Well, it’s April. Nominally it’s springtime–but the presence of snowy weather and temperatures friendly to hot cocoa and roaring fires suggests otherwise. Metaphorically speaking, though, that range of moods and modes lines up pretty neatly with the books that are on our radar for this month–everything from works in translation to bold collections of nonfiction to eagerly-anticipated literary debuts. Here’s a look at several of the books that we’re most excited to explore this month.
Unlanguage, Michael Cisco
(April 1, Eraserhead Press)
Some writers’ work is filed under “unclassifiable.” Michael Cisco’s work goes far beyond that, and whether he’s telling stories of a living currency (Animal Money), reinventing the idea of a haunted space (Wretch of the Sun), or exploring bizarre worlds (The Narrator), his work blends dreamlike and meditative elements with haunting emotional resonance. Unlanguage is his fictional take on the nature of words and reality–a heady concept that seems like a perfect addition to his bibliography.
Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life, Jenny Boully
(April 3, Coffee House Press)
The writings of Jenny Boully occupy the space between genres and forms, eluding attempts to place them in one tradition or another. In this collection of essays, which spans Boully’s career as a writer to date, Boully explores her own feelings on literary techniques, and reveals the personal underpinnings for some of her boldest decisions as a writer.
Look Alive Out There, Sloane Crosley
(April 3, MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Following Sloane Crosley’s recent foray into fiction–i.e. the novel The Clasp–she’s now returned with a new collection of essays, her third overall. The essays collected in Look Alive Out There blend Crosley’s sense of humor and comic timing with a greater range of subjects and moods, expanding her range as a writer even as they showcase her skills with the form.
The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath, Leslie Jamison
(April 3, Little Brown and Company)
As with many readers, we’ve been waiting for Leslie Jamison’s followup to her collection The Empathy Exams ever since, well, we finished reading The Empathy Exams. For her new book, she’s opted to explore aspects of her own life, even as she also delves into questions of addiction and creativity. Given that Jamison’s work can blend the analytical with the visceral, we’re eager to read the work on display here.
Stream System: The Collected Short Fiction of Gerald Murnane, Gerald Murnane
(April 3, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Admirers of Gerald Murnane’s fiction include the likes of Teju Cole and Ben Lerner–and, like them, he’s a bold and deft stylist with the ability to venture into the minds of his characters and transform the familiar into the mysterious. Stream System collects a career’s worth of short stories; it’s being released on the same day as Border Districts, Murnane’s latest (and possibly final) novel.
Animals Eat Each Other, Elle Nash
(April 3, Dzanc Books)
We’re always excited to see a Sunday Stories alumnus with a new book in the world. Elle Nash’s debut novel follows the relationship among three people, exploring questions of desire, boundaries, and human connection along the way. Nash’s work to date indicates that this will be an unsettling work in the tradition of books delving into the emotionally ragged connections that form in the least likely places.
Eye Level, Jenny Xie
(April 3, Graywolf Press)
Jenny Xie recently won the 2017 Walt Whitman Award, presented by the Academy of American Poets. That was for this manuscript, a collection of poetry that explores questions of travel and borders, awareness and knowledge. It’s a debut work that should hearken the beginning to an impressive literary career.
Sharp, Michelle Dean
(April 10, Grove Press)
Books exploring critical moments in art and culture through the lives of crucial figures within those communities can often shed a revelatory light on how these works are made. With her new book Sharp, Michelle Dean delves into the lives and works of ten women, including Rebecca West, Nora Ephron, and Janet Malcolm. Given that Dean’s skills as a writer and the resonance of her subject, we’re very eager to read what she has to say here.
Cove, Cynan Jones
(April 10, Catapult)
Cynan Jones’s novels explore taut, disorienting narratives where uncertainty and menace loom large. His latest work, the short novel Cove, continues with Jones’s fondness for gritty narratives and the conflict between man and nature. Here, the story centers around a man who survives a harrowing accident at sea, and his efforts to return home–a primal narrative if ever there was one.
Lion Cross Point, Masatsugu Ono; translated by Angus Turvill
(April 10, Two Lines Press)
Some novels about childhood unfold from the perspective of adults, or from their characters at a later point in their life. Masatsugu Ono’s Lion Cross Point opts for a different approach: telling its story from the limited perspective of its young central character, who must puzzle out elements of his own family’s history and the mysterious events in the community surrounding him.
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee
(April 17, Mariner Books)
For the last few years, we’ve been regularly floored whenever a new essay by Alexander Chee enters the world. Much as his two novels have taken on dramatically different settings and moods, Chee’s nonfiction has explored a host of subjects, from the personal to the artistic, and demonstrating an enviable virtuosity with prose. We’ve been looking forward to a collection of Chee’s essays for years now, and we’re ecstatic to see it in the world this month.
Fox, Dubravka Ugresic; translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać
(April 17, Open Letter)
Over the years, Dubravka Ugresic has earned acclaim for both her fiction and her incisive works of nonfiction. (We highly recommend Karaoke Culture.) Her latest book, Fox, delves into questions of people on the margins of larger narratives, fictional and nonfictional alike. The result is a boldly declared work exploring questions of cultural memory and storytelling.
The Emissary, Yoko Tawada; translated by Margaret Mitsutani
(April 24, New Directions)
In recent years, more and more of Yoko Tawada’s work has appeared in translation in the U.S., encompassing a fascinating array of styles and moods. In The Emissary, Tawada ventures into the dystopian while also posing questions about aging and the relationship between generations. The setting of the novel upends the dynamic between the old and the young, creating a thought-provoking world along the way.
Y: Oppenheimer, Horseman of Los Alamos, Aaron Tucker
(April 24, Coach House Books)
The creation of the first atomic bomb continues to fascinate artists across many disciplines, from John Adams’s opera Doctor Atomic to the acclaimed television series Manhattan. After two books of poetry, Aaron Tucker has opted for this as the setting for his first novel, Y, which explores the sprawling and sometimes contradictory life of J. Robert Oppenheimer.