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10 new books to look forward to in these dark days.

Katie Yee

March 31, 2020, 10:00am

César Aira, tr. Katherine Silver, Artforum

César Aira, Artforum
(New Directions)

The hero of Cesar Aira’s new novel is obsessed with the magazine Art Forum, and over this 90 page novel, he finds a way to show us why without once becoming the boring guy at the cafe who has a thing or two he knows and wishes to tell you. Once again Aira proves certain laws of gravity just don’t seem to apply to him.

–John Freeman, Lit Hub Executive Editor

Rob Doyle, Threshold
(Bloomsbury)

From the author of the acclaimed novel Here Are the Young Men comes another story of reckless youth and the artist’s journey to truth. The restlessness of our narrator will be relatable to many, especially right now. To quote Parul Sehgal, “Threshold, a nettlesome new novel — surly, ambitious, frequently annoying — has been my treasured companion of late.”

–Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

hex

Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, Hex
(Viking)

Academics tie themselves up into a pretzel of betrayal and desire in Rebecca Dinerstein Knight’s propulsive second book, which reads a tiny bit like AS Byatt after dark. When Nell is expelled from a PhD program in botany after her lab partner dies in a toxic experiment, she retreats to Brooklyn to lick her wounds. Then becomes obsessed with finishing her late partner’s work. Unfolding as a series of notebook entries, Hex tracks Nell’s growing obsession with Dr. Joan Kallas, her advisor, and a staggering number of side affairs that begin happening as she chases a poison that will undo itself. This is a bold and highly charged book that makes entertainment seem like not such a bad word.

–John Freeman, Lit Hub Executive Editor

Valentine_Elizabeth Wetmore

Elizabeth Wetmore, Valentine
(Harper)

The year is 1976. The place is Odessa, Texas. The morning after Valentine’s Day, a young teenage girl has been brutally attacked in an oil field. Struggling to stay alive, she manages to bring herself to the porch of a nearby ranch house. And this is just the beginning. How does a town make sense of what’s happened? This story of justice, consequence, revenge, and feminist rage will have you turning pages like a thriller. Everything in this book is well-drawn, from the grim landscape to the gritty characters.

–Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

Days of Distraction_Alexandra Chang

Alexandra Chang, Days of Distraction
(Ecco Press)

Days of Distraction follows a young woman working as a tech writer, who feels like her career is at a dead end. When her boyfriend decides to move upstate for grad school, she goes with him, but finds herself questioning her relationship and the sacrifices she’s made for it. Alexandra Chang’s debut novel is an incisive look at identity, interracial relationships, and the ways we derive value in ourselves. (Also, the author knit herself a scarf based on the cover design, and it is delightful.)

–Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

 

hurricane season

Fernanda Melchor, tr. by Sophie Hughes, Hurricane Season
(New Directions)

Seething with poetic venom and pulsing with hate, Hurricane Season is a fast-moving epic about a woman turning up dead in an irrigation canal: “The Witch, who swanned around town like an aristocrat when she was nothing but a slut Don Manolo had dragged out of some jungle hellhole…” Written and translated with vicious and hard-hitting prose, this novel takes the historical rot that Faulkner reckoned with, speeds it up and compresses it, and sets it in a Mexican village.

–Nate McNamara, Lit Hub Contributor

Death in Mud Lick_Eric Eyre

Eric Eyre, Death in Mud Lick
(Scribner)

From Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eric Eyre comes the devastating story of a small town in Appalachia ravaged by the opioid crisis. Death in Mud Lick investigates the pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, that sold millions of opioid pain pills to a town with a population of less than four hundred people. This is a well-researched and compassionately told cautionary tale about a tragedy that demands our attention.

–Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

always home

Fanny Singer, Always Home
(Knopf)

If you’re following quarantine orders (which you should be!), Always Home sounds like the perfect thing to read right now, doesn’t it? It will make you want to cook something delicious and call your mother. From the daughter of renowned chef and restauranteur Alice Waters come a touching, funny memoir about finding solace in food and family. And, yes, there are recipes! Bon appétit.

–Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

Michael Bamberger, The Second Life of Tiger Woods
(Avid Reader Press)

For the fans of Tiger Woods, for those who miss long walks on the green, Michael Bamberger has gifted you with a biography of a golfing legend. This is a story of second chances, carefully tracking the golfer’s fall from public favor to his ascent back into the winner’s circle.

–Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

 

Meir Shalev, tr. by Joanna Chen, My Wild Garden
(Schocken Books)

Do you miss the outside? The feel of grass and the smell of soil? My Wild Garden is the remedy. It’s part memoir, part guide to gardening. Meir Shalev writes with such loving care for the natural world that you will never look at a lemon tree the same way again.

Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

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