Here are 10 books that will give you something to look forward to this month!
Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin (available November 6)
If you were one of the many people who fell in love with the late Lucia Berlin via her 2015 story collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women, prepare to fall in love all over again with this new collection of stories, 22 works selected from her unpublished material, each the cunning, beautiful creation of a genius of the form. And if reading this leaves you aching for more Berlin? Don't worry, you can also buy Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs and Letters, a companion piece of sorts to Berlin's fiction. This book is a collection of autobiographical pieces that reflect Berlin's singularly peripatetic life, encompassing locations ranging from Alaska to Mexico to Chile to Kentucky. As is the case with her fiction, Berlin's pieces here are as faceted as the brightest diamond, but rather than blind you, they just encourage you to examine them even more closely, so you get lost in their depths.
The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim (available November 6)
That this stunning novel is based on a true story makes its plot all the more heartrending: It's 1948, and Calvin and Najin Cho are leaving Korea with their young daughter, Miran, in order to go to the United States, where they hope to find new economic opportunities. For the time being, they leave behind their infant daughter, Inja, sure that she will be better off in the relative stability of their family in Korea, rather than facing the difficulties of building a new life in America. This type of familial separation is a common one for immigrant families, who make untold numbers of sacrifices in their efforts to create a brighter future. For the Cho family, this sacrifice was more than they'd bargained for when the advent of the Korean War means they can't be easily reunited with Inja, who grows up in war-torn poverty in South Korea, while Miran grows up in prosperity in America. Kim tells this story through the perspectives of both sisters, and deftly reveals the toll that war wreaks on individual lives. And yet, for all the devastation, there still remains the possibility for hope and redemption, and the ability to transcend the boundaries imposed by geopolitical nightmares, and make connections anew with the people with whom you share a common history.
The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem (available November 6)
Returning to detective fiction for the first time since Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem is in rare form in his latest, the acerbically funny, consistently twisted, truly original, and defiantly Californian The Feral Detective. Following the unlikely duo of Phoebe Siegler and Charles Heist (yes, the names are quite Pynchon-esque) as they go in search of Phoebe's friend's missing daughter, the narrative takes us into the desert and off the grid, lending a distinctly surreal quality, a bizarre version of reality to this truly unforgettable story.
Northwood: A Novella by Maryse Meijer (available November 6)
What hurts more than intimacy? And what, other than intimacy, has the power to heal the wounds it has itself already made? In Northwood, Maryse Meijer artfully explores themes of pain, desire, and the meeting place of the two, for a surreal, fairytale-esque accounting of what happens when we go to the darkest places within ourselves, and within others.
The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya (available November 6)
The English debut of Japanese author Yukiko Motoya, The Lonesome Bodybuilderis an often surreal, at times disturbing, and reliably twisted look at the hidden sides of our everyday lives. By peeking behind the closed doors of our mundane existences, Motoya offers up truly unsettling looks at the things people are capable of doing. It is a particular, strange pleasure to read these stories for the first time; everyone should relish getting that opportunity.
Those Who Knew by Idra Novey (available November 6)
In this provocative, beautifully written novel, Idra Novey explores timely issues—the cost of speaking up versus the cost of staying silent—with an insight and clarity that are altogether timeless. Those Who Knew is set in a divided political world, a difficult to navigate place in which people must decide what is more important: surviving or being able to live with yourself when you know what price your freedom cost.
Insomnia by Marina Benjamin (available November 13)
Do you know anyone who gets a reliably good night's sleep anymore? I certainly don't. Restlessness feels on the rise, and so perhaps that's why this elegant meditation on the effects of insomnia and the meaning of sleep feels like such a balm to read right now. Benjamin—who, of course, also struggles with sleeplessness—recounts her history of insomnia, but also puts it into a larger cultural context, making clear the ways in which the sleepless woman has long been used in literature as a protector of sorts, a vigilant feminist paragon, whose wakefulness was the only way to guarantee her own safety. It is the perfect book to page through on those nights when your eyes refuse to close and night holds you captive to its charms. Insomnia won't put you to sleep, but maybe that's okay. Maybe that's something to rejoice in, that time when it's just you, and the dark, and the stars.
Part of It by Ariel Schrag (available November 13)
Do you ever read a book and love it so much and desperately wish it had been around for you at other times in your life? Times when you felt like nobody understood what it was you were going through? Times when you just felt so alone? Well, this is one of those books. In Part of It, Ariel Schrag documents different points in her life, dating from childhood and up through her early 20s, when she grappled with the concept of connection, what it means to be a part of something, how that can feel liberating and isolating all at once. Part of It is consistently hilarious, but Schrag never shies away from uncomfortable memories, those times that are truly cringe-worthy upon reflection, and are therefore all the more important to revisit and understand. This is a perfect coming-of-age book—smart and honest and unafraid of visiting the points in our lives when we didn't yet know who we wanted to be, or who we already were.
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (available November 20)
This riveting, brutally hilarious, ultra-dark novel is an explosive debut by Oyinkan Braithwaite, and heralds an exciting new literary voice. It centers around two sisters, the beautiful, murderous Ayoola and the dutiful, loyal Korede, who has cleaned up after her sister's, um, "missing" boyfriends on more than one occasion. It's a delicious tale of twisted loyalties and the cost of keeping secrets, even for those we love.
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose (available November 27)
In 2010, artist Marina Abramović staged a now-iconic piece of performance art at New York City's Museum of Modern Art called "The Artist Is Present," in which she spent hours and hours every day sitting at a table silently, as people lined up to spend time sitting across from her. Many MoMA patrons went to the exhibit day after day, wanting to be a part of this profoundly moving work, knowing that it was only through continued presence that it could be fully comprehended. In Heather Rose's novel, one of those attendees is Arky Levin, a composer whose wife has left him and who finds himself adrift in the world. Through his time in the presence of Abramović, Levin starts to find meaning in the world again, and Rose uses Levin to explore the profound ways in which art impacts life, grapples with questions about the purpose of art, and reveals the intense ways in which art and love and life intersect, and how that beautiful convergence is at the heart of what it means to be human.
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