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    Jesmyn Ward! K-Ming Chang! Tim O’Brien! Here are 25 new books out today.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    October 24, 2023, 5:00am

    We’re nearing the end of October, and that can mean many things to many a person: that you really need to figure out what costume you’re going to wear to that party because you’ve put it off all month; that it’s a special time to remember that all things live and die, like leaves in autumn ( or, more accurately, change, as on that most misunderstood of Tarot cards); that it’s a special time to try to forget the political chaos of this month if possible; or many other things. No matter what you’re deciding, remembering, or trying to no longer remember, one thing is constant: that there are exciting, excellent new books to check out today.

    If you need a moment to yourself amidst it all, I suggest you choose to spend it with one of the intriguing offerings below, which include a memoiristic collection from Hilary Mantel; a series of powerful biographies about writers, critics, and musicians of all kinds; new fiction from Jesmyn Ward, K-Ming Chang, Tim O’Brien, and many other beloved and new writers; poetry collections about addiction and poets’ favorite works; and much, much more. I hope you’ll add one—or many—of these to your ever-growing lists!


    Let Us Descend - Ward, Jesmyn

    Jesmyn Ward, Let Us Descend

    “Imaginative….Combining magical realism with historical fiction, two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward’s fourth novel tells the story of Annis, an enslaved girl in the antebellum South….To survive, she must tap into the mystical in this heart-wrenching narrative of the American South in the age of slavery.”

    Organ Meats - Chang, K-Ming

    K-Ming Chang, Organ Meats
    (One World)

    Organ Meats is one of those rare novels that immediately seizes your attention because of its ferocity, its rawness, and its sheer poetic brilliance. A haunting and feverish exploration of a very complex (and somewhat disturbing) friendship, I read this book wide eyed with such wonder….Certainly one of the most inventive and visceral novelists I’ve encountered in quite some time, K-Ming Chang’s imagination is as rich as it is boundless.”
    –Eric LaRocca

    Julia - Newman, Sandra

    Sandra Newman, Julia

    “Newman delivers a provocative feminist retelling of George Orwell’s 1984….Julia’s narrative voice is refreshingly fearless as she navigates her way around the Party’s nefarious thought policing, and a wicked plot twist spins the original narrative on its ear. Newman adds a fresh coat of menacing gray to Orwell’s gloomy world.”
    Publishers Weekly

    A Memoir of My Former Self: A Life in Writing - Mantel, Hilary

    Hilary Mantel, A Memoir of My Former Self: A Life in Writing

    “Warm, human, unfailingly engaging, this lovely collection should appeal widely. As usual, [Mantel] writes like a dream.”
    Library Journal

    The Secret Life of John Le Carre - Sisman, Adam

    Adam Sisman, The Secret Life of John Le Carré

    “Page-turning….Adam Sisman completes the task of showing us who [John le Carré] was—a minor spy who became a major novelist, whose most important agents in the field were the women he needed to love and then betray….The Secret Life of John le Carré is not merely the conclusive homage to a compulsively fascinating character, but an insightful study into the biographical process itself. Even David Cornwell, the man who actually was John le Carré, would have saluted him.”
    –Nicholas Shakespeare

    Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever - Singer, Matt

    Matt Singer, Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever

    “[A] knowledgeable, deeply entertaining history of their partnership…that it’s always expansive, never reductive. We get so much here–a dual portrait of two big personalities at war with one another both as critics and as men, a history of the invention and reinvention of a seminal TV series, and a deep sense of the abiding love for movies that coursed through their work and that courses through Matt Singer’s.”
    –Mark Harris

    America Fantastica - O'Brien, Tim

    Tim O’Brien, America Fantastica

    “Hunter S. Thompson meets Sacha Baron Cohen in this amusing and alarming road trip to the center of America’s mendacious heart….O’Brien keeps everything afloat on a cloud of pure gonzo bliss. If this is indeed the author’s valedictory novel, he’s bowing out with a star-spangled bang.”
    Publishers Weekly

    I Must Be Dreaming - Chast, Roz

    Roz Chast, I Must Be Dreaming

    I Must Be Dreaming is Roz Chast at her chastiest, serving up cartoons direct from the source of her apparently vintage chintz-upholstered unconscious. They reduced me repeatedly to spasms of laugh-crying. Indeed, I imagine Freud and Jung are not only spinning in their graves right now, they are peeing their pants.”
    –Alison Bechdel

    Everything Is Not Enough - Akinmade Akerstrom, Lola

    Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström, Everything Is Not Enough
    (William Morrow)

    Everything is Not Enough presents a fascinating and complex kaleidoscope of women’s lives in Sweden, asking crucial questions around career, love, family, and the definition of success. There are no easy answers in this book—the characters are real, subtle and surprising and you root for them the whole way through.”
    –Kathy Wang

    Another Last Call: Poems on Addiction and Deliverance - Akbar, Kaveh

    Kaveh Akbar (editor), Paige Lewis (editor), Another Last Call: Poems on Addiction and Deliverance
    (Sarabande Books)

    “Why do I feel so at home among the poems and poets of Another Last Call: Poems on Addiction & Deliverance? There is nothing more human, haunted, humbling, and bottom line, than the desire that fuels addiction and recovery—and poetry. In reading this brilliant anthology, I feel less alone. I’ve found my people.”
    –Diane Seuss

    Aster of Ceremonies: Poems - Ellis, Jjjjjerome

    JJJJJerome Ellis, Aster of Ceremonies: Poems

    “JJJJJerome Ellis’s Aster of Ceremonies blows my mind, and blows the lids off of any preconceptions about what poetry can make possible. With each movement, innovation, insight, and deepening—with each page—we are invited into ceremony: into a greenhouse of gratitude, repetition, remembering, and music. Ellis expertly rearranges sound, perspective, ecology, and history into a priceless song.”
    –Ama Codjoe

    The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year - Renkl, Margaret

    Margaret Renkl, The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year
    (Spiegel & Grau)

    “Luminous….Elegant, lucid essays follow the changing seasons, Renkl musing on the migratory and nesting patterns of birds, the encroaching effects of climate change, her own evolving family structure, and the incremental shifts of flora, fauna, and light….The Comfort of Crows celebrates the beauty and durability of nature’s age-old cycles and the habits of wild creatures, and it urges human beings to care for these same creatures—before some of them disappear altogether.”
    Shelf Awareness

    Emperor of Rome: Ruling the Ancient Roman World - Beard, Mary

    Mary Beard, Emperor of Rome: Ruling the Ancient World

    “Beard focuses on the details of how emperors lived, governed, traveled, dined, and amused themselves….Beard is deft in her exploration of imperial bureaucracy, showing how it dealt with an avalanche of paperwork from distant officials, cities, military leaders, and individuals in an era with no postal service. Emperors’ deaths, natural or otherwise, led to fascinating consequences.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Personal Best: Makers on Their Poems That Matter Most - Belieu, Erin

    Erin Belieu (editor), Carl Phillips (editor), Personal Best: Makers on Their Poems That Matter Most
    (Copper Canyon Press)

    “This anthology from Copper Canyon Press sits in my book stack on the breakfast bar, screaming my name. It marries many of my bookish passions: poetry, prose by poets, and craft essays. Highlighting writers I admire like Kaveh Akbar, Victoria Chang, Tarfia Faizullah, Donika Kelly, Ada Limón, Airea D. Matthews, Jake Skeets, Danez Smith, and Ocean Vuong, I can’t wait to inhale this cover to cover and learn which works poets consider their personal best.”
    Book Riot

    Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography - Robinson, Staci

    Staci Robinson, Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography
    (Crown Publishing Group)

    “[A] riveting account….Robinson [sets] out a faithful and detailed portrait of an artist dedicated to helping ‘others achieve freedom from oppression.’ Enriched by invaluable excerpts from the rapper’s notebooks and sketch pads, this will have hip-hop devotees enthralled.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle - Norman, Philip

    Philip Norman, George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle

    “The author of biographies of John Lennon and Paul McCartney turns his attention to George Harrison (1943–2001)….Norman knows his subject and the soulful torments Harrison endured. The quiet Beatle turns out to have feet of clay—a surprise to some, perhaps…..A well-informed…biography of an enigmatic musician.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Sonic Life: A Memoir - Moore, Thurston

    Thurston Moore, Sonic Life: A Memoir

    “Thurston Moore has always been a great artist, expansive in his knowledge of, and commitment to, new sounds and visions. Now, added to his expert musicianship, are his very real gifts as a memoirist and cultural historian. Filled with wonderful insights about the New York-based cultural landscape that made him, Moore’s Sonic Life is essential reading—a moving meditation by a creative force.”
    –Hilton Als

    Night Side of the River - Winterson, Jeanette

    Jeanette Winterson, Night Side of the River: Ghost Stories
    (Atlantic Monthly Press)

    “A bewitching collection for readers of horror and mystery, with just the right twists.”

    What Wild Women Do - Brown, Karma

    Karma Brown, What Wild Women Do

    “As inspiring as it is compelling, What Wild Women Do is a poignant journey into the hearts of two women yearning to take up more space in the world. Karma Brown has offered a gift to the seeker, the treasure hunter, in all of us.”
    –Katie Gutierrez

    The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading about Eating, and Eating While Reading - Garner, Dwight

    Dwight Garner, The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading about Eating, and Eating While Reading

    “The phrase ‘upstairs delicatessen’ was coined by Beat critic Seymour Krim to describe memory, and Garner raids his to serve up a feast of vivid recollections personal and literary….All converges in this zesty concoction of funny and poignant autobiographical anecdotes, incisive and wide-ranging reflections, and striking, often hilarious quotes from a literary smorgasbord.”

    Endangered Eating: America's Vanishing Foods - Lohman, Sarah

    Sarah Lohman, Endangered Eating: America’s Vanishing Foods

    “Sarah Lohman sheds light on the urgency of safeguarding Indigenous culinary customs through her tales of traversing America in search of endangered foods. In Endangered Eating she highlights the influence of colonization upon foodways, and also advocates for the localization of food systems and greater support for food producers and community organizations.”
    –Liza Greene

    West Heart Kill - McDorman, Dann

    Dann McDorman, West Heart Kill

    West Heart Kill is a true unicorn: a thoroughly original suspense novel that hops across elements of the genre—spot-on historical fiction and a diabolical locked-room mystery interspersed with a fascinating primer on the history of the form—while always being tremendous fun to read.”
    –Chris Pavone

    The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall - Cohen, Eliot a.

    Eliot A. Cohen, The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare on How Leaders Rise, Rule, and Fall
    (Basic Books)

    “[Cohen’s] brilliant meditation on power and statecraft, The Hollow Crown, is a double helix; he takes us deep into Shakespeare’s plays and emerges with vivid portraits of our modern political figures. In Cohen’s reading, Shakespeare becomes a kind of Elizabethan Machiavelli—a man who observes power and politics with such a nuanced and unsentimental eye that his work is timeless. Cohen finds some astonishing Shakespearean moments on the American political stage.”
    –David Ignatius

    Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage That Shook Europe - Guy, John

    John Guy, Julia Fox, Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Bolelyn, and the Marriage that Shook Europe

    “Better than Wolf Hall because it’s all true. The authors’ extraordinary scholarship in every possible historical source, as well as the vibrancy of their writing, delivers the seemingly impossible: a genuinely fresh interpretation of the marriage that produced Protestant England and the greatest of all the British monarchs, Elizabeth I. With a paranoiac court where mild flirtation could lead to torture and disembowelment, the story still has the power to shock.”
    –Andrew Roberts

    The Little Book of Aliens - Frank, Adam

    Adam Frank, The Little Book of Aliens

    “From the details of the origins of life on Earth, to the physics (and hypothetical future physics) of interstellar travel, The Little Book of Aliens is a comprehensive exploration of the seemingly limitless potential of intelligent life, human and beyond. Frank’s book is science writing at its best, revealing the awe-inspiring capacity of science to help us understand, and navigate, the universe.”
    –Annaka Harris

    Alberto Toscano, Late Fascism: Race, Capitalism and the Politics of Crisis

    “There are no unearned claims here. Rather, one feels that Toscano has thought through the political stakes of every single sentence in this crucial book. Late Fascism is painstaking in accounting for, differentiating, and connecting the many historical contexts and iterations of fascism—from the onset of colonial modernity, through the mid-twentieth century, to the present day.”
    –Jordy Rosenberg

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