Snow’s on the ground, the winds are chilly, and the holiday season looms. December can be an unexpected month for new books. But there are a host of gems due out in the coming weeks, including a number of great works in translation, some boldly inscribed poetry, and new and unpredictable novels from some of our favorite writers. Here are some December books that caught our eye.
Alejandra Pizarnik, A Tradition of Rupture; translated by Cole Heinowitz
(Dec. 1, Ugly Duckling Presse)
Last year, an article in The Paris Review explored the far-too-brief life of Alejandra Pizarnik. “She was obsessed with the in-between, with the lyrical subject between cultures and between languages; she explored both sides of the mirror,” wrote Patricio Ferrari. This year brings with it a number of English translations of Pizarnik’s works, including A Tradition of Rupture, a collection of her nonfiction.
Katie Jean Shinkle, Rat Queen
(Dec. 1, Bloof Books)
In her review of Katie Jean Shinkle’s recent novella Ruination, Connie Mae Oliver praised “its channeling of contemporary psychic horrors and its candid treatment of potential societal fallout, as it documents the perennial violence stamped on the bodies of women and girls.” Now, Shinkle has returned with a new chapbook of poetry, Rat Queen, which finds her exploring a host of haunting themes across verse.
Lars Iyer, Nietzsche and the Burbs
(Dec. 3, Melville House)
Punk rock and philosophy coincide in the latest novel from Lars Iyer, which follows a Nietzsche-inspired teenager who joins a band. Do you like smart observations about class and coming of age? How about some metal in the mix? Well then — welcome to the world of Nietzsche and the Burbs.
Jeff VanderMeer, Dead Astronauts
(Dec. 3, MCDxFSG)
Jeff VanderMeer is no stranger to surreal fictional cities, where the boundaries of reality grow thin. His latest novel, Dead Astronauts, returns readers to the world of his earlier novel Borne. These two books share a setting but are largely unconnected otherwise; instead, VanderMeer focuses on other aspects of this haunted world, and their unsettling thematic implications.
Kareem Rahma, We Were Promised Flying Cars
(Dec. 10, Pioneer Works Books)
Futuristic haiku collide with 19th-century illustrations in this collection of poetry from Kareem Rahma. In a recent interview about the book, Rahma discussed using the haiku form: “Haiku, with its strict parameters, provides a necessary creative limitation in order to wrestle with the infinite possibilities the future holds. The haiku is established, the future is not.” We’re intrigued.
Laszlo Krasznahorkai, The Last Wolf & Herman, translated by John Batki and George Szirtes
(Dec. 17, New Directions)
Newly-minted National Book Award winner László Krasznahorkai has a new book due out — more precisely, he has a new book out collecting two novellas, which span his long and impressive career. Before you embark on a foray into his trademark prose, these shorter works may help usher you into Krasznahorkai’s distinctive fiction.
Gary Lutz, The Complete Gary Lutz
(Dec. 17, Tyrant Books)
It’s a mammoth anthology of Gary Lutz’s short fiction. We’re pretty confident that that description alone will tell you if your interest is piqued by this one.
Robert Musil, Agathe, or, The Forgotten Sister; translated by Joel Agee
(Dec. 17, NYRB Classics)
This novel is taken from the second part of Musil’s landmark uncompleted novel The Man Without Qualities. “As a new approach to Musil’s masterpiece, it shouldn’t be read in place of the original text, but it does make for an interesting curio,” writes Publishers Weekly in their review. For fans of Musil’s work, this should be a fascinating addition to his canon.
Bogdan Rusev, Come to Me; translated by Ekaterina Petrova
(Dec. 17, Dalkey Archive Press)
In the 1990s, eastern Europe was in a state of flux. The Soviet Union had fallen, the nations once under its influence were experiencing newfound freedom, and everything familiar had been turned on its head. It’s in this period that Bogdan Rusev’s Come to Me is set, exploring a group of young characters seeking to find their way in this new world.
Zac Smith, 50 Barn Poems
(Dec. 17, CLASH Books)
Frequent Vol.1 Brooklyn contributor Zac Smith has a new book out in the world, and — as you may have gleaned from the title — it consists of poems about barns. Fifty of them, to be exact. You can see the ad for it now: “Hey, there’s barn in my poetry!” “Hey, there’s poetry in my barn!” The mind boggles.
Todd Dills, Shining Man
(Dec. 30, Livingston Press)
Todd Dills’s long-awaited second novel brings together a host of seemingly disparate elements: NASCAR, the literary legacy of Ralph Ellison, performance art, and the city of Chicago among them. Throw in some utterly ecstatic prose, a number of memorable characters, and sharp observations about family, class, and subcultures and you have a thoroughly compelling read.
Note: All cover art and release dates are subject to change.