Interesting New Books — 2014

Hello and thanks for having a look at my Interesting New Books in 2014 page. I also have pages for new releases in 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

A few things:

If you’re planning on buying books through Amazon, please use the links on this page. I’ll get a small percentage of your sales, which is nice way to say thanks for compiling this information.

If you’d like to buy a book through a local independent bookseller, Indiebound has a handy bookstore locator. Most indies will special order anything not in stock at no extra cost, and in many cases the book will arrive in just 1 or 2 days.

Please be aware that publishers change their schedules a lot. The release dates indicated here are based on the information available when I compiled this page. But for many of these books the dates will change.

And if you’d like to contact me, feel free to do so at editor AT quarterlyconversation.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at @ScottEsposito.

Thanks a lot for visiting, and enjoy some great books in 2014!

January

Screened Out by Jean Baudrillard
January 7
Verso

‘Watching the president’s Christmas message produces this necropolar, white-mass sensation. Seeing the video broadcast of the Christmas service in the cathedral itself, with these pathetic screens and the young worshippers slumped around them here and there, you tell yourself that God and religion deserved better. Deserved to die, yes, but not this. However, watching the presidential figure and his sonorous inanity, you tell yourself that here at least you got what you deserved. Chirac is useless – that goes without saying – but so are we all … Uselessness of this kind has no origin: it exists immediately, reciprocally; like a shared secret, you savour it implicitly – with its warm bitterness – particularly in these cold snaps, as the very essence of the social bond. Sanctioned by that other interactive uselessness – the uselessness of the screen.’

In this stimulating collection of journalistic essays, Jean Baudrillard delves into a host of subjects, ranging from those of his familiar stomping ground (virtual reality, Disney, television) to topics further afield, such as children’s rights, holocaust revisionism, AIDS, Formula One racing, mad cow disease and cloning. These intriguing articles demonstrate the true range of Baudrillard’s thought and the versatility of the concepts that founded his philosophy.

Melancholy II by Jon Fosse
January 9
Dalkey Archive Press

Not so much a sequel as an alternate perspective, Jon Fosse’s coda to his brilliant and much-lauded Melancholy, picks up the story of tormented landscape painter Lars Hertervig in 1902, shortly after his death. In the same meticulous and hypnotic prose for which Fosse is famous, Melancholy II serves not only as an investigation into the “collateral damage” of art, but into a master’s tools and obsessions.

Taking place, like Melancholy, over the course of a single day, we are treated to the thoughts of Hertervig’s sister Oline, carrying on with her life in the absence of her beloved—if eccentric—brother. She recalls their childhood under a domineering father, recalls Hertervig’s difficulties fitting in, and likewise Hertervig the man: poor, always hovering on the brink, fanatical about painting and his own perceived shortcomings both as an artist and human being.

Trieste by Dasa Drndic
January 14
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Haya Tedeschi sits alone in Gorizia, in northeastern Italy, surrounded by a basket of photographs and newspaper clippings. Now an old woman, she waits to be reunited after sixty-two years with her son, fathered by an SS officer and stolen from her by the German authorities as part of Himmler’s clandestine Lebensborn project.

Haya reflects on her Catholicized Jewish family’s experiences, dealing unsparingly with the massacre of Italian Jews in the concentration camps of Trieste. Her obsessive search for her son leads her to photographs, maps, and fragments of verse, to testimonies from the Nuremberg trials and interviews with second-generation Jews, and to eyewitness accounts of atrocities that took place on her doorstep. From this broad collage of material and memory arises the staggering chronicle of Nazi occupation in northern Italy.

Written in immensely powerful language and employing a range of astonishing conceptual devices, Trieste is a novel like no other. Daša Drndić has produced a shattering contribution to the literature of twentieth-century history.

Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
January 14
Melville House

Nobody could predict the consequences when ravishing Zuleika Dobson arrives at Oxford, to visit her grandfather, the college warden. Formerly a governess, she has landed on the occupation of prestidigitator, and thanks to her overwhelming beauty—and to a lesser extent her professional talents—she takes the town by storm, gaining admittance to her grandfather’s college. It is there, at the institution inspired by Beerbohm’s own alma mater, that she falls in love the Duke of Dorset, who duly adores her in return. Ever aware of appearances, however, Zuleika breaks the Duke’s heart when she decides that she must abandon the match.

The epidemic of heartache that proceeds to overcome the academic town makes for some of the best comic writing in the history of English literature.

The Metamorphosis: A New Translation by Susan Bernofsky by Franz Kafka
January 20
W. W. Norton

Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella of unexplained horror and nightmarish transformation became a worldwide classic and remains a century later one of the most widely read works of fiction in the world. It is the story of traveling salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself transformed into a monstrous insect. This hugely influential work inspired George Orwell, Albert Camus, Jorge Louis Borges, and Ray Bradbury, while continuing to unsettle millions of readers.

In her new translation of Kafka’s masterpiece, Susan Bernofsky strives to capture both the humor and the humanity in this macabre tale, underscoring the ways in which Gregor Samsa’s grotesque metamorphosis is just the physical manifestation of his longstanding spiritual impoverishment.

This Is the Garden by Guilio Mozzi
January 21
Open Letter Books

Giulio Mozzi’s first book, This Is the Garden (winner of the 1993 Premio Mondello), astonished the Italian literary world for its commanding vision and the beauty of its prose. In the eight stories of this collection, we see a steady reworking of the idea of the world as a fallen Eden. Here, in Mozzi’s garden, quasi-allegorical characters seek knowledge of something beyond their shaken realities: they have all lost something and react by escaping, retreating from reality into a world, as Mozzi says, that is “fantastic, mystical, absurd.” A purse-snatcher mails his victim’s letters back to her, including a letter of his own. An apprentice longs to be a real person, a worker, in an anonymous business where Kafkaesque machines cut nondescript pieces from an unnamed raw material. A man finds, in his endless activity of picking up broken glass in his garden, a metaphor for gathering the pieces of his soul. Intensely imagistic, mystical, mysterious, This Is the Garden is a complicated, unsentimental—yet also heartfelt—exploration of spirituality, love, and the act of creation by a master of the short-story form.

The Human Comedy: Selected Stories by Honore de Balzac
January 21
New York Review Books Classics

We think of Honoré de Balzac as the author of long and fully upholstered novels, stitched together into the magnificent visionary document called The Human Comedy. Yet along with the full-length fiction within The Human Comedy stand many shorter works, among the most brilliant and forceful of his fictions. Drawn always to the tradition of oral storytelling—to the human voice telling of experience—and to the kinds of reactions produced in the listeners to stories, Balzac repeatedly dramatizes both telling and listening, and the interactions of men and women around the story told. It’s in the short fiction that we get some of his most daring explorations of crime, sexuality, and artistic creation. As Marcel Proust noted, it is in these tales that we detect, under the surface, the mysterious circulation of blood and desire.


The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim

January 28
Penguin Books

The first major literary work about the Iraq War from an Iraqi perspective, The Corpse Exhibition shows us the war as we have never seen it before. Here is a world not only of soldiers and assassins, hostages and car bombers, refugees and terrorists, but also of madmen and prophets, angels and djinni, sorcerers and spirits. Blending shocking realism with flights of fantasy, Hassan Blasim offers us a pageant of horrors, as haunting as the photos of Abu Ghraib and as difficult to look away from, but shot through with a gallows humor that yields an unflinching comedy of the macabre. Gripping and hallucinatory, this is a new kind of storytelling forged in the crucible of war.

February

Marshlands by Matthew Olshan
February 4
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

After years alone in a cell, an aging prisoner is released without explanation, expelled into a great city now utterly unfamiliar to him. Broken by years of brutality at the hands of the prison guards, he scrounges for scraps, sleeping wild, until a museum curator rescues him from an assault. The museum has just opened its most controversial exhibit: a perfect replica of the marshes, an expansive wilderness still wracked by conflict. There the man had spent years as a doctor among the hated and feared marshmen, who have been colonized but never conquered.

Then Marshlands reveals one of its many surprises: it is written in reverse. The novel leaps backward once, twice, returning to the marshes and unraveling time to reveal the doctor’s ambiguous relationship to the austerely beautiful land and its people. As the pieces of his past come together, a great crime and its consequences begin to take shape. The true nature of the crime and who committed it will be saved for the breathtaking ending—or, rather, for the beginning.


Definitely Maybe by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky

February 4
Melville House Books

Certain he is on the verge of a major scientific discovery, astrophysicist Dmitri Malyanov is happy that his wife has gone out of town so he can work home alone on the project he’s sure will win him the Nobel Prize.

But then a beautiful woman shows up at his door, claiming to be an old friend of his wife’s and saying she needs a place to stay. Then someone delivers a crate of vodka and caviar. Then his neighbor comes over and wants to tell him a personal secret. Then several of his friends—also scientists—show up, too. Their problem? They all felt they were on the verge of a major discovery when … they got distracted …

Is there some ominous force that doesn’t want scientific knowledge to progress? Or could it be something more…natural?

On The Reproduction Of Capitalism: Ideology And Ideological State Apparatuses by Louis Althusser
February 4
Verso

Louis Althusser’s renowned short text ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’ radically transformed the concept of the subject, the understanding of the state and even the very frameworks of cultural, political and literary theory. The text has influenced thinkers such as Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek.

The piece is, in fact, an extract from a much longer book, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, until now unavailable in English. Its publication makes possible a reappraisal of seminal Althusserian texts already available in English, their place in Althusser’s oeuvre and the relevance of his ideas for contemporary theory. On the Reproduction of Capitalism develops Althusser’s conception of historical materialism, outlining the conditions of reproduction in capitalist society and the revolutionary struggle for its overthrow.

Written in the afterglow of May 1968, the text addresses a question that continues to haunt us today: in a society that proclaims its attachment to the ideals of liberty and equality, why do we witness the ever-renewed reproduction of relations of domination?

Goings: In Thirteen Sittings by Gordon Lish
February
OR Books

Goings: In Thirteen Sittings is Gordon Lish’s first completely original work in sixteen years, thirteen stories that mark the ongoing vitality of one of the era’s enduring scribes.

Widely acknowledged as one of the most influential editors of our era, Gordon Lish has quite simply changed the face of American literature. The stunning list of writers with whom he has worked closely includes Harold Brodkey, Sam Lipsyte, Ben Marcus, Anne Carson, Cynthia Ozick, Raymond Carver, Will Eno, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel and many more.

But it is in his own writing that his genius is made manifest. There, his quick wit and black humor are on full display, as well as a merciless intellect that skewers no one so thoroughly as, and more often than, a narrator most often known as “Gordon.” In the stories in Goings, Lish wrestles with memory; self-knowledge (the lack and the impossibility thereof); friendship; mothers, sons and lovers. More than that, the language here is a collective paradigm of Lishian prose: a great writer’s attempt to leap off the page.

Tristano by Nanni Balestrini
February 4
Verso

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Isolde, Tristano was first published in 1966 in Italian. But only recently has digital technology made it possible to realise the author’s original vision. The novel comprises ten chapters, and the fifteen pairs of paragraphs in each of these are shuffled anew for each published copy. No two versions are the same. The random variations between copies enact the variegations of the human heart, as exemplified by the lovers at the centre of the story.

The copies of the English translation of Tristano are individually numbered, starting from 10,000 (running sequentially from the Italian and German editions). Included is a foreword by Umberto Eco explaining how Balestrini’s experiment with the physical medium of the novel demonstrates “that originality and creativity are nothing more than the chance handling of a combination.”


E. E. Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever

February 11
Pantheon

Cummings’s radical experimentation with form, punctuation, spelling, and syntax resulted in his creation of a new, idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. And while there was critical disagreement about his work (Edmund Wilson called it “hideous,” Malcolm Cowley called him “unsurpassed in his field”), at the time of his death in 1962, at age sixty-eight, he was, after Robert Frost, the most widely read poet in the United States. Now, in this rich, illuminating biography, Susan Cheever traces the development of the poet and his work. She takes us from Cummings’s seemingly idyllic childhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts, through his years at Harvard (rooming with Dos Passos, befriending Malcolm Cowley and Lincoln Kirstein) when he devoured the poetry of Ezra Pound whose radical verses lured the young writer away from the politeness of the traditional nature poem towards a more adventurous, sexually conscious form . . . We follow Cummings to Paris in 1917, and, finally, to Greenwich Village to be among other modernist poets of the day—Marianne Moore and Hart Crane, among them.


The News: A User’s Manual by Alain De Botton

February 11
Pantheon

We spend an inordinate amount of time checking on it. It molds how we view reality, we’re increasingly addicted to it on our luminous gadgets, we check it every morning when we wake up and every evening before we sleep—and yet the news has rarely been the focus of an accessible, serious, saleable, book-length study. Until now.

Mixing snippets of current news with philosophical reflections, The News will blend the timeless with the contemporary, and bring the wisdom of thousands of years of culture to bear on our contemporary obsessions and neuroses. There will be illustrations for this book—a shot of Emma Watson having an ice cream, a portrait of Jesus by Duccio (both were playing a similar role in their respective societies, the book will allege)—and examples of news stories will be drawn from across the world.

Storm Still by Peter Handke
February 14
Seagull Books

In Storm Still, Handke’s most recent work, he returns to the land of his birth, the Austrian province of Carinthia. There on the Jaunfeld, the plain at the center of Austria’s Slovenian settlement, the dead and the living of a family meet and talk. Composed as a series of monologues, Storm Still chronicles both the battle of the Slovene minority against Nazism and their love of the land. Presenting a panorama that extends back to the author’s bitter roots in the region, Storm Still blends penetrating prose and poetic drama to explore Handke’s personal history, taking up themes from his earlier books and revisiting some of their characters. In this book, the times of conflict and peace, war and prewar, and even the seasons themselves shift and overlap. And the fate of an orchard comes to stand for the fate of a people.

Europe in Sepia by Dubravka Ugresic
February 14
Open Letter Books

Hurtling between Weltschmerz and wit, drollness and diatribe, entropy and enchantment, it’s the juxtaposition at the heart of Dubravka Ugresic’s writings that saw Ruth Franklin dub her “the fantasy cultural studies professor you never had.” In Europe in Sepia, Ugresic, ever the flâneur, wanders from the Midwest to Zuccotti Park, the Irish Aran Islands to Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim, from the tristesse of Dutch housing estates to the riots of south London, charting everything from the listlessness of Central Europe to the ennui of the Low Countries. One finger on the pulse of an exhausted Europe, another in the wounds of postindustrial America, Ugresic trawls the fallout of political failure and the detritus of popular culture, mining each for revelation.

The Digamma Yves Bonnefoy
February 15
Seagull Books

Heralded as one of France’s greatest poets, Yves Bonnefoy has been dazzling readers since the publication of his first book in 1953. He remains influential and relevant, continuing to compose groundbreaking new work. Though Bonnefoy recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday, many are calling these past two decades his most impressive yet.

His latest book of poetry and prose, The Digamma, fits wonderfully into his impressive oeuvre, offering his signature style of simplistic but powerful language with fresh new grace. A key passage of the title piece of the book depicts the figures of Nicolas Poussin’s The Shepherds of Arcadia, which Bonnefoy has identified as crucial to the artist’s evolution. The sustained reference to Poussin’s iconography serves to ground the text in the lost civilizations of antiquity. Subtly, it brings out the underlying theme of the entire collection—in the ambivalent world we inhabit, being and non-being is fundamentally one.

Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa
February 25
Yale University Press Margellos World Republic of Letters

“Right from the start I picked her for a thief, although that day she didn’t take anything. . . . I knew she’d be back,” the narrator/bookseller of Severina recalls in this novel’s opening pages. Imagine a dark-haired book thief as alluring as she is dangerous. Imagine the mesmerized bookseller secretly tracking the volumes she steals, hoping for insight into her character, her motives, her love life. In Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s hands, this tale of obsessive love is told with almost breathless precision and economy. The bookstore owner is soon entangled in Severina’s mystery: seductive and peripatetic, of uncertain nationality, she steals books to actually read them and to share with her purported grandfather, Señor Blanco.

The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla
February 25
NYRB Classics

Josep Pla, a budding young writer, was studying law in Barcelona in 1918 when the university was shut down because of the Spanish flu epidemic. Pla returned to his parents’ house in the coastal town of Palafrugell, and with nothing to do he decided to keep a journal in which he would describe—as a way of honing his skills as a writer—everything about the daily life of his family and friends that had any interest for him. The gray notebook in which he kept this journal would survive the Franco regime, when Pla’s native Catalan tongue was suppressed, to emerge, some fifty years later as The Gray Notebook, the most celebrated work of twentieth-century Catalan literature, admired as much for its pitch-perfect prose as for its shrewd observance of the human comedy, the great book of the great city of Barcelona and of life on the beach. The Gray Notebook, full of incident and humor and light, is pure pleasure to read: a glowing Bonnard interior on an epic scale.

March

Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz
March 11
Yale University Press Margellos World Republic of Letters

Considered by many to be among the greatest writers of the past hundred years, Polish novelist Witold Gombrowicz explores the modern predicament of exile and displacement in a disintegrating world in his acclaimed classic Trans-Atlantyk. Gombrowicz’s most personal novel—and arguably his most iconoclastic—Trans-Atlantyk is written in the style of a gaweda, a tale told by the fireside in a language that originated in the seventeenth century. It recounts the often farcical adventures of a penniless young writer stranded in Argentina when the Nazis invade his homeland, and his subsequent “adoption” by the Polish embassy staff and émigré community.

Marta Oulie by Sigrid Undset
March 15
University of Minnesota Press

Marta Oulie, written in the form of a diary, intimately documents the inner life of a young woman disappointed and constrained by the conventions of marriage as she longs for an all-consuming passion. Set in Kristiania (now Oslo) at the beginning of the twentieth century, Undset’s book is an incomparable psychological portrait of a woman whose destiny is defined by the changing mores of her day—as she descends, inevitably, into an ever-darker reckoning. Remarkably, though Undset’s other works have attracted generations of readers, Marta Oulie has never before appeared in English translation. Tiina Nunnally, whose award-winning translation of Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter captured the author’s beautifully clear style, conveys the voice of Marta Oulie with all the stark poignancy of the original Norwegian.

Elsewhere by Eliot Weinberger
March 18
Open Letter Books

“In a century of mass migration and deportation, political exile and casual tourism, being elsewhere was the common condition. For the moderns, elsewhere was not merely physical location or dislocation, but was intrinsic to the work. Victor Segalen, in China at the beginning of the century, writes of the ‘manifestation of Diversity,’ a ‘spectacle of Difference’: everything that is ‘foreign, strange, unexpected, surprising, mysterious, amorous, superhuman, heroic, and even divine, everything that is Other.’ Picasso put it more bluntly: ‘Strangeness is what we wanted to make people think about because we were quite aware that our world was becoming very strange.’ After Guillaume Apollinaire’s ‘Zone’—perhaps the most influential poem of the century—collage, the juxtaposition of disparate elements, the manifestation of diversity, the making of the strange, became the primary new form of the new poetry.

“From the countless examples, here are a few instances of the collage of a poet pasted, physically or mentally, onto a specific unfamiliar landscape.”

So begins Eliot Weinberger’s essayistic travels into the nature of “journey” poetry. From Ko¯taro¯ Takamura’s poem about Paris, to Fernando Pessoa’s “At the wheel of the Chevrolet on the road to Sintra,” to Apollinaire’s “Ocean-Letter,” Weinberger introduces fourteen poems illustrating the contemporary situation of being “elsewhere.”

On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry by William H. Gass
March 18
New York Review Books Classics

Gass writes, “Of the colors, blue and green have the greatest emotional range. Sad reds and melancholy yellows are difficult to turn up. Among the ancient elements, blue occurs everywhere: in ice and water, in the flame as purely as in the flower, overhead and inside caves, covering fruit and oozing out of clay. Although green enlivens the earth and mixes in the ocean, and we find it, copperish, in fire; green air, green skies, are rare. Gray and brown are widely distributed, but there are no joyful swatches of either, or any of the exuberant black, sullen pink, or acquiescent orange. Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life. Whether slick light sharp high bright think quick sour new and cool or low deep sweet dark soft slow smooth heavy old and warm: blue moves easily among them all, and all profoundly qualify our states of feeling.”

Capital in the Twenty-First Century Hardcover by Thomas Piketty
March 24
Belknap Press

What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.

Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality–the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth–today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots by Pierre Michon
March 25
Yale University Press Margellos World Republic of Letters

This welcome volume brings to English-language readers two beautifully crafted works by the internationally acclaimed French author Pierre Michon. Populated by distant and little-known figures—Irish and French monks, saints, and scientists in Winter Mythologies; Benedictine monks in the Gévaudin region of France in Abbots—the tales frequently draw on obscure histories and other literary sources.

Michon brings his characters to life in spare, evocative prose. Each, in his or her own way, exemplifies a power of belief that brings about an achievement—or catastrophe—in the real world: monasteries are built upon impossibly muddy wastes, monks acquire the power of speech, lives are taken, books are written, saints are created on the flimsiest of evidence. Michon’s exploration in ancient archives has led him to the discovery of such often deluded figures and their deeds, and his own exceptional powers bestow upon them a renewed life on the written page. This in turn is an example of the power of belief, which for Michon is what makes literature itself possible. Winter Mythologies and Abbots are meant to be read slowly, to be savored, to be mined for the secrets Michon has to tell.

April

The Restless Supermarket by Ivan Vladislavic
April 1
And Other Stories

It is 1993, and Aubrey Tearle’s world is shutting down. He has recently retired from a lifetime of proofreading telephone directories. His favorite neighborhood haunt in Johannesburg, the Café Europa, is about to close its doors; the familiar old South Africa is already gone. Standards, he grumbles, are in decline, so bad-tempered, conservative Tearle embarks on a grandiose plan to enlighten his fellow citizens. The results are disastrous, hilarious, and poignant.

Travel Notes (from here—to there) by Stanley Crawford
April 1
Calamari Press

Originally published in 1967, TRAVEL NOTES is a hallucinogenic dream journey thru the incomparable mind that subsequently brought us Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine, then dropped off the grid to become a garlic farmer in New Mexico. TRAVEL NOTES could indeed read like Stanley Crawford’s private travelogue, yet no real-world places or people are explicitly mentioned. Instead we’re taken on a rompish tromp thru wild and often absurd landscapes—in a bus that gets dismantled & reassembled to get around a broken-down car, in a biplane that only flies in the mind of the naked pilot, or on the back of a white elephant named Unable with untranslatable obscenities tattooed to his underbelly—the traveller ever self-aware of the nagging fragility of routine customs, ever on the verge of having the magic carpet pulled out from beneath your feet if you stop to think. This mind-jarring comedy of errors shares campy common ground with Brautigan in its carefree wackiness, with Robbe-Grillet in its disciplined lunacy and obsessive-compulsive attention to detail, with Márquez in its magical realism (though Crawford, in exile on Crete, was at the time unaware of One Hundred Years of Solitude, published in the same year) and with a healthy dose of subversive angst thrown in for good measure. By the end, TRAVEL NOTES becomes a boot-strapping map to your own brain, projecting psychotherapeutic color on the otherwise gray matter of real-world events.

Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis
April 4
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Her stories may be literal one-liners: the entirety of “Bloomington” reads, “Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before.” Or they may be lengthier investigations of the havoc wreaked by the most mundane disruptions to routine: in “A Small Story About a Small Box of Chocolates,” a professor receives a gift of thirty-two small chocolates and is paralyzed by the multitude of options she imagines for their consumption. The stories may appear in the form of letters of complaint; they may be extracted from Flaubert’s correspondence; or they may be inspired by the author’s own dreams, or the dreams of friends.

What does not vary throughout Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis’s fifth collection of stories, is the power of her finely honed prose. Davis is sharply observant; she is wry or witty or poignant. Above all, she is refreshing. Davis writes with bracing candor and sly humor about the quotidian, revealing the mysterious, the foreign, the alienating, and the pleasurable within the predictable patterns of daily life.

Nicola, Milan by Lodovico Pignatti Morano
April 4
Semiotext(e)

Vaguely employed as a brand strategist in a B-version of the Italian Glamour export economy, the twenty-five-year-old unnamed narrator of Nicola, Milan is an international loner, watch checker, tip leaver, shit-talker, drifting from bar to airport lounge, taxi to hotel foyer, drunk and caffeinated at the same time, trying to explain to you the finer points of how to pitch an idea of Italy to Americans.

But when he meets the slightly older, richer, and worldlier Nicola, he becomes fascinated with him, seeing Nicola as a transcendental exemplar of the international-creative class culture he both envies and loathes. As the narrator stalks Nicola through the streets of Milan and its outskirts, what began as a casual friendship develops into an obsessive attachment, a crisis of identity connecting two hustlers, and a struggle against the quiet oblivion usually hidden by the web of tics and affectations that constitute a personality.

Combining a Houellebecq-like sense of the psychic malaise beneath the surface of contemporary cultural life with the dispassionate voice of a police report, Nicola, Milan tells a story of perverse, asexual frenzy emptying out into the void.

With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst
April 8
Melville House

Something has changed in Amos Keres, a university mathematics professor—his sentences trail off in class, he is disgusted by the sight of his wife and son, and he longs to flee the comfortable bourgeois life he finds himself a part of. Most difficult of all are his struggles to express what has happened to him, for a man more accustomed to numbers than words. He calls it “the clearcut unhoped-for,” and it’s a vision that will drive him to madness and, eventually, death.

Written in a fragmented style that echoes the character’s increasingly fragile hold on reality, With My Dog-Eyes is intensely vivid, summoning up Amos’s childhood and young adulthood—when, like Richard Feynman, he used to bring his math books to brothels to study—and his life at the university, with its “meetings, asskissers, pointless rivalries, gratuitous resentments, jealous talk, meglomanias.”

Talking to Ourselves by Andres Neuman
April 8
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Sooner or later, we all face loss. Andrés Neuman movingly narrates the ways the lives of those who survive loss are transformed; how that experience changes our ideas about time, memory, and our own bodies; and how the acts of reading, and of sex, can serve as powerful modes of resistance. Talking to Ourselves presents a tender yet unsentimental portrait of the workings of love and family; a reflection on death, sex, grief, and the consolation of words. Neuman, the author of the award-winning Traveler of the Century, displays his characteristic warmth, humanism, and wide-ranging intellect, giving us the rich, textured, and strikingly different voices and experiences of three singular characters while presenting, above all, a profound tribute to those who have cared for a loved one.

The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
April 15
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Now, The Complete Cosmicomics brings together all of the cosmicomic stories for the first time. Containing works previously published in Cosmicomics, t zero, and Numbers in the Dark, this single volume also includes seven previously uncollected stories, four of which have never been published in translation in the United States. This “complete and definitive collection” (Evening Standard) reconfirms the cosmicomics as a crowning literary achievement and makes them available to new generations of readers.


Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM (and Shot Andy Warhol) by Breanne Fahs

April 15
Feminist Press

Too drastic, too crazy, too “out there,” too early, too late, too damaged, too much—Valerie Solanas has been dismissed but never forgotten. She has become, unwittingly, a figurehead for women’s unexpressed rage, and stands at the center of many worlds. She inhabited Andy Warhol’s Factory scene, circulated among feminists and the countercultural underground, charged men money for conversation, despised “daddy’s girls,” and outlined a vision for radical gender dystopia.

Known for shooting Andy Warhol in 1968 and for writing the polemical diatribe SCUM Manifesto, Solanas is one of the most famous women of her era. SCUM Manifesto—which predicted ATMs, test-tube babies, the Internet, and artificial insemination long before they existed—has sold more copies, and has been translated into more languages, than nearly all other feminist texts of its time.

Shockingly little work has interrogated Solanas’s life. This book is the first biography about Solanas, including original interviews with family, friends (and enemies), and numerous living Warhol associates. It reveals surprising details about her life: the children nearly no one knew she had, her drive for control over her own writing and copyright, and her elusive personal and professional relationships.

I’m Ok, I’m Pig! by Kim Hyesoon
April 24
Bloodaxe Books

Kim Hyesoon is one of South Korea’s most important contemporary poets. She began publishing in 1979 and was one of the first few women in South Korea to be published in Munhak kwa jisong (Literature and Intellect), one of two key journals which championed the intellectual and literary movement against the US-backed military dictatorships of Park Chung Hee and Chun Doo Hwan in the 1970s and 80s. Don Mee Choi writes: ‘Kim’s poetry goes beyond the expectations of established aesthetics and traditional “female poetry” (yoryusi), which is characterised by its passive, refined language. In her experimental work she explores women’s multiple and simultaneous existence as grandmothers, mothers, and daughters in the context of Korea’s highly patriarchal society, a nation that is still under neo-colonial rule by the US. Kim’s poetics are rooted in her attempt to resist conventional literary forms and language long defined by men in Korea. According to Kim, “women poets oppose and resist their conditions, using unconventional forms of language because their resistance has led them to a language that is unreal, surreal, and even fantastical. The language of women’s poetry is internal, yet defiant and revolutionary”.’

The Informed Air: Essays by Muriel Spark
April 29
New Directions

Together for the first time in one sparkling, delicious volume, here are the greatest essays of Muriel Spark
A fantastic essayist, the inimitable Muriel Spark addresses here the writing life; love; cats; favorite writers (T. S. Eliot, Robert Burns, the Brontës, Mary Shelley); Piero della Francesca; life in wartime London and in glamorous “Hollywood-on-the-Tiber;” 1960s Rome; faith; and parties (on her first New Year’s Eve, as a baby sipping her mother’s sherry: “I always loved a party”).

May

A Sentimental Novel by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Dalkey Archive Press
May 6

Suddenly, Love by Aharon Appelfeld
Shocken
May 6

Ernst is a gruff seventy-year-old Red Army veteran from Ukraine who landed, almost by accident, in Israel after World War II. A retired investment advisor, he lives alone (his first wife and baby daughter were killed by the Nazis; he divorced his shrewish second wife several years ago) and spends his time laboring over his unpublished novels. Irena is the unmarried thirty-six-year-old daughter of Holocaust survivors who has been taking care of Ernst since his surgery two years ago; she arrives every morning promptly at eight and leaves every afternoon precisely at three. Quiet and shy, Irena is in awe of Ernst’s intellect. And as the months pass, Ernst comes to depend on the gentle young woman who runs his house, listens to him read from his work, and occasionally offers a spirited commentary on it. But Ernst’s writing gives him no satisfaction, and he is haunted by his godless, communist past; his health, already poor, begins to deteriorate even more. As he becomes mired in depression, Ernst seems to lose the will to live. But he has reckoned without the devoted Irena. As she becomes an increasingly important part of his life—moving into his home, encouraging him in his work, easing his pain—Ernst not only regains his sense of self but realizes, to his amazement, that Irena is in love with him. And, even more astonishing, he discovers that he is in love with her.

Critique of Everyday Life by Henri Lefebvre
Verso
May 6

Henri Lefebvre’s magnum opus: a monumental exploration of contemporary society.

Henri Lefebvre’s three-volume Critique of Everyday Life is perhaps the richest, most prescient work by one of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers. Written at the birth of post-war consumerism, the Critique was a philosophical inspiration for the 1968 student revolution in France and is considered to be the founding text of all that we know as cultural studies, as well as a major influence on the fields of contemporary philosophy, geography, sociology, architecture, political theory and urbanism. A work of enormous range and subtlety, Lefebvre takes as his starting-point and guide the “trivial” details of quotidian experience: an experience colonized by the commodity, shadowed by inauthenticity, yet one which remains the only source of resistance and change.

This is an enduringly radical text, untimely today only in its intransigence and optimism.

The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World Hardcover by George Prochnik
Other Press
May 6

By the 1930s, Stefan Zweig had become the most widely translated living author in the world. His novels, short stories, and biographies were so compelling that they became instant best sellers. Zweig was also an intellectual and a lover of all the arts, high and low. Yet after Hitler’s rise to power, this celebrated writer who had dedicated so much energy to promoting international humanism plummeted, in a matter of a few years, into an increasingly isolated exile—from London to Bath to New York City, then Ossining, Rio, and finally Petrópolis—where, in 1942, in a cramped bungalow, he killed himself.

The Impossible Exile tells the tragic story of Zweig’s extraordinary rise and fall while it also depicts, with great acumen, the gulf between the world of ideas in Europe and in America, and the consuming struggle of those forced to forsake one for the other. It also reveals how Zweig embodied, through his work, thoughts, and behavior, the end of an era—the implosion of Europe as an ideal of Western civilization.

Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli
Coffee House Press
May 13

“I’m completely captivated by the beauty of the paragraphs, the elegance of the prose, the joy in the written word, and the literary sense of this author.”—Enrique Vilas-Matas

Valeria Luiselli is an evening cyclist; a literary tourist in Venice, searching for Joseph Brodsky’s tomb; an excavator of her own artifacts, unpacking from a move. In essays that are as companionable as they are ambitious, she uses the city to exercise a roving, meandering intelligence, seeking out the questions embedded in our human landscapes.

Sworn Virgins by Elvira Dones
And Other Stories
May 13

Sworn Virgin is the first novel Elvira Dones wrote in Italian. She adds her voice to the burgeoning new generation of “blended” Italians, who deliberately adopt a “dirty” immigrant/exile approach to their language.

According to Albanian tradition, if there are no male heirs, a woman can “choose” to become a man—and enjoy the associated freedoms—as long as she swears herself to virginity for life.

Clever young Hana is ushered home by her uncle’s impending death. Forced to abandon her studies in Tirana, she takes an oath and assumes the persona of Mark, a hardened mountain peasant—her only choice if she wants to be saved from an arranged marriage.

Insel by Mina Loy
Melville House
May 13

Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush by Geoff Dyer
Pantheon
May 20

At once deft travelogue, unerring social observation, and honed comedy, this book describes life on a three-dimensional maze of walkways, hatches, and stairs; conversations conducted in a language suffused with acronyms but devoid of grammar; and Geoff Dyer’s own earnest efforts to appreciate the men and women aboard who have chosen a way of life the diametric opposite of the one he has constructed for himself. Underlying Dyer’s efforts to overcome the disadvantages of being the oldest, tallest (actually, second tallest), and most self-conscious person on the boat is an intense fascination with the military world—one that has its origins in the long hours he spent as a child building and painting airplane models and mastering the intricate details and features of military aircraft. This fascination allows Dyer to appreciate the rigorous protocols defined by the instruments, equipment that requires a thoroughgoing mastery of detail, and the expectations and outlooks of those who must adhere to a regimen defined by service and self-constraint, and a refusal to embrace uncertainty.

Fear by Gabriel Chevallier
New York Review Books Classics
May 20

Acclaimed as “the most beautiful book ever written on the tragic events that blood-stained Europe” for five years, prosecuted on first publication as an act of sedition, Fear appears for the first time in the United States in Malcolm Imrie’s poetic and prizewinning translation on the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the conflict with which the twentieth century came into its own. Chevallier’s masterpiece remains, in the words of John Berger, “a book of the utmost urgency and relevance.”

The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail
New Directions
May 27

The Iraqi Nights is the third collection by the acclaimed Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail. Taking The One Thousand and One Nights as her central theme, Mikhail personifies the role of Scheherazade the storyteller, saving herself through her tales. The nights are endless, seemingly as dark as war in this haunting collection, seemingly as endless as war. Yet the poet cannot stop dreaming of a future beyond the violence of a place where “every moment / something ordinary / will happen under the sun.” Unlike Scheherazade, however, Mikhail is writing, not to escape death, but to summon the strength to endure. Inhabiting the emotive spaces between Iraq and the U.S., Mikhail infuses those harsh realms with a deep poetic intimacy. The author’s vivid illustrations — inspired by Sumerian tablets — are threaded throughout this powerful book.

My Struggle Book 3 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Archipelago Books
May 27

A family of four–mother, father and two boys–move to the South Coast of Norway to a new house on a newly developed site. It is the early 1970s and the family’s trajectory, upwardly mobile: the future seems limitless. In painstaking, sometimes self-lacerating detail, Knausgaard paints a world familiar to anyone who can recall the intensity and novelty of childhood experience, one in which children and adults lead parallel lives that never meet. Perhaps the most Proustian in the series, Book Three gives us Knausgaard’s vivid, technicolor recollections of childhood, his emerging self-understanding, and the multilayered nature of time’s passing, memory, and existence.

Red or Dead by David Peace
Melville House Books
May 27

In 1959, Liverpool Football Club were in the Second Division. Liverpool Football Club had never won the FA Cup. Fifteen seasons later, Liverpool Football Club had won three League titles, two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup. Liverpool Football Club had become the most consistently successful team in England. And the most passionately supported club. Their manager was revered as a god. Destined for immortality. Their manager was Bill Shankly. His job was his life. His life was football. His football a form of socialism. Bill Shankly inspired people. Bill Shankly transformed people. The players and the supporters. His legacy would reveberate through the ages. In 1974, Liverpool Football Club and Bill Shankly stood on the verge of even greater success. In England and in Europe. But in 1974, Bill Shankly shocked Liverpool and football. Bill Shankly resigned. Bill Shankly retired. Red or Dead is the story of the rise of Liverpool Football Club and Bill Shankly. And the story of the retirement of Bill Shankly. Of one man and his work. And of the man after that work. A man in two halves. Home and away. Red or dead.

Here in Our Auschwitz and Other Stories by Tadeusz Borowski
Yale University Press Margellos World Republic of Letters
May 30

Tadeusz Borowski was a talented young poet when he was arrested and deported to Auschwitz in 1943. He emerged at the end of the Second World War to become one of the most influential writer-witnesses to the Nazi concentration camp system. This book offers the first authoritative translation of Borowski’s prose fiction, including numerous stories that have never appeared in English before. These are the chilling writings of a man who has experienced horrifying brutality and sees no possibility for human redemption.

Mis documentos by Alejandro Zambra
Editorial Anagrama
May 30

June

Thirst by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
June 3
Melville House Books

On a strategic hill overlooking the frontier, Iraqi and Iranian troops battle over a reservoir tank, an indispensable source of water. The troops are thirsty and at the brink of madness. Nearby, an Iraqi journalist covering the battle is given a tour of a Iraqi military prison. He is informed by the major in charge of what is expected of him: he is to write a fabricated report about a murder that has occurred in the camp, in hopes of demoralizing enemy soldiers.

With his government demanding he write the story, the journalist finds himself doing something that’s been nearly impossible for the last thirty years: trying to write an honest history of Iran.

Leg over leg Vol 3 and Leg Over Leg Vol 4 by Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq
June 6
Library of Arabic Literature

Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto
June 10
NYRB Classics

First published in 1956, Zama is now universally recognized as one of the masterpieces of modern Argentinean and Spanish-language literature.

Written in a style that is both precise and sumptuous, weirdly archaic and powerfully novel, Zama takes place in the last decade of the eighteenth century and describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a highly placed servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. There, eaten up by pride, lust, petty grudges, and paranoid fantasies, he does as little as he possibly can while plotting his eventual transfer to Buenos Aires, where everything about his hopeless existence will, he is confident, be miraculously transformed and made good.

A Sentimental Novel by Alain Robbe Grillet
June 15
Dalkey Archive Press

In France, Alain Robbe-Grillet’s final novel was sold in shrink-wrap, labeled with a sticker warning readers that this perverse fairy tale might offend certain sensibilities. It tells the story of Gigi, also known as Djinn, who is being schooled by her father to be a perfect slave and mistress. Running the gamut of unacceptable subject matter from incest to torture, this book abounds with vignettes that explore taboos and their representation in fiction, from the Brothers Grimm to the Marquis de Sade. It is titillating and disgusting, the work of a dirty old man or brilliant agent provocateur — or both.

La Grande by Juan Jose Saer
June 17
Open Letter Books


Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser

June 19
Bloomsbury Qatar

Land of No Rain takes place in Hamiya, a fictional Arab country run by military commanders who treat power as a personal possession to be handed down from one generation to the next. The main character was forced into exile from Hamiya twenty years earlier for taking part in a failed assassination attempt on the military ruler known as the Grandson. On his return to his homeland, he encounters family, childhood friends, former comrades and his first love, but most importantly he grapples with his own self, the person he left behind. Land of No Rain is a complex and mysterious story of the hardship of exile and the difficulty of return.

July

The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu
July 1
Les Figues

The Ants is a study not of, but through, ants. In a dashing sequence of prose pieces, Sawako Nakayasu takes the human to the level of the ant, and the ant to the level of the human. Prima facie, The Ants is a catalogue of insect observations and observations of insects. But the exposé of insect life humbles and disrupts the myopia that is human life, where experience is seen in its most raw and animal form and human ”nouveau-ambitious” and ”free-thinking” lifestyles become estranged, uncovered, and humbled. Found in the soups of dumplings and remembered in childhood vignettes, these ants trail through what Nayayasu writes as the ”industry of survival,” exploring interfaces of love, ambition, and strategy. The danger is not in sentiment, but rather, in a gash, a wall, an argument, an intention. Is it more lonely to be crushed into the core of a non-mechanical pencil, to be isolated in the safety of home, or to ”find” ”it” ”all” at the very very last moment? The Ants is the distance, the break, the tenuous wilderness between exoskeleton and endoskeleton, and Nakayasu puts her finger on it, and it, and it.

Works by Edouard Levé
July 1
Dalkey Archive Press

“A book describes works conceived of but not realized by its author.” Like Suicide and Autoportrait, Works is another of Eduoard Levé’s bewitching reconceptions of what the novel can (or should) do. A list of 533 projects, beginning with its own description — both likely and unlikely, sober and ridiculous; some of which Levé later realized, most of which he did not — Works ranks with the fiction of Georges Perec for its seemingly limitless, ingenious, and comical inventiveness. A lampoon of conceptual art — if not, indeed, an exemplar of its charms at their best — Works is another piece in the puzzle of Levé’s brief and fascinating life.

Last Stories by William T. Vollmann
July 10
Viking

In this magnificent new work of fiction, his first in nine years, celebrated author William T. Vollmann offers a collection of ghost stories linked by themes of love, death, and the erotic.

A Bohemian farmer’s dead wife returns to him, and their love endures, but at a gruesome price. A geisha prolongs her life by turning into a cherry tree. A journalist, haunted by the half-forgotten killing of a Bosnian couple, watches their story, and his own wartime tragedy, slip away from him. A dying American romances the ghost of his high school sweetheart while a homeless salaryman in Tokyo animates paper cutouts of ancient heroes.

The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette
July 15
NYRB Classics

The Last Lover by Can Xue
July 29
Yale University Press Margellos World Republic of Letters

In Can Xue’s extraordinary book, we encounter a full assemblage of husbands, wives, and lovers. Entwined in complicated, often tortuous relationships, these characters step into each other’s fantasies, carrying on conversations that are “forever guessing games.” Their journeys reveal the deepest realms of human desire, figured in Can Xue’s vision of snakes and wasps, crows, cats, mice, earthquakes, and landslides. In dive bars and twisted city streets, on deserts and snowcapped mountains, the author creates an extreme world where every character “is driving death away with a singular performance.”
Who is the last lover? The novel is bursting with vividly drawn characters. Among them are Joe, sales manager of a clothing company in an unnamed Western country, and his wife, Maria, who conducts mystical experiments with the household’s cats and rosebushes. Joe’s customer Reagan is having an affair with Ida, a worker at his rubber plantation, while clothing-store owner Vincent runs away from his wife in pursuit of a woman in black who disappears over and over again. By the novel’s end, we have accompanied these characters on a long march, a naive, helpless, and forsaken search for love, because there are just some things that can’t be stopped—or helped.

August

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
August 12
Knopf

Moscow in the Plague Year: Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva
August 12
Archipelago Books

Written during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine that followed, these poems are suffused with Tsvetaeva’s irony and humor, which undoubtedly accounted for her success in not only reaching the end of the plague year alive, but making it the most productive of her career. We meet a drummer boy idolizing Napoleon, an irrepressibly mischievous grandmother who refuses to apologize to God on Judgment Day, and an androgynous (and luminous) Joan of Arc.


Bolano: A Biography by Monica Maristain

August 26
Melville House

Ardor by Roberto Calasso
August 26
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

In this revelatory volume, Roberto Calasso, whom The Paris Review has called “a literary institution,” explores the ancient texts known as the Vedas. Little is known about the Vedic people who lived more than three thousand years ago in northern India: they left behind almost no objects, images, or ruins. They created no empires. Even the hallucinogenic plant the soma, which appears at the center of some of their rituals, has not been identified with any certainty. Only a “Parthenon of words” remains: verses and formulations suggesting a daring understanding of life.

September

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
September 2
Europa Editions

Since the publication of My Brilliant Friend, the first of the Neapolitan novels, Elena Ferrante’s fame as one of our most compelling, insightful, and stylish contemporary authors has grown enormously. She has gained admirers among authors–Jhumpa Lahiri, Elizabeth Strout, Claire Messud, to name a few–and critics–James Wood, John Freeman, Eugenia Williamson, for example. But her most resounding success has undoubtedly been with readers, who have discovered in Ferrante a writer who speaks with great power and beauty of the mysteries of belonging, human relationships, love, family, and friendship.

10:04 by Ben Lerner
September 2
Faber & Faber


Nowhere People Paperback by Paulo Scott

September 9
And Other Stories

Driving home, Paulo passes an indigenous girl standing by the road—and gives her a lift to her family’s roadside camp.

From São Paulo’s rich kids and the Guarani Indians camped along Brazil’s highways to a squatter’s life in London, Nowhere People is a raw, passionate, and prize-winning Brazilian novel about our need for a home.

Father and Son: A Lifetime by Marcos Giralt Torrente
September 9
Sarah Crichton Books

Many authors have wrestled with the death of a father in their writing, but few have grappled so fiercely or as powerfully as the brilliant Spanish writer Marcos Giralt Torrente does in Father and Son, the mesmerizing and discomfiting memoir that won him Spain’s highest literary award, the National Book Award. Giralt Torrente is best known for his fiction—which has only recently begun to appear in translation in the United States—but it is in this often savage memoir that his full gifts explode.
When his father is diagnosed with cancer, the author is struck by the blunt force of it all. Father and Son weaves in history and personal narrative to attempt to do justice to a relationship that the author finds difficult to reflect upon—but one that he can’t escape. In the end, the reader is left with an account that is neither homage nor reckoning, but instead an indelible dual portrait of a father and his son.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
September 9
Random House

A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño
September 16
New Directions

“Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime”: so Bianca begins her tale of growing up the hard way in Rome in A Little Lumpen Novelita. Orphaned overnight as a teenager—“our parents died in a car crash on their first vacation without us”—she drops out of school, gets a crappy job, sees a terrible brightness at night, and drifts into bad company. Her little brother brings home two petty criminals who need a place to stay. As the four of them share the family apartment and plot a strange crime, Bianca learns she can drift lower…

Electric, tense with foreboding, and written in jagged, propulsive short chapters, A Little Lumpen Novelita—one of the first novels Roberto Bolano ever published—delivers a surprising, fractured tale of taking control of one’s fate.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson
September 30
Farrar, Straus & Giroux


Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama

September 30
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 3, 1957-1965
September 30
Cambridge University Press

October

The Intervals of Cinema by Jacques Ranciere
October 7
Verso

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass
October 7
NYRB Classics

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country is vintage William H. Gass: two novellas and three short stories, set in the Midwest, exhibiting Gass’s characteristic and wildly original verbal brilliance and philosophical acuity. The volume includes The Pedersen Kid, a story originally published a few years before the 1965 publication of Gass’s first novel Omensetter’s Luck.

21 Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
October 15
Dalkey Archive Press

Octave Mirbeau, author of the classic satires The Torture Garden and Diary of a Chambermaid (the latter filmed by both Jean Renoir and Luis Buñuel), wrote this scathing and uproarious novel on the very cusp of the twentieth century. Feeling that he’s being driven mad by modern life, Georges Vasseur heads off for a rest cure. At a spa town, however, he encounters precisely those things he’s been trying to escape: corrupt politicians, amnesiac coquettes, cheerfully sadistic killers, imperialist generals, and quack psychiatrists. Hypocrites are eternal, and not much has changed since Mirbeau wrote this acid portrait of his era.

The Heart Is Strange: New Selected Poems by John Berryman
October 21
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

John Berryman was perhaps the most idiosyncratic American poet of the twentieth century. Best known for the painfully sad and raucously funny cycle of Dream Songs, he wrote passionately: of love and despair, of grief and laughter, of longing for a better world and coming to terms with this one. The Heart Is Strange, a new selection of his poems, along with reissues of Berryman’s Sonnets, 77 Dream Songs, and the complete Dream Songs, marks the centenary of his birth.
The Heart Is Strange includes a generous selection from across Berryman’s varied career: from his earliest poems, which show him learning the craft, to his breakthrough masterpiece, “Homage to Mistress Bradstreet,” then to his mature verses, which find the poet looking back upon his lovers and youthful passions, and finally, to his late poems, in which he battles with sobriety and an increasingly religious sensibility.

Africa39: New Writing from Africa south of the Sahara
October 21
Bloomsbury

This makes it a special year for the Port Harcourt Book Festival, which will be in its seventh year, and bigger than ever. They are joining forces with the internationally renowned Hay Festival, which will bring to Port Harcourt its 39 Project—a competition to identify the thirty-nine most promising young talents under the age of forty in sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora. It follows the success of Bogotá 39 in 2007 and Beirut 39 in 2010. Both recognized a number of authors who now have international profiles: in Bogotá, Adriana Lisboa, Alejandro Zambra, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Daniel Alarcón, and Junot Díaz; in Beirut, Randa Jarrar, Joumana Haddad, Abdellah Taia, Samar Yazbek, and Faiza Guene. In Nigeria this year, the esteemed judges include leading-edge publisher Margaret Busby; novelist and playwright Elechi Amadi,writer and scholar Osonye Tess Onwueme, and Caine Prize winner Binyavanga Wainaina.

November

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Story of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman
November 4
Verso

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
November 4
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

A post-9/11 literary spy thriller from the National Book Award–winning author of Tree of Smoke

Roland Nair calls himself Scandinavian but travels on a U.S. passport. After ten years’ absence, he returns to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to reunite with his friend Michael Adriko. They once made a lot of money here during the country’s civil war, and, curious to see whether good luck will strike twice in the same place, Nair allows himself to be drawn back to a region he considers hopeless.
Adriko is an African who styles himself a soldier of fortune and who claims to have served, at various times, the Ghanaian army, the Kuwaiti Emiri Guard, and the American Green Berets. He’s probably broke now, but he remains, at thirty-six, as stirred by his own doubtful schemes as he was a decade ago.

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
November 11
New Directions

The End of Days, by acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, consists essentially of five “books,” each leading to a different death of an unnamed woman protagonist. How could it all have gone differently? the narrator asks in the intermezzos between. The first chapter begins with the death of a baby in the early twentieth-century Hapsburg Empire. In the next chapter, the same girl grows up in Vienna, but her strange relationship with a boy leads to another death. In the next scenario, she survives adolescence and moves to Russia with her husband. Both are dedicated Communists, but our heroine is sent to a labor camp. She is spared in the next chapter with the help of someone’s intervention and returns to Berlin to become a respected writer. . . .

The End of Days is a brilliant novel of contingency and fate. A novel of incredible breadth, yet amazing concision, The End of Days offers a unique overview of German and German-Jewish history by “one of the finest, most exciting authors alive” (Michael Faber).

The Trace by Forrest Gander
November 11
New Directions

The Trace is a masterful, poetic novel about a journey through Mexico taken by a couple recovering from a world shattered. Driving through the Chihuahua Desert, they retrace the route of nineteenth-century American writer Ambrose Bierce (who disappeared during the Mexican Revolution) and try to piece together their lives after a devastating incident involving their adolescent son. With tenderness and precision, Gander explores the intimacies of their relationship as they travel through Mexican towns, through picturesque canyons and desertcapes, on a journey through the the heart of the Mexican landscape. Taking a shortcut through the brutally hot desert home, their car overheats miles from nowhere, the novel spinning out of control, with devastating consequences. . . . Poet Forrest Gander’s first novel As a Friend was acclaimed as “profound and relentlessly beautiful (Rikki Ducornet). With The Trace, Gander has accomplished another brilliant work, containing unforgettable poetic descriptions of Mexico and a story both violent and tender.

On the Slopes of Parnassus: James Laughlin, New Directions, and the Transformation of the American Literary Landscape by Ian S. MacNiven
November 18
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

December

Where Have You Been? by Michael Hofmann
December 2
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The Road to San Giovanni by Italo Calvino and Tim Parks
December 16
Mariner Books

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