Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from the likes of Don DeLillo, Emily M. Danforth, and more—that are publishing this week.
The Silence by Don DeLillo
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Silence: “DeLillo (Zero K) applies his mastery of dialogue to a spare, contemplative story of a group of New Yorkers and their response to a catastrophic shutdown of the world’s computer systems on the night of the Super Bowl in 2022. While flying back to New York from vacation in Paris, Jim Kripps reads out the plane’s altitude and speed from a screen while his poet wife, Tessa Berens, plumbs her memory for trivial facts and marvels at her ability to recover information without the assistance of a phone. Jim, an everyman whom the author describes as ‘nondescript,’ assumes the worst when the screens suddenly go blank. Their friend Max Stenner, who, with his professor wife, Diane Lucas, and her former student Martin Dekker, anticipate Jim and Tessa’s arrival at their Manhattan apartment to watch the game, is deeply shaken when his own screen goes blank before halftime. Martin entertains Diane by reciting passages from Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity, which lead to alternately profound and tepid discussions of the shutdown, the cause of which remains unexplained even after Tessa and Jim report to the group on surviving their crash landing and a ride through eerie, dark city streets. In the end, readers gain the timely insight that some were born ready for disaster while others remain unequipped. While the work stands out among DeLillo’s short fiction, it feels underpowered when compared to his novels.”
[Bonus Link: Read our own Nick Ripatrazone’s review and Mark O’Connell’s interview with DeLillo.]
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda (translated by Polly Barton)
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Where the Wild Ladies Are: “Matsuda’s groundbreaking collection (after the novella The Girl Who Is Getting Married) turns traditional Japanese ghost and yōkai stories on their heads by championing wild, complex women. In ‘The Peony Lanterns,’ recently unemployed Shinzaburō gets an eerie visit from two women, Tsuyoko and Yoneko, who try to sell him peony lanterns. Yoneko, the elder of the two, tells Shinzaburō of 30-something Tsuyoko’s tragic life: a motherless daughter with a cruel father, she was forced to leave home before completing high school. Shinzaburō refuses the lanterns, though he gains an epiphany from the women’s unusual sales tactics: ‘nothing terrible would happen if you broke the rules.’ In ‘Quite a Catch,’ a young woman named Shigemi carries on a sexual relationship with the ghost of a woman who was killed by the man she refused to marry. Not all of Matsuda’s stories captivate. ‘Team Sarashina’ is about a group of women who are assigned to various departments in their company and offer their support to flailing coworkers, but it’s too obtuse to get a handle on. Most of Matsuda’s stories, though, hit their mark, particularly her queer, feminist fables, including ‘A Fox’s Life,’ about a woman who passively internalizes sexism in her workplace (‘I’m a girl. I’m just a girl, after all’) until she realizes in middle age that she might be a fox. Matsuda’s subversive revisionist tales are consistently exciting.”
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Plain Bad Heroines: “Danforth’s sumptuous sophomore novel (after The Miseducation of Cameron Post) chronicles the allegedly cursed 1902 memoir The Story of Mary MacLane and its link to the shuttered Brookhants School for Girls in Little Compton, R.I. In the present, Merritt Emmons is reviewing the screenplay adaptation of her book about three students who died at Brookhants in 1902, two of whom were attacked by a swarm of wasps under the watch of principal Libbie Brookhants and her partner Alex Trills, who also met eerie, premature deaths. The dead students had been obsessed with MacLane’s memoir, in which the author invokes the devil to satisfy her desire for women. Merritt has been asked to consult on the film, which features lesbian superstar Harper Harper and subpar but earnest Audrey Wells, who is told by the film’s director that the shoot, on location at Brookhants, will be rigged with spooky events to elicit genuine responses. On set, though, there is very real evidence of haunting. Danforth creates a fantastic sense of dread and champions queer female relationships throughout, delving into Libbie and Alex’s history and how their circumstances doomed them to their fate. Even readers who aren’t fans of horror will appreciate this bighearted story.”
Also on shelves this week: Fugitive Atlas by Khaled Mattawa.