Category Archives: Reviews

A selection of recent reviews our publishers’ books have received.

This Week’s News

Juan Felipe Herrera, former US poet laureate and author of Every Day We Get More Illegal (Haymarket Books), chatted with Lulu Garcia-Navarro on NPR’s Weekend Edition on September 27. 

Astra Taylor, cofounder of the Debt Collective, was interviewed by Teen Vogue on September 28 about her work to provide assistance to people struggling with debt. The Debt Collective’s Can’t Pay Won’t Pay (Haymarket Books), which has a foreword by Taylor, is a comprehensive look at the American debt crisis and a guide to how we can radically rethink economic inequality.

Akashic Books’ LyricPop series was featured in Romper on September 23. 

Cristina Rivera Garza’s “lucid, poignant” Grieving (The Feminist Press at CUNY) received a rave review in the New York Times Book Review on September 29. 

The Readers’ Room by Antoine Laurain (trans. Emily Boyce, Jane Aitken, and Polly Mackintosh; Gallic Books) was featured in the September issue of Mystery Scene Magazine, which called it a “genuine masterpiece.”

Keiler Roberts, author of Rat Time (Koyama Press), was interviewed in The Comics Journal on September 16.

Two poems from Srikanth Reddy’s Underworld Lit (Wave Books) appeared in Poetry Daily on September 23.

An excerpt from Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau (Coffee House Press) appeared in Electric Literature on September 23. 

A poem from Marvin Bell’s Incarnate: The Collected Dead Man Poems (Copper Canyon Press) was published in NYT Magazine on September 24. 

Climate-Wise Landscaping by Susan Reed and Ginny Stibolt (New Society Publishers) was in Penn Live on September 10.

Some Girls Walk Into The Country They Are From by Sawako Nakayasu (Wave Books) and Yi Sang: Selected Works (edit. Don Mee Choi, trans Jack Jung, Sawako Nakayasu, Don Mee Choi and Joyelle McSweeney, Wave Books) were featured on the NewPages “New and Noteworthy” fall list.

Paisley Rekdal’s Nightingale (Copper Canyon Press) won the Washington State Book Award.

Vancouver After Dark by Aaron Chapman, Rebent Sinner by Ivan Coyote, and Changing Tides: An Ecologist’s Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene by Alejandro Frid, were announced as winners for the 2020 BC and Yukon Book Prize.

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This Week’s Reviews

Like Bismuth When I Enter
Carlos Lara | Nightboat Books | 9781643620190 | April 2020
Like Bismuth When I Enter shows a technician at work on the aesthetic forces of production, an enthusiast laboring under the rusty hood of Surrealism.”—Caesura Magazine

We Want it All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics
Edit. Andrea Abi-Karam & Kay Gabriel | Nightboat Books | 9781643620336 | October 2020
“The editors present this anthology as an experiment: how far can literature written and/or collected from a standpoint of identity. We see a new language and a new form to express the desire to shake the American public out of its lethargy. We see courage here as the writers face suffering. Pain is singular yet it reaches its targets one at a time. We live at a time of indifference and here we are reminded that each one of us is somehow responsible for everything that is done.”—Reviews by Amos Lassen

Topp: Promoter Gary Topp Brought Us the World
David Collier | Conundrum Press | 9781772620320 | May 2020

“Guided by old friend and celebrated comic book artist, Dave Collier, Topp: Promoter Gary Topp Brought Us The World combines memoir and biography, evoking an edgy, sublime style similar to underground artists like Robert Crumb and Harvey Pekar.”—Addicted Magazine

Jump the Clock
Erica Hunt | Nightboat Books | 9781643620244 | October 2020
“Erica Hunt has been publishing poems since the 1980s. Jump the Clock gathers nearly two hundred pages’ worth of them. I generally feel like a poet has some level of talent if, in a chapbook, I find a couple of lines I want to quote; Hunt’s book had me nodding or laughing or wincing in appreciation at least every other page. I emerged from it with the sense that she is, whatever this term might mean, a major poet.”—Plough

Pet Sounds
Stephanie Young | Nightboat Books | 9781937658946 | April 2019
“For Young, the sustained attempt to think beyond the heteronormativity of the nuclear family—to imagine forms of love and care that are configured otherwise—exists alongside a profound longing to return home. This kind of longing is most closely approximated by music, but not simply or straightforwardly, for music is a charged topic as well.”—Public Books

The Piano Student
Lea Singer, trans. Elisabeth Lauffer | New Vessel Press | 9781939931863 | October 2020
“Reads like a dark detective novel of the sort Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt might have written …  This is a moving book, filled with tension and tragedy. We see Horowitz, warts and all … a fascinating read.”—ArtsMuseLondon

Artie Conan Doyle and the Scarlet Phantom
Robert J. Harris | Floris Books/Kelpies | 9781782506089 | April 2020
“Each crime will have readers wondering who the culprit could be; twists and turns add to the plot as our heroes look for clues and even get thrown off the case.”—Youth Services Book Review

Planet Wax
Aaron Lupton, Jeff Szpirglas | 1984 Publishing | 9781948221146 | October 2020
“An illustriously designed tome. For audiophiles, vinyl collectors and soundtrack lovers, this is a must-have book for your collection.”—MovieWeb

The Big Tow: An Unlikely Romance
Ann McMan | Bywater Publishing | 9781612941837 | October 2020
“It’s lighthearted fare that relishes in its own ridiculousness, but McMan grounds the more outlandish flights of fancy in honesty and warmth. Readers are sure to be taken in by the quirky charms of this lesbian love story.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Butter Honey Pig Bread
Francesca Ekwuyasi | Arsenal Pulp Press | 9781551528236 | November 2020
“[A] magical debut . . . unfold[s] in lyrical, emotionally affecting parallel narratives. . . . Written in sizzling prose, Ekwuyasi’s assured, inspired debut will impress fans of Akwaeke Emezi.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Deep as Death
Katja Ivar | Bitter Lemon Press | 9781912242306 | June 2020
“Ms. Ivar’s well-constructed book is full of surprises—and offers a greatly satisfying payoff.”—Wall Street Journal 

Pleasure Activism
adrienne maree brown | AK Press | 9781849353267 | March 2019
“Rooted in black feminist tradition, brown’s book is a call for social justice to reground itself in pleasure.”—Book Riot, “30 best body-positive books”

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This Week’s News

Angela Davis and Shiori Ito were named two of Time Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People of 2020! Davis, author of Freedom is a Constant Struggle (Haymarket Books), was commended for her “unfliching” lifetime dedication to justice. Ito, who became an icon of the #MeToo movement in Japan, has a forthcoming memoir about her experiences, Black Box (Feminist Press at CUNY). 

Sarah J. Sloat’s Hotel Almighty was in the New York Times Book Review‘s roundup of new and noteworthy poetry on September 22, which praised the “fanciful” collages paired with Sloat’s erasure poetry. Appearing in the Times for the second time was Out of Mesopotamia

Aracelis Girmay talked about editing the anthology of Lucille Clifton’s poetry, How to Carry Water, on KCRW’s Bookworm on September 17.

A filmed production of. Heidi Schreck’s Pulitzer-nominated What the Consitution Means to Me (Theater Communications Group) will premiere on Amazon Prime on October 15.

An excerpt from Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell (Transit Books) appeared in Literary Hub on September 9.

Catapult shared an essay by Emily Hashimoto on September 14, author of A World Between (The Feminist Press at CUNY).

Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press) was recommended in Book Riot on September 18.

Five poems from Some Girls Walk Into The Country They Are From by Sawako Nakayasu (Wave Books) appeared in Granta.

American Madness by Tea Krulos (Feral House) was recommended by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on September 10.

Soft Science by Franny Choi (Alice James Books) won an Elgin Award.

Dael Orlandersmith, author of Until the Flood (Theater Communications Group), won a 2020 Doris Duke Artist Award.

Jonathan Hammond, author of The Shaman’s Mind (Monkfish Book Publishing), was interviewed by Abhishek Patel on his podcast Energy2Karma

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This Week’s Reviews

The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Memoir
Bett Williams | Dottir Press | 9781948340311 | September 2020
“You don’t need to be interested in doing psychedelic drugs to find yourself in deep with Williams’ chronicle of finding meaning and healing through mycelium. You might start by merely appreciating the book’s colorfully shroomy cover and compact, ride-along size before you dip a toe into the pleasant warmth of the free-flowing narrative. But soon you’re swimming with abandon. You can’t see the shoreline anymore, and you don’t care. You’re out there in the wild kindness a reader receives from any great writer of psychedelia.”—Sante Fe Reporter

A hot lesbian living in the American Southwest decides to grow her own psychoactive mushrooms. ‘You’ll never guess what happens next!’ I was in the mood for a real YARN when I came across this memoir and it satisfied all of my yarn needs. The author, Bett Williams, has a life of sparkling singularity—one minute she’s recreationally analyzing the works of Willa Cather, the next she’s puking in a juniper tree, or getting accused of felony burglary, or tripping on a straw mattress in rural Mexico, or or or . . . if you’re curious about DIY magic mushrooms, or the psychedelic experience in general, this is a balm. It is the polar opposite of that Michael Pollan book.”—Gossamer

Dispatches from the Race War
Tim Wise | City Lights Publishers | 9780872868090 | December 2020
“A trenchant assessment of our nation’s ills.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Every Day We Get More Illegal
Juan Felipe Herrera | City Lights Publishers | 9780872868281 | September 2020
“Herrera’s formal versatility lends subtlety and nuance to essential political considerations.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Snoozie, Sunny, and So-So
Dafna Ben-Zvi, illus. Ofra Amit, trans. Annette Appel | Enchanted Lion Books | 9781592702824 | October 2020
“Whimsically surreal . . . unfolds with a delicate sweetness that never tips into the saccharine.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

We Want It All
edit. Andrea Abi-Karam, Kay Gabriel | Nightboat Books | 9781643620336 | November 2020
“[A] stunner of an anthology. . . . With creativity and insight, the poems in this collection are truly a rich tapestry that belongs on the shelf next to editor Christopher Soto’s Nepantla: Queer Poets of Color (which was also released by Nightboat, thank you Nightboat!)”—Literary Hub

Taylor Johnson | Alice James Books Press | 9781948579131 | November 2020
“There’s a unique kind of rhythm to this debut collection’s poems, a kind of pulsing thrum that makes them feel alive and fiery. Johnson seems to have tapped into a vital force that jolts the reader, gently and not gently, into a new corporeal space.”—Literary Hub

How to Carry Water
Lucille Clifton, edit. Aracelis Girmay | BOA Editions | 9781950774142 | September 2020
“Keenly edited and with a foreword by Girmay, the collection is a love letter to Black womanhood and motherhood, a historical record of violence and injustice against Black lives, and a reckoning with illness and abuse.”—Publishers Weekly

Srikanth Reddy | Wave Books | 9781940696935 | August 2020
“Sardonic (until it’s tender), funny (until it’s sad), and surreal (yet strikingly real) prose poetry collection/fantasy tale/auto-eulogy.”—Chicago Review

Hotel Almighty
Sarah J. Sloat | Sarabande Books | 9781946448644 | September 2020
“Sarah J. Sloat’s debut poetry collection, Hotel Almighty, is a visual feast. This assemblage of erasure poems and full-color collages is a fantastical, Rubik’s Cube of a delight.”—New York Journal of Books

A Little More Red Sun on the Human
Gillian Conoley | Nightboat Books | 9781643620114 | October 2019
“There are many innovative poets writing now, as Conoley does, freed in varying degrees from continuous discourse, description, argument, etc., but very few of them deliver her sensual impact, cogency, her vivid language, her downright human importance: among today’s innovators she flies virtually soul-o. Poem after poem, there’s intuitive rightness to her words that yields something of the wonder of flocks of birds, schools of fish, veering in their mysterious unisons. Across her career, too, her subjects range widely, from the ambience of her small-town Texas youth, through astronomy, Einsteinian physics, Gandhi, the politics of peace, love poems, and more, all seen in their various lights, sumptuously imagined.”—Poetry Flash

Sports is Hell
Ben Passmore | Koyama Press | 9781927668757 | February 2020
“Set in the aftermath of a Super Bowl victory, Ben Passmore’s Sports Is Hell spotlights human folly, displaying the US at its worst and most ridiculous.”—Hyperallergic

Cyrée Jarelle Johnson | Nightboat Books | 9781643620091 | September 2019
“The book is an incredibly tight, powerful work. The first time I read it, I had to take a walk around the block in the rain. When I say this book does something new, I do not mean that Cyrée Jarelle Johnson is one of those new voices or poets to watch. What I mean is that even if you’ve read thousands of books of poetry, you will be compelled to reread this one. It is unlike whatever you’re reading. This is a debut collection, but this is not an immature work.”—Public Books

Aditi Machado | Nightboat Books | 9781643620299 | November 2020
“[Machado’s] is an expansive lyric, one that exists as a sequence of sections broken into postcard collage, lyric fragment, prose exploration, billboard phrases and doctor’s notes. . . . Emporium is a story told through the collage, the accumulation-collage of fragments, lyrics and prose-structures, one with not even a narrative centre or even the character of the merchant woman, but a seeking, searching, lyric heart.”—rob mclennan’s blog

Outside the Lines
Ameera Patel | Catalyst Press | 9781946395351 | June 2020
“A deftly crafted novel that blends family drama with crime and black comedy, Outside the Lines is a unique and extraordinary novel by an author with an impressive flair for the kind of narrative storytelling that grips the reader’s full attention and invests them in the characters and events portrayed. A riveting read from first page to last.”—Midwest Book Review

The Readers’ Room
Antoine Laurain, trans. Emily Boyce, Jane Aitken, and Polly Mackintosh | Gallic Books | 9781910477977 | September 2020
“Certain to have immense appeal to mystery buffs and bibliophiles alike.”—Midwest Book Review

Villa of Delirium
Adrian Goetz, trans. Natasha Lehrer | New Vessel Press | 9781939931801 | August 2020

“The novel is a relatively quick, pleasurable read—a testament to the skill of the author and translator. . . . The depictions are rich and clear . . . vividly painted. . . . Put yourself in a world of sun and sea, of marble and mosaics, of books and learning for learning’s sake.”—Reading in Translation

American Madness
Tea Krulos | Feral House | 9781627310963 | August 2020
“Where Krulos is most successful is in disentangling conspiracy theorists from the complicated webs they spin. He’s able to situate Richard in a much longer (and sadder) lineage of American madness and the madmen who beget it. The book becomes truly compelling reading when Krulos connects Richard’s life to a broader social history of conspiracism in America.”—Diabolique Magazine

Special Delivery
Elliot Kruszynski | Cicada Books | 9781908714794 | September 2020
“Charming and boldly drawn illustrations add humour to the situation. A perfect book for sharing with young readers who will appreciate the arrival of favourite animals! A lovely book to share with children in an expecting family waiting for their own new arrival.”—My Shelves are Full

Alice Bowsher | Cicada Books | 9781908714787 | October 2020
Scruff by storyteller and artist Alice Bowsher is a charmingly funny and unique picture book story for children ages 3-7 that is sure to charm dog-mad little ones and their parents — making it highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.”

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This Week’s News

Four poems from Yi Sang: Selected Works (edit. Don Mee Choi, trans Jack Jung, Sawako Nakayasu, Don Mee Choi and Joyelle McSweeney, Wave Books) were published in BOMB.

A poem from Ted Kooser’s Red Stilts (Copper Canyon Press) ran in Literary Hub on September 9.

An excerpt from Celebrate Peoples History, edited by Josh MacPhee (The Feminist Press at CUNY), appeared in Hyperallergic onSept 7.

Skyland by Andrew Durbin (Nightboat Books) was featured in an essay about Hervé Guibert in The New Yorker in the September 21 issue.

Rachel Moss wrote an article for BookRiot about her experience illustrating Akashic’s LyricPop series on September 9.

Text, recipes, and photographs from Olive & Thyme by Melina Davies (Prospect Park Books) was excerpted in Magazine C on September 10.

A poem from Raised by Wolves by Amang (trans. Steve Bradbury, Phoneme Media) was featured in Literary Hub on September 11.

The Bishop’s Bedroom by Piero Chiara, trans. Jill Foulston (New vessel Press) was shortlisted for the 2020 Italian Prose in Translation Award.

Stunt by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press) and When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll (Koyama Press) were nominated for the 2020 Joe Shuster Awards.

Andrew Krivak’s The Bear (Bellevue Literary Press) is a finalist for the Banff Centre’s 2020 Mountain Book Competition.

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