And it’s October, home of colder weather, heated political talk, and a growing number of Halloween decorations. Awards season shortlists are growing; so too are lists of seasonally-appropriate scary books. (We’ve got a few of those here as well.) So here’s a look at some of the October books that have caught our attention.
Daniel Braum; Underworld Dreams
(Oct. 1, Lethe Press)
If you’re looking for memorable tales of the uncanny, Daniel Braum’s new collection Underworld Dreams — his third collection to date — may well fit the bill. Braum’s made a name for himself with psychologically-rich tales of the bizarre and supernatural, and that’s well on display here.
Ariana Harwicz, Feebleminded; translated by Annie McDermott and Carolina Orloff
(Oct. 6, Charco Press)
Many novels focus on fraught relationships between parents and children. Few delve into one as memorably toxic as the one in Ariana Harwicz’s Feebleminded, however; this is a novel whose characters’s conflicts spill out of the page and into the prose used to tell their story, making for a searing read.
Anneliese Mackintosh, Bright and Dangerous Objects
(Oct. 6, Tin House)
What happens when you blend a novel telling the inner life of someone with a fascinating occupation — in this case, a deep-sea diver — with a speculative fiction scenario? Anneliese Mackintosh’s Bright and Dangerous Objects uses its science fictional setting to heighten its psychological elements, making for a memorable read.
Hiroko Oyamada, The Hole; translated by David Boyd
(Oct. 6, New Directions)
If you’ve ever moved to a new place and felt out of sorts, you may relate to the protagonist of The Hole. Admittedly, unless you’ve also dealt with bizarre creatures and an ever-shifting landscape, your disorientation might not be quite as pronounced. If you like your anomie with a whole lot of surrealism, The Hole has plenty to offer.
Cristina Rivera Garza, Grieving; translated by Sarah Booker
(Oct. 6, Feminist Press)
Much of the writing by Cristina Rivera Garza that’s been translated into English has been work that’s shown off her skill at creating tension and bringing readers to the brink of the uncanny. Grieving offers another side of her work, including nonfiction inspired by current events and scenes from life in contemporary Mexico.
Brian Selfon, The Nightworkers
(Oct. 6, MCDxFSG)
Thrilling October reads don’t just come from horror novels. Brian Selfon’s The Nightworkers is a unique crime novel, focusing on a family whose living is made from illicit sources. They’re left to figure out the riddle of a missing man’s whereabouts, even as pressure surrounds them from all sides — the ideal setup for a gripping story.
Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto, editors, Tiny Nightmares
(Oct. 13, Black Balloon)
The editors who previously teamed up for the anthology Tiny Crimes have returned; here, they present a collection of brief but haunting tales (sometimes literally) from a host of great writers. If you like your creepy tales to be innovatively told, look no further.
Daniel Saldaña París, Ramifications; translated by Christina MacSweeney
(Oct. 13, Coffee House Press)
Memory, conflict, and nostalgia collide in this newly-translated novel by Daniel Saldaña Paris. On one level, it’s about a man trying to work out what happened when his mother vanished decades before. On another, it’s about wrestling with the legacies of regional conflicts — and how the mind processes recollections both personal and political.
Mairead Case, Tiny
(Oct. 20, featherproof)
We’ve been eagerly awaiting Mairead Case’s second novel for a while now. If See You in the Morning was a resonant tale of identity and intimacy, this one takes a difference stance — the publisher describes it as “a contemporary, poetic retelling of Sophocles’ Antigone.” Throw in musings on the nature of war and a Pacific Northwest setting and you’ve piqued our interest.
Ilan Stavans, Popul Vuh: A Retelling
(Oct. 27, Restless Books)
Over the last few years, Restless Books has done fascinating work by revisiting decades- or centuries-old books and finding new ways to make them relevant to a contemporary readership. Ilan Stavens’s Popul Vuh: A Retelling offers another example of this, providing a lavishly-illustrated take on an impactful and historically important narrative.
Note: all covers and release dates are subject to change.
Header image: Melander/Library of Congress