December Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated (This Month)

December 1, 2021 | 9 books mentioned 4 min read

We wouldn’t dream of abandoning our vast semi–annual Most Anticipated Book Previews, but we thought a monthly reminder would be helpful (and give us a chance to note titles we missed the first time around). Here’s what we’re looking out for this month. Let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments!

Want to know about the books you might have missed? Then go read our most recent book preview. Want to help The Millions keep churning out great books coverage? Then sign up to be a member today.


coverI’m Not Hungry but I Could Eat by Christopher Gonzalez: As the title implies, all the protagonists in this story collection struggle with midnight cravings to some extent. A college graduate attends the bachelor party of a high school crush and has the confusing desire rekindled; a cat-sitter accidentally troubles his friend with the excessive grease of French fries and his undue longing for connection. Though those crucial, intimate moments of self-discovery, the physical sense of hunger gains a metaphorical weight as the constant human yearning for where we can call a home. (Jianan)

coverTell Me How to Be by Neel Patel: Patel follows up his collection If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi with a novel of mother-son and other forms of love and rediscovery set against the backdrop of ’90s R&B. Akash leaves Los Angeles for Illinois, where his widowed mother, Renu, is selling the family home. As they pack up, both confront the errors and regrets of the past. Susie Yang says of the novel ,“Once in a while there comes a book that reminds us of why we read: to feel, to question, to grow…The emotional truth of this indelibly portrayed family and their messy lives will leave you weeping and shattered.” (Lydia)

coverThe Women I Love by Francesco Pacifico (translated by Elizabeth Harris): Pacifico composed a series of idiosyncratic lockdown dispatches from Rome for n+1 in which he mused on his father’s hip replacement and wrote a tongue-in-cheek breakup letter to his writing career. Not so fast, as he has an exuberant new work out in English. Pacifico’s previous novel to be translated, Class, was a bright-young-things tale about Italian ex-pats in New York City. His latest, The Women I Love, is set in Italy and features a middle-aged writer anatomizing the women—lovers, colleagues, relatives—who enrich and complicate his life. (Matt)

coverYou Never Get It Back by Cara Blue Adams: Winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award Series’ John Simmons Short Fiction Prize, Adams’ linked collection captures the life of Kate—a young New England woman navigating her twenties and thirties—with humor, tenderness, and poise. Brandon Taylor, judge of the John Simmons Short Fiction Prize, says: “These stories crackle with restless vitality as women come up against the constraints of their circumstances and what it means to be in the world. Cara Blue Adams has written a modern classic of a collection, as effortless in its idiom as it is fearless in its consideration of contemporary life.” (Carolyn)

coverBright Burning Things by Lisa Harding: Irish writer Harding’s U.S. debut follows Sonya, a former stage performer, as she comes to terms with her failed career, raises her son as a single mother, and falls deeper into her crippling alcoholism. When she must decide between her son and the bottle, Sonya attempts to become sober and come to terms with the traumas that led her there in the first place. Publishers Weekly‘s starred review called the “blistering” novel a “unflinching portrait of a troubled, tender soul takes readers to the depths of the human heart.” (Carolyn)

coverBeasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim: In 1917 Korea, a young girl named Jade is sold to a courtesan school and trained as a servant. After fleeing to Seoul, she meets JungHo, an orphan, and forms a deep lifelong friendship with him. In the decades that follow, Jade becomes a famous performer who falls in (and out of) love with all the wrong men, and JungHo becomes emeshed in Korea’s revolutionary fight for independence. About Kim’s debut novel, Catherine Chung says: “Rapturous, ravishing, and gorgeously rendered, Beasts of a Little Land is a portal to a whole world teeming with life, so full of wonders I wanted it never to end.” (Carolyn)

coverSmall Things Like These by Claire Keegan:  Award-winning Irish writer Keegan’s newest (and already bestselling) novel takes place in the weeks before Christmas 1985. When coal and timber merchant Bill Furlong makes a strange discovery while delivering to a local convent, he must reconcile what he’s seen with his past and present, as well as his small Irish town’s future. “This is the story of what happened in Ireland, told with sympathy and emotional accuracy,” writes Colm Tóibín. “From winter skies to the tiniest tick of speech to the baking of a Christmas cake, Claire Keegan makes her moments real—and then she makes them matter.” (Carolyn)

coverCreative Types by Tom Bissell: In his newest, seven-story collection, Bissell explores the lives of people in the midst of personal and professional crisis. In one story, a married couple hires an escort and receives something unexpected; in another story, a Bush adminstration lawyer—who championed and defended torture during the Iraq War—gets exactly what he deserves. Other stories involve satrize magazine profiles, skewer the entertainment industry, and honeymoons gone wrong. David Means says: “The stories in Creative Types are witty, sharp, and fun as hell to read but also highly serious, fearlessly exposing the foibles of creative people as they try to build lives that feed the muse—or sell themselves out.” (Carolyn)

coverIt’s Getting Dark by Peter Stamm (translated by Michael Hofmann): A model becomes totally obsessed and consumed with a sculpture of herself. A man makes a plan to rob a bank. A man at a remote artists’ residency remembers a brief affair he had thirty years earlier. In his newest collection, Stamm sketches out painfully realistic stories that slowly but surely reveal their strange, uneasy underbellies. Caitlin Horrocks writes: “Peter Stamm doesn’t so much yank the rug out from under the reader as ease it slowly, mesmerizingly away, until we stagger and realize that the world has shifted beneath us. These tales are eerie, menacing delights.” (Carolyn)

coverSea State by Tabitha Lasley: After finally leaving her terrible relationship, ex-journalist Lasley quits her job in London, travels to Aberdeen, Scotland, and spends six weeks interviewing 103 offshore oil riggers. Entrenched in a rough, hypermasculine, and isolating corner of the world, Lasley begins an affair with Caden, a married rig worker. About the debut memoir, Jon McGregor says: “These are powerful and moving stories of working lives in a dangerous and all-male environment, made all the more powerful by the way Lasley refuses to absent herself from the telling. ” (Carolyn)

coverMothers, Fathers, and Others by Siri Hustvedt: Weaving memoir, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature, scholar and writer Hudstvedt’s essays explore gender, family, motherhood, memory, misogyny, and the power of art. Featuring both previously published and new work, Hustvedt’s essay collection has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly (“those less familiar will delight in discovering her witty, lavish style”) and Kirkus (“brilliant and utterly transfixing”). (Carolyn)

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