Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Books in November!

My monthly list of books I'm excited to see come out this month, sight unseen:

Raja Alem
The Dove's Necklace
November, Viking

I'd try to summarize the publisher's blurb to make you want to read this novel—but really, you should just read this interview instead. It doesn't come out in the U.K. until next year, and getting a copy while I'm home at Christmas is going to be one of my highest priorities, along with eating kosher hot dogs and Cheez-Its. It was one of two winners of the 2011 "Arabic Booker," and you can read a thorough description of the book here.

Laura van den Berg
The Isle of Youth: Stories
November 5th, FSG

Word on the street is that this is a writer to keep your eye on. If you're short on time, you should read this very short story; those who are a little more willing to see a longer piece unfold should read this. And it seems like there will be a novel out in the near future, too, at least from the sounds of this engaging interview with American Short Fiction.

Gottfried Benn, trans. Michael Hofmann
Impromptus: Selected Poems and Some Prose
November 5th, FSG

Obviously the product of a lot of hard work, if you're at all curious about this project, you should read the several poem translations that the Paris Review published in 2011. "Never Lonelier" has haunted me since first reading it, and while I'm sure that "counterhappiness" is a rendition of some German compound, the English seems perfect. Because things translated from German are worth reading even when the translator isn't named Franzen.

Flannery O'Connor
A Prayer Journal
November 12th, FSG

Because the excerpt the New Yorker published was too interesting to not want to read the rest. I like O'Connor at her least oblique, which may entirely miss what most people love about her—but even if the fiction occasionally leaves you cold, as it does me, this annealed and concentrated prayer journal (how many American writers would even keep such a thing?) seems like it's going to blaze with heat. 

Other books to look for:

J├╝rgen Leonhardt
Latin: Story of a World Language
Harvard UP, $30

Pierre Rosenvallon
The Society of Equals
Harvard UP, $35

Benjamin Elman
Civil Examinations and Meritocracy in Late Imperial China
Harvard UP, $45

James Fallon
The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain
Viking, $28

Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman, and Douglas L. Kruse
The Citizen's Share: Putting Ownership Back into Democracy
Yale UP, $38

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