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    Carmen Maria Machado on video games! Murder mysteries! 17 new books out today.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    November 21, 2023, 5:00am

    For readers in America, the holidays are just around the corner, and, if you’re like me, you’ll eventually want some time away from family and friends to yourself, where having a new book to read after sneaking away will feel like a godsend. In general, this is a slower week for a new releases, but never fear: I’ve rounded up seventeen books below to choose from for when you want that personal time, or when you’re slumped over from overindulging in turkey (or, of course, other things). Below, you’ll find an anthology of classic and lesser-known murder mysteries; a collection of writers (including Carmen Maria Machado) reflecting on videogames; novels about piracy, Nigerian crime, and more; a robust selection of nonfiction on the World Wars, as well as an unexpected bit of (turncoat) Confederate history; an exploration of tone in literature; a long poem by Ishion Hutchinson; and much more.

    There’s a range of styles to choose from—comfy, comedic, thrilling, academic, provocative—and I hope you’ll pick up something below before heading off to meet family or friends. Having a good book in your bag when you want to sneak off for some you time, or when you want to avoid arguing with your head-in-the-sand relatives, after all, might just save the day for everyone. Travel safely, hopefully with a new book at hand.


    The Penguin Book of Murder Mysteries - Sims, Michael

    Michael Sims (editor), The Penguin Book of Murder Mysteries
    (Penguin Publishing Group)

    “Throughout, Sims’s choices, which showcase his encyclopedic knowledge of mystery fiction, range from good to great, and place welcome focus on the historic contributions of women to the genre. Even the most well-read mystery fans have good reason to check this out.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Critical Hits: Writers Playing Video Games - Machado, Carmen Maria

    Carmen Maria Machado, J. Robert Lennon (editor), Critical Hits: Writers Playing Video Games

    “[Video games] raise profound questions for the humans who find themselves enraptured by these digital puzzles, adventures, and battles….These questions and others receive sharp attention in essays by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Alexander Chee, Larissa Pham, and other authors who boldly own and astutely analyze their engagement with video games and their intersections with family, friendship, love, and other heady subjects.”
    Poets & Writers

    A True Account: Hannah Masury's Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself - Howe, Katherine

    Katherine Howe, A True Account: Hannah Masury’s Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself

    “Hannah Masury’s pirate tale reads like a fever dream, told in a voice so authentic and with such vivid, authoritative detail, it compels belief that this must indeed be a true account. A fiendish twist pulls its strands apart and braids them back together with the burnished patina of real historic discovery. Katherine Howe writes a story that she knows so truly, it must spring from her DNA. A True Account belongs on the shelf beside Treasure Island.”
    –Peter Nichols

    School of Instructions: A Poem - Hutchinson, Ishion

    Ishion Hutchinson, School of Instructions: A Poem

    School of Instructions is poetry on a larger scale…echoing the scope of David Jones’s In Parenthesis and the verbal intensity of Geoffrey Hill and Derek Walcott. Hutchinson seizes our attention with…a little-known campaign in the Great War….The work unfolds in counterpoint with memories of Jamaica and allusions to classic literature and the Bible, giving us a view of cataclysmic history from ground level, in a voice that soars…like the finest music.”
    –Robert Morgan

    Tone - Samatar, Sofia

    Sofia Samatar, Kate Zambreno, Tone
    (Columbia University Press)

    “Just as the world laments the apparent lack of insightful literary criticism as well as the dwindling number of venues that support it, here comes the dazzling Committee to Investigate Atmosphere with a piece of criticism like no other. Writing collaboratively and in luscious, piercing dialogue with students and peers, Kate Zambreno and Sofia Samatar set out to interrogate the question of tone from every angle imaginable.”
    –Cristina Rivera Garza

    Under Our Skin - Arena, Joaquim

    Joaquim Arena, Under Our Skin (trans. Jethro Soutar)
    (Unnamed Press)

    “A personal story bound up in six centuries of Black European history. After his stepfather’s death, Arena returned from his birthplace and home in Cape Verde…to Portugal, the country where he grew up….[T]he author weaves among the arcs of his personal history and the histories of Black lives at the heart of European empire. A well-written…saga that acknowledges the resonance of historical identity, art, and literature in our present lives.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    The Bars Are Ours: Histories and Cultures of Gay Bars in America,1960 and After - Hilderbrand, Lucas

    Lucas Hilderbrand, The Bars Are Ours: Histories and Cultures of Gay Bars in America,1960 and After
    (Duke University Press)

    “Lucas Hilderbrand’s The Bars Are Ours is a true tour de force. It is a comprehensive historical study of gay bars in the United States that is at once exhaustively researched and beautifully precise. Hilderbrand demonstrates a true respect for this history and tells it in a vital new way. Clearly and elegantly written, this is a nuanced, conceptual, and moving work.”
    –Christina B. Hanhardt

    Wings of Red - Jennings, James W.

    James W. Jennings, Wings of Red
    (Soft Skull)

    “In this exciting and insightful work of autofiction, James W. Jennings lays bare the absurdities of the New York City educational system while also offering a memorable look at the beauties and burdens of the city overall….While the American dream may be a fallacy, Jennings’s writing reaches for something better for his characters at every turn.”
    Chicago Review of Books

    There Should Have Been Eight - Singh, Nalini

    Nalini Singh, There Should Have Been Eight

    “Singh (Quiet in Her Bones, 2021) excels at creating atmospheric scenes, evoking dusty secret passageways and the dangers of the freezing weather to create a sense of dread. Told from Luna’s perspective, this story of friendship and obsession unfolds gently at first, then at a breakneck pace until it reaches a shocking conclusion. Give this excellent thriller to readers of Megan Miranda’s The Only Survivors.”

    Gaslight - Kayode, Femi

    Femi Kayode, Gaslight
    (Mulholland Books)

    “Kayode has written a twisty, cleverly plotted mystery where nothing—and no one—is what it seems. Philip is a warm, compassionate, and insightful narrator…[the novel’s] details of Nigerian life are fascinating….Readers will eagerly await Kayode’s next novel.”
    Publishers Weekly

    The Last Ships from Hamburg: Business, Rivalry, and the Race to Save Russia's Jews on the Eve of World War I - Ujifusa, Steven

    Steven Ujifusa, The Last Ships from Hamburg: Business, Rivalry, and the Race to Save Russia’s Jews on the Eve of World War I

    “With impeccable research, masterful prose, and deep feeling, Steven Ujifusa tells the incredible story of…the 1.5 million Jews who escaped Czarist Russia, and the three people who helped make that possible. He gives readers a front-row seat…to the boardrooms of German shipping companies, third-class hulls of ships crossing the Atlantic, to tenements on the Lower East Side. This is a page-turning history on a grand scale, with an intimate touch.”
    –Steven Pressfield

    Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy's Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation - Snow, Richard

    Richard Snow, Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy’s Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation

    “Snow has brought forth the literary equivalent of a perfect storm in which nineteenth-century adventure, true crime, and high drama on the high seas all come together in the hands of a master storyteller operating at the height of his considerable powers. Sailing the Graveyard Sea braids the poetic force of Herman Melville with the narrative flair of Patrick O’Brian…dark, tightly strung, and deeply unsettling….A masterpiece of maritime history.”
    –Kevin Fedarko

    The Other Half - Vassell, Charlotte

    Charlotte Vassell, The Other Half
    (Anchor Books)

    “Imagine A Handful of Dust meets The Great Gatsby on a Northern Line tube to Kentish Town. That’s The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell, a crime thriller as sharp, witty and energetic as it is bitingly satirical. Vassell’s lively prose is utterly compelling and so stylish she can meld ancient Greece and twenty-first-century London without batting a Euclid….In The Other Half she might just have created a Vile Bodies for the Millennial generation.”
    –Janice Hallett

    Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century - Chatterji, Joya

    Joya Chatterji, Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century
    (Yale University Press)

    “With clarity, wit and charm, Chatterji tells the story of the subcontinent’s recent history in a fluent sweeping arc….Wide-angled and hugely ambitious, but also highly personal and pleasingly discursive…it is wonderfully enjoyable to read….This original, genre-defying work is sure to become a classic.”
    –William Dalrymple

    November 1942: An Intimate History of the Turning Point of World War II - Englund, Peter

    Peter Englund, November 1942: An Intimate History of the Turning Point of World War II (trans. Peter Graves)

    “Swedish historian Englund takes a captivating firsthand look at a pivotal month of WWII by drawing on the diaries, letters, and memoirs of 39 people who lived through it….This gripping and propulsive account, expertly translated by Graves in lyrical prose, recreates the daily uncertainty of war as experienced by regular people with limited information and few resources. It’s a monumental work of history.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South - Varon, Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Varon, Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South
    (Simon & Schuster)

    “At a time when it seems an open question whether human beings have the capacity to learn and to change in politics, the great historian Elizabeth Varon has given us a compelling portrait of a man who did just that: James Longstreet. A Confederate general who became an advocate for justice in the painful aftermath of the Civil War, Longstreet has much to teach us in our own hour of polarization.”
    –Jon Meacham

    State of Silence: The Espionage ACT and the Rise of America's Secrecy Regime - Lebovic, Sam

    Sam Lebovic, State of Silence
    (Basic Books)

    “A history of the Espionage Act of 1917, which was designed to protect sensitive government information but has been used to perpetuate a ‘secrecy regime.’ ‘The laws and practices of secrecy emerged in a piecemeal, improvised fashion over many decades,’ writes Lebovic, author of A Righteous Smokescreen and Free Speech and Unfree News, in this illuminating chronicle. A vital investigation of a ‘controversial, confusing law.'”
    Kirkus Reviews

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