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.
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.
Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams: “This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he’s in line to get a shingles vaccination. At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.”
You Are Having a Good Time by Amie Barrodale: “Barrodale’s protagonists drink too much, say the wrong things, want the wrong people. They’re hounded by longings (and sometimes ghosts) to the point where they are forced to confront the illusions they cling to. They’re brought to life in stories that don’t behave as you expect stories to behave. Barrodale’s startlingly funny and original fictions get under your skin and make you reconsider the fragile compromises that underpin our daily lives.”
Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra: “Written in the form of a standardized test, Multiple Choice invites the reader to respond to virtuoso language exercises and short narrative passages through multiple-choice questions that are thought-provoking, usually unanswerable, and often absurd. At once funny, poignant, and political, Multiple Choice is about love and family, authoritarianism and its legacies, and the conviction that, rather than learning to think for ourselves, we are trained to obey and repeat.”
Also this month: We’ll interview Rebecca Traister (author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation), we’ll review Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett, and we’ll hear from Bonnie Nadzam about her new novel, Lions.