The books that have gotten our attention for the month of October are a wide-ranging bunch, ranging from eagerly anticipated works from literary titans to bold voices from across the globe appearing in translation. Here’s a look at some of the works that we’re most excited about for the weeks to come.
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Ta-Nehisi Coates
(October 3, One World)
Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new book looks at the Obama administration, placing it in a historical context and adding a personal dimension, as Coates also explores how his own fortunes as a writer changed during that period. Between his shorter and longer-form work, Coates has been responsible for an abundance of essential reading in recent years, and this looks like no exception.
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, Caitlin Doughty
(October 3, W.W. Norton)
Besides being a talented writer (see also: 2014’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory) Caitlin Doughty is also a mortician–and thus, decidedly qualified to explore questions of how death and dying are handled across the world, as she does in this new volume.
Baking With Kafka, Tom Gault
(October 3, Drawn & Quarterly)
Tom Gauld’s deadpan illustrations and sense of the absurd make for a host of memorably funny comics. Baking With Kafka collects his literary-themed comics in one place, making for a trove of narrative humor and knowing references.
Moonbath, Yanick Lahens; translated by Emily Gogolak
(October 10, Deep Vellum)
Yanick Lahens’s Moonbath has won a host of literary awards in recent years; now, it’s appearing Stateside for the first time. The novel encompasses three generations of women living in Haiti, and explores questions of violence and memory from a host of perspectives.
Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado
(October 3, Graywolf Press)
If you’re looking for a collection of short stories that occupies a fantastic middle ground between Robert Aickman-esque mounting dread and Kelly Link-ish formal experimentation, might we suggest Her Body and Other Parties, one of the best debuts we’ve encountered in a while? It’s also longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction, which is never a bad thing.
theMystery.doc, Matthew McIntosh
(October 3, Grove Press)
Matthew McIntosh’s boldly-structured novel is approximately the size of a human head, and abounds with narrative experimentation, unique formatting, and unpredictable use of images. If that description piques your interest, we suspect we know a doorstopper of a book that’s in your future.
Haunted Nights, edited by Lisa Morton and Ellen Datlow
(October 3, Anchor/Blumhouse)
It wouldn’t be October without the looming presence of Halloween at month’s end. Said holiday is also at the center of many of the stories in the anthology Haunted Nights, featuring contributions from the likes of Stephen Graham Jones, Pat Cadigan, John Langan, and Brian Evenson.
A Long Curving Scar Where the Heart Should Be, Quintan Ana Wikswo
(October 3, Stalking Horse Press)
We were floored by Quintan Ana Wikswo’s earlier novel The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us This Far, which blended text and images in unorthodox ways and, in doing so, created a moody and immersive reading experience. Needless to say, that left us eager for Wikswo’s followup, which also promises further experimentation; we can’t wait.
The Raincoats’ The Raincoats, Jenn Pelly
(October 5, Bloomsbury)
When writers we like write about great and essential postpunk albums, we’re very much up for reading the results. Pelly’s writings about music and culture over the years have been essential, and The Raincoats’ self-titled debut looms large in the collective Vol.1 Brooklyn record collection. An excellent blend of subject and author.
As Lie Is to Grin, Simeon Marsalis
(October 10, Catapult)
Simeon Marsalis’s debut novel, which explores questions of family, race, and academia, is on the shortlist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize this year. It also includes nods to Jean Toomer’s 1922 novel Cane, adding another narrative dimension to things, and intriguing us further.
A Working Woman, Elvira Navarro; translated by Christina MacSweeney
(October 10, Two Lines Press)
In Spain, Elvira Navarro has received numerous accolades and awards for her writing. Via Christina MacSweeney’s translation of her novel A Working Woman, which examines the fraught, tense, and surreal connection between two women, readers in the US will have another chance to experience her work as well.
North Station, Bae Suah; translated by Deborah Smith
(October 10, Open Letter)
In the last few years, we’ve been floored by Bae Suah’s writing that’s appeared in English translation, including the novels A Greater Music, Nowhere To Be Found, and Recitation. Her latest book to appear in translation here, North Station, offers Anglophone readers a look at her short fiction–a work that should reveal even more facets of her bibliography.
The King is Always Above the People, Daniel Alarcón
(October 31, Riverhead)
The latest book from acclaimed author Daniel Alarcón has a decidedly provocative title, and collects a host of Alarcón’s short fiction, touching on questions of family, escape, and questions of freedom. And, as an added bonus, this collection’s also on the longlist for this year’s National Book Award for Fiction.
A Field Guide to the North American Family, Garth Risk Hallberg
(October 31, Knopf)
We alluded to literary doorstoppers before, and Garth Risk Hallberg’s epic City on Fire–which incorporated a zine by one of its characters–certainly fit into that category. This fall brings with it a new edition of his debut work, an illustrated novella about two clashing families, told via an unpredictable structure.