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As the year turns the corner into November, the array of fantastic, challenging books available to read continues. Our picks for our most highly-anticipated books for the month include investigations of the art world and irreverent takes on literature; a novel of grief and the open road and a novel of families falling apart; the return of one of America’s greatest living authors and a collection of some of the best essays written in the last few decades. Alternately: it’s a particularly strong literary month in a strong literary year, and there’s still one more month to go before it’s over.

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33 Artists in 3 Acts, Sarah Thornton
(November 3, W.W. Norton)

Sarah Thornton’s 2009 Seven Days in the Art World is the kind of book that appeals equally to readers with a formal background in art and those who more casually take in art in museums and galleries. Here, she focuses on artists with widely differing perspectives on politics, aesthetics, and more; among those featured in the narrative are Ai Weiwei, Andrea Fraser, Jeff Koons, and Laurie Simmons. -Tobias Carroll

 

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Ugly Girls, Lindsay Hunter
(November 4, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Lindsay Hunter’s short fiction, collected in Daddy’s and Don’t Kiss Me, was taut, energetic, and abounds with attitude; Hunter can make the mundane seem gripping through her use of language. With her first novel, Ugly Girls, Hunter proves that she’s just as capable of working on a grander scale. This story of two high school girls, their families, and a menacing neighbor rarely goes where you’d expect, and abounds with crackling dialogue and telling character moments. -Tobias Carroll

 

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The Laughing Monsters, Denis Johnson
(November 4, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

You can’t really miss Denis Johnson’s influence on contemporary literature if you squint your eyes while looking at your bookshelf. That’s why it’s a big deal anytime he puts a new book into the world. While his latest might not pack the punch of Tree of Smoke or the quiet brilliance of Train Dreams, The Laughing Monsters is a fast-paced (in Johnson terms) spy noir that your dad might accidentally pick up and get really into. -Jason Diamond

 

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Our Secret Life in the Movies, Michael McGriff & J.M. Tyree
(November 4, A Strange Object)

The process behind this collection is almost as interesting as the stories that resulted. The short version: McGriff and Tyree watched the bulk of the Criterion Collection’s library of films, then worked on short stories inspired by each. Sometimes, the connections are overt; in others, they’re the literary equivalents of a Hitchcock cameo. But it’s fascinating both for the process and for the end result. -Tobias Carroll

 

texts-from-jane-eyreTexts From Jane Eyre, Mallory Ortberg
(November 4, Henry Holt and Co.)

This book, which I think probably wouldn’t work if anybody else did it, is pretty much what the title suggests. Your favorite literary characters sending texts, all from the mind of one of the most hilarious people we can think of. -Jason Diamond

 

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There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond, Meline Toumani
(November 4, Metropolitan Books)
Meline Toumani, who grew up long after the Armenian genocide, but could hardly escape it in her largely Armenian community in New Jersey, tries to better understand the people responsible for the murder of over a million of her people in 1915. She drops everything and goes to Turkey to try and come to grips with the past and the present in this harrowing and ultimately enlightening book about how we can move on without forgetting the past.  -Jason Diamond

 

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Loitering, Charles D’Ambrosio
(November 11, Tin House)

If you’re a fan of well-written essays, checking out this collection, which encompasses both D’Ambrosio’s earlier Orphans and work he’s completed since then, is a must. D’Ambrosio is equally good at channeling his own tortured family history and evoking the history of a place or work of literature. -Tobias Carroll

 

The Trace

The Trace, Forrest Gander
(November 11, New Directions)

We need a great novel that takes place out west to come out every year or two. In The Trace, Forrest Gander takes us through dusty Mexico in this gorgeous portrait of what some people will do to come to grips with tragedy. -Jason Diamond

 

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All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews
(November 18, McSweeneys)

Miriam Toews’s novels meticulously explore the emotional and intellectual landscapes of her characters. (Also of note: John K. Samson of The Weakerthans is a dedicated supporter of her work.) Her latest focuses on a pair of sisters dealing with depression and the legacy of being raised in a Mennonite household. -Tobias Carroll

 

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The Face of Any Other, Michael J. Seidlinger
(11/27, Lazy Fascist Press)

The fact that this is Seidlinger’s third novel of 2014 suggests that the guy is hitting a George Simenon-esque pace, if Simenon wrote metaphorically-charged experimental fiction (and ran an independent publisher on the side.) The Face of Any Other focuses on a man without an identity of his own, and his observations of the human condition. -Tobias Carroll

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