Category Archives: What We’re Reading

What to Read in February

A Separation by Katie Kitamura: “A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it’s time for them to separate. For the moment it’s a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go look for him, still keeping their split to herself.”

Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay: “Building on the already extraordinary legacy of McKay’s life and work, this colorful, dramatic novel centers on the efforts by Harlem intelligentsia to organize support for the liberation of fascist-controlled Ethiopia, a crucial but largely forgotten event in American history.”

Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson: “When the Twin Towers suddenly reappear in the Badlands of South Dakota twenty years after their fall, nobody can explain their return. A chronicle of a weird road trip, a provocative work of alternative history, and a dazzling discography of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Shadowbahn is a richly allusive meditation on the meaning of American identity and of America itself.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, author of Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age, and review Ottessa Moshfegh’s new story collection, Homesick for Another World.

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What to Read in January

Savage Theories by Pola Oloixarac (translated by Roy Kesey): “Rosa Ostreech carries around a trilingual edition of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, struggles with her thesis on violence and culture, sleeps with a bourgeois former guerrilla, and pursues her elderly professor with a highly charged blend of eroticism and desperation. Savage Theories wryly explores fear and violence, war and sex, eroticism and philosophy.”

Enigma Variations by André Aciman: “Whether the setting is southern Italy, where as a boy he has a crush on his parents’ cabinetmaker, or a snowbound campus in New England, where his enduring passion for a girl he’ll meet again and again over the years is punctuated by anonymous encounters with men; whether he’s on a tennis court in Central Park, or on a New York sidewalk in early spring, [Paul’s] attachments are ungraspable, transient, and forever underwritten by raw desire.”

Transit by Rachel Cusk: “Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed novel Outline and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility, and the mystery of change.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Eula Biss (!), review The Warren by Brian Evenson, and introduce you to the next novel we’re publishing…

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What We’re Reading – November 2016

swing-time-zadie-smith

Swing Time by Zadie Smith: “Two brown girls dream of being dancers–but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…”

memoirs-of-a-polar-bear

Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada: “Three generations (grandmother, mother, son) of polar bears are famous as both circus performers and writers in East Germany: they are polar bears who move in human society, stars of the ring and of the literary world. Happy or sad, each bear writes a story, enjoying both celebrity and ‘the intimacy of being alone with my pen.’”

moonglow-michael-chabon

Moonglow by Michael Chabon:Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as ‘my grandfather.’ It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of keeping secrets and telling lies.”

Also this month: We’ll review Loner by Teddy Wayne, interview Elizabeth Greenwood, author of Playing Dead, and launch a new column (!) devoted to literature in translation.

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What We’re Reading – October 2016

future-sex

Future Sex by Emily Witt: “In Future Sex, Witt explores internet dating, internet pornography, polyamory, and other avant-garde sexual subcultures as sites of possibility. She observes her encounters with these scenes with a wry sense of humor, capturing them in all their strangeness, ridiculousness, and beauty. The result is an open-minded, honest account of the contemporary pursuit of connection and pleasure, and an inspiring new model of female sexuality–open, forgiving, and unafraid.”

33-revolutions

33 Revolutions by Canek Sánchez Guevara: “The hero of this mordant portrayal of life in contemporary Cuba is a black Cuban whose parents were enthusiastic supporters of the Castro Revolution. Every night he suffers from Kafkaesque nightmares in which he is arrested and tried for unknown crimes. His disappointment and delusion grow until a day comes when he declares his unwillingness to become an informer, and his real troubles begin.”

him-me-muhammad-ali

Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar: “Award-winning novelist Randa Jarrar’s new story collection moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present, capturing the lives of Muslim women and men across myriad geographies and circumstances. With acerbic wit, deep tenderness, and boundless imagination, Jarrar brings to life a memorable cast of characters, many of them “accidental transients”—a term for migratory birds who have gone astray—seeking their circuitous routes back home.”

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What We’re Reading – September 2016

Eve Out of Her Ruins - Ananda Devi

Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi: “With brutal honesty and poetic urgency, Ananda Devi relates the tale of four young Mauritians trapped in their country’s endless cycle of fear and violence. Eve out of Her Ruins is a heartbreaking look at the dark corners of the island nation of Mauritius that tourists never see, and a poignant exploration of the construction of personhood at the margins of society.”

The Fortunes - Peter Ho Davies

The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies: “Sly, funny, intelligent, and artfully structured, The Fortunes recasts American history through the lives of Chinese Americans and reimagines the multigenerational novel through the fractures of immigrant family experience.”

We Eat Our Own - Kea Wilson

We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson: “When a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York gets the call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon, he doesn’t hesitate: he flies to South America, no questions asked. Inspired by a true story from the annals of 1970s Italian horror film, and told in dazzlingly precise prose,We Eat Our Own is a resounding literary debut, a thrilling journey behind the scenes of a shocking film and a thoughtful commentary on violence and its repercussions.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Virgie Tovar and talk about The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs, Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein.

And we’ll announce the novel that Fiction Advocate will be releasing soon…

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What We’re Reading – August 2016

The Fire This Time

The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward: “National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.”

The Field of the Cloth of Gold

The Field of the Cloth of Gold by Magnus Mills: “Magnus Mills’s new novel takes its name from the site of a 1520 meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France, to improve relations between the countries as the Treaty of London deteriorated. It allegorically suggests a number of historical encounters on British soil: the coming of the Vikings, the coming of the Romans. But The Field of the Cloth of Gold sits firmly outside of time, a skillful and surreal fable dealing with ideas of ownership, empire, immigration, charisma, diplomacy, and bureaucracy.”

How-I-Became-a-North-Korean-by-Krys-Lee-on-BookDragon-via-LJ

How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee: “Yongju is an accomplished student from one of North Korea’s most prominent families. Jangmi, on the other hand, has had to fend for herself since childhood, most recently by smuggling goods across the border. Then there is Danny, a Chinese-American teenager whose quirks and precocious intelligence have long made him an outcast in his California high school. These three disparate lives converge when they flee their homes, finding themselves in a small Chinese town just across the river from North Korea.”

Also this month: We’ll talk about Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe, Bad Faith by Theodore Wheeler, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control by Franz Nicolay, and Girl & Flame by Melissa Reddish.

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