As the year draws to a close, plenty of lists are appearing online looking back at the literary highlights of 2018. (Spoiler: we’ll have some of those in the coming weeks as well.) But the year isn’t over yet, and December still has plenty of intriguing books to offer us. From acclaimed and award-winning fiction to unpredictable poetry to challenging literature in translation, here are some of the most notable books due out this December.
The Song My Enemies Sing, James Reich
(Dec. 1, Anti-Oedipus Press)
Writer, musician, and publisher James Reich is a busy man. He’s also having a grand time moving to genre to genre in his fiction: last year’s Soft Invasions was a cerebral thriller set during the Second World War, while The Song My Enemies Sing ventures into science fictional territory. Bringing together a Martian setting and characters caught up in political activism, Reich’s latest promises to be a gripping and unpredictable read.
If Any Gods Lived, Michael J. Wilson
(Dec. 1, Stalking Horse Press)
Michael J. Wilson’s poetry brings together the deeply personal with the historical–his last book, A Child of Storm, explored the life of Nikolai Tesla. Here, Wilson blends memories of childhood with ruminations on mortality and desire, creating a haunting and deeply specific view of the world.
The Dakota Winters, Tom Barbash
(Dec. 4, Ecco)
Tom Barbash’s new novel The Dakota Winters is set at a very particular point in New York City’s history: it opens in 1979, as two generations of one family converge at The Dakota. Along the way, Barbash brings together musings on culture (one character is a late-night television host), fame, and the changes the country was undergoing at that point in time. For some, glances into the city’s history can summon nostalgia–this book has a more provocative thesis in mind.
Milkman, Anna Burns
(Dec. 4, Graywolf Press)
Anna Burns recently won the Man Booker Prize for her novel Milkman. It’s been out on the other side of the Atlantic, but now Statesider readers will be able to immerse themselves in her narrative. It’s about the unnerving connection that develops between a young woman and a member of a paramilitary group. It’s a setup rife with tension, and delivered with a haunting tone throughout.
North of Dawn, Nuruddin Farah
(Dec. 4, Riverhead Books)
Nuruddin Farah’s fiction turns global tensions into something more intimate and personal, and makes compelling and humanistic drama out of the most gripping issues of our time. North of Dawn is centered around a couple whose late son had adopted a radical ideology, and the tension that emerges when his family comes to live with them.
Revolution Sunday, Wendy Guerra; translated by Achy Obejas
(Dec. 4, Melville House)
Wendy Guerra’s work has spanned artistic disciplines, from work in television to poetry and prose. Revolution Sunday focuses on a writer whose international travels lead to a host of tense interactions at home and abroad–and a slow realization that certain things that she believed to be true might not be. Along the way, Guerra brings in her knowledge of media and storytelling, creating a rich backdrop before which this narrative unfolds.
Away! Away!, Jana Beňova; translated by Janet Livingstone
(Dec. 11, Two Dollar Radio)
Jana Beňova’s newly-translated novel Away! Away! focuses on a woman who exists a failing marriage, and winds up in the orbit of a man with bold artistic ambitions for his all-puppet retelling of “The Snow Queen.” Beňova’s novel riffs on stories old and new, and the means by which we tell and experience them, to bring the reader inside her protagonist’s mind.
In Our Mad and Furious City, Guy Gunaratne
(Dec. 11, MCD/FSG Originals)
Guy Gunaratne’s acclaimed novel In Our Mad and Furious City draws on its author’s experiences as a journalist for its portrait of disaffected youth in modern London. The resulting work is an immersive, jarring narrative dealing with questions of history, violence, and art–and the disquieting ways that they can converge in unpredictable ways.
The Wolf at Number 4, Ayo Tamakloe-Garr
(Dec. 17, Ohio University Press)
Ayo Tamakloe-Garr’s novel The Wolf at Number 4 brings together a host of disparate influences, from 19th century Gothic fiction to the plays of Tennessee Williams, to tell the story of an unlikely bond that forms between two people whose paths cross in the city of Cape Coast, Ghana. The resulting narrative takes a host of twists along the way, blending the familiar with the unexpected.
Inhuman Land: Searching For The Truth In Soviet Russia, 1941-1942, Józef Czapski; translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones; introduction by Timothy Snyder
(Dec. 18, NYRB Classics)
Inhuman Land chronicles the wartime experiences of artist and writer Józef Czapski. It follows his travels with the Polish Army during the Second World War, as well as his travels in Russia and his encounters with several notable literary figures. More chillingly, it also documents his retrospective investigation of the Katyn massacre, leading to numerous ruminations on the relationships between nations.
Mazurka For Two Dead Men, Camilo José Cela; translated by Patricia Haugaard
(Dec. 25, New Directions)
Set in a rural area of Galicia, Camilo José Cela’s 1983 novel documents the fates of two brothers at opposite ends of the Spanish Civil War. When it was first released in translation, the New York Times noted that “it has the rare virtue of making interesting, even poetic, the tawdry lives of people whose horizons are so severely limited.” Not a bad endorsement, we’d say.