Like probably most people reading this, last year I read a great deal and obviously can’t mention everything in this space. In terms of these books, I read some chilly motherfuckers and some funny motherfuckers. Here are a few standouts from 2018:
Erika Wurth’s Buckskin Cocaine, a wild and intense collection of Native American voices, with characters in search of their desires and needs—such a strange and necessary book. N. Scott Momaday says, “To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence,” which is a good way to introduce Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.’s wickedly great Sacred Smokes, which I just finished by the way, involving coming of age stories about urban Indians. Speaking of urban Indians, Tommy Orange’s There There is one of the best breakout novels I’ve read and has earned him well-deserved praise. What else? I reread Emmaus by Alessandro Baricco about obsession and sex and youth. Another chilling and extraordinary novel is Yoko Tawada’s The Naked Eye, which I reread every year for its horror and paranoia. Oh! Also, Laura van den Berg’s The Third Hotel, a brilliant, beautiful sort of ghost story, haunted me in the best way. Hannah Lillith Assadi’s Sonora knocked me out with its sadness and beauty. Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation was fun, and she remains one of my favorite young writers writing today. Finally, in the spirit of Borges, James Brubaker’s brand new Black Magic Death Sphere: (Science) Fictions includes stories about time travel, space, games, with metafictional narratives, and a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story that reinforces my belief in the art of fiction.
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The National Book Foundation has announced their 5 Under 35 honorees! The program recognizes 5 debut fiction writers under the age of 35 whose work “promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape.” Each 5 Under 35 author is selected by a previous National Book Award or 5 Under 35 author.
We’re pleased to note that the list this year includes our editor Lydia Kiesling, whose novel, The Golden State, came out earlier this month!
Here’s a list of the honorees, with bonus links where available:
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Sonora by Hannah Lillith Assadi
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher