Chilean Poet: A Novel By Alejandro Zambra, Megan McDowell (Translated by) Cover Image
By Alejandro Zambra, Megan McDowell (Translated by)
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ISBN: 9780593297940
Published: Viking - February 15th, 2022

Chilean Poet is a family novel that takes a broad view of what constitutes a family: exes, step-families, even entire artistic communities. The book is wide-ranging in its scope and interests, exploring sex, fatherhood, poetic inheritance, and the push for political change in Chile's recent history. What I love about Zambra's writing is his ability to keep tenderness and humor at the core of the story without ever straying into sentimentality or aphoristic morality.

I Do Everything I'm Told By Megan Fernandes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781953534880
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - June 20th, 2023

This is a book I know I'll return to many times. Throughout the collection, Fernandes plays with uncertainty, giving opinions and definitions that she later takes back, reexamines, and restates. The titles of the first and last poems--"Tired of Love Poems" and "Love Poem"--perfectly encapsulate the attention and respect these poems give to the act of reconsideration. The second section of the book (my favorite) is a series of sonnets paired with radically erased versions of the same poems, powerful demonstrations of how language itself can allow us to look at the same thing from a new perspective.

Every Drop is a Man's Nightmare By Megan Kamalei Kakimoto Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639731169
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - August 29th, 2023

I'm always excited about debut authors, and Every Drop Is a Man's Nightmare is the best debut collection of short stories I've read in a long time. The stories are fearless and strange, dealing with settler colonialism, sexuality, superstition, myth, and the sometimes-horrible experience of having a body. If you love Lesley Nneka Arimah and Carmen Maria Machado, you will love Megan Kamalei Kakimoto too.

How to Behave in a Crowd: A Novel By Camille Bordas Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780451497543
Published: Tim Duggan Books - August 15th, 2017

I'm a big fan of Bordas's short fiction so I was excited to read her first novel written in English. It has all the elements that make her short fiction great: dark humor, wordplay, quick dialogue, eccentric characters, and close relationships built around artistic and philosophical fascinations. The novel's narrator, Isidore, is a basically average preteen in a super-intelligent, highly unemotional family, a premise rife with hilarious pitfalls that Bordas uses to explore how we might relate to academic pursuits, art, and each other on both emotional and intellectual levels.

Judas Goat: Poems By Gabrielle Bates Cover Image
ISBN: 9781953534644
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Published: Tin House Books - January 24th, 2023

An incredible debut collection from a poet whose career I am eager to follow. The opening poem sets the tone for the rest of the collection in both its unflinching brutality and its attention to how we form connection in the face of suffering. Bates is a poet who is exceptionally careful with her words and line breaks. She isn't overly showy or formally inventive, but she is attentive to the potential meanings available in each word and how she can use punctuation and breaks to make full use of these varied, layered meanings.

Sleepless Nights By Elizabeth Hardwick, Geoffrey O'Brien (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Elizabeth Hardwick, Geoffrey O'Brien (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780940322721
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Published: NYRB Classics - August 31st, 2001

Sleepless Nights is a sharp, spare novel made up of ten chapters that read a bit like essays or letters. Many of the details in the book parallel Hardwick's own life but the book transcends autobiographical specificity to become something more interesting and rare. As Hardwick herself says, "fact is to me a hindrance to memory." Taken as a whole, the chapters of this novel build a portrait of the narrator through the layering of her observations and experiences. For fans of Renata Adler's Speedboat and Rachel Cusk's Outline.

The Hive and the Honey: Stories By Paul Yoon Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668020791
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Published: S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books - October 10th, 2023

These are my favorite kind of stories: the kind that carry me through the first read with haunting scenes and compelling characters, revealing deeper meaning slowly through webs of repeated images and recurring thoughts. Yoon's stories, from across the Korean diaspora and spanning centuries of time, are quietly devastating, exploring occupation, displacement, and borders through a complex cast of characters who both receive and perpetuate violence.

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The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition By Fernando Pessoa, Jerónimo Pizarro (Editor), Margaret Jull Costa (Translated by) Cover Image
By Fernando Pessoa, Jerónimo Pizarro (Editor), Margaret Jull Costa (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811226936
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Published: New Directions - August 29th, 2017

Fernando Pessoa is a fascinating writer and The Book of Disquiet is probably the best introduction to his work. In many ways, the book reads more like poetry than fiction, with brief numbered entries that assert abstract truths and musings. Pessoa is a believer in imaginative thought and literary expression as the primary mode of living, rather than concrete experiences. He is known for his heteronyms--a community of invented writers, each with distinct backgrounds, opinions, and literary styles. The Book of Disquiet is divided into two books, each from the perspective of a different heteronym. Pessoa wrote the entries on loose sheets of paper stored in a trunk at the foot of his bed so each edition varies in order depending on the editor. A difficult but rewarding book, this is a must-read for anyone interested in Portuguese literature. Pessoa was (and is) an artistic radical, but his politics were not always quite so forward-thinking so I recommend reading this book alongside Richard Zenith's Pessoa for a richer understanding and evaluation of Pessoa's cultural, political, and artistic influences.