It’s December, and the year has begun to reach its end. There’s a chill in the air; the streets of the city have grown more quiet, and jackets and scarves can be seen marching down the sidewalks. The year still has some notable books due to be released, however: everything from late works by acclaimed authors to stylistically bold experimental works by new and vital voices. Here’s a look at some of the books due out this month that have caught our attention.
Ultraluminous, Katherine Faw
(December 5, MCD)
We quite enjoyed Katherine Faw’s debut novel, Young God, a lean and propulsive shot of rural noir that neatly encapsulated a host of flawed, fractious relationships. Her followup shifts locales, following a woman who’s returned to New York after a decade in Dubai. Along the way, Faw’s narrative raises questions of intimacy, desire, and memory.
Christopher Hitchens: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, Christopher Hitchens; introduction by Stephen Fry
(December 5, Melville House)
Sometimes inspirational and sometimes infuriating, Christopher Hitchens’s writings on politics, literature, atheism, and virtually every topic under the sun earned him abundant admirers and detractors over the course of his life. (Depending on the topic, some may have been both.) This book collects highlights from several decades’ worth of interviews, giving a good overview of his areas of interest and his combustible style.
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, Ursula K. Le Guin; introduction by Karen Joy Fowler
(December 5, Houghton Mifflin)
In a literary world where speculative narratives, work for younger readers, and fiction that dissolved the boundaries of genre are all centrally located, it’s worth noting that Ursula K. Le Guin has been doing all of those things for decades. In recent years, Le Guin has taking to blogging; this new volume collects short nonfiction pieces that have arisen from this endeavor.
Elmet, Fiona Mozley
(December 5, Algonquin)
Fiona Mozley’s debut novel Elmet was one of the finalists for this year’s Man Booker Prize. It explores the bonds between the members of a family living in Yorkshire, and the contrast between the rural idyll of their lives and the brief intrusions of something more sinister that casts things in a bleaker light.
Spy of the First Person, Sam Shepard
(December 5, Knopf)
This is a bittersweet one: a short work, the final piece of Sam Shepard’s storied career in prose, poetry, and drama. In dreamlike prose, the narrative encompasses a host of settings across the country, from Arizona to the Lower East Side, posing questions of memory and place along the way.
Of Silence and Song, Dan Beachy-Quick
(December 12, Milkweed Editions)
Dan Beachy-Quick’s bibliography encompasses a host of styles, techniques, and approaches–ranging from the straightforward to the experimental. In Of Silence and Song, Beachy-Quick is in essayist mode, with a perspective that encompasses the intimately personal and the grandly historic.
Bakkhai, Euripides; translated by Anne Carson
(December 12, New Directions)
Whether drawing from her own experiences or finding a vital thread in work that’s thousands of years old, Anne Carson’s literary work is never less than essential. This is her translation (its first performance was in 2015) of a classic play by Euripides, addressing questions of gender, identity, and desire.
House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories, Yasunari Kawabata
(December 12, Vintage)
The haunting fictions of the Yasunari Kawabata create a tactile sense of place, and channel the unspoken feelings of the characters residing there. This new edition collects three novellas, each of which explores questions of longing, fantasy, and the operations of the idle mind.
Witch Wife, Kiki Petrosino
(December 12, Sarabande)
The poetry of Kiki Petrosino explores a host of forms and techniques, from the storied to the contemporary–all the while exploring questions vital to the author’s sense of being. (Here’s an example.) In this volume, she embraces the idea of poems as spells, and in doing so adds yet another layer to works with haunting complexity.
Her Mother’s Mother’s Mother and Her Daughters, Maria José Silveira; translated by Eric M. B. Becker
(December 12, Open Letter)
Maria José Silveira’s sprawling novel Her Mother’s Mother’s Mother and Her Daughters delves deeply into Brazil’s history, as well as the shifting roles that gender plays within that nation’s culture. It’s a book that spans centuries, focusing on (as the title suggests) a succession of mothers and daughters.