The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

World Literature

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Here’s how you take a great sin–maybe The great sin–and particularize it so that our minds can grasp it. The Germans and the British and the Portuguese and the Dutch (and now, of course, the US and China and ad nauseam)–all of these governments have, at one time or another, wanted to get their hands on Africa–really get in there–all the way in–and do what they want to it. Gurnah and his magical Nobel Prize-winning pen tells us the story of a family battered by the complexities of colonialism and their risings and fallings and re-risings. Deep, satisfying, horrifying, wonderful.

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah, (List Price: $28, Riverhead Books, 9780593541883, August 2022)

Reviewed by Erica Eisdorfer, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

Three women have shared a bond for decades. When they are reunited for one of their daughter’s weddings, the past comes back in a rush. The story is told in flashbacks and present day in a way that helps them reconcile where they have ended up and where they once dreamed they’d go. A timeless examination of all the dreams you hold for yourself, the dreams your parents and others have for you, and how much you are able to follow your heart.

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro, (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593320297, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Scary Monsters by Michelle De Kretser

A brilliant, expertly written novel that is at once horrifyingly real and also hilariously overstated. The two stories are surprising and suspenseful as each South Asian immigrant deals with the multi-layered pieces of their lives in the 80s and in the near future. As an Asian immigrant to Australia, the author captures these characters so thoroughly it is a shock to the system to step back out of their stories. Wonderful study on racism and how immigrants are received and perceived around the world.

Scary Monsters by Michelle De Kretser, (List Price: 17.95, Catapult, 9781646221097, April 2022)

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi

When Man Booker Prize winner Jokha Alharthi writes, a river of emotions pours from her in the most beautiful way possible. Her latest translated novel features a young Omani student in London attempting to come to terms with the grief and regrets of losing her devoted grandmother by not attending to her when she needed her most. The tale drifts back and forth through time, giving the reader a view into the two strikingly different lives of these women; where both bear the weight of unfulfilled desires. This was an exquisite and haunting read.

Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220038, May 2022)

Reviewed by Damita Nocton, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Paradais by Fernanda Melchor

A feral parable on the violence of racism, misandry, and class from a preeminent, new voice of contemporary Mexican literature. Melchor’s style in Paradais is writhing and slippery, capturing not only a portrait of desperation but the ugliness of the toxic thread that runs through the underside of our collective psyche.

Paradais by Fernanda Melchor, (List Price: $19.95, New Directions, 9780811231329, April 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa from Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada

Scattered All Over the Earth is undeniably a classic. A pilgrimage novel with a growing cast of memorable characters embodying a beautiful kaleidoscope of language, loss, identity, and home. Tawada’s vision is, as always, wonderfully unique, often funny and particularly here, where she’s at her most poignant. Thankfully, this is only the promising beginning of what is set to be a masterpiece trilogy of books.

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada, (List Price: $16.95, New Directions, 9780811229289,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

The destinies of a Rastafarian man prohibited from interacting with the dead and a woman destined to care for their spirits collide in a cemetery full of secrets in this magical realist novel set in a Trinidad “with the volume turned all the way up.” I enjoyed the settings and magical realism throughout the novel. I’d especially recommend for fans of Practical Magic.

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo (List Price: $27, Doubleday, 9780385547260,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Song for the Missing by Pierre Jarawan

I’m still on a globetrotty search for coming-of-age stories set in the 1990s (specifically 92-96) to hold up my bland high school soft-serve experience-machine. This one here is a perfectly paced and passionate ode to Lebanon, family drama and young friendship, served up like a mystery.

Song for the Missing by Pierre Jarawan, (List Price: $19.99, World Editions, 9781642861075,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol

Apostol softly launches you into a landscape of memories and gently reminds book lovers of what it first felt like to envision possibility thanks to literature. Apostol’s reflections on their time during the EDSA rebellion of 1986 teach us just how nuanced and expansive human connections can form if we let them.

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol, (List Price: $26.00, Soho Press, 9781641292511, January 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Chasing Homer by László Krasznahorkai

Chasing Homer is Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s latest novella, and it is a new turn for the author’s work, and for literature entirely. An unnamed narrator is (possibly) being chased across Europe by people never seen. Every chapter starts off with a QR code for drum music that literally sets the tempo for the barrage of perspective, and pages are often broken up by illustrations of creepy, abstract humanoids. This is a multi-media piece that works like a hand-cranked movie; as always, Krasznahorkai’s writing is innovative and powerful. A must read.

Chasing Homer by László Krasznahorkai, (List Price: $19.95, New Directions, 9780811227971, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


Cremation by Rafael Chirbes

Cremation is a stream-of-monologue masterpiece that harkens to Beckett and Faulkner. When Matias, the patriarch of a rich Spanish family, dies, it sets off psychological battles among the surviving members. These spats take the form of unbroken pages-long conversations and thoughts, going beyond the closet-drama scope to encompass architecture, economics, corruption, art, and the consequences of 20th century European history. Towards the end, the fictional town of Misent turns into a character, much after the fashion of Durrell’s Alexandria, but more bitter and disillusioned. By the end of a reading, these incredible speeches come through like blasts of hot air over rivers of concrete.

Cremation by Rafael Chirbes, (List Price: $20.95, New Directions, 9780811224307, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal

How do mosquitoes communicate? What does their society look like– and how would they view ours? “Wise Owl,” thus dubbed by the indigenous tribe he lives with in the Mexican jungle, is a misanthrope disgusted with society at large. When he figures out the language of the mosquitoes, Mosquil, Wise Owl hatches a plan to take ultimate revenge on human civilization. Heavy themes of faith, modernity, free will, and meaning are filtered through an ecological sci-fi sieve. Vonnegut’s Galapagos meets the Island of Dr. Moreau, with even more merited cynicism.


His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal, (List Price: $15.95, New Directions, 9780811230834, November 2021)

Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


Awake by Harald Voetmann

Awake is a collage of excerpts from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, perhaps the oldest surviving encyclopedia, intercut with interior monologues from Pliny, as well as asides from his nephew, Pliny the Younger. Our narrator, of course, is most famous now for having died at the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which the younger Pliny also witnessed. Yet this climactic scene is relegated to a post-script; what draws the most attention, justly, are memories and recreations of ancient Roman life, which of course deal with all the bigger themes of knowledge and meaning and life, fitting for a classic work. Who thought that a narrative styled after an encyclopedia would be this deeply involving?

Awake by Harald Voetmann, (List Price: 14.95, New Directions, 9780811230810, September 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

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