In this utterly captivating debut, Hart manages to weave an intricate, beautifully written novel about three women and their inextricable connection to nature. This intergenerational tale snared me from the first page and wouldn’t let go. If you enjoy complex conversations about legacy, gender and control, nature and witchy-ness, and female power, this should be next on your list.
Weyward by Emilia Hart, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250280800, March 2023)
If there’s one thing you should know about me – it’s that I adore a book about an unhappy housewife, not because I like seeing women unhappy, but because I love to support women fighting wrongs. Seeing how a woman reclaims her space, life, and situation – even if she goes about it in questionable ways, is a ride I want to be on. Kashimada’s novel is a prime example of all these elements, with the perfect blend of sparse, deeply impactful prose that explore themes of religion, tragedy, identity, and isolation.
Love at Six Thousand Degrees by Maki Kashimada, (List Price: $17, Europa, 9781609458195, March 2023)
Lavalle’s surprising and singular horror/western will appeal to lit fic and genre readers alike with its peculiar and anachronistic, but captivating voice, and its unique wasteland of a setting. It delivers both blood and monsters (human and inhuman) and an affecting exploration of trauma and guilt. This is one that’ll stick with you.
Lone Women by Victor LaValle, (List Price: $27, One World, 9780525512080, March 2023)
Hello Beautiful is perfect for readers who enjoy emotionally tender stories about complicated families. Quiet and solitary William Waters is an only child raised by emotionally unavailable parents who finds solace in basketball. He meets bright, headstrong Julia Padavano in college where she decides he is the man to help put her on the path towards her diligently planned life. Along with Julia are her three sisters, with whom she is incredibly close. Tragedy strikes, creating a rift that reverberates within the Padavano family for generations. With themes of grief, mental illness, forgiveness, and loyalty, Hello Beautiful is about the cost of being true to oneself regardless of the consequences, and the gift of those who love us for who we truly are. If you enjoyed Ask Again Yes, you will love this one. I cannot wait to recommend this to my customers.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, (List Price: $28, The Dial Press, 9780593243732, March 2023)
This book exceeded my expectations! The theme surrounds academia and obsession with several interesting pieces about women’s roles in society, power dynamics, and cancel culture. Both thought-provoking and intoxicating, Julia May Jonas captivated me with her vivid and fresh writing style.
Vladimir by Julia May Jonas, (List Price: 17.99, Avid Reader Press, 9781982187644, January 2023)
A woman who suffers a horrifying childhood trauma is transformed into the creator of a city, buildings and denizens alike. Who else but Salman Rushdie has the imagination required to create this woman, who has an almost endless imagination? Rushdie is a modern, male Scheherazade, spinning his fanciful tales of romance, religion, politics, and corruption, with dollops of laugh-out-loud humor and magical realism.
Victory City by Salman Rushdie, (List Price: $30, Random House, 9780593243398, February 2023)
Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St Simons Island, Georgia
Brilliant, sublime and surprising. On my forever favorite shelf. Julie Otsuka has the mystical gift of telling just as much of a story with what she doesn’t say. Reader, treat yourself with care if you have or have had a loved one with dementia…but I think The Swimmers is more than worthy of the heart ache.
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka, (List Price: $16, Anchor, 9780593466629, January 2023)
“But really I mean, with kids—they’re small and powerless in the world. They don’t know why things are happening. They’re told what to do, they’re not giving any explanation for why they’re doing this, and everyone is a towering monster to them, you know? And adults are capriciously violent. I think kids live in a world that is really primed for horror. But Horror stories allow them to understand that sometimes you can beat the monsters, you know?” ―Stephen Graham Jones, Interview, Tor.com
What booksellers are saying about Don’t Fear the Reaper
My Heart Is a Chainsaw was one of my favorite books of 2021; it’s knowing, self-referential tone mixed with its wonderful heroine, Jade Daniels, reminded me of my favorite slasher films of times past. I had high hopes for Don’t Fear the Reaper. As a sequel, it should be bloodier, wilder, and more audacious than its predecessor, with both a new antagonist and a few throwbacks to past dangers. Stephen Graham Jones knew this, and boy, do things go off the rails immediately. While “My Heart Is A Chainsaw” had a slow burn to its violence, Don’t Fear the Reaper revels in danger and fear right off the bat. At the center of the chaos is the reluctant Final Girl, Jade, who’d rather just be a supporting player getting her life back together after fighting legal troubles for the last few years. Unfortunately, Jade has to use her wits and horror movie knowledge to get her and her friends out of death-by-hook range, and of course, the horror is happening during the worst blizzard that Proofrock’s ever seen. While buckets of blood drench each page, Jones never forgets to center the violence around the lovable beating heart of the book’s protagonist.
―Whitney Sheppard from The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL | Buy from The Snail on the Wall
The second book in the Indian Lake Trilogy is even better than the first. Jade and Letha are back in Proofrock along with some other familiar faces, and some new ones as well. During the storm of the century, a convoy carrying the serial killer, Dark Mill South crashes. There is a fraction of a sliver of chance that he survived the crash and is heading toward the nearest town, Proofrock. You all know what a fraction of a sliver of chance means in Proofrock, so our favorite final girls have to swing into action. This book starts out really fast and doesn’t stop until the final bloody end.
―Kathy Clemmons from Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach, FL | Buy from Sundog Books
The long-awaited follow up to My Heart is a Chainsaw does not disappoint! SGJ takes us back to Proofrock, Idaho right after Jade Daniels – now Jennifer – is released from prison for the first book’s events. Brutal, larger-than-life killer Dark Mill South is on the loose in town at the same time as a debilitating snowstorm hits. In keeping with the vibe of the trilogy, grisliness abounds from the first pages and the slasher film trivia doesn’t stop. I can’t wait for the third and final installment in this series!
―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
About Stephen Graham Jones
Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians. He has been an NEA fellowship recipient and been recipient of several awards including: the Ray Bradbury Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, and the Alex Award from American Library Association. He is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.
“I’d never done manual labor before, and I remember my hands aching in the middle of the night. I was also useless without sugar, caffeine, and nicotine. I needed all three, all the time. The women I worked with ate apples for breakfast. Apples. It was baffling. They were always offering me fruit, and I was like, Get away from me with your disgusting bananas. They drank tea and didn’t smoke. They swept mindfully. They appreciated the meditative aspects of cleaning. They could clean three houses and still go to the gym and out to dinner. I showed up with donuts, and then ate all the donuts.” ―Jen Beagin, Interview, Bloom
What booksellers are saying about Big Swiss
Big Swiss is the sort of strange and beautiful novel that you have to read to believe. It’s utterly shocking, absolutely hysterical, and beautifully cynical. Honestly, it was unlike anything else I’ve ever read. I laughed out loud on every other page, rolled my eyes at the pervasive hipster things Big Swiss pokes fun at, and thoroughly enjoyed the quirky atmosphere. However funny and entertaining, though, know that Big Swiss is also an intimate and often disturbing portrait of mental illness, infidelity, and trauma. It’s a close encounter with human damage and nothing is off limits.
―Emily Lessig from The Violet Fox Bookshop in Virginia Beach, VA | Buy from The Violet Fox
I knew this book was going to be for me when the blub said it was for fans of Killing Eve and it really didn’t disappoint! The feeling of slowly watching a train wreck happen was prevalent as Greta made the absolute worst decisions she could, but that’s what made this enjoyable. Greta is super flawed and unreliable but that’s what it makes her feel so human.
―Ndobe Foletia from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books
JBrilliant, acerbic, and vulnerable in its hilarity, this bonkers narrative is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Greta is obsessed with Big Swiss, Big Swiss is obsessed with Greta. They probably hate each other, they probably hate parts of themselves that the other adores. It’s all so ridiculous and sexy. There’s immense violence and sadness, but so many off kilter details that make you feel like all of its real and nothing is real at the same time. Which makes it the perfect book. It’s like a reality built on fantasy but the foundations are wearing thin so you can see all the swirling and neon madness underneath.
―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books
One might call her an eavesdropper, but that wouldn’t entirely be accurate as Greta is actually being paid to transcribe the sex therapy sessions she is listening to. After devouring this clever, darkly hilarious romp, you’ll feel a bit of a voyeur yourself, but boy, will you be glad you peeked between the covers of this gem.
―Angie Tally from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC | Buy from The Country Bookshop
About Jen Beagin
Jen Beagin holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and is a recipient of a Whiting Award in fiction. Her first novel Pretend I’m Dead was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and Vacuum in the Dark was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction. She is also the author of Big Swiss. She lives in Hudson, New York.
Over seven days in a psychiatric ward in 1994 in Italy, the main character Daniele Mancarelli (who shares the author’s name and some life experiences) documents his involuntary committal. We spend most of our time on the ward itself with occasional flashbacks of the six patients’ and staff’s pasts. Mencarelli (author and character) is also a poet, and the language is beautiful and delicately translated by Wendy Weathly. While not dismissing the need for the truly suffering or dangerous to be treated, the author presents much to be considered about the way society categorizes those who are simply different or passing through a difficult phase of life.
Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli, (List Price: $22, Europa Editions, 9781609458065, January 2023)
This novel will rob you of hours from your life, it will rob you of the need for food or company or sleep. Time the reading of the first pages wisely; you’ll have a sudden need to find a comfy spot where you can commune with these characters and their lush stories of pleasure and pain. A mashup of American Psycho, Scarface and The Great Gatsby but set in contemporary India, it’s all but impossible to look away from this dazzling train wreck orchestrated by Deepti Kapoor. I was consumed by this novel.
Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor (List Price: $30, Riverhead Books, 9780593328798, January 2023)
Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
“I think urban legends, myths and folktales constantly tell us that what you know is not all, and you shouldn’t be arrogant enough to think that what your five senses can sense is all there is to feel and perceive and think.” ―Bora Chung, Interview, The Korea Herald
What booksellers are saying about Cursed Bunny: Stories
Cursed Bunny is a fantastically weird and thought-provoking collection of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories that had me ruminating long after I had finished them. Bora Chung takes the bases of human nature (and a lot of the worst ones) and puts them on display like an open wound for the reader. Along with covering individual issues like greed, despair, or love… the stories also tackle societal issues regarding feminism and poverty as well. This book is perfect for horror fans that also enjoy literary fiction.
―Stuart McCommon from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel.
A fantastic, Korean story collection that includes nightmarish tales you won’t be able to put down. Bora Chung is bringing a new depth of not only gore and terror to traditional horror but also something more provocative as well. Tales that range from heads emerging from toilets, body horror that you’ll remember for days, and even some more sci-fi elements as well, this story collection is not for the faint of heart. An unforgettable book that’ll keep you thinking for days.
―Grace Sullivan from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
Delightfully gruesome, disarmingly weird, and incredibly sharp; Bora Chung’s debut collection Cursed Bunny is an incredibly memorable trip into the mind of an amazing new voice. From a head growing out of a toilet wanting to be free, a snared fox that bleeds gold, or the titular cursed bunny; each of Chung’s amazing stories reads like a dark fable that would give the Grimm brothers a run for their money. With themes of gender, greed, and technology, Cursed Bunny is a must read for those who take their humor black and their ideas big. So very good!
―Caleb Masters from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks
About Bora Chung
Bora Chung has written three novels and three collections of short stories. She has an MA in Russian and East European area studies from Yale University and a PhD in Slavic literature from Indiana University. She has taught Russian language and literature and science fiction studies at Yonsei University and translates modern literary works from Russian and Polish into Korean.
Anton Hur was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He won a PEN Translates award for Kang Kyeong-ae’s The Underground Village and his translation of Sang Young Park’s Love in the Big City was longlisted for the Booker International Prize in 2022. He lives in Seoul.
“I think that re-wilding is an extraordinary thing, desirable perhaps, to see nature reclaiming itself. Southern Florida was and would like to be a swamp, you know? And yet we’ve dredged it and drained it and built on top of that. And so much of city management in a place like Miami is trying to keep that boundary between what the landscape wants to do and what the city wants the land to do – bridge it. And so to me, the idea of softening that boundary and trying to be a little harmonious is a good thing.” ―Lily Brooks-Dalton, Interview, Texas Public Radio
What booksellers are saying about The Light Pirate
Wanda is born in the middle of a devastating hurricane that claims two of her family members and frays the edges of a fragile environment. Set in Florida, we see Wanda grow into a young adult while the only place she has ever known as home becomes a victim of climate change. Brooks-Dalton shows us the crumbling of civilization and the strength of one person’s determination to find beauty in the loss. Wanda’s story asks us to see both magic and hope in an uncertain future.
―Mary Jane Michels from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction
Ethereal and haunting, The Light Pirate tells the story of Wanda, who is born on the day that the hurricane that she was named after rips through Florida, leaving devastation in its wake. A meditation of what’s to become of our landscape and livelihood, and how we survive when everything is stripped away. I can’t wait to recommend The Light Pirate to fans of Emily St John Mandel, Lydia Millet, and Climate Fiction readers.
―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books
An essential read, especially for those of us making our home in Florida. Tragic but hopeful and completely enthralling. highly recommends.
―Emily Berg from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL | Buy from Books and Books
In a novel that mirrors the latest news about the urgency of our environment, Lily Brooks-Dalton takes the reader to a terrible end place. Kirby Lowe and his heavily pregnant wife and two sons are about to be hit by another hurricane in their small town in Florida. Wanda is born into this weather crisis, and we watch her whole life as weather patterns and rising sea levels take away the life we all have known. Bioluminescence plays a part as large as Phyllis—the survivalist who finds she was right all along. This novel will leave the reader breathless, turning pages while hoping life and love will survive.
―Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser
About Lily Brooks-Dalton
Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel, Good Morning, Midnight (Random House, 2016), has been translated into 17 languages and is the inspiration for the film adaptation, The Midnight Sky. Her memoir, Motorcycles I’ve Loved (Riverhead, 2014), was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
I have never really felt like the target reader for Cormac McCarthy, but this one really spoke to me. Alternating perspectives between two siblings in the past and present, The Passenger is the story of Bobby Western, a deep sea diver overcome with grief by the death of his sister whom he carried romantic feelings for. Many chapters flesh out in a very dialogue-heavy interview style with an eccentric cast of characters, some more likable than others. Experts in quantum mechanics such as Dirac, Einstein, and Oppenheimer (who worked alongside Western’s father) take on roles as symbols, legacies, and even characters unto themselves. All the while, Western gets wrapped up in a conspiracy he doesn’t know the questions to let alone the answers. McCarthy writes beautifully of the alchemic fires of devotion and the beyond, and I suspect this is a novel I will be returning to throughout my life.
The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy (List Price: $30.00, Knopf, 9780307268990, October 2022)
“I started this book in Argentina many years ago, knowing I would move to Europe soon, and finished it during my first couple of years living in Berlin. So for me it works as a bridge between two very different worlds and lives. I couldn’t see that during the writing process, but these stories are full of moving boxes, abandoned clothes, lost objects, people feeling nostalgic and lost or out of place, even when the plots have little to do with that. How tricky fiction can be…I thought I had hidden my private life behind these stories, but it doesn’t matter what I am writing about, I’m always working with material taken from my own life and experience.” ―Samanta Schweblin, Interview, Words Without Borders, National Book Awards
What booksellers are saying about Seven Empty Houses
At the root of a “good” nightmare is prime comedy and just like the dash of cinnamon to chili enhances the spicy without tasting like a seasonal cookie, a pinch of humor enriches the story’s scary without reading like a seasonal cookie. Each entry for this year’s Samanta Schweblin Chili Cookoff is wonderfully all over the flavor map, which makes for a enjoyably quick read. Always leave ‘em wanting more!
―Ian McCord from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA | Buy from Avid Bookshop
Seven Empty Houses finds Samanta Schweblin in top form. Each story is imbued with a striking precision, as the author is funny, ominous, heartfelt, and brutal often in quick succession. Many of the scenes in this collection feature characters that aren’t often the focal point of any given story, Schweblin gives us a glimpse into their worlds and the results are stunning.
―James Harrod from Malaprop’s in Asheville, NC | Buy from Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe
Short Stories are always an odd thing to get into because they tend to drop you in a story quite in the middle of them and unceremoniously eject you before the story is truly complete. They are more snapshot than feature film. Schweblin’s snapshot stories are unsettling and comforting all at once. They speak to the tender strangeness of family and the simultaneous fear/desire for death. I want to give this book to someone as a book hangover cure for Sue Rainsford’s Follow Me to Ground.
―Annie Childress from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller
About Samanta Schweblin
Samanta Schweblin is the author of the novel Fever Dream, a finalist for the International Booker Prize, and the novel Little Eyes and story collection A Mouthful of Birds, longlisted for the same prize. Chosen by Granta as one of the twenty-two best writers in Spanish under the age of thirty-five, she has won numerous prestigious awards around the world. Her books have been translated into twenty-five languages, and her work has appeared in English in The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine. Originally from Buenos Aires, Schweblin lives in Berlin.
Megan McDowell has translated books by many contemporary South American and Spanish authors; her translations have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Words Without Borders, and Vice, among other publications.