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    22 new books out today!

    Gabrielle Bellot

    August 22, 2023, 6:00am

    It’s August 22nd, and, in a delightful coincidence, I have twenty-two brand-new books to recommend checking out, one for each day of the month that’s passed so far. This week, you’ll find an especially robust showing of nonfiction, as well as some scintillating poetry and fiction. If you’ve longed to learn more about George Orwell’s first wife; Marshal Pétain; modern-day horsewomen fighting the Taliban; the complexities of book recommendations; the bewitching Surrealist Leonora Carrington; or the female journalists who ushered in a revolution in science writing; or, if you’ve simply long believed that Anchorman represented a turning-point in comedic cinema, you’ll be in luck, as there’s a book below covering each of these. You’ll also find an exciting selection of memoirs that explore the lies of the American Dream; medical histories of trauma and healing; racism and privilege; and much, much more. You’ll also see magical, moving novels, alongside poetry that reimagines Chicago, working-class life, and what it means to live in a diasporic community. I hope you’ll find something lovely below to add to your lists as the last bit of summer begins to unfurl.


    Swim Home to the Vanished - Basham, Brendan Shay

    Brendan Shay Basham, Swim Home to the Vanished

    Swim Home to the Vanished is a lush and fantastic journey through strange lands and minds from an incandescent new voice full of my kind of melancholic brilliance and unromantic magic. The book devastates buoyantly, sensually, like some culinary chimera rising from heretofore unknown waters to take you under and wrap you like a song. Brendan Basham’s novel is the announcement of an emerging writer fully formed.”
    –Tommy Orange

    Plantains and Our Becoming: Poems - Marte, Melania Luisa

    Melania Luisa Marte, Plantains and Our Becoming

    “This new debut book of poetry by musician and writer Melania Luisa Marte is a stunning and entertaining exploration of one’s identity as both an individual and as part of the larger Black diasporic community.”

    They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us - Gupta, Prachi

    Prachi Gupta, They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us
    (Crown Publishing Group)

    “What happens when a person discovers that the American Dream is a virus? Gupta’s stunning and devastating debut contorts genre—existing as a disquisition on Asian American assimilation into the West, a bird’s-eye view of how patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy congealed to destroy a family, and a coming-of-age tale about a woman who had to fight to make space for her voice.”
    –Damon Young

    Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell's Invisible Life - Funder, Anna

    Anna Funder, Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life

    “Eileen O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s first wife, takes center stage in this potent biography….Stylistic flourishes enhance the account, most notably the novelistic interludes interspersing Funder’s narration with first-person passages drawn from O’Shaughnessy’s letters that recreate scenes from her life….Full of keen psychological insight and eloquent prose, this shines.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Back in the Land of the Living - Crocker, Eva

    Eva Crocker, Back in the Land of the Living
    (House of Anansi Press)

    “Eva Crocker’s new novel Back in the Land of the Living…follows its protagonist’s highs and lows…including many situations that will feel relatable for young adults: struggling to find jobs, living in apartments with cockroaches and thin walls and constantly trying to find ways to cut back on spending. The heart of the novel is Leanne, Marcy’s girlfriend….Crocker’s prose is masterful; the sentimental descriptions of Montreal and its many bars, parks and streets will appeal to Montrealers looking for a literary representation of their beloved city.”

    Kind of a Big Deal: How Anchorman Stayed Classy and Became the Most Iconic Comedy of the Twenty-First Century - Austerlitz, Saul

    Saul Austerlitz, Kind of a Big Deal: How Anchorman Stayed Classy and Became the Most Iconic Comedy of the Twenty-First Century

    “Austerlitz…assembles an impressive amount of research and reporting about the 2004 movie into an exhaustive, yet fast-paced text about how it was made and why….No matter how small the movie detail, the author provides some kind of insight that places it into the broader themes he wants to tackle….This surprising history doesn’t just stay classy; it reveals how remarkably deep the Ferrell comedy really was.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury - Faust, Drew Gilpin

    Drew Gilpin Faust, Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury

    Necessary Trouble is a beautifully rendered coming-of-age narrative of a sensitive young woman—raised in a conservative white family of privilege in rural Virginia horse country—whose growing awareness of the suffocating conventions of gender gradually awakens her to the inequities of race….Faust demonstrates…the inextricable interplay of class, gender, and race in mid-twentieth century America….Necessary Trouble is destined to be a classic of American memoir.”
    –Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

    Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing - Soriano, Jen

    Jen Soriano, Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing
    (Armistad Press)

    “This book is such a gift! Part medical history, part lyrical memoir, Jen Soriano traces the rivers and tributaries of her pain, becoming fluent in the language of her body. Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing is a revelation for every person who has been silenced, neglected, and made to feel unworthy of care. Luminous and tender, Nervous is not your conventional trauma narrative.”
    –Alice Wong

    Ravage & Son - Charyn, Jerome

    Jerome Charyn, Ravage & Son
    (Bellevue Literary Press)

    “As a longtime Charyn fan I’m not sure if I can say it’s his best, too many bests, but it’s up there with its amazing ability to drive a thriller with such lush language. I loved the book. I can’t remember such tough-minded historical writing about the usually sentimentalized Lower East Side.”
    –Robert Lipsyte

    The Art of Libromancy: On Selling Books and Reading Books in the Twenty-First Century - Cook, Josh

    Josh Cook, The Art of Libromancy: On Selling Books and Reading Books in the Twenty-First Century

    “In The Art of Libromancy, Josh Cook argues that we as readers and writers should be as invested in how our books are sold as we are in how our food is grown and how our clothes are made….Cook, a bookseller himself…takes a necessarily critical look at the practice of connecting readers with their next book in the age of monopolization and censorship.”
    Chicago Review of Books

    I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times: Poems - Byas, Taylor

    Taylor Byas, I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times: Poems
    (Soft Skull)

    “This impressive debut is a celebration of Chicago’s South Side, telling the story of a Black woman’s quest for self-discovery. Every poem is alive with the beauty and intimacy of growing up in the city . . . [A] stunning achievement whose lyricism echoes some of Chicago’s greatest poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks and Eve L. Ewing.”
    Chicago Review of Books

    Fixer: Poems - Kunz, Edgar

    Edgar Kunz, Fixer: Poems
    (Ecco Press)

    “Story, lyric, tight rhythms and taut lines. Intellect, heart. It’s all here. Fans of Philip Levine, Denis Johnson, or Dorianne Laux will find in these poems reason to smile—even through tears—knowing that the tradition of the working class American lyric is in strong hands. This book is a goddamned knock out.”
    –John Murillo

    The Year of Second Chances - Avery, Lara

    Lara Avery, The Year of Second Chances
    (William Morrow)

    “Avery debuts with a tender novel full of heart and healing….Avery’s funny and engaging writing, plus Robin’s strong voice, will keep readers turning pages. Suggest to those who enjoyed Catherine Newman’s We All Want Impossible Things.”

    Quiet Street: On American Privilege - McDonell, Nick

    Nick McDonnell, Quiet Street: On American Privilege

    Quiet Street is an exquisitely rendered horror story about American inequity, and how it mindlessly, immorally, reproduces itself. Unlike most such stories, however, this one left me believing in the possibility (and necessity) of drastic change. Nick McDonell writes with a scalpel in one hand, and in the other, a bushel of grace.”
    –Maggie Nelson

    Dream Town: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity - Meckler, Laura

    Laura Meckler, Dream Town: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity

    “Journalist Meckler debuts with an in-depth analysis of desegregation efforts in her hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio….Throughout, Meckler draws on extensive interviews with parents, teachers, community leaders, and students to present the various controversies from multiple perspectives, resulting in a nuanced and impressively detailed study of the barriers to racial equality. Policymakers and social justice activists should take note.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Firebird - Ginczanka, Zuzanna

    Zuzanna Ginczanka, Firebird (trans. Alissa Valles)
    (New York Review of Books)

    “The brief, cataclysmic life of Zuzanna Ginczanka would be enough to draw English-language readers to this compelling volume. But Ginczanka’s poems speak for themselves in Alissa Valles’s thrilling translations. Should there have been a longer life and more poems? Of course. ‘I leave no heirs, ‘ Ginczanka writes. Not so. Her ‘magnificent estate’ returns to life in Valles’s inspired versions.”
    –Clare Cavanagh

    Unearthing: A Story of Tangled Love and Family Secrets - Maclear, Kyo

    Kyo Maclear, Unearthing: A Story of Tangled Love and Family Secrets

    Unearthing is simply staggering. Maclear takes the shocking revelations of a DNA test and transforms them into a mind-altering and supremely generous exploration of kinship, selfhood, memory, and the roots we share across time, space and species. A quantum leap for an already brilliant and profound writer and thinker.”
    –Naomi Klein

    Writing for Their Lives: America's Pioneering Female Science Journalists - LaFollette, Marcel Chotkowski

    Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, Writing for Their Lives: America’s Pioneering Female Science Journalists
    (MIT Press)

    “[An] important history….Writing for Their Lives gives long-overlooked science journalists the attention they richly deserve.”

    Surreal Spaces: The Life and Art of Leonora Carrington - Moorhead, Joanna

    Joanna Moorhead, Surreal Spaces: The Life and Art of Leonora Carrington
    (Princeton University Press)

    “[An] illuminating biography [about] the personal life and artistic evolution of surrealist painter and sculptor Leonora Carrington….[Surreal Spaces] is a revealing and accessible introduction to a noteworthy artist.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Cosmic Scholar

    John Szwed, Cosmic Scholar: The Life and Times of Harry Smith

    “In this vividly detailed biography, music scholar Szwed brilliantly captures the life and legacy of the enigmatic filmmaker, folklorist, painter, producer, anthropologist, archivist, Kabbalist, and alchemist Harry Smith….Drawing on extensive research to fill in his subject’s emotional states, Szwed sensitively renders [Smith’s] extraordinary, bizarre, and ultimately tragic life….A masterful ode to a ‘strange and singular character’ in American arts.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror - Mahdavi, Pardis

    Pardis Mahdavi, Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror

    “A story worthy of Graham Greene….Horse lovers will be fascinated, but with her focus on geopolitics and women’s rights, Mahdavi reaches many audiences.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    France on Trial: The Case of Marshal Pétain - Jackson, Julian

    Julian Jackson, France on Trial: The Case of Marshal Pétain
    (Belknap Press)

    “A captivating account of the 1945 trial of the French marshal who had agreed to an armistice with the Nazi regime in 1940….A highly insightful work of French history.”
    Kirkus Reviews

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