Square Books

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has a wonderful way with words, combining laugh-out-loud wit with unexpected pathos. I gobbled up Shrines of Gaiety – which features a motley crew of characters in 1920s London, including a nightclub boss, a chief inspector intent on weeding out corruption in the police, a teenage runaway in search of fame, and a former WW1 nurse in search of said missing teenager – in just a couple of days. Recommended.

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson, (List Price: $29, Doubleday, 9780385547970, September 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Witches by Brenda Lozano

Witches, by Mexican writer Brenda Lozano, features quite possibly the most distinctive voice I’ve come across in fiction this year. Feliciana’s narrative, recounting her life as an indigenous healer – or curandera – is hypnotic, elliptical and utterly absorbing. Her story intertwines with that of Zoe, a journalist from Mexico City sent to report on the death of Paloma, Feliciana’s muxe – or third gender – cousin. Their stories combine to highlight the struggles of women striving to be true to themselves and to find their own voices.

Witches by Brenda Lozano, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220687, August 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Four for the Road by K. J. Reilly

Four for the Road by K.J. Reilly is a gut-punch of a novel. Its portrayal of grief is raw and furious and heartbreaking. Following the death of his mother, Asher Hunting rotates through therapists and bereavement groups, trapped in a cycle of anger and pain. He wants nothing more than to get revenge on the drunk driver who killed his mother, but avoided jail time on a technicality. Along with an unexpected group of friends from the bereavement groups–teens Sloane and Will and 80-year-old Henry– Asher embarks on a road trip from New Jersey to Graceland in hopes of revenge and closure. Four for the Road is a moving examination of the anger that accompanies grief and the earth-shattering reality of loss. For anyone who has ever lost someone, Four for the Road holds a mirror up to the jagged edges that are left behind and validates that being in pieces is okay.

Four for the Road by K. J. Reilly, (List Price: $19.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781665902281, August 2022)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The Woman Who Killed the Fish by Clarice Lispector

These animal stories are masterpieces of skill in the narratorial voice, shining jewel-like displays of how much characterization can be snuck in the smallest choices in diction. Lispector is like Thurber and Saint-Exupery in that she can write a story as enthralling for children as adults.

The Woman Who Killed the Fish by Clarice Lispector, (List Price: $17.95, New Directions, 9780811229609, September 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt

A tight, Talented Mr. Ripley-esque mini-thriller where the thrill is in the revelation of the narrator’s psyche through her circumstances. And it has a biting critique of the publishing industry! Helen DeWitt runs away with this priceless gem: a literary thriller that is as exciting as it is intelligent and can be read in an afternoon.

The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt, (List Price: $17.95, New Directions, 9780811230070, August 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Early Light by Osamu Dazai

These three stories make an important addition to the canon of Dazai translated into English (still too slight!) The title story is classic Dazai autofiction about the effects of Allied firebombing in Imperial Japanese cities. "Villon’s Wife" is an exquisite piece, with all the charm of Japanese folk tales and the perversity of modernity, that echoes Dazai’s classic "No Longer Human." "One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji," however, is the jewel; for readers in English, this may be the first inkling of the author’s sense of humor. Altogether a stunning collection, and a great introduction to one of the masters of 20th century existential literature.

Early Light by Osamu Dazai, (List Price: $17.95, New Directions, 9780811231985, August 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

My Pet Feet by Josh Funk

An August 2022 Read This Next! Title

Giggle. Tee-hee. Josh Funk and Billy Yong have created a new treasure chock-full of wordsmith fun. Scrabblers, grab a pencil, puzzlers, get your puz-mug on, My Pet Feet is a feat of genius, from our pals Funk & Yong. No doubt, inspired by Letterman, a 1970s PBS educational show called The Electric Company, this book follows a child through the day as the world goes topsy-turvy, letter by letter. Very cool. I have missed this game. Illustrations are top notch. Lots of extra linguistic mysteries and visual treats to unravel. Bravo.

My Pet Feet by Josh Funk, Billy Yong (Illus.), (List Price: $18.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534486003, August 2022)

Reviewed by Jilleen Moore, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata

Murata, author of the 2016 indie hit Convenience Store Woman, is back with a collection of weird and weirdly relatable short stories. Cannibalism! Alien bodies! Distant worlds! Getting older, and more alone! These and other strange subjects are blown up to speak about the fundamental problems of living today. I especially loved "Hatchling," a story reminiscent of Osamu Dazai’s classic "No Longer Human," but with a feminist sensibility. Life Ceremony further cements Sayaka Murata as one of the world’s most interesting contemporary writers.

Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata, (List Price: $25, Grove Press, 9780802159588, July 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White

Hell Followed With Us is a book that sinks its teeth into you from the first page. Andrew Joseph White crafts a horrifying apocalyptic world that feels at once utterly fresh yet familiar as the narrative grapples with climate change, illness, religious extremism, and LGBTQ issues. It’s a furious novel– but not without hope as protagonist Benji, a young queer trans boy with a monster inside him, falls in with a found-family of other queer teens and embraces the opportunity to fight back against his oppressors who would otherwise use him as a bioweapon for their own violent ends. Hell Followed With Us is an original, unique YA horror debut guaranteed to stay with readers long after the last page.

Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White, (List Price: $18.99, Peachtree Teen, 9781682633243, June 2022)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Les Fleurs Du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire

Read the celebrated and reviled poems that Victor Hugo called “un nouveau frisson.” Follow the trail of Symbolism that once led Rimbaud and T.S. Eliot. Witness an unparalleled vision of decadence and disgust, in an as-yet unrivaled translation by Richard Howard. Go back to 1857 to experience a poetic modernité that heralds our future

Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire, (List Price: $14.95, David R. Godine, Publisher, 9781567927245,  May 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman from Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

In Love by Amy Bloom

When Amy Bloom’s husband of 15 years is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he decides to end his life on his own terms – “to die on his feet, not live on his knees”. In Love is an account of how the couple made that happen, as well as a celebration of their love. It’s by turns honest, raw, unsentimental, funny, captivating, powerful and utterly devastating. I devoured it in less than a day – an experience that left me emotionally wrung out, but also very glad to have done so.


In Love by Amy Bloom, (List Price: $27.00, Random House, 9780593243947,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Read Dangerously by Azar Nafisi

Reading might not seem the most obvious of radical acts – but in Read Dangerously, Iranian-American writer Azar Nafisi shows that it can be. Drawing on her experiences of living in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in today’s America, and citing authors as diverse as Plato, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood and Elliot Ackerman, the bestselling writer of Reading Lolita in Tehran illustrates how literature can counter oppression. An erudite, accessible and inspiring book.

Read Dangerously by Azar Nafisi, (List Price: $26.99, Dey Street Books, 9780062947369,  March 2022)

Reviewed by  Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Xstabeth by David Keenan

David Keenan joins serious fabulists and metaphormen Kundera, Coover & Co. with this perverse and metafictional novel. We follow the rise and falling-out of a pseudonymous musician, Xstabeth, with critical “essays” about the “deceased author” and the novel we’re reading in between. Herein: experimentation that succeeds.

Xstabeth by David Keenan, (List Price: $20, Europa Editions, 9781609457341, February 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi



Small World by Jonathan Evison

The only thing that’s small about this book is its title. Clocking in at just under 500 pages, Small World is a continent-spanning, era-hopping epic. In the present day, a group of strangers find themselves bound by fate on a train hurtling up the west coast, while in the 19th century their pioneering ancestors – immigrants, Native Americans and former slaves – struggle for survival. Despite juggling a large cast, Evison handles the multiple narratives with aplomb, creating an engrossing page-turner that also raises important questions about the American dream and what it means to be American.


Small World by Jonathan Evison, (List Price: $28.00, Dutton, 9780593184127, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo

To many people – myself included – Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win for Girl, Woman, Other appeared to come out of the blue. But, as Manifesto reveals, her apparent overnight success was actually 40 years in the making. Recounting her life and career with the characteristic humor and insight that made Girl, Woman, Other such a success, Manifesto is a passionate paean to the power of persistence.

Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo, (List Price: $27.00, 9780802158901, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

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