Books To Watch Out For — September 2017
New season, new book-wardrobe. Looking for the right book to fall into? We’ve been raking— here are some new books blowing us away…
1. I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well, by James Allen Hall.
It’s always special to watch poets take on nonfiction. James Allen Hall’s literary essays about growing up queer in Florida are honest and porous, perseverant and empathetic. “I tell too many stories at once. This, too, is a violence. But I want to tell you everything, I want you to love me for it, and I want you to forgive me after I say everything you asked me not to say.” Chris Kraus selected Hall’s book as the winner of CSU Poetry Center’s Essay Collection Competition.
2. Tunsiya/Amrikiya, by Leila Chatti
We all envy Tunisian-American poet Leila Chatti. Still in her twenties, she has already been lauded with prestigious fellowships and prizes from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative Magazine’s 30 Below Contest and the Academy of American Poets. Her chapbook is also a winner — of the 2017 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Pre-order today from Bull City Press. Then, while you wait in anticipation, check out this amazing interview with Storgy, in which Chatti explains how “poems felt like little prayers.”
3. Meanwhile, Elsewhere, edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett
Meanwhile, Elsewhere is the first anthology of speculative fiction for and by trans writers. As Plenitude’s review points out, trans characters elsewhere are still too often “portrayed in mythic ways; to change genders seems like speculative fiction in and of itself. So when trans characters show up in fantasy, sci-fi, or horror stories, they still seem like a fantasy within a fantasy.” Meanwhile, fortunately, editors Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett have put together an earth-shaking anthology that remedies this cis alt-history, making space for trans world-building. Featuring stories by Ryka Aoki, Trish Salah, Imogen Binnie, Sybil Lamb, and more!
Earthlings, this “pulpware post-reality generation device” has finally arrived from Topside Press, and it’s ready to transport you away.
4. Red, Yellow, Green by Alejandro Saravia
Translated from Spanish by Maria José Giménez, Red, Yellow, Green tells the story of a traumatized Bolivian soldier and a Kurdish freedom fighter, in what the Montreal Review of Books describes as a “labyrinthine narrative that lodges like shrapnel — bracing and painful.” Forthcoming from Biblioasis International Translation Series.
5. Too Much and Not the Mood, by Durga Chew-Bose
Durga Chew-Bose’s perceptive eyes catch the marvel of quotidian small moments you could never quite pin down. “I’ve felt infinity too, late in my twenties, when I discovered a word in English I’d only ever known in Bengali. Or when I spot, with hours still left in the day, the moon’s hazy thumbprint. How the moon enjoys debunking the day. ” Her incredibly lyric prose takes its time, leaning into excess and contradiction— saturating us with heartbreak and wonder.
Farras, Straus, and Giroux invite us to look closer.
6. As Though The Wound Had Heard, by Mara Pastor
Puerto Rican poet Mara Pastor’s collection, also translated by María José Giménez, finds unexpected comedy and sensuality in wounds. “Broken things have happened / as though luck were a mistake / that falls on top of your head. / I’m not speaking of accidents.” Mónica de la Torre sings praises: “Giménez’s translations capture the quirks of Pastor’s playful sensibility, and what ensues is buoyancy.” Out now from Cardboard House Press.
7. Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation, edited by H. Melt
H. Melt has assembled a gorgeous, unapologetic anthology of poetry by trans writers Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Christopher Soto, beyza ozer, Cameron Awkward-Rich, and Kay Ulanday Barrett. It also features interviews — testifying to the beauty of relationality and community among trans artists. Juan Herrera calls it “an at-the-edge howl of love for love. Each poet goes beyond poetry, that is, beyond being the gendered & genre-ed. Each writer calls out a manifesto against death, against ‘being pulled apart,’ against frozen progressive social movements and the ‘homelessness’ of being.”
This one’s still in its pre-order phase (from Sibling Rivalry Press), but we can’t wait for November to come.
8. Calamities, by Renee Gladman
Renee Gladman gifts us with luminous dream-like prose-poetry, cataloguing the body of the writer in her motions. A paean to process, its rhythms and toils: “I began, ‘I began the day staring into the face of the question of narrative — was anybody still interested in it, and, if so why?’ It was a simple question to ask but had taken me eight days to write — you’d think it impossible to construct a sentence two words at a time, writing two words then taking the rest of the day off then on the next day writing two more words, maintaining the thread the whole time, until finally, on the eight day, you had it, the sentence, but this sometimes happened when you were writing about narrative inside of narrative.”
Brought to you by Wave Books.
9. Bruising Continents, by Claudia Savage
Claudia Savage, of the performance duo Thick in the Throat, spills eros like river water in this throbbing poetry collection. “And when the stars gathered seductive. Light cold. / We were only connected by dreaming.” A landscape of bodies and their hurts; their tectonic collisions. Let Jayne Keane’s endorsement come as a warning: “This book will break your heart, your bones and your spine with awe through its metabolism of light and language.”
Spawned by Spuyten Duyvil.
10. Dear Cyborgs, by Eugene Lim
Lim traces the friendship of two friends, outsiders enamored of comic books. “We were the only Asian boys in our grade (and except for Julie Chen, we were the only Asian kids in the entire county), and this fact, along with a few others, brought us together. We bonded particularly over comic books, and our favorite was an ‘adult’ title called MunQu, which the proprietor of the mildewy ciimc-book store sold us with an attitude of acknowledged but silent conspiracy.”
Forget what you think you know about novel conventions — this meta, anti-capitalist sci-fi novel gleefully defies expectations with mind-boggling games, reversals, and stories-within-stories-within-stories. Shuttled from another planet by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for your reading pleasure.
Ready to get reading? We’ll leave you to it.
Noah Fields is Assistant Blog Editor at Anomaly.
Sarah Clark is Assistant Poetry Editor and Features & Reviews Editor at Anomaly.