Category Archives: What We’re Reading

What to Read in July

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting: “Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. She’s just run out on her marriage to Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life. Perceptive and compulsively readable, Made for Love is at once an absurd, raunchy comedy and a dazzling, profound meditation marriage, monogamy, and family.”

Draw Your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles: “Through a dazzling combination of memoir, history, reporting, visual culture, literature, and theology, Sarah Sentilles offers an impassioned defense of life lived by peace and principle. It is a literary collage with an urgent hope at its core: that art might offer tools for remaking the world.”

Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen: “The year is 2015, and twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc. What starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an ‘Occupation’—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Scaachi Koul, review the movie Fish Tank, and hear from Omar Robert Hamilton about The City Always Wins.

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What to Read in June

The Changeling by Victor LaValle: “When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, are settling into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most.”

Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera: “In the court of the King, everyone knows their place. But as the Artist wins hearts and egos with his ballads, uncomfortable truths emerge that shake the Kingdom to its core. Part surreal fable and part crime romance, this prize-winning novel from Yuri Herrera questions the price of keeping your integrity in a world ruled by patronage and power.”

The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos: “‘Blow up the Acropolis’ was the 1944 call to action by the surrealist circle the Harbingers of Chaos. Sixty years later, a young man obliges. The Parthenon has been destroyed, the city orphaned. Is it still Athens? This provocative tale reveals the unique dilemma of a country still searching for an identity beyond its past as the birthplace of Western civilization.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Mary Mann, we’ll hear from Claire Cameron about The Last Neanderthal, and we’ll review Borne by Jeff VanderMeer.

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What to Read in May

D’arc by Robert Repino: “Far removed from this newly emerging civilization, a housecat turned war hero named Mort(e) lives a quiet life with the love he thought he had lost, a dog named Sheba. But before long, the chaos that they escaped comes crashing in around them. In the twilight of all life on Earth, love survives, but at a cost that only the desperate and the reckless are willing to pay.”

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal: “In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. Rakesh Satyal’s No One Can Pronounce My Name is a distinctive, funny, and insightful look into the lives of people who must reconcile the strictures of their culture and traditions with their own dreams and desires.”

The Leavers by Lisa Ko: “One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.”

Also this month: Fiction Advocate will interview Sarah Dickensen Snyder and talk to Jess Arndt about the release of Large Animals.

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What to Read in April

Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard: “Sarah Gerard follows her breakout novel, Binary Star, with the dynamic essay collection Sunshine State, which explores Florida as a microcosm of the most pressing economic and environmental perils haunting our society.”

Void Star by Zachary Mason: “Not far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying, but it’s still a good time to be rich in San Francisco, where weapons drones patrol the skies to keep out the multitudinous poor.”

Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: “An impassioned cry for a Kenya free of dictatorship and for African writers to work in their own local dialects, Devil on the Cross has had a profound influence on Africa and on post-colonial African literature.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Melissa Febos and Dodai Stewart, and review new books by George Saunders and Durga Chew-Bose.

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What to Read in March

The Idiot by Elif Batuman: “With superlative emotional and intellectual sensitivity, mordant wit, and pitch-perfect style, Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood.”

The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi by Eugene Ostashevsky: A “poem-novel about the relationship between a pirate and a parrot who, after capturing a certain quantity of prizes, are shipwrecked on a deserted island, where they proceed to discuss whether they would have been able to communicate with people indigenous to the island, had there been any.” It “draws on sources as various as early modern texts about pirates and animal intelligence, old-school hip-hop, and game theory to pursue the themes of emigration, incomprehension, untranslatability, and the otherness of others.”

Follow Me Into the Dark by Felicia Sullivan: It “traces the unraveling of a family marred by perverse intergenerational abuse. A complex, dark expression of the deprived heart and the desperate lengths children will go to in order to create family.”

Also at Fiction Advocate this month: We’ll interview MariNaomi, review Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell, and explore a book from 1908 called Autobiography of a Super-Tramp.

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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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