This Week’s Reviews

Written in Exile: The Poetry of Liu Tsung-yua
Liu Tsung-yuan, trans. Red Pine | Copper Canyon Press | 9781556595622 | September 2019
“An impressively executed curation of literature in translation.”—Reading In Translation

And the Bride Closed the Door
Ronit Matalon, trans. Jessica Cohen | New Vessel Press | 9781939931757 | October 2019
“We should be grateful that New Vessel Press has just brought out Jessica Cohen’s stunning translation of Matalon’s final work, an outrageously funny, perplexing and perhaps universal story.”—Moment Magazine

Dakwäkãda Warriors
Cole Pauls | Conundrum Press | 9781772620412 | October 2019
“A masterful first major work from this comics creator.”—Vault of Culture

If Venice Dies
Salvatore Settis, trans. André Naffis-Sahely | New Vessel Press | 9781939931375 | September 2016
“An eye-opening read about cities and the causes of their demise.”—Monocle

Spiritual Rebel
Sarah Bowen | Monkfish Book Publishing | 9781948626040 | June 2019
“I believe that I will be finding ways to incorporate offerings in it for years to come.”—Pagan Pages

Space Struck
Paige Lewis | Sarabande Books | 9781946448446 | October 2019
“Paige Lewis’s debut collection is a surrealist delight, a journey that never really ends, and is the kind of collection you find something new to haunt you every time you return to it—from the perfectly executed, individual poems, to a collected set that has been designed and structured so elegantly as to lead you through a true story in a way few collections manage. Congratulations to Lewis on this triumph of a collection; it was a true pleasure to read.”—The Adroit Journal
“Lewis writes with the immediacy and tenderness of Ilya Kaminsky, the wit and sharpness of Franny Choi, the technicality and precision of Sylvia Plath. The blend is, at times, stupefyingly brilliant.”—The Poetry Question
“In this collection Paige Lewis explores everyday phenomena with a sense of magic on a cosmic scale, creating a universe full of tenderness, anxiety, [and] awe.”—#TeachLivingPoets

We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan
Lou Sullivan, edit. Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma | Nightboat Books | 9781643620176 | September 2019
“This Trans Day of Remembrance, if you’re in need of a little joy, a little reconnection with life, a little reminder of how we can fight for our own happiness, this is a volume to pick up. Leave despair behind for a few hours, and read about someone who, against all odds and with no help from anyone, became the purest, finest version of himself.”—The Pride

Odes to Lithium
Shira Erlichman | Alice James Books | 9781948579032 | September 2019
“It is a collection that deserves space in conversations about both craft and healing. This book is, quite simply, indispensable.”—The Poetry Question

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This Week’s Hot News

Jane Clarke (When the Tree Falls, Bloodaxe Books) was interviewed for the Library of Congress Poet and the Poem series on November 13.

The Comics Journal shared an excerpt of GG’s Constantly (Koyama Press) on November 14.

The Millions named Jakarta by Rodrigo Márquez Tizano (trans. Thomas Bunstead, Coffee House Press) one of its most anticipated books of the month on November 4.

The Chicago Review of Books recommended Streaming by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke and Savage Conversations (Coffee House Press) by LeAnne Howe on November 18 as books to read during Indigenous History Month.

Guernica published a poem from 13th Balloon by Mark Bibbins (Copper Canyon Press) on November 8.

Arundhati Roy (My Seditious Heart, Haymarket Books) was interviewed by Naomi Klein for the Type Media Center on November 12, and also appeared on Democracy Now on November 11.

Maya C. Popa was interviewed about her new book, American Faith (Sarabande Books), on You Wanted A Liston November 17.

Rachel DeWoskin, author of Banshee (Dottir Press), was interviewed in the Coachella Review on November 14.

Buffalo News wrote a profile of Valeria Luiselli (Tell Me How It Ends, Coffee House Press) on November 12.

ThePoetry Foundation wrote a lengthy profile on Grace Schulman (Strange Paradise, Turtle Point Press) on November 11.

Kiki Petrosino, author of Witch Wife (Sarabande Books), was a guest on the Ideas on Fire podcast on November 6.

Naomi Hirahara, author of Iced in Paradise (Prospect Park Books), was featured on Wicked Authors on November 12.

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This Week’s Awards

The shortlisted titles for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Awards include Oraefi: The Wasteland (Ófeigur Sigurðsson, trans. Lytton Smith, Deep Vellum Publishing), Fox (Dubravka Ugresic, trans. Ellen Elias-Bursac, Open Letter), Flames (Robbie Arnott, Text Publishing Company), River (Esther Kinsky, trans. Iain Galbraith, Transit Books), This Mortal Boy (Fiona Kidman, Gallic Books/Aardvark Bureau), Transparent City (Ondjaki, trans. Stephen Henighan, Biblioasis), Brother in Ice (Alicia Kopf, trans. Mara Faye Lethem, And Other Stories), Resistance (Julián Fuks, trans. Daniel Hahn, Charco Press) and Comemadre (Roque Larraquy, trans. Heather Cleary, Coffee House Press).

Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks Newburyport (Bilioasis) won the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize.

Resistance (Julián Fuks, trans. Daniel Hahn, Charco Press) was shortlisted for the 2019 Jabuti Award for best Foreign Edition.

May-lee Chai’s Useful Phrases for Immigrants (Blair) won an American Book Award.

Jon Allen’s The Lonesome Era was a Great Graphic Novels nominee by the Young Adult Library Services Association.

A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice (William E. Glassley, Bellevue Literary Press) received the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award in Nature and Environment writing.

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This Week’s News

Guernica interviewed Diana Marie Delgado, author of Tracing the Horse (BOA Editions) on November 12.

School Library Journal wrote about the transformative power of Immigration Stories from Madison and Milwaukee High Schools (edit. Tea Rozman-Clark and Rachel Mueller) on October 31.

Adam Mansbach talked about his most recent book, Fuck, Now There Are Two Of You (illusOwen BrozmanAkashic Books) on ABC 7 Chicago’s Windy City Live.

Writer’s Bone interviewed Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne about her debut novel Holding on to Nothing (Blair) on November 6.

Conjunctions published “In the Mist of Everything,” a short story by Hilary Leichter (Temporary, Coffee House Press), in its fall issue.

The Southwest Review published an interview between Rodrigo Fresán, author of The Dreamed Part (Open Letter), and the translator of the novel, Will Vanderhyden, in its fall/winter issue.

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This Week’s Reviews

And the Bride Closed the Door
Ronit Matalon, trans. Jessica Cohen | New Vessel Press | 9781939931757 | October 2019
“One could tout the graces of Matalon’s novella on a number of fronts. Its layered brand of humor—part slapstick, part wit—seeps in and out of darkness with bite, yielding a compact tragicomedy on love and loss. While its characters may flirt with the cartoonish, they never quit the realm of plausibility: their foibles are utterly, achingly human. Its prose, translated by Man Booker Prize winner Jessica Cohen, is a deftly wielded knife.”—Asymptote Journal

Thukpa for All
Praba Ram and Sheela Preuitt, illus. Shilpa Ranade | Karadi Tales Picturebooks | 9788193388983 | October 2019

Thukpa for All is a beautiful story about community, compassion, and culture. . . . The illustrations throughout it, as well as on the cover, are detailed and alluring.”—Manhattan Book Review

Sherwin Tija | Conundrum Press | 9781772620405 | October 2019

“Tija has concocted a perfect metaphorical fable for just living life and accepting that it’s a mysterious and absurd journey that we are thrust into.”—Comics Beat

Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman’s World
Tosh Berman | City Lights Publishers | 9780872867604 | February 2019
“[Tosh Berman] adds a curious dual memoir to the genre’s history. . . . Were Tosh’s story adapted for the stage, the ideal dramatist for the job would be the late Sam Shepard, the bard of late twentieth-century family dysfunction.”—Art in America

Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River
Jung Young Moon, trans. Yewon Jung | Deep Vellum Publishing | 9781941920855 | December 2019
“In his trademark stream-of-consciousness style, Moon admirably grapples with himself and the peculiarities and paradoxes of twenty-first-century Texas, while questioning what has meaning and what doesn’t, who gets to decide, and the nature of the novel as a literary form.”—Lone Star Review
“Moon unravels the world of Texas and Dallas, recasting the familiar as alien and allowing readers to re-encounter this city and region through the eyes of a narrator who is disoriented by its otherworldliness.”—D Magazine

Collecting for a New World: Treasures of the Early Americas
 John Hessler | GILES | 9781911282396 | November 2019

“The pivotal moment in the 16th century, when Europeans and indigenous Americans first came into contact, is brought to life with John Hessler’s vivid descriptions of more than 60 rare items.”—Art Magazine

Crushing the Red Flowers
Jennifer Voigt Kaplan | Ig Publishing  | 9781632460943 | December 2019
The ambi­gu­i­ties which Kaplan explores in Crush­ing the Red Flow­ers refuse res­o­lu­tion. It is a tes­ta­ment to her skill as an author that her work acknowl­edges this truth and embraces the para­dox of her char­ac­ters’ dilemmas.”—Jewish Book Council

The Complete Gary Lutz
Gary Lutz | Tyrant Books | 9781733535915 | December 2019
“Gary Lutz is perhaps the best American writer of very short fictions.”—Epiphany
We must be grateful to Tyrant Books for putting all of Gary Lutz’s stories together in this volume—with the hope that The Complete Gary Lutz will be not so complete soon.”—Full Stop

The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler’s Cross: Rescuing a Symbol of Peace from the Forces of Hate
T.K. Nakagaki | Stone Bridge Press | 9781611720457 | September 2018
“This book is recommended for all libraries, especially those that have strong Holocaust collections and collections on interfaith relations.”—Association of Jewish Libraries

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Best Books of 2019

New York Times Best Illustrated

Publishers Weekly Best Books

Top 10

  • From the Shadows by Juan Jose Millas, trans. Thomas Bunstead (Bellevue Literary Press)


  • Black Forest by Valerie Mrejen, trans. Katie Shireen Assef (Deep Vellum Publishing)
  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (Biblioasis)
  • From the Shadows by Juan Jose Millas, trans. Thomas Bunstead (Bellevue Literary Press)
  • Exposed by Jean-Philippe Blondel, trans. Alison Anderson (New Vessel Press)
  • Mars by Asja Bakic, trans. Jennifer Zoble (The Feminist Press at CUNY)



LitHub Best of the Decade


Editors’ Vote




Translated Novels

Kirkus Best of 2019

Historical Fiction

  • Murmur by Will Eaves (Bellevue Literary Press)

Fiction in Translation

  • The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán, trans. Sophie Hughes (Coffee House Press)
  • The Fragility of Bodies by Sergio Olguin, Miranda France (Bitter Lemon Press)
  • The Promise by Silvina Ocampo, trans. Suzanne Jill Levine and Jessica Powell (City Lights Publishers)
  • Night School by Zsófia Bán, trans. Jim Tucker (Open Letter)

Debut Fiction

  • The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán, trans. Sophie Hughes (Coffee House Press)

Picture Books

  • Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer, illus. K-Fai Steele (Enchanted Lion Books)

AV Club Best of the Decade

Leslie Jamison’s Top 10

Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Top 10

Best Comics of the Decade

  • Smut Peddler (2012 Edition) edited by C. Spike Trotman, Johanna Draper Carlson, Trisha L. Sebastian (Iron Circus Comics)
  • You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis (Koyama Press)


Best LGBTQ Books of 2019

Washington Post

Notable Works of Fiction

Library Journal

World Literature



Best of 2019

Columbia Daily Tribune

Best of 2019 Poetry

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This Week’s Reviews

Hai-Dang Phan | Sarabande Books | 9781946448286 | February 2019
“Nimble, cerebral poems.”—Kenyon Review

Martin Peters
Patrick Allaby | Conundrum Press | 9781772620382 | September 2019
“It’s really interesting as a sort of experiment on unreliable narrative. . . . [Patrick Allaby] has a really clever sense of visual metaphors, a clever sense of comics language.”—Comics for Grownups

Death of the Master
Patrick Kyle | Koyama Press | 9781927668719 | October 2019
“Even with all of the alternative comics being published today and experiments happening everywhere. . . it still always manages to knock me on my ass when I read something like Don’t Come in Here, since it absolutely destroyed my idea of what was permissible when creating a comic book. And I am happy to report that all of that continues in, The Death of the Master.”—Comics Journal

The Big Impossible
Edward J. Delaney | Turtle Point Press | 9781885983749 | September 2019

“There is a real depth of feeling in these stories, all of which follow lives from their beginnings to their ends. . . . These stories resonate with the reader, long after putting the book down.”—North of Oxford

Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River
Jung Young Moon, trans. Yewon Jung | Deep Vellum Publishing | 9781941920855 | December 2019

“Off-beat, both in substance and presentation, and good fun as such.”—The Complete Review

A Tall History of Sugar
Curdella Forbes | Akashic Books | 9781617757518 | October 2019

“This one is not to be missed.”—Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Night Angler
Geffrey Davis | BOA Editions | 9781942683780 | April 2019
“Rooted in the pain, wonder and fear of his life as a parent, braided together with his life as a black man, a contemplator of suicide, a son of an abusive father and what is for a writer the perfect avocation—a fisherman.”—America: The Jesuit Magazine

The Tiny Journalist
Naomi Shihab Nye | BOA Editions | 9781942683728 | April 2019
“A sweeping, emotional dive into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on the marginalized. It blends raw storytelling with lived realities to shine a condemning light on the injustices experienced by the Palestinian people.” —America: The Jesuit Magazine

The Human Half
Deborah Brown | BOA Editions | 9781942683803 | April 2019
The Human Half is the kind of poetry book that makes me want to take out my own notebook and write something new and precise. In fact, each phrase of Brown’s poem ‘Write About This’ is a fresh prompt. And if years from now, you read a new poem that feels as if it might have been inspired by a line ‘about an evening full/ of squirrels flying between us,’ know Deborah Brown supplied the writing exercise.” —America: The Jesuit Magazine

Beginner’s Guide to Fantasy Drawing
edit. 3dtotal Publishing | 3dtotal Publishing | 9781909414921 | November 2019
“This is a very hands-on easy-to-follow drawing book that I can easily recommend to beginners.”—Parka Blogs

The Art of Heikala: Works and Thoughts
edit. 3dtotal Publishing | 3dtotal Publishing | 9781909414815 | March 2019
“When it comes to value, this hardback has it in abundance. And if it doesn’t inspire you to put down your stylus and pick up a paintbrush, we don’t know what will.”—ImagineFX Magazine

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This Week’s Hot News

Electric Lit recommended Ananda Devi’s The Living Days, trans. Jeffrey Zuckerman (The Feminist Press at CUNY). Guernica shared an excerpt from the novel on November 4.

The Michigan Daily interviewed Benedek Totth, author of Dead Heat (trans. Ildikó Noémi Nagy, Biblioasis) on October 31.

Grist interviewed Margaret Klein Salamon, author of Facing the Climate Emergency (with Molly Gage, New Society Publishers), for an article about climate anxiety on October 15.

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This Week’s Reviews

The Night Angler
Geffrey Davis | BOA Editions | 9781942683780 | April 2019
“Davis has a quiet dynamism, a magnet that brings us close in. His crafted poems ache with truth, and in their thoughtful coherence connect us to the soul of art.”—Lambda Literary

My Real Name Is Hannah
Tara Lynn Masih | Mandel Vilar Press | 9781942134510 | September 2018

“Inspired by actual events, this novel for all readers should become a young adult classic.”—Federation Star

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This Week’s News

Andri Snær Magnason, author of On Time And Water (forthcoming from Open Letter Books), was featured prominently in The New Yorker on October 20.

Mark Haber, author of Reinhardt’s Garden was interviewed by Martin Riker, author of Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return (both Coffee House Press), in Believer Magazine on October 24.

Tony McAleer, author of The Cure for Hate (Arsenal Pulp Press), was on KMOX St. Louis on October 16, WOCA-AM Ocala, Florida’s AM Ocala Live! on October 30, and KKVI-FM and KYBS-FM Dallas, Texas’ the Valder Beebe Show on October 31. McAleer will appear on WHMP-AM Northampton, Massachusetts’ Bill Newman Showon November 12.

A profile of Steve Healey, author of Safe Houses I Have Known (Coffee House Press), was featured in Mpls.St.Paul Magazineon October 25.

Pen America interviewed Rivers Solomon, author of An Unkindness of Ghosts (Akashic Books), on October 24.

Literary Hub shared their top ten list of best essay collections of the decade on October 29, which included Rebecca Solnit’s The Mother of All Questions (Haymarket Books) and Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends (Coffee House Press). The alternative list contained Charlie Fox’s This Young Monster (Fitzcarraldo Editions) and Elena Passarello’s Animals Strike Curious Poses (Sarabande Books).

Critic Zack Graham recommended Brian Evenson’s Song for the Unraveling of the World (Coffee House Press) in an interview with Literary Hub on October 23.

An excerpt from The Fragility of Bodies by Sergio Olguin (trans. Miranda France, Bitter Lemon Press) was published in CrimeReads on October 23.

Virgie Tovar, author of You Have the Right to Remain Fat (The Feminist Press at CUNY), talked to Kiese Laymon on Michigan Radio’s Same Same Differenton October 14.

LaToya Council, one of the authors of IntersectionAllies (Chelsea Johnson, Carolyn Choi, illus. Ashley Seil Smith, Dottir Press), was on WABE Radio Atlanta Georgia on October 25.

The Translator’s Bride (João Reis, trans. Sónia Oliveira, Open Letter) and The Remainder (Alia Trabucco Zerán, trans. Sophie Hughes, Coffee House Press) were recommended in the Chicago Review of Books on October 25.

Erica Etelson, author of Beyond Contempt (New Society Publishers), wrote an editorial for the Fulcrum on October 15.

Sarah Bowen, author of Spiritual Rebel (Monkfish Book Publishing), was interviewed on Lord Have Mercy on October 19.

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