This Week’s Hot Reviews

Berg
Ann Quin | And Other Stories | 9781911508540 | June 2019
“This perversely lyrical novel has us rooting for a would-be murderer to just get on with it and kill the guy. . . . Author Ann Quin manages to turn insanity into comedy. . . . What else, besides the demented humor, persuades readers to consent to live in a devolving mind is the manic lyricism, images and metaphors spinning wildly and beautifully out of control. Madcap humor and dark psychology combine in this brilliant riot of a novel, first published in 1964, by a witty British writer who died too young.”—The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Empty Words
Mario Levrero, trans. Annie McDermott | Coffee House Press | 9781566895460 | May 2019
Empty Words contains two threads: the handwriting exercises (complete with distractions) and what Levrero calls ‘The Discourse,’ which has the stated aim of being about nothing. . . . As with the writing exercises, the rules here are strictly limiting. Seen another way, they are freeing. By throwing off the burden of an idea, Levrero can follow his ‘Discourse’ wherever it takes him.”—Rain Taxi

Mitochondrial Night
Ed Bok Lee | Coffee House Press | 9781566895323 | March 2019
“There is a connection between the lofty stars and the microscopic building blocks of life. Lee weaves these threads throughout the collection, tapping into the ways in which we deal with the universality of life. . . . Mitochondrial Night is an emotional and inquisitive investigation into the human condition that might just bring us one step closer to understanding our inescapable humanity.”—Rain Taxi

A Student of History
Nina Revoyr | Akashic Books | 9781617756641 | March 2019
A Student of History continues the tradition of the Los Angeles oil novel, but steers it in a new direction.”—Rain Taxi

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
Chen Chen | BOA Editions | 9781942683339 | April 2017
“A total thrill of a debut poetry collection, gay Chinese-American poet Chen crafts a perfect balance of heartbreak and laugh-out-loud humor with pitch-perfect cadence and rhythm.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

Build Yourself a Boat
Camonghne Felix | Haymarket Books | 9781608466115 | April 2019
“Felix explores what it means, politically to be a black woman in a world of Trump and personally, exploring the ways heartbreak and other points of pain change a person and their body. Build Yourself a Boat was exactly what I needed to read, and revisit, this season as men decided what women should do with their bodies and as I learned to manage heartbreak.”Electric Literature

The Ugly Truth: A Riley Ellison Mystery
Jill Orr | Prospect Park Books | 9781945551444 | June 2019
“This is the third title in Orr’s Riley Ellison mystery series, a string of books which nimbly combines whodunit tropes with a refreshingly contemporary sense of humor and well-drawn small-town characters.”—Columbia Tribune

“Muslim”: A Novel
Zahia Rahmani, trans. Matt Reeck | Deep Vellum | 9781941920756 | March 2019
“Rahmani’s language flows freely like water, despite the weight of her words and their inferences. Her writing is impactful and profound as she attempts to close the gaps in herself, trying to understand her own identity or, rather, one that has been forced upon her.”—Arab News

The Science of Lost Futures
Ryan Habermeyer | BOA Editions | 9781942683605 | May 2018
“In prose that is both eminently readable and reliably beautiful, Habermeyer uses laughter to make you think, thoughtfulness to make you laugh, and all of this to make you feel. The Science of Lost Futures is stranger than truth, and likely stranger than most works of fiction, too. But beneath its disarming charm and evocative imagination is a big beating heart.”—The Harvard Review

House of the Black Spot
Ben Sears | Koyama Press | 9781927668672 | May 2019
“Sears’ strength is absolutely as a visual storyteller, but there’s enough happening in his engaging characters, involving storylines, and light-fingered explorations of contemporary issues that the books are always something to look forward to, and the latest, House of the Black Spot, is a perfect example.”—The Comics Journal

When I Arrived at the Castle
Emily Carroll | Koyama Press | 9781927668689 | April 2019
“The perfect horror story for a rainy day or some night shrouded in fog. . . . A blood-drenched romance and a cartoon gothic opera.”—New York Journal of Books

Berlin Noir
edited by Thomas Wörtche | Akashic Books | 9781617756320 | May 2019
“The thirteen tales are well chosen and the collection skillfully put together by Wörtche. . . . This is definitely a book that should be on the list of all noir lovers.”—New York Journal of Books

The Cursed Hermit
Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes | Conundrum Press | 9781772620306 | October 2019
“Hobtown feels 90s, cool kids peeled off a Lookout Records sticker, and creepy townies as Liquid Television nightmares. It’s proper, and professional, but it’s also punk. If Ted Stearn was working with PT Anderson. A comedic tumble down into the heart of rural darkness.”—Doom Rocket

Exposed
Jean-Philippe Blondel, trans. Alison Anderson | New Vessel Press | 9781939931672 | June 2019
“Fun and delightful. . . . you’ll find it impossible to tear yourself from the page. It’s compelling, sorrowful, playful, and at once completely believable and mature. . . . Love and intimacy, romance and sexuality—they’re all portrayed with a real deft hand by Blondel.”—Books and Bao

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