Books of the Month: February 2023 Edition

Recommended February 2023 books

If the quality of books due out this February is any indication, 2023 could be an especially great year for literature. This month’s highly-anticipated (at least by us) new releases include formally inventive work, thrilling tales of obsession, and heartfelt looks at how communities respond to unsettling crises. Here are a few of the books we’re most excited about this month.

"Chrome Valley" cover

Mahogany L. Browne, Chrome Valley
(Feb. 7, Liveright)

In an interview last year, Mahogany L. Browne said that this collection is “about how we nurture the violence within the small bodies of our young, and what happens when they study the remains of an untenable, adult-ified childhood.” Browne also has the distinction of being Lincoln Center’s first poet-in-residence. We’re intrigued by what this collection has in store.

"VenCo" cover

Cherie Dimaline, VenCo
(Feb. 7, William Morrow)

Where do you go after you’ve told a story abounding with uncanny systems of control and unsettling transformations? If you’re Cherie Dimaline, you combine witchcraft, Indigenous history, and a tale of corporate power into a truly singular novel. Plus: there are magical spoons in the mix.

"Our Share of Night" cover

Mariana Enriquez, Our Share of Night; translated by Megan McDowell
(Feb. 7, Hogarth)

Mariana Enriquez’s novel Our Share of Night combines a host of disparate elements into a compelling whole. It’s a story of supernatural societies and bizarre horrors — but it’s also a book that carefully juxtaposes those elements with horrific elements that are much more historical in nature. It’s a novel that has ambitious goals on its mind, and makes the most of them.

"Fear the Reaper" cover

Stephen Graham Jones, Don’t Fear the Reaper
(Feb. 7, Saga Press)

This month, Stephen Graham Jones follows up his acclaimed My Heart is a Chainsaw with a return to the same setting — and another heady, uncanny dose of horror and terrifying moments in history. Jones knows his genre conventions inside and out, but is also prodigiously skilled in taking narratives in unexpected directions, and we’re intrigued by what he has in store for readers here.

"In the Belly of the Congo" cover

Blaise Ndala, In the Belly of the Congo; translated by Amy B. Reid)
(Feb. 7, Other Press)

Set across two timeframes separated by almost half a century, Blaise Ndala’s In the Belly of the Congo reckons with the legacy of Belgian colonialism and its impact on the residents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ndala’s books have won a host of awards over the years; this marks Anglophone readers’ first opportunity to read him in English.

"Sterling Karat Gold" cover

Isabel Waidner, Sterling Karat Gold
(Feb. 7, Graywolf Press)

Isabel Waidner’s Sterling Karat Gold is a complex, at times delirious novel that wrestles with questions of trauma and violence in thoroughly unexpected ways. But don’t take our word for it — this Review31 piece notes that Waidner’s bibliography “exists in a near-constant state of flux between the lucid and the conceptual, while simultaneously raising urgent points about the much less delirious world in which it’s been published.” It’s great to see this book getting a release in the U.S.

"Maroons" cover

adrienne maree brown, Maroons
(Feb. 14, AK Press)

We were wholly impressed with adrienne maree brown’s Grievers upon its release, especially the way that it described a thoroughly unconventional apocalypse. Now brown has returned to that world with a sequel, Maroons, and we’re wholeheartedly on board.

"Promises of Gold" cover

José Olivarez, Promises of Gold; translated by David Ruano
(Feb. 14, Henry Holt)

We’re big admirers of José Olivarez’s 2018 collection Citizen Illegal around these parts, which makes us very excited to read his followup, Promises of Gold. This new volume finds Olivarez reckoning with one of the most time-honored themes for a poet to address: love.

"Sing, Nightingale" cover

Marie Hélène Poitras, Sing, Nightingale; translated by Rhonda Mullins
(Feb. 14, Coach House Books)

You had us at “Peter Greenaway meets Angela Carter,” Coach House Books.

"Divine Days" cover

Leon Forrest, Divine Days
(Feb. 15, Seminary Offsets)

When it was first released, Publishers Weekly called Divine Days “dazzling, dizzying, demanding and highly recommended.” This massive novel explores a week in the life of a playwright in 1966, and utilizes a host of formal innovations to represent the kaleidoscopic aspects of his world. It’s a novel acclaimed by the likes of Henry Louis Gates Jr., and now it’s back in print.

"The Writing Retreat" cover

Julia Bartz, The Writing Retreat
(Feb. 21, Atria Books)

What happens when the competitive elements of writing groups takes a turn into the actively malevolent? That’s the central question of Julia Bartz’s new novel, which places a group of writers in an isolated space and ratchets up the tension — all as nightmarish winter weather looms in the background.

"Empty Theater" cover

Jac Jemc, Empty Theatre: A Novel: or The Lives of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Sisi of Austria (Queen of Hungary), Cousins, in Their Pursuit of Connection and Beauty…
(Feb. 21, MCD)

To date, Jac Jemc’s fiction has been precise, memorably ambiguous, and thoroughly haunting. Now, she’s going full-on maximalist with this journey back into history, focusing on two royal cousins known best for their historical legacies. This book takes an uncharted path towards revisiting the past, upending expectations along the way.


Note: all cover art and release dates are subject to change.

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