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Margaret Atwood! Anne Carson! Robot writers! 24 new books out today.


Gabrielle Bellot

February 6, 2024, 4:51am

If you, like me, are quietly bemused by the fact that February is already here, I do have one semi-antidote, or, rather, twenty-four: new books to start the new month with. And rest assured, there are some fantastic (and fantastical) ones to consider, including a collaborative pandemic novel co-written (in secret, no less) by Margaret Atwood, Douglas Preston, and the literary cognoscenti of the Authors Guild; a generation-spanning collection from Anne Carson featuring images by Carson herself; steamy letters from the White House; a decolonizing memoir from a disabled, non-binary, Black perspective by Shayla Lawson; a level-headed, discussion-worthy take on artificial intelligence and literature from Dennis Yi Tenen; deceptively explosive poetry from Michael Dickman; and much, much more.

With such riches to choose from, it’s almost easy to forget that 2024 is rushing along—and, if rush it must, why not ride the tide with some new literature by your side? I know I will (minus any literal tides, one hopes). Check out the twenty-four new tomes below.

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Fourteen Days: A Collaborative Novel - Atwood, Margaret

Margaret Atwood, Douglas Preston, The Authors Guild, Fourteen Days: A Collaborative Novel
(Harper)

[T]the storytellers are splendidly diverse in race, age, gender, ethnicity, and calling….Putting a bold new twist on the plague novel, this bountiful, unpredictable, witty, and affecting tale-of-tales is made all the more intriguing by the fact that it’s a collaboration by thirty-six exceptional North American writers….This enthralling novel of many voices and moods dramatizes the transformation of isolation into community via stories and explores a grand spectrum of human experiences.”
Booklist

Wrong Norma - Carson, Anne

Anne Carson, Wrong Norma
(New Directions Publishing)

“In Wrong Norma, Carson uses all the forms she has made her own in her decades-long career as poet, translator, classicist, creator of genre-bending and genre-defying short prose, and visual artist….Carson has her inimitable way with words: ‘Washington’s eyes flapped open like a soul on a clothesline.”
Booklist

Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart: And Other Stories - Nethercott, Gennarose

Gennarose Nethercott, Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart and Other Stories
(Vintage)

“Real magic, real delight, doled out generously in the shape of wistful, ferocious, this-world-but-better stories.”
–Kelly Link

Get the Picture: A Mind-Bending Journey Among the Inspired Artists and Obsessive Art Fiends Who Taught Me How to See - Bosker, Bianca

Bianca Bosker, Get the Picture: A Mind-Bending Journey Among the Inspired Artists and Obsessive Art Fiends Who Taught Me How to See
(Viking)

“In Get the Picture—curious but not naïve, gossipy but generous, critical but admiring, hilarious but profound—Bosker probes the human thirst for art, examines the addictive high it gives, and rescues the unfashionable idea of beauty, of the pleasure of creation, from the theorists and the marketeers. This book is sheer pleasure: the best book I’ve ever read about contemporary art.”
–Benjamin Moser

Dinner on Monster Island: Essays - de Rozario, Tania

Tania de Rozario, Dinner on Monster Island: Essays
(Harper Perennial)

“In Dinner on Monster Island, Tania De Rozario brilliantly exorcises the demons of her upbringing—an evangelical mother, homophobic policies and culturally pervasive fatphobia—using horror films as an outlet and metaphor for her estrangement. As a writer, De Rozario is searing, stirring, and soaring.”
–Kevin Chong

How to Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir - Lawson, Shayla

Shayla Lawson, How to Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir
(Tiny Reparations Books)

“A nonbinary, disabled, Black writer describes how travel has informed their journey to liberation….Packed with lyrical lines, genuine insight, and ebullient confessions, Lawson’s latest nonfiction book sparkles with vulnerability, sincerity, and poetry….Lawson is a gifted chronicler not only of their own personal revolution, but also of the power structures that affect their place in the world. A stunning essay collection about travel, mortality, and liberation.”
Kirkus Reviews

Pacific Power & Light: Poems - Dickman, Michael

Michael Dickman, Pacific Power & Light: Poems
(Knopf)

“Michael Dickman’s Pacific Power & Light possesses a cumulative effect where small, fragmented moments culminate. The title works on the reader’s psyche as a subplot; yes, we remember what happened in Paradise and Dixie. The poet names seemingly routine moments of everyday lives, but the astute reader knows these collective details linger in the heart of America. The poet’s imagistic symbols and emblems create a postmodern intrigue….Pacific Power & Light‘s knowing ellipses color a fiery backdrop.”
–Yusuf Komunyakaa

Redwood Court: Fiction - Dameron, Délana R. a.

DéLana R. Dameron, Redwood Court
(Dial Press)

“Poet Dameron (How God Ends Us) makes her fiction debut with a gratifying collection about a Black family in South Carolina….Even amid heartache and turmoil, this brims with joy.”
Publishers Weekly

Alphabetical Diaries - Heti, Sheila

Sheila Heti, Alphabetical Diaries
(FSG)

“[E]very sentence…read[s] like a profound truth, only to have the next sentence complicate it. The emotive nature of Heti’s precise language takes center stage….A thought-provoking experiment in self-reflection and prose, Alphabetical Diaries is perhaps Sheila Heti’s most intimate and most universal book yet.”
Shelf Awareness

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Zhang Ling, Aftershock (trans. Shelley Bryant)
(Amazon Crossing)

“When an earthquake devastates Tangshan, China, in 1976, a woman finds herself in every mother’s nightmare: only one of her children can be rescued from the rubble, and she must choose….Translated from Chinese, award-winning author Zhang’s latest book traces the fractures of…past and present, weaving in vignettes…to craft a multigenerational saga. This beautiful, quietly profound story examines the resilience and fragility of humans in the face of disaster.”
Booklist

Why We Read: On Bookworms, Libraries, and Just One More Page Before Lights Out (Original) - Reed, Shannon

Shannon Reed, Why We Read: On Bookworms, Libraries, and Just One More Page Before Lights Out
(Hanover Square Press)

Why We Read is a rare thing–a joy on its own, as well as potent inspiration to revisit the formative books from your own reading journey. Shannon Reed’s warm, authentic voice in these invigorating essays invites us into her literary universe while at the same time encouraging us to expand our own. I cannot wait to gift this marvelous book to all the readers in my life.”
–Caitlin Kunkel

Literary Theory for Robots: How Computers Learned to Write - Tenen, Dennis Yi

Dennis Yi Tenen, Literary Theory for Robots: How Computers Learned to Write
(Norton)

Literary Theory for Robots serves as an alternative to the breathless utopian or apocalyptic hallucinations of the tech bros funding the AI revolution, instead offering a highly relatable perspective…grounded in history, literature, and lived human experience. Tenen shows that…the future of our digital augmentation depends not on more STEM but on more liberal arts. This book will be remembered as the moment thinking people realized how to raise better robots: read them good stories.”
–Douglas Rushkoff

Radical Reparations: Healing the Soul of a Nation - Hunter, Marcus

Marcus Anthony Hunter, Radical Reparations: Healing the Soul of a Nation
(Amistad Press)

“Inspired by the work of W.E.B. DuBois, Derrick Bell, and Octavia Butler, sociologist Hunter (Chocolate Cities) offers an imaginative and exhilarating vision of slavery….Evocatively portraying the unresolved damage that slavery, racism, and displacement have on the descendants of those who first experience it, Hunter’s uncanny parables refract the violent contours of today’s world. Readers will be spellbound.”
Publishers Weekly

Greta & Valdin - Reilly, Rebecca K.

Rebecca K Reilly, Greta & Valdin
(Avid Reader Press)

“Heartwarmingly tender and raucously funny, with the sophistication of a Shakespearean comedy, Greta & Valdin is replete with swoonworthy queer romance, hilariously eccentric sibling hijinks and mature reckoning with the complexities of family heritage. A deliciously perfectly bittersweet delight.”
–Leon Craig

Dixon, Descending - Outen, Karen

Karen Outen, Dixon, Descending
(Dutton)

“Dixon, Descending reaches the heights with the story of brothers Nate and Dixon, who choose an adventure that ends in disaster and breaks your heart with the aftermath for one of them. With her powerful tale of two Black men going where Black men rarely go, Outen asks the reader to leave their assumptions down at base camp and climb with her. This book will hurt you, move you and make you glad you joined the journey.”
–Martha Southgate

Empty Spaces - Abel, Jordan

Jordan Abel, Empty Spaces
(Yale University Press)

“Throughout Empty Spaces, [Abel] examines settler colonial ideas of land and how Indigenous peoples resist them through their story and their existence. Empty Spaces is a reimagining of James Fenimore Cooper’s book The Last of the Mohicans from a modern urban perspective. Abel explores what it means to be Indigenous without access to familial territory and complicates popular understandings about Indigenous storytelling.”
CBC Books

Are You Prepared for the Storm of Love Making?: Letters of Love and Lust from the White House - Hoobler, Dorothy

Dorothy Hoobler, Thomas Hoobler, Are You Prepared for the Storm of Love Making?: Letters of Love and Lust from the White House
(Simon & Schuster)

“By tradition, presidents are expected to have fewer amorous distractions than the rest of us. But this high-spirited and richly sourced chronicle of White House heat—erudite yet irresistibly readable—peels back the curtains of the Residence, while ripping open surprisingly adult items in the Oval Office outbox, to reveal that the grand and glorious People’s House where Lincoln walks at night has always been and still remains home to people no less…infatuated…than you or I.”
–David Michaelis

Black Lives Under Nazism: Making History Visible in Literature and Art - Casteel, Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips Casteel, Black Lives Under Nazism: Making History Visible in Literature and Art
(Columbia University Press)

“The experience of people of African descent in the Third Reich has been hauntingly absent in the public imagination of the Holocaust. With her penetrating and sophisticated study, Sarah Casteel illuminates the lived histories of Black victims and survivors of the Nazi regime, thereby expanding the canon of Holocaust representation.”
–Erin McGlothlin

If Love Could Kill: The Myths and Truths of Women Who Commit Violence - Motz, Anna

Anna Motz, If Love Could Kill: The Myths and Truths of Women Who Commit Violence
(Knopf)

“Motz neither shies away from nor sensationalizes the grim, often shocking elements of her patients’ crimes. Instead, she carefully accounts for the psychological and social forces that can drive women to violence, and in the process builds a robust case for mitigating such behavior by raising awareness of those forces and increasing support for women in and out of the justice system. This challenges and enlightens.”
Publishers Weekly

Fall Through - Powell, Nate

Nate Powell, Fall Through
(Abram Comicarts)

“This paean to 1990s DIY punk from National Book Award winner Powell…puts a paranormal twist on…life in a band. Arkansas-based quartet Diamond Mine summon thunderous power from their vocalist Diana’s volatile, shamanistic performances. The shows are electrifying—their sound drawn as lightning bolts striking the stage—but there’s something more at play….With infectious nostalgia for humid basement shows and 3:00 am revelations, Powell revels in the too-brief moments when music makes life vivid.”
Publishers Weekly

The Road from Belhaven - Livesey, Margot

Margot Livesy, The Road from Belhaven
(Knopf)

The Road from Belhaven is a marvel. In this radiantly beautiful novel, Margot Livesey introduces us to Lizzie Craig, an unforgettable nineteenth-century Scottish clairvoyant haunted by her future as much as her past. Livesey has crafted a story as thrilling as it is thoughtful, one animated by life’s fundamental question: how do we change?”
–Anthony Marra

Burma Sahib - Theroux, Paul

Paul Theroux, Burma Sahib
(Mariner Books)

“Paul Theroux knows the cultural and political landscape of Burma. This riveting read provides a fascinating fictional account of Orwell’s police work during the most interesting and least known part of his career, and makes him come alive in the tropical setting.”
–Jeffrey Meyers

Corey Fah Does Social Mobility - Waidner, Isabel

Isabel Waidner, Corey Fah Does Social Mobility

“When Corey Fah is named the winner of the Award for the Fictionalization of Social Evils, they’re a bit nonplussed. The author attended the online prize announcement wearing a T-shirt and joggers, and is sent to…pick up their trophy. They soon find themself eyeing a UFO….This is a deeply funny and unrelentingly bizarre look at the vagaries of literary success, and although Waidner loads it with their trademark absurdity, it’s still grounded by the author’s straight-faced (but lively) prose.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Adversary - Crummey, Michael

Michael Crummey, The Adversary
(Doubleday)

“Spellbinding….Along with a vivid setting and memorable characters, Crummey impresses with his dexterous use of language to convey the time period….This gripping page-turner is Crummey’s masterpiece.”
Publishers Weekly



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