The Besieged City

New Price: $23.95
Used Price: $4.38

Mentioned in:

Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Makumbi, Savaş, Lispector, and More


Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from the likes of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Ayşegül Savaş, Clarice Lispector, and more—that are publishing this week.

Want to learn more about upcoming titles? 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.

Let’s Tell This Story Properly by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Let’s Tell This Story Properly: “Makumbi (Kintu) captures the struggles of economic uncertainty and assimilation for Ugandans in Britain across decades in this adept collection. In “Our Allies the Colonies,” Abbey, an immigrant lured to England during WWII by army recruitment posters, fathers a son with a white woman who puts him up for adoption without informing Abbey. In “Manchester Happened,” Nnambassa remembers her difficult immigration to Manchester and the arrival of her 14-year-old sister, Katassi, five years later in 1993. Katassi’s teenage entitlement causes a painful estrangement that not even their father’s terminal diagnosis decades later can bridge. In the title story, Nnam returns her dead husband’s body to Uganda, only to learn he had continued to father children with the wife she thought he had abandoned. In “Love Made in Manchester,” 15-year-old Masaaba shocks his British mom and Ugandan father by following through with his online boast about returning to Uganda to take part in the traditional circumcision ceremony. Readers will savor Makumbi’s explorations of characters caught between Uganda and England and the cultural forces of immigration, making for a thoughtful, eloquent collection.”

Walking on the Ceiling by Ayşegül Savaş

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Walking on the Ceiling: “The dislocations of place, identity, time, and truth eddy through Savas’s elegant debut. Back in her native city of Istanbul after her mother’s death, Nurunisa lives amid its constant changes while reflecting on a short but transformative period when she lived in Paris. Seeking to avoid a conventional future and a painful family past, she enrolls in a literature program there. At a bookstore reading, Nunu meets M, an older man whose English-language novels about Turkey she admires. In their emails and long walks, Nunu finds the sense of connection she has longed for. Though their bond is deep, Nunu is not entirely candid with M about the ambiguous figures who have shaped her life, at first eliding some of her most complex experiences with her father, a former writer who descended into mental illness, and her mother, Nejla, with whom she has a fraught relationship; only gradually do these stories emerge. Interweaving past and present, Paris and Istanbul, evasion and epiphany in spare yet evocative prose, Savas’s moving coming-of-age novel offers a rich exploration of intimacy, loneliness, and the endless fluidity of historical, cultural, and personal narrative.”

The Besieged City by Clarice Lispector (translated by Johnny Lorenz)

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Besieged City: “Lispector’s singular 1949 novel, newly translated by Lorenz, unfolds as a series of narrative snapshots taken over the life of a woman. In the quaint township of Sao Geraldo, sometime in the 1920s, young Lucrecia Neves enjoys a tumultuous festival in the company of an aggressive would-be suitor, Lieutenant Felipe. She attends a festive ball, avoids Felipe’s attempted kiss, and shares her boredom and restlessness with her stubborn mother, Ana. But mostly, she describes the world around her in evocative detail. After the festive evening, Lucrecia sleeps ‘like a candle.’ The township, not so much; ‘ants, rats, wasps, pink bats, herds of mares emerged sleepwalking from the sewers.’ Lucrecia later finds love with the courtly and wealthy Matteo Correia, who lavishly indulges her. As she transitions from eligible ingénue to settled married lady, Lucrecia continues to be intensely attuned to her environment. Her health is not what it should be. She observes the patrolling of the local lighthouse, a spider industriously spins a web in her window and, accompanied by the solicitous Doctor Lucas, takes a long constitutional, feeling a strong connection to the land. And life goes on. Lispector’s novel offers a pristine view of an ordinary life, told in her forceful, one-of-a-kind voice that captures isolated moments with poetic intensity.”

The Fox and Dr. Shimamura by Christine Wunnicke (translated by Philip Boehm)

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Fox and Dr. Shimamura: “Wunnicke (Missouri) spoofs the misogynist history of psychology in this clever and rewarding novel of slippery memories tinged with Japanese myths. In the novel’s frame, retired Japanese neurologist Shun’ichi Shimamura is ailing from consumption, watched over by his mother, his wife, her mother, and a maid, who was either a nurse or a former patient. As a new doctor in 1891, Shimamura traveled the countryside in search of women afflicted by a folkloric fox possession. After many false reports, a genuine case shakes Shimamura and becomes even stranger when his annoyingly eager young traveling companion goes missing, and the fox transfers into Shimamura’s body. Hiding his constant fevers and mysteriously sudden allure to women, Shimamura travels to Europe on an imperial government stipend to study neurological disorders. He first goes to France where language barriers frustrate him, and then to Germany, acting as both research assistant and unwitting subject of study, as a male neurotic, for famous pioneers of psychology, including Jean-Martin Charcot and Josef Breuer. In his later years, Shimamura’s own hazy recollections and the interference of his household make for a complicated puzzle about the reliability of the narration. This gracefully amusing blend of history and imagination will beguile readers keen on questionable narrators and magical realism.”

Star by Yukio Mishima (translated by Sam Bett)

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Star: “Mishima’s ethereal 1961 novel, published for the first time in English, showcases the strains of fame on a young movie star. Twenty-three-year-old Rikio Mizuno plays a hardened yakuza in a series of successful films. He has a large, devoted fan base among women egged on by the romantic, wholly fabricated stories from the studio’s public relationship department. In his short nights between long, grueling production days, he finds respite and sexual release with his assistant Kayo. She mocks everything, including their differences in age and beauty, the confessional letters of fans, and a desperate, unstable starlet who ambushes a set in an attempt to land a larger role. Rikio shuns all other trappings of a personal life and defends his choices as necessary to remain a star. Mishima is a master of the psychological: he blurs distinctions between Rikio’s identity and the characters he plays in disorienting but never jarring transitions between movie scenes and reality. Even decades after its original publication, this nimble novella about the costs and delusions of constant public attention will resonate with readers.”

Lie with Me by Philippe Besson (translated by Molly Ringwald)

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Lie with Me: “Besson (In the Absence of Men) rehashes familiar tropes about secret teenage gay romance in this moving but unoriginal novel. Novelist Philippe, who shares many biographical details with the author, falls into a reverie about his first experience of romance when he spots a young man who looks just like his first lover from a couple decades earlier. Philippe, a high achieving 17-year-old student, frets about being gay in 1984 Barbezieux, France. Thomas Andrieu, a much cooler student and the son of a farmer, unexpectedly approaches Philippe with an invitation to lunch. Eating far away from the crowds, Thomas boldly offers a clandestine relationship. Philippe and Thomas pass notes with places and times for their meetings and pretend to not know each other otherwise. The adult Philippe relishes the memories in richly described erotic encounters. Their initially silent trysts blossom into conversation and love, but always remain secret. Thomas abruptly leaves town after school, leaving Philippe to wonder what happened until the chance encounter with the young doppelgänger provides insights and sets the stage for a tragic culmination. Despite the predictable plot, Besson’s writing and Ringwald’s smooth translation provide emotional impact.”

Surprise Me!