Lemonade

Somewhere in Della’s consumptive, industrial wasteland of a city, a bomb goes off. It is not the first, and will not be the last. Reactions to the attacks are polarized. Police activity intensifies. Della’s revolutionary parents welcome the upheaval but are trapped within their own insular beliefs. Her activist restaurant co-workers, who would rather change their identities than the world around them, resume a shallow rebellion of hair-dye, sex parties, and self-absorption. As those bombs keep inching closer, thudding deep and real between the sounds of katydids fluttering in the still of the city night, and the destruction begins to excite her. What begins as terror threats called in to greasy bro-bars across the block boils over into a desperate plot, intoxicating and captivating Della and leaving her little chance for escape.

The Land at the End of the World by Antonio Lobo Antunes

Release date: May 23
Publisher: W.W. Norton

One of the twentieth century’s most original literary voices delivers a haunting and heartrending meditation on the absurdities of love and war. Considered to be António Lobo Antunes’s masterpiece, The Land at the End of the World-now in a new and fully restored translation by acclaimed translator Margaret Jull Costa-recounts the anguished tale of a Portuguese medic haunted by memories of war, who, like the Ancient Mariner, will tell his tale to anyone who listens. In the tradition of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, Lobo Antunes weaves words into an exhilarating tapestry, imbuing his prose with the grace and resonance of poetry. The narrator, freshly returned to Lisbon after his hellish tour of duty in Angola, confesses the traumas of his memory to a nameless lover. Their evening unfolds like a fever dream, as Lobo Antunes leaps deftly back and forth from descriptions of postdictatorship Portugal to the bizarre and brutal world of life on the front line. The result is both tragic and absurd, and belongs among the great war novels of the modern age.

Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas

Release date: May 24
Publisher: New Directions

A splendid ironic portrayal of literary Paris and of a young writer’s struggles by one of Spain’s most eminent authors. This brilliantly ironic novel about literature and writing, in Vila-Matas’s trademark witty and erudite style, is told in the form of a lecture delivered by a novelist clearly a version of the author himself. The “lecturer” tells of his two-year stint living in Marguerite Duras’s garret during the seventies, spending time with writers, intellectuals, and eccentrics, and trying to make it as a creator of literature: “I went to Paris and was very poor and very unhappy.” Encountering such luminaries as Duras, Roland Barthes, Georges Perec, Sergio Pitol, Samuel Beckett, and Juan Marsé, our narrator embarks on a novel whose text will “kill” its readers and put him on a footing with his beloved Hemingway. (Never Any End to Paris takes its title from a refrain in A Moveable Feast.) What emerges is a fabulous portrait of intellectual life in Paris that, with humor and penetrating insight, investigates the role of literature in our lives.

Lightning by Jean Echenoz

Release date: May 31
Publisher: The New Press

Hailed by the Washington Post as “the most distinctive voice of his generation,” Echenoz traces the notable career of Gregor, a precocious young engineer from Eastern Europe, who travels across the Atlantic at the age of twenty-eight to work alongside Thomas Edison, with whom he later holds a long-lasting rivalry. After his discovery of alternating current, Gregor quickly begins to astound the world with his other brilliant inventions, including everything from radio, radar, and wireless communication to cellular technology, remote control, and the electron microscope.


Prose from the Observatory by Julio Cortazar

Release date: June 1
“This lyrical, ethereal text interwoven with Julio Cortázar’s own stunning photos from an abandoned observatory—never before translated into English—is perhaps Cortázar’s most unconventional work. With a dream-logic of its own, the narrative flows from Jaipur to Paris, weaving in glimpses of the unearthly structures of a magical observatory (the brainchild of a local sultan) with descriptions of the life cycle of the Atlantic eel.”

Colors of Infamy by Albert Cossery

Release date: June 1
Publisher: New Directions

The Curfew by Jesse Ball

Release date: June 14
Publisher: Vintage
William and Molly lead a life of small pleasures: riddles at the kitchen table, games of string and orange peels. All around them the city rages with war. When the uprising began, William’s wife was taken, leaving him alone with their young daughter. They keep their heads down as police patrol the streets. But when an old friend seeks out William, claiming to know what happened to his wife, William risks everything. He ventures out after dark, and Molly is left to play, reconstructing his dangerous voyage, his past, and their future. An astounding portrait of fierce love within a world of random violence, The Curfew is a mesmerizing feat of literary imagination.

Triptych: How to Look at Francis Bacon by Jonathan Littell

Release date: June 15
Publisher: Atlas

Demolishing Nisard by Eric Chevillard

Release date: June 16
From The Quarterly Conversation:
“Chevillard’s message is obviously that there is something rotten in French literature and reviewing today, a plague of Nisardism that prevents critics from judging a book on its own merits. The preferred mode is to babble about the non-literary, to stay well away from the adventurous writer or to upbraid her for not being, say, Henry James, or not showing through her work what are held to be the values of the day. Most reviewers remained blind to this aspect of Démolir Nisard, preferring to discuss what they thought was paradoxical: bringing back to life an odious man, whom nobody remembered anyway. The reviewers often found themselves at the obvious conclusion that this was yet another proof that Chevillard is the new king of the absurd. And he might well be, but critical blindness to Chevillard’s subtext is, to me at least, definite proof that Nisardism is an extremely perverse illness that is still going very, very strong.”

Tyrant Memory by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Release date: June 24
Publisher: New Directions

From The Quarterly Conversation:
“Chevillard’s message is obviously that there is something rotten in French literature and reviewing today, a plague of Nisardism that prevents critics from judging a book on its own merits. The preferred mode is to babble about the non-literary, to stay well away from the adventurous writer or to upbraid her for not being, say, Henry James, or not showing through her work what are held to be the values of the day. Most reviewers remained blind to this aspect of Démolir Nisard, preferring to discuss what they thought was paradoxical: bringing back to life an odious man, whom nobody remembered anyway. The reviewers often found themselves at the obvious conclusion that this was yet another proof that Chevillard is the new king of the absurd. And he might well be, but critical blindness to Chevillard’s subtext is, to me at least, definite proof that Nisardism is an extremely perverse illness that is still going very, very strong.”

The Leviathan by Joseph Roth

Release date: June 29
Publisher: New Directions

Joseph Roth’s final novella, The Leviathan, concerns a shtetl’s finest coral merchant and how his dream of seeing the sea for the first time materializes at a terrible cost. In the small town of Progrody, Nissen Piczenik makes his living as the most respected coral merchant of the region. Nissen has never been outside of his town, deep in the Russian interior, and fantasizes that a Leviathan watches over the coral reefs. When the sailor nephew of one of Progrody’s residents comes to visit, Nissen loses little time in befriending him for the purpose of learning about the sea. The sailor offers Nissen a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come to Odessa and tour his ship. Nissen leaves his business during the peak coral season, and stays in Odessa for three weeks. But upon his return to Progrody, Nissen finds that a new coral merchant has moved into the neighboring town, and his coral is quickly becoming the most sought after. As his customers dwindle, life takes an evil twist for Nissen Piczenik. And the final decider of his fate may be the devil himself.

The Seamstress and the Wind by Cesar Aira

Release date: June 30
Publisher: New Directions

As he runs wildly amok, Aira captures childhood’s treasures — the reality of the fable and the delirium of invention — in this hilariously funny book. The Seamstress and the Wind is a deliciously laugh-out-loud-funny novel. A seamstress who is sewing a wedding dress for the pregnant local art teacher fears that her son, while playing in a big semitruck, has been accidentally kidnapped and driven off to Patagonia. Completely unhinged, she calls a local taxi to follow the semi in hot pursuit. When her husband finds out what’s happened, he takes off after wife and child. They race not only to the end of the world, but to adventures in desire — where the wild Southern wind falls in love with the seamstress, and a monster child takes up with the truck driver. Interspersed are Aira’s musings about memory and childhood, and his hometown of Coronel Pringles, with a compelling view of the hard lot of this working-class town, situated not far from Buenos Aires.


Victor Halfwit: A Winter’s Tale by Thomas Bernhard

Release date: July 1
Publisher: Seagull Books

One night in the middle of winter, as deep snow covers the mountains and forests, a doctor is crossing the ridge in Austria from Traich to Föding to see a patient. He stumbles over a body in the darkness and fears it is a corpse. But it’s not a corpse at all. In fact, it’s wooden-legged Victor Halfwit, collapsed, but still very much alive. So begins this simultaneously absurd and tragic tale by celebrated Austrian playwright, novelist, and poet Thomas Bernhard. Combining the darkly comic voice and vision of Bernhard with the lush and beautiful collages of Indian designer Sunandini Banerjee, Victor Halfwit is a unique and collectible artist’s book. Illustrated in color throughout, this edition imaginatively presents Bernhard’s fable in a distinctive and unconventional style. It is the perfect gift book that will be cherished by fans of Bernhard’s other works and will inspire new interest among visual artists.

In Red by Magdalena Tulli

Release date: July 1
Publisher: Archipelago Books

“Powerful imagery caught in a sinewy, architectural, elegiac prose. An inner-outer dance of cityscape with the taut emotion, terror & psyche of the ‘human.’ Where are we? What magical zone of dream and stone? We are inhabitants of the wild, brilliant imagination of Magdalena Tulli. This book is a great pleasure to read: deeply provocative, intuitive, haunting. ‘I hunt among stones’ was Charles Olson’s probing line, a mission manifested here with full beauty & finesse. And rendered from Polish to English in an inspired translation by Bill Johnston.” —Anne Waldman

Millennium People by J.G. Ballard

Release date: July 5
Publisher: Norton

The explosive J. G. Ballard renaissance, which began with the 2009 publication of The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard, now continues with his first novel to be published in America in a full decade. “Wonderfully warped, darkly comic” (The Economist), Millennium People tells the story of David Markham, a psychologist who is searching for the truth behind a bomb that exploded on a Heathrow baggage carousel, killing his ex-wife. Infiltrating a shadowy protest group responsible for her death, David finds himself succumbing to the charismatic charms of the group’s leader, who hopes to foment a violent rebellion against the government by his fanatical adherents, the spiritually and financially impoverished members of Britain’s white middle class. A shockingly plausible and extremely unsettling vision of society in collapse, Millennium People “dissects the perverse psychology that links terrorists with their innocent victims.”

The Train by Georges Simenon

Release date: July 12
Publisher: Melville House

Against all expectations Marcel Féron has made a “normal” life in a bucolic French suburb in the Ardennes. But on May 10, 1940, as Nazi tanks approach, this timid, happy man must abandon his home and confront the “Fate” that he has secretly awaited. Separated from his pregnant wife and young daughter in the chaos of flight, he joins a freight car of refugees hurtling southward ahead of the pursuing invaders. There, he meets Anna, a sad-looking, dark- haired girl, whose accent is “neither Belgian nor German,” and who “seemed foreign to everything around her.” As the mystery of Anna’s identity is gradually revealed, Marcel leaps from the heights of an exhilarating freedom to the depths of a terrifying responsibility— one that will lead him to a blood-chilling choice. When it first appeared in English in 1964, British novelist and critic Brigid Brophy declared The Train to be “the novel his admirers had been expecting all along from Simenon.” Until The Train, she wrote, the dazzlingly prolific novelist had been “a master without a masterpiece.”


Why I Love Barthes by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Release date: August 8
Publisher: Polity

The literary friendship between Alain Robbe-Grillet and Roland Barthes lasted 25 years. Everything attests to their deep and mutual intellectual esteem: their private correspondence, their published texts, their conversations – notably in the famous dialogue which gives its name to this work. Robbe-Grillet freely said he had very few true friends but, next to the publisher Jérôme Lindon, he always cited the name of Roland Barthes. In 1980, he wrote his own ‘I love, I don’t love’, published here for the first time, thinking about his friend. In 1985, he predicted: ‘It is his work as a writer which will remain’. Ten years later, in 1995, he imagined him as an impatient, blithe novelist, merrily rewriting – ‘euphorically, with inexhaustible happiness’ – The Sorrows of Young Werther. This small collection of conversations and short texts by Robbe-Grillet is like the deferred echo of those that Roland Barthes dedicated to him in his Critical Essays in 1964. It offers fresh insight into the development of Robbe-Grillet’s own work as well as that of Barthes, and is are a unique testimony to one of the most important literary friendships of our time.

House of Holes: A Book of Raunch by Nicholson Baker

Release date: August 9
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes is gleefully provocative, off-the-charts sex novel that is unlike anything you’ve read.

Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel

Release date: August 18
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

The long-awaited new translation of the most dazzling and unclassifiable work of fiction in any language. In a mythical African land, some shipwrecked and uniquely talented passengers stage a grand gala to entertain themselves and their captor, the great chieftain Talou. In performance after bizarre performance—starring, among others, a zither-playing worm, a marksman who can peel an egg at fifty yards, a railway car that rolls on calves’ lungs, and fabulous machines that paint, weave, and compose music—Raymond Roussel demonstrates why it is that André Breton termed him “the greatest mesmerizer of modern times.” But even more remarkable than the mind-bending events Roussel details—as well as their outlandish, touching, or tawdry backstories—is the principle behind the novel’s genesis, a complex system of puns and double-entendres that anticipated (and helped inspire) such movements as Surrealism and Oulipo. Newly translated and with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti, this edition of Impressions of Africa vividly restores the humor, linguistic legerdemain, and conceptual wonder of Raymond Roussel’s magnum opus.

Two Friends by Alberto Moravia

Release date: August 30
Publisher: Other Press


The Truth About Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint

Release date: September 6
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

Cosmos: A Novel by Witold Gombrowicz

Release date: September 13
Publisher: Grove

The Splendor of Portugal by Antonio Lobo Antunes

Release date: September 20
Publisher: Dalkey Archive

The Splendor of Portugal’s four narrators are members of a once well-to-do family whose plantation was lost in the Angolan War of Independence; the matriarch of this unhappiest of clans and her three adult children speak in a nightmarish, remorseless gush to give us the details of their grotesque family life. Like a character out of Faulkner’s decayed south, the mother clings to the hope that her children will come back, save her from destitution, and restore the family’s imagined former glory. The children, for their part, haven’t seen each other in years, and in their isolation are tormented by feverish memories of Angola. The vitriol and self-hatred of the characters know no bounds, for they are at once victims and culprits, guilty of atrocities committed in the name of colonialism as well as the cruel humiliations and betrayals of their own kin. Antunes again proves that he is the foremost stylist of his generation, a fearless investigator into the worst excesses of the human animal.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Release date: September 26
Publisher: Dalkey Archive

One of the world’s most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius—a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.

Good Offices by Evelio Rosero

Release date: September 28
Publisher: New Directions

Tancredo, a young hunchback, observes and participates in the rites at the Catholic church where he lives under the care of Father Almida. Also in residence are the sexton Celeste Machado, his goddaughter Sabina Cruz, and three widows known collectively as the Lilias, who do the cooking and cleaning and provide charity meals for the local poor and needy. One Thursday, Father Almida and the sexton must rush off to meet the parish’s principal benefactor, Don Justiniano. It will be the first time in forty years Father Almida has not said mass. Eventually they find a replacement: Father Matamoros, a drunkard with a beautiful voice whose sung mass is spellbinding to all. The Lilias prepare a sumptuous meal for Father Matamoros, who persuades them to drink with him. Over the course of the long night the women and Tancredo lose their inhibitions and confess their sins and stories to this strange priest, and in the process re- veal lives crippled by hypocrisy.

The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 2, 1941-1956

Release date: September 30
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Tres by Roberto Bolano

Release date: September 30
Publisher: New Directions

Roberto Bolaño’s Tres is a showcase of the author’s willingness to freely cross genres, with poems in prose, stories in verse, and flashes of writing that can hardly be categorized. As the title implies, the collection is composed of three sections. “Prose from Autumn in Gerona,” a cinematic series of prose poems, slowly reveals a subtle and emotional tale of unrequited love by presenting each scene, shattering it, and piecing it all back together, over and over again. The second part, “The Neochileans,” is a sort of On the Road in verse, which narrates the travels of a young Chilean band on tour in the far reaches of their country. Finally, the collection ends with a series of short poems that take us on “A Stroll Through Literature” and remind us of Bolaño’s masterful ability to walk the line between the comically serious and the seriously comical.


The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

Release date: October 4
Publisher: Knopf

Catastrophes by Breyten Breytenbach

Release date: October 11
Publisher: Archipelago Books

Reminiscent of Julio Cortázar’s Cronopios and Famas, this searing collection of lyrical and often nightmarish prose pieces is inventive in both language and vision. At once vulnerable, playful, heart-wrenching, and melancholy, these dreamscapes shed light on the human condition, exile, and death. A feast for the senses and the mind.

Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page by Matt Kish

Release date: October 11
Publisher: Tin House

Refusing to set any boundaries, Matt Kish uses a wide variety of materials, including found paper, ballpoint pens, markers, paint, crayons, ink, and watercolors to create art inspired by lines from every single page of the 552-page Signet Classics edition of Moby-Dick. A hallmark of the project has been his use of pages torn from old, discarded books. Layering images on top of existing words and images, Kish has crafted a work that aptly echoes the layers of meaning in Melville’s narrative. His approach is deliberately low-tech, a counterresponse to the increasing popularity of born-digital art and literature. Kish spent nearly every day for 18 months toiling away in a small closet converted into an art studio. In order to easily share each image with friends and family, he started the blog One Drawing for Every Page of Moby-Dick and posted art and brief posts about the process on a daily basis.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Release date: October 25
Publisher: Knopf

Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt

Release date: October 25
Publisher: New Directions

“All I want is to be a success. That’s all I ask.” Joe fails to sell a single set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in six months. Then fails to sell a single Electrolux and must eat 126 pieces of homemade pie, served up by his would-be customers who feel sorry for him. Holed up in his trailer, Joe finds an outlet for his frustrations in a series of ingenious sexual fantasies, and at last strikes gold. His brainstorm, Lightning Rods, Inc., will take Joe to the very top — and to the very heart of corporate insanity — with an outrageous solution to the spectre of sexual harassment in the modern office. An uproarious, hard-boiled modern fable of corporate life, sex, and race in America, Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods brims with the satiric energy of Nathanael West and the philosophic import of an Aristophanic comedy of ideas. Her wild yarn is second cousin to the spirit of Mel Brooks and the hilarious reality-blurring of Being John Malkovich. Dewitt continues to take the novel into new realms of storytelling — as the timeliness of Lightning Rods crosses over into timelessness.

The No World Concerto by A.G. Porta

Release date: October 25
Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Hailed by Spain’s Revista Quimera as one of the top ten Spanish-language novels of the decade, alongside Bolaño’s 2666, Vila-Matas’s Bartleby & Co., and Marías’s Your Face Tomorrow.
The many layers of The No World Concerto center around an old screenwriter, holed up in a shabby hotel in order to write a screenplay about his lover, a young piano prodigy who wants in turn to give up music and become a writer. From these meager elements, A. G. Porta launches an investigation of the limits of language, fiction, and the known world. Here, hazy foosball bars and empty concert halls resound with debates about Wittgenstein or the principles of Schoenberg’s compositions; characters appear who may or may not have any existence outside the screenwriter’s work; and the young pianist begins to believe she may be in contact with creatures from another dimension.

Of Beasts and Beings by Ian Holding

Release date: October 25
Publisher: Europa Editions

Militia seize an innocent captive and subject him to a nightmarish overland journey that feels as though it will never end. Meanwhile, a lonely white schoolteacher wrestles personal demons whilst attempting to overcome the everyday difficulties of a life in which power cuts last for months at a time, homes are left without running water, brawls break out over even the most basic necessities and an atmosphere of fear and intimidation presides. Which of them is in the gravest danger, and does either have the power to escape their fate? In this highly original, searing and timely new novel, we witness the devastating effects of a country’s economic and moral collapse. In a world where greed, barbarism, anarchy and lawlessness are rife, how do the honest survive? Is it possible to keep a conscience when all those around you have lost theirs?

The Hall of the Singing Caryatids by Victor Pelevin

Release date: October 27
Publisher: New Directions

After auditioning for the part as a singing geisha at a dubious bar, Lena and eleven other “lucky” girls are sent to work at a posh underground nightclub reserved exclusively for Russia’s upper-crust elite. They are to be a sideshow attraction to the rest of the club’s entertainment, and are billed as the “famous singing caryatids.” Things only get weirder from there. Secret ointments, praying mantises, sexual escapades, and grotesque murder are quickly ushered into the plot. The Russian literary master Victor Pelevin holds nothing back, and The Hall of the Singing Caryatids, his most recent story to be translated into English, is sure to make you squirm in your seat with utter delight.


Into the Snow: Selected Poems of Gennady Aygi

Release date: November 1
Publisher: Wave Books

Gennady Aygi (1934-2006) is widely considered to be one of the great avant-garde poets from the former Soviet Union. He wrote and lived during times of extreme terror and suffering for the people of the Soviet Union and because of the repressive censorship, like many writers of his generation Aygi could only publish his work abroad, and even then at great peril to himself and the people who helped him smuggle his work out of the country.

Micrograms by Jorge Carrera Andrade

Release date: November 1
Publisher: Wave Books

The microgram is collected, pondered upon, and defined in this quiet classic of Ecuadorian literature.

In the alphabet of things
the snail invents
the penultimate letter.

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

Release date: November 8
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots by William Wallace Cook

Release date: November 8
Publisher: Tin House

A classic how-to manual, William Wallace Cook’s Plotto is one writer’s personal method, painstakingly diagrammed for the benefit of others. The theory itself may be simple — “Purpose opposed by Obstacle yields Conflict” — but Cook takes his “Plottoist” through hundreds of situations and scenarios, guiding the reader’s hand as a dizzying array of purposes and obstacles come to a head. Cook’s method is broken down into three stages: First, the master plot. This four-page chart distills the most basic plot points into a three-line sentence. Next, the conflict situation. Each master plot leads the reader to a list of circumstances, distributed among 20 different conflict groups (these range from “Love’s Beginning” to “Personal Limitations” to “Transgression”). There are over 2,000 unique conflict situations in the book, and each is cross-referenced with designs for how the situation might have started, or where it might go. Finally, there are character combinations — Cook offers an extensive index of protagonists, each cross-referenced with various supporting players — themselves tied to various conflict situations, for what appears to be an inexhaustible reservoir of suggestions and inspiration.

“Something Urgent I Have to Say to You”: The Life and Works of William Carlos Williams by Herbert Leibowitz

Release date: November 8
Publisher: FSG

Herbert Leibowitz’s “Something Urgent I Have to Say to You” provides a new perspective on the life and poetry of the doctor poet William Carlos Williams, a key American writer who led one of the more eventful literary lives of the twentieth century. Friends with most of the contemporary innovators of his era—Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, and Louis Zukofsky, among others—Williams made a radical break with the modernist tradition by seeking to invent an entirely fresh and singularly American poetic, whose subject matter derived from the everyday lives of the citizens and poor immigrant com­munities of northern New Jersey. His poems mirrored both the conflicts of his own life and the convulsions that afflicted American soci­ety—two world wars, a rampaging flu pan-demic, and the Great Depression.

Joseph Walser’s Machine by Gonçalo M. Tavares

Release date: November 8
Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Continuing Tavares’s award-winning “Kingdom” series (begun in Jerusalem, winner of the Saramago Prize), Joseph Walser’s Machine recounts a life of bizarre routines and patterns. Routine humiliation at a factory; routine maintenance of the world’s most esoteric collection; and the most important routine of all: the operation of a mysterious machine on a factory floor. Yet all of Joseph Walser’s routines are violently disrupted when his city is occupied by an invading army, leaving him faced with political intrigues, marital discord, and finally, one last, catastrophic confrontation with his beloved machine.

The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector, Benjamin Moser (Translator), Colm Tóibín (Introduction)

Release date: November 9
Publisher: New Directions

A new translation of an essential novel by a classic author.

Self-Portrait of an Other by Cees Nooteboom, Max Neumann

Release date: November 15
Publisher: Seagull Press

Cees Nooteboom, best known for his novel The Following Story,is one of the most distinguished and significant authors living in the Netherlands today. Self-Portrait of an Other is one of the most unique and innovative works in his oeuvre. Written in response to and published together with a series of drawings by the Berlin-based artist Max Neumann, the book draws on Nooteboom’s personal reflections —his arsenal of memories, dreams, fantasies, landscapes, stories and nightmares— and presents a set of prose poems that complements and echoes Neumann’s work. Full of striking scenes and disturbing images, the poems, driven by the logic of dreams, create the self-portrait of the title.

Dukla by Andrzej Stasiuk

Release date: November 20
Publisher: Dalkey Archive

At several points in the haunting Dukla, Andrzej Stasiuk claims that what he is trying to do is “write a book about light.” The result is a beautiful, lyrical series of evocations of a very specific locale at different times of the year, in different kinds of weather, and with different human landscapes. Dukla, in fact, is a real place: a small resort town not far from where Stasiuk now lives. Taking an usual form—a short essay, a novella, and then a series of brief portraits of local people or events—this book, though bordering on the metaphysical, the mystical, even the supernatural, never loses sight of the particular time, and above all place, in which it is rooted. Andrzej Stasiuk is one of the leading writers of Poland’s younger generation, and is currently one of the most popular Polish novelists in English translation.

The Third Reich by Roberto Bolano

Release date: November 22
Publisher: FSG

On vacation with his girlfriend, Ingeborg, the German war games champion Udo Berger returns to a small town on the Costa Brava where he spent the summers of his childhood. Soon they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, who introduce them to a band of locals—the Wolf, the Lamb, and El Quemado—and to the darker side of life in a resort town. Late one night, Charly disappears without a trace, and Udo’s well-ordered life is thrown into upheaval; while Ingeborg and Hanna return to their lives in Germany, he refuses to leave the hotel. Soon he and El Quemado are enmeshed in a round of Third Reich, Udo’s favorite World War II strategy game, and Udo discovers that the game’s consequences may be all too real. Written in 1989 and found among Roberto Bolaño’s papers after his death, The Third Reich is a stunning exploration of memory and violence. Reading this quick, visceral novel, we see a world-class writer coming into his own—and exploring for the first time the themes that would de?ne his masterpieces The Savage Detectives and 2666.


The Letter Killers Club by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

Release date: December 6
Publisher: NYRB Classics

Writers are professional killers of conceptions. The logic of the Letter Killers Club, a secret society of “conceivers” who commit nothing to paper on principle, is strict and uncompromising. Every Saturday they meet in a fire-lit room hung with blank black bookshelves to present their “pure and unsubstantiated” conceptions: a rehearsal of Hamlet hijacked by an actor who vanishes with the role; the double life of a medieval merry cleric derailed by a costume change; a machine-run world that imprisons men’s minds while conscripting their bodies; a dead Roman scribe stranded this side of the River Acheron. The overarching scene of this short novel is set in Soviet Moscow, in the ominous 1920s. Known only by pseudonym, like Chesterton’s anarchists in fin-de-siècle London, the Letter Killers are as mistrustful of one another as they are mesmerized by their despotic president. Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky is at his philosophical and fantastical best in this extended meditation on madness and silence, the word and the soul unbound.

Scars by Juan Jose Saer

Release date: December 13
Publisher: Open Letter

Review by Publishers Weekly:
In Saer’s witty and affecting novel, published in Spanish in 1969, four characters become linked around a grisly killing and the trial of the accused, Luis Fiore, each telling their portion of the story, in four temporally overlapping sections that run from February to June. Ángel lives with a mother who drinks his gin and lounges around half-naked. As a young journalist for La Región, he covers the courts and the weather which, after getting it wrong too often with almanacs, he simply fabricates, fancifully: “the city was oppressed, melted, felt more youthful with spring warmth, and suffered waves of blood in their eye sockets and furious, deafening popping in their eardrums from the atmospheric effects I had created.” Meanwhile attorney Sergio lives only for his baccarat games. Ernesto, the bored judge, views himself as an outsider in a world of gorillas and spends his free time fruitlessly translating The Picture of Dorian Gray. “It’s already been translated so many times that it makes no difference if I make progress or not…. Whole passages come out exactly the same as the versions of the professional translators.” And finally there is Fiore himself, on trial for having shot his wife in the face—twice—after a day of duck hunting. The characters are striking and memorable, their voices deep, comical, and resonant.

Proud Beggars by Albert Cossery

Release date: December 13
Publisher: NYRB Classics

Early in Proud Beggars, a brutal and motiveless murder is committed in a Cairo brothel. But the real mystery at the heart of Albert Cossery’s wry black comedy is not the cause of this death, but the paradoxical richness to be found in even the most materially impoverished life. Chief among Cossery’s characteristically proud beggars is Gohar, a former professor turned beggar, whorehouse accountant, hashish aficionado, and street philosopher. Such is his native charm that he has accumulated a small coterie that includes Yeghen, a rhapsodic poet and drug dealer and El Kordi, an ineffectual clerk and would-be revolutionary who dreams of rescuing a consumptive prostitute from her miserable life. The police investigator Nour El Din, harboring a dark secret of his own, suspects all three of the brothel murder, but finds himself captivated by their warm good humor. He is drawn to these men. How is it that they live surrounded by degrading poverty, yet possess a joie de vivre that even the most assiduous forces of state cannot suppress? Do they, despite their rejection of social norms and all ambition, hold the secret of earthly contentment? And so this short novel, considered one of Cossery’s masterpieces, is at once biting social commentary, police procedural, and a mischievous delight in its own right.


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