Books of the Month: December 2023

December 2023 books

And now it’s December. What does December bring, in literary terms? An interesting array of books, representing a disparate array of styles and approaches to the craft of writing. Do you like short stories? We’ve got you covered. Do you enjoy poetry? There’s some poetry here, too. Throw some literary translations into the mix and you have a solid month for reading — with what might be your next favorite book as this year draws to a close.


Tobias Carroll, Transitory
(Dec. 1, 7.13 Books)

So yeah, one of our editors has a new book out this month! Technically a new edition of an older book with a couple of bonus stories thrown in. Surreal fiction and suburban idylls, all in one neatly-designed package.

"Asking for Directions"

Matthew Firth, Asking for Directions
(Dec. 1, Anvil Press)

Described by its publisher as ” a happy hour of poetry,” Asking for Directions is the latest collection from Matthew Firth. ” I write to blend narrative elements with juxtaposed imagery with mellifluous phrases with sex and swear words,” he said in an interview last year. “I have no interest in the art of it, nor the academe.” What does that look like in practice? Read on and find out.

"We Go Liquid"

Christian TeBordo, We Go Liquid
(Dec. 1, Long Day Press)

We’re longtime admirers of Christian TeBordo’s writing (and have even published some of it). This reissue of one of his older novels raises a harrowing existential question: if you received a missive from a deceased relative, would you recognize it for what it was, or would you take it for spam? That blend of the quotidian and the transcendent suffuses TeBordo’s work, and we’re happy to see this book back in the world.

"The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers' Guild"

Mathias Énard, The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers’ Guild (translated by Frank Wynne)
(Dec. 5, New Directions)

Do you enjoy your fiction sprawling, involving visits to the French countryside and the arrival of the personification of Death itself on the scene? Mathias Énard has a penchant for the maximalist in his writing, and the arrival in an English translation of The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers’ Guild should heighten that reputation.

"The Pushcart Prize XLVIII"

Bill Henderson, editor, The Pushcart Prize XLVIII: Best of the Small Presses 2024 Edition
(Dec. 5, Pushcart Press)

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the Pushcart Prize. If you’re looking for an excellent foray into what independent journals are publishing, this anthology is essential reading.

"How I Killed the Universal Man"

Thomas Kendall, How I Killed the Universal Man
(Dec. 5, Whisk(e)y Tit)

Do you like your fiction with titles that could also work as the names of songs by The Fall? If so, might we introduce you to Thomas Kendall’s new book, described by its publisher as a “transhumanist noir” and following a journalist whose work leads him into a bizarre subculture of body modification and unsettling technology. We’re intrigued.

"All the Little Bird-Hearts"

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow, All the Little Bird-Hearts
(Dec. 5, Algonquin Books)

In this first novel, longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow takes the reader into a quiet household awaiting disruption, with a side of Sicilian folklore thrown into the mix. In an interview, Lloyd-Barrow told the Hindustan Times that she “wanted to present a protagonist who was both autistic and a capable mother, as this is an underrepresented combination within the cultural and literary narrative” — suggesting another layer to this narrative.

"The Children of This Madness"

Gemini Wahhaj, The Children of This Madness
(Dec. 5, 7.13 Books)

Focusing on the effects of war in Iraq on a Bengali-American community in Houston, Gemini Wahhaj’s The Children of This Madness offers readers rich and complex characterizations and hauntingly resonant themes. And if that description sounds interesting, you can also read an excerpt of the novel at Another Chicago Magazine.

"Zero at the Bone"

Christian Wiman, Zero at the Bone: Fifty Entries Against Despair
(Dec. 5, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

At a time where uncertainty and depression abound, seeing a book with the subtitle “Fifty Entries Against Despair” sounds particularly appealing. Christian Wiman’s new book explores questions of theology, family, and community — and does so in a way that blends literary forms in wholly unexpected ways.

"I Keep My Visions to Myself"

Mallory Smart, I Keep My Visions to Myself
(Dec. 9, With an X)

Mallory Smart’s had a busy year, which also included making a bold foray into literary experimentation with AI not that long ago. Her new book explores a different aspect of creativity, following the struggles of an up-and-coming musician pondering artistic satisfaction, economic uncertainty, and her own place in the world.

"How to Draw a Novel"

Martín Solares, How to Draw a Novel
(Dec. 12, Grove Press)

Ages ago, one of us read Martin Solares’s earlier novel The Black Minutes, an immersive and haunting look at a series of unsolved murders that resonated through to the present day. This book, a work of nonfiction, reveals a different side of Solares — in this case, his impressions of different classic works of literature, and what the nature of their forms can tell other readers and writers.


Note: all release dates and cover artwork are subject to change.

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