What does the literary aspect of March 2018 look like? The word expansive comes to mind. New works by longtime favorite writers, incisive cultural histories, and powerful works in translation are all appearing in bookstores this month–an impressive array of books for a wide variety of readers. Here are a few of the titles that we’ll be on the lookout for this month. (All release dates and artwork are subject to change.)
Icon, F. Douglas Brown
(March 1, Civil Coping Mechanisms)
F. Douglas Brown has an impressive list of credits: his book Zero to Three received the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He teaches high school English and DJs when not engaged in all things literary. Icon is his latest collection of poetry; as the title suggests, it’s an examination of questions and concepts surrounding the idea of heroism–a timely subject if ever there was one.
Malay Sketches, Alfian Sa’at
(March 1, Gaudy Boy LLC)
When it was first published, Alfian Sa’at’s Malay Sketches was longlisted for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The stories found in Malay Sketches are set in and around Singapore’s Malay-Muslim community, and explore a vast array of themes of race, religion, and politics.
Census, Jesse Ball
(March 6, Ecco)
Each new book from Jesse Ball reveals a new facet of his abilities as a writer; each one takes bold structural risks even as it ventures into heart-rending territories. This novel follows the life of a dying man as he takes a job working for a governmental agency administering a census and ponders the question of who will care for his son, who has Down’s syndrome, after he’s gone.
Tomb Song, Julián Herbert; translated by Christina MacSweeney
(March 6, Graywolf Press)
Julián Herbert’s Tomb Song explores questions of family, identity, and mortality through a fragmented, haunting narrative. The novel’s narrator, who bears some resemblance to the author, ponders his own life as he takes care of his mother in the last days of hers. The result blends bold storytelling with moving questions of life and memory.
Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, Ryan H. Walsh
(March 6, Penguin Press)
Ryan H. Walsh falls into that rarefied category of writers who are also capable of making fantastic music. That he’s taken on the milieu surrounding a beloved album is also impressive–and his holistic approach, encompassing a host of countercultural figures and groups in late-1960s Boston–offers a bold blend of the familiar and the unknown.
The Right Intention, Andrés Barba; translated by Lisa Dillman
(March 13, Transit Books)
Last year brought with it the first English translation of Andrés Barba’s haunting short novel Such Small Hands, which blended a powerful evocation of childhood with a mounting sense of dread, building to a harrowing conclusion. This year brings with it a collection of Barba’s short fiction, which promises an unpredictable emotional experience and a precise use of prose and atmosphere.
The Life to Come, Michelle de Kretser
(March 13, Catapult)
Michelle de Kretser’s Springtime was a stunning short novel about perception, narratives, and belief; it’s also one of the most unpredictable ghost stories we’ve ever read. Her new novel, The Life to Come, encompasses a grander scale, following the lives of several characters with ties to multiple continents; it offers a powerful exploration of questions of borders, human connection, and memory.
Double Bird, Bud Smith
(March 20, Maudlin House)
We’re big admirers of Bud Smith’s writings; whether he’s charting the arcs of his own life or delving into the imagined lives of others, his emotional candor and heartfelt prose makes for a memorable reading experience. His latest book, following 2017’s WORK, is a collection of short stories, adding another facet to an impressive bibliography.
Temporal, Troy James Weaver
(March 20, Disorder Press)
Troy James Weaver’s fiction blends sharply-observed realism with forays into the unexplained and surreal. His latest novel follows the lives of three Wichita teens over the course of several months; shoegaze plays a significant role in the narrative. Can’t argue with shoegaze fiction.
The Solitary Twin, Harry Mathews
(March 27, New Directions)
One of the more bittersweet literary themes of 2018 is reading the last works by writers who are no longer with us. That was the case with Denis Johnson’s The Largesse of the Sea Maiden earlier this year; now, it’s also true regarding The Solitary Twin, the final novel from Harry Mathews. As with much of Mathews’s work, it explores questions of perception–in this case, exploring two twins who may or may not be one person.
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