A new year, and plenty of new books to go along with it. The works that have us the most excited this month are a wide-ranging bunch, encompassing memoir, uncanny translated fiction, and groundbreaking explorations of the craft of writing. There’s plenty to keep you hooked this month, when it comes to noteworthy books; here’s a look at some of the ones that have us especially intrigued.
Jaya Saxena, Crystal Clear
(Jan. 1, Quirk Books)
What happens when you blend deft observations of crystals with incisive explorations of human emotions? You might end up with something like Jaya Saxena’s Crystal Clear: Reflections on Extraordinary Talismans for Everyday Life. Saxena is the co-author of Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven; with this new book, she returns to the world of practitioners from a bold new angle.
Robert Jones, Jr., The Prophets
(Jan. 5, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
For his debut novel, Robert Jones, Jr. has chosen a haunting subject: the story of two enslaved men whose love for each other offers a respite from everyday horrors, but is threatened by religious dogma. Jones opts for a layered and wide-ranging approach in telling this story, drawing from a wide range of voices and experiences over the course of the novel.
Anna North, Outlawed
(Jan. 5, Bloomsbury)
What’s not to like about a well-written Western that turns some of the genre’s tropes on their head? Such is the case with Anna North’s latest novel Outlawed, which follows a young woman in 1894 who abandons a stable life to become (as the title suggests) an outlaw.
Kevin Barry, That Old Country Music
(Jan. 12, Doubleday)
Kevin Barry’s fiction has ventured into futuristic crime, the inner life of John Lennon, and the moral rot of a life of crime. With his latest collection, That Old Country Music, Barry offers up a host of memorable short stories, showcasing his stylistic and thematic range.
Rich Cohen, Pee Wees
(Jan. 12, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Rich Cohen’s nonfiction often offers memorable forays into the past, whether that’s the history of the Rolling Stones or a chronicle of Cold War power struggles. For his latest book, he opts for an exploration of his own experience with hockey — both playing it himself and his experience as the parent of a youth hockey player.
Bette Howland, W-3
(Jan. 12, Public Space Books)
A Public Space has been working tirelessly to bring the works of Bette Howland back into print. Following the acclaimed collection Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Howland’s memoir W-3 explores her experience with depression and her time spent in a psychiatric ward; a vivid chronicle of harrowing events and how they shaped her path as a writer.
Paraic O’Donnell, The House on Vesper Sands
(Jan. 12, Tin House)
Cold winter nights may call out for a compelling book to curl up with. Paraic O’Donnell’s The House on Vesper Sands might fit that description perfectly — it’s the story of a group of unlikely investigators in 1890s London exploring a series of mysterious disappearances, with disquieting moments and atmospheric settings in abundance.
Kenneth R. Rosen, Troubled
(Jan. 12, Little A)
The title and subtitle of Kenneth R. Rosen’s new book, Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs, give readers a good sense as to what it’s about. Rosen here explores the programs designed to treat young adults struggling with mental health issues, and the ways they’ve come up short — a harrowing work of investigative journalism.
Matthew Salesses, Craft in the Real World
(Jan. 19, Catapult)
Through a series of acclaimed novels and powerful essays, Matthew Salesses has established himself as an eminently knowledgeable source on the art and practice of writing. Craft in the Real World offers a revamped way of thinking of the process of teaching creative writing, with an eye towards the areas where it’s fallen short in the past and looking towards a more inclusive tomorrow.
José Luis Zárate, The Route of Ice and Salt; translated by David Bowles
(Jan. 19, Innsmouth Free Press)
This new edition of José Luis Zárate’s disquieting short novel The Route of Ice and Salt offers a distinctive spin on a classic work of horror fiction. Zárate’s novel takes its cues from Dracula but takes it to a host of very different places — offering readers a revelatory take on a story they thought they knew well.
Avni Doshi, Burnt Sugar
(Jan. 26, The Overlook Press)
Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, Avni Doshi’s novel is about the frayed connection between a mother and a daughter. At the heart of this fraught relationship are questions of their shared past and of the memories both grapple with — an unpredictable exploration of two interwoven lives.
David Leo Rice, A Room in Dodge City Volume 2: The Blut Branson Era
(Jan. 26, Alternating Current Press)
If the first volume of David Leo Rice’s A Room in Dodge City offered a surreal blend of westerns, horror, and science fiction, this new one builds on that foundation but also incorporates a surreal take on the notion of a cult filmmaker. And if you think that “cult filmmaker” can have multiple connotations, well, you’re not wrong. Unsettling, bizarre, and eminently readable.
Note: all release dates and cover artwork are subject to change.
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