December is frequently a quiet month for new books, and this year is no exception. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing new coming out, however–those of you keeping an eye on the new releases shelf of your local bookstore can take in an array of interesting work in translation, as well as a number of notable books being brought back into print in new editions. Here’s a sampling of the books that have our attention for this month.
Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing, Lauren Beukes
(December 1, Tachyon Publications)
Lauren Beukes’s fiction starts with big ideas and runs them through an assortment of permutations–whether it’s the surreal changes to humanity in her novel Zoo City or the convergence of art and horror in contemporary Detroit in Broken Monsters. Slipping collects an abundance of her shorter work, demonstrating her penchant for incisive writing is visible in more minute doses as well.
Nineveh, Henrietta Rose-Innes
(December 1, Unnamed Press)
In this novel, first published in South Africa and now making its way across the Atlantic, an exterminator in Cape Town deals with a host of strange dilemmas as she seeks to remove beetles from a massive luxury housing complex. Urban alienation and contemporary satire converge in this haunting novel.
The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship, Alex Beam
(December 6, Pantheon Books)
Some literary feuds have become legendary in terms of their impact on the culture around them. Alex Beam’s new book looks at the way in which two titans of 20th century literature had a falling out over politics and aesthetics, and the effect that it had on the work that followed.
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, Kathleen Collins
(December 6, Ecco)
Kathleen Collins was both an artist and an activist, and her creative work spanned multiple disciplines, including the films The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy and Losing Ground. This new collection brings together a number of her short stories, and has earned praise from the likes of Zadie Smith and Miranda July.
A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind, Siri Hustvedt
(December 6, Simon & Schuster)
Whether in the fields of fiction or nonfiction, few writers approach the depth with which Siri Hustvedt examines the topics referenced in the subtitle of her new essay collection. Hustvedt is equally at home exploring intellectual history and charting out ambiguities, and the result is always compelling.
Chronicle of the Murdered House, Lucio Cardoso; translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson
(December 13, Open Letter Books)
This novel, never before translated into English, charts the decline of a prominent Brazilian family through a host of different literary approaches. It made a significant mark on 20th century Brazilian literature, and among its admirers was one Clarice Lispector. That’s a fine recommendation if ever there was one.
The Return of Munchausen, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky; translated by Joanne Turnbull
(December 13, NYRB Classics)
In this newly-translated novel set in England and the Soviet Union in the 1920s, the immortal, borderline-metafictional figure of Baron Munchausen travels from the former to the latter on a mission of espionage, and surrealism and satire ensue. Readers with a fondness for the malleable realities of Mikhail Bulgakov will find plenty to enjoy here.
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