And here we are. It’s November, and the weather is finally starting to feel like it’s fall outside. That’s always a plus. As the proverbial (or literal) mercury drops, it’s turning into the time of the year when bundling up with a book is essential. Whether you’re looking for astute observations on society and culture or lost classics brought back into print, we’ve got some suggestions as to what books due out this month might be of interest.
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib
(November 7, Two Dollar Radio)
Certain writers can take a pop song or musician as their subject and turn what they write into a stunning evocation of some aspect of society. That’s very much the case with Hanif Abdurraqib, and in this new collection he covers everything from the Columbus punk scene to Chance the Rapper, coming up with stunning observations along the way.
Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials, Malcolm Harris
(November 7, Little, Brown and Company)
Odds are good that you’ve begun to notice the way the word “Millennials” has become ubiquitous and often innacurate when utilized in headlines, political commentary, and…basically, everywhere else. In this new book, Harris–an editor at The New Inquiry–takes a deeper look at a generation, and on the political and economic trends that converge there.
Mother of All Pigs, Malu Halasa
(November 14, Unnamed Press)
Malu Halasa’s previous books have largely focused on the Middle East, albeit from a nonfictional perspective. With this, her first novel, she opts for a different look at the region, zeroing in on three generations of women in a Jordanian family dealing with conflicts both personal and societal.
Ice, Anna Kavan; introduction by Jonathan Lethem, afterword by Kate Zambreno
(November 14, Penguin Classics)
Rule of thumb: if a book comes endorsed by both Jonathan Lethem and Kate Zambreno, it’s probably worth your time. Do you like surreal narratives about dystopian arctic landscapes and hallucinatory perceptions of the world? Well then.
The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: Formative Years, Ricardo Piglia; translated by Robert Croll, introduction by Ilan Stavans
(November 14, Restless Books)
Are we in the midst of a resurgence of interest in the late Argentinian writer Ricardo Piglia? Two years ago, Deep Vellum released his haunting novel Target in the Night; now, Restless is releasing the first part of his lifelong work and final novel, a massive book featuring his fictionalized alter ego Emilio Renzi.
Improvement, Joan Silber
(November 14, Counterpoint)
Joan Silber’s command of structure, imagery, and characterization is frequently stunning. We’re eager to read her new novel, which deals with a complex series of connections between characters, encompassing familial relationships, legal questions, and moral quandaries.
The Book of Formation, Ross Simonini
(November 14, Melville House)
We’ve long enjoyed Ross Simonini’s writings on art and culture; consequently, we’ve been eager to explore his first novel ever since we first heard about it. It deals with the charismatic head of a mysterious self-help movement and his encounters with a journalist, which become more fraught over the course of the book.
Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Kevin Young
(November 15, Graywolf Press)
If you’ve read Kevin Young’s earlier The Gray Album, then you know that he’s second to none in his ability to make unlikely pop cultural connections and bring in a vast and complex sense of history. His new book Bunk takes on a wide array of subjects, and finds the ways that they speak to an often-unpleasant societal subconscious.
Day In, Day Out, Héctor Aguilar Camín; translated by Chandler Thompson
(November 15, Schaffner Press)
Héctor Aguilar Camín’s earlier novel Death in Veracruz blended taut, noir-inspired plotting, a firm grasp of complex social dynamics, and a vast array of characters. Given its author’s background in journalism, this attention for detail makes sense; his followup promises more of the same enticing blend.
Malacqua: Four Days of Rain in the City of Naples, Waiting for the Occurrence of an Extraordinary Event, Nicola Pugliese; translated by Shaun Whiteside
(November 16, And Other Stories)
We are wholly up for novels about journalists investigating surreal happenings in cities sliding into madness or decay. This late-70s novel, being published for the first time after several decades, would seem to fit that bill perfectly. Plus: Calvino blurb!
The Construction of the Tower of Babel, Juan Benet; translated by Adrian Nathan West
(November 21, Wakefield Press)
In this newly-translated collection of essays from 1990, Juan Benet examines questions of art, possibility, and the nature of traitors. It encompasses everything from the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder to the legacy of the Spanish Civil War, and offers plenty for the reader to ponder.
Mrs. Caliban, Rachel Ingalls; introduction by Rivka Galchen
(November 28, New Directions)
The protagonist of this newly-reissued novel is a woman in a bad marriage, grappling with that as well as a general sense of suburban stagnation. Then a new man enters her life: a charming, erudite stranger who’s also a gill-man who recently made a bloody escape from a research facility. Satirical and melancholic in equal measure, this is a neatly compelling read.