And so, a new year begins. Among the books we’re most excited about due out this month are a wide range of works, from challenging short fiction to heart-rending memoir; from a novel that explores the convergence of genres to a novel that explores a politically charged moment in recent history. Here are a few of the works due out this month that have caught our attention.
Good People, Robert Lopez
(January 12, Bellevue Literary Press)
Robert Lopez does amazing things with prose, tone, and sparsity. It’s been almost five years since his last book, the searing collection Asunder; here, he returns with a new array of stories, twenty in total.
Poor Your Soul, Mira Ptacin
(January 12, Soho Press)
We’ve been longtime admirers of both Mira Ptacin’s work and the breadth of it, which encompasses both fantastic writing and the quality of being a fantastic literary citizen. Her memoir juxtaposes her own life with that of her mother, exploring questions of family, identity, and more along the way.
Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs, Lina Wolff (translated by Frank Perry)
(January 12, And Other Stories)
With this, her first novel to be released in English, the Swedish writer Lina Wolff tells a story of a brothel, a mysterious writer, and a collection of stray dogs, each named for a male author. As premises go, that’s a pretty compelling one.
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, Sunil Yapa
(January 12, Lee Boudreaux Books)
Writing about recent history can be tricky, but certain moments in time seem made for compelling fiction. Consider Sunil Yapa’s debut novel, which is set against the backdrop of the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999–a dramatically interesting setup that should have an abundance of contemporary resonances as well.
The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship, Paul Lisicky
(January 16, Graywolf Press)
In this memoir, his second following 2002’s Famous Builder, Paul Lisicky charts two significant relationships in his life: his friendship with a fellow writer and the end of his marriage to his now ex-husband. This looks to be another example of Lisicky exploring new territory in prose.
Incorrect Merciful Impulses, Camille Rankine
(January 16, Copper Canyon Press)
Following the release of her chapbook Slow Dance with Trip Wire, January brings with it the release of the first full-length collection of poetry from Camille Rankine. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, here are two examples–haunting, precise, and powerful.
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
(January 26, Tor Books)
The debut novel from writer, critic, and editor of io9 Charlie Jane Anders is that rare work that incorporates elements of both fantasy and science fiction, exploring the friendship between two people as the world slowly turns apocalyptic.
Good on Paper, Rachel Cantor
(January 26, Melville House)
Rachel Cantor’s previous novel, A Highly Unlikely Story, was a narrative in which philosophy, mysticism, dystopian societies, and pizza delivery converged. Her followup to it is set in a world closer to our own, but keeps the headiness in the mix, with a plot centered around a potentially untranslatable manuscript.
The Unfinished World and Other Stories, Amber Sparks
(January 26, Liveright)
The works in Amber Sparks’s second short story collection, The Unfinished World, delve into the realm of the surreal in numerous and varied ways. We enjoyed Sparks’s earlier collection, May We Shed These Human Bodies, when it came out in 2012, and we’re eager to see what this one brings.
The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories, Carlos Velázquez (translated by Achy Obejas)
(January 26, Restless Books)
The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories is the first book by Mexican writer Carlos Velázquez to be translated into English. Inside, you’ll find–as the ominous, delirious cover suggests–a host of strange, unsettling short stories, which share the shifting object alluded to in the title at their center.
Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine Fine, Diane Williams
(January 26, McSweeney’s)
Diane Williams’s unconventional approach to storytelling has made her an iconoclastic figure–the kind of writer whose work eludes any sort of easy description, even as it pushes fiction in strange new directions. And now, she has returned with a collection of forty new short stories.
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