It’s October. Halloween lurks at the end of the month; various awards shortlists are appearing on the scene; and the colder weather makes it ideal to curl up indoors–whether at home, a coffee shop, or a bar–with a good book. Thankfully, this month brings with it plenty of notable literary works, from experimental fiction to eagerly-anticipated essay collections. Here’s a look at some of the books due out this month that have our attention.
The Taiga Syndrome, Cristina Rivera Garza; translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana
(Oct. 1, Dorothy, a Publishing Project)
Cristina Rivera Garza’s recently-translated The Iliac Crest came highly recommended, and did not disappoint: it tells a harrowingly ambiguous story about gender, memory, and language. Due out this month in translation, The Taiga Syndrome, which occupies a similarly surreal terrain as it channels elements from detective fiction and fairy tales into a wholly original narrative.
All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung
(Oct. 2, Catapult)
You might know Nicole Chung from her work as an editor at Catapult and, before that, The Toast; you might know her from acclaimed works of nonfiction that have appeared in numerous impressive publications. Now she’s making her book-length debut with her memoir All You Can Ever Know, which explores questions of adoption, parenthood, race, and finding one’s own voice as a writer.
Spell, Ann Lauterbach
(Oct. 2, Penguin Poets)
The idea of the poem as a spell is a powerful and compelling one, and it’s a concept that Ann Lauterbach powerfully explores in this, her tenth collection of poetry. Lauterbach’s work has been a finalist for the National Book Award; it doesn’t hurt that Spell has one of the best book covers we’ve seen in a while.
Impossible Owls, Brian Phillips
(Oct. 2, FSG Originals)
Brian Phillips is an essayist whose work has impressed us for a while now, including his time at the much-missed Grantland. In his debut essay collection, Phillips displays his breadth as a writer, taking on a host of subjects both specific and surprising. In the midst of a strong period for creative nonfiction, this is a particularly strong entry into an impressive field.
Coldwater Canyon, Anne-Marie Kinney
(Oct. 4, Civil Coping Mechanisms)
We were huge admirers of Radio Iris, Anne-Marie Kinney’s debut novel, which took the concept of the workplace novel and slowly ratcheted up the surrealism until it reached phantasmagorical levels. Her new novel, Coldwater Canyon, focuses on a traumatized veteran in search of a woman he believes is his daughter–a haunting and resonant narrative on many levels.
Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return, Martin Riker
(Oct. 9, Coffee House Press)
Reincarnation, cycles of violence, and the history of television: Martin Riker’s debut novel finds an intriguing overlap between a host of seemingly disparate subjects. It follows the life of a man who, after his death, moves from body to body in search of his lost son–all while the nation around him changes in numerous fundamental ways.
The Anarchist Who Shared My Name, Pablo Martín Sánchez; translated by Jeff Diteman
(Oct. 9, Deep Vellum Press)
Things we like: works from members of the Oulipo; unexpectedly-structured works of nonfiction; explorations of radical political history. Cue up The Anarchist Who Shared My Name, then: author Pablo Martín Sánchez’s book about the discovery that an anarchist executed in 1924 was also named Pablo Martín Sánchez, and his exploration of a tumultuous period in Spanish history.
Godsend, John Wray
(Oct. 9, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
John Wray’s fiction frequently explores the allure of political extremism, the bleak places within humanity that turn people towards irrationality, and the mysteries of the connections that bind us all. In Wray’s new novel Godsend, he follows the life of a young woman determined to forge a new identity for herself–and the chaos that results from this decision.
For Other Ghosts, Donald Quist
(Oct. 11, Awst Press)
We’re very happy to see new work entering the world from Donald Quist, whose writing has appeared on this very site. (Quist’s earlier book Harbors is also a fantastically detailed evocation of life in settings familiar and far-flung.) This new short story collection should act as further evidence of Quist’s skill and empathy as a writer.
Girls Write Now: Two Decades of True Stories from Young Female Voices
(Oct. 16, Tin House)
Girls Write Now has been a fixture in this literary community for many years now, helping young woman express themselves and tell their own stories in their own words. This new anthology collects highlights from the first two decades of the organization’s existence–a welcome representation of the good work this organization does.
Destroy All Monsters: The Last Rock Novel, Jeff Jackson
(Oct. 16, FSG Originals)
Jeff Jackson’s fiction frequently blends aspects of the familiar and the deeply surreal–see his earlier books Novi Sad and Mira Corpora for evidence. Destroy All Monsters continues this aesthetic but heightens the tension: both of its narratives, which play out like surreal mirrors of one another, concern an epidemic of killings of musicians while they’re onstage, and the effects this has on everyday life, creative expression, and human interactions.
Riddance: Or: The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children, Shelley Jackson
(Oct. 16, Black Balloon Publishing)
The works of Shelley Jackson frequently head beyond the surreal and into something uncategorizable and phantasmagorical. With this, her first novel in twelve years, Jackson tells the story of students at a school for those with speech impediments, who are utilized in a plan to contact the dead. We are suitably intrigued.
Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon
(Oct. 16, Scribner)
In recent years, Kiese Laymon has established himself as an essential voice in nonfiction writing. In his latest book, the memoir Heavy, he traces the path of his own life and charts out his family’s history, pushing towards harrowing emotional spaces and unexpected revelations throughout.