December 10, 2022
One of the best features of The Center for Fiction is our Staff Recommendations. This week I asked our Library and Bookstore team to select a few books they especially loved this year to share with you. There is sure to be something for everyone here on your holiday shopping list.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
By Shehan Karunatilaka
Published by Norton
A great examination and critique of the Sri Lankan Civil War and a brilliant use of the 2nd person narrative. Will keep on you the edge of your seat!
⏤ Alana, Bookseller.
The Last Chairlift
By John Irving
Published by Simon & Schuster
The Last Chairlift is a very Irving family saga. The story of Adam Brewster and his unconventional family history has all the qualities readers have come to expect: family secrets, expansive settings, unforgettable characters, and much more. Plenty for fans of this classic novelist to delve into!
⏤Allison, Head Librarian & Education Director
By Juan Emar
Published by New Directions
Translated by Megan McDowell & Alejandro Zambra
An amiable narrator and his wife spend a day in the fictional Chilean city of San Agustín de Tango (situated at coordinates that place it in the middle of the Indian Ocean). As they flit about the city, they are witness, and occasionally party, to the surreal happenings of its denizens. An early master of Latin American experimentalism, Emar captures a distinct strangeness.
By Can Xue
Published by Yale University Press
Translated by Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping
A gentle meditation on the nature of care; for others, places, and oneself. Xue paints a surreal picture of rural life that breaks down the distinctions between self and community, living and dead; human, plant, and animal. I have never found myself as in love with a book. Something holy here.
By Corinne Hoex
Published by Dalkey Archive Press
Translated by Caitlin O'Neil
Bite-sized, these devilishly playful and dreamlike stories about erotic encounters with men reduced to their professions (baker, tailor, gas station attendant, you get the gist) make up one of the best translations I’ve read this year, courtesy of Caitlin O’Neil.
By Shuang Xuetao
Published by Metropolitan Books
Translated by Jeremy Tiang
This came out in the spring but has held firm as one of my favorite books of the year. Jeremy Tiang’s translation is as stunning as ever, and Shuang’s three novellas are humorous, tragic, and just slightly fantastical in the best possible way.
Saint Sebastian's Abyss
By Mark Haber
Published by Coffee House Press
Two old friends turned rivals reconcile in this kooky lil’ novel that takes itself perfectly un-seriously.
⏤Jory, Bookstore Manager.
I Want to Be a Vase
By Julio Torres & Julian Glander
Published by Atheneum Books
A funny, sweet, incredibly stylish book about remembering to be whatever you want to be, even if it’s not what you currently are. A book for all ages to enjoy.
⏤Jory, Bookstore Manager
By R.F. Kuang
Published by Harper Voyager
Books like Babel are why I’ll never stop reading fantasy. Language, magic, and the politics of empire building are put on a collision course here; the result is as brilliant and sharp as you’d expect.
The Tomb of Oedipus
By William Marx
Published by Verso Books
What if everything we thought about the nature of Greek Tragedy was wrong? For French writer and scholar William Marx this isn’t just a hypothetical question. And his answer, as provocative and compelling as one might expect, will have you looking at these ancient works with new eyes.
The Book of Jose
By Fat Joe & Shaheem Reid
Published by Roc Lit 101
Fat Joe is a once in a generation storyteller with an incredible (sometimes unbelievable) story. Any reader who loves a nothing-to-something story should invest time in this book.
⏤marcus, Bookstore Inventory Manager.
By Elspeth Barker
Published by Scribner
I devoured this brilliant gothic tale—compared to both Shirley Jackson and Edward Gorey—of a misfit teenage girl’s last years of life in a Scottish Highlands manse with her awful parents.
⏤Melanie F., Bookstore Buyer
By Ian McEwan
Published by Knopf
McEwan’s best since Atonement. A sexually aggressive piano teacher and a disappearing wife bookend McEwan’s beautiful novel about the search for happiness.
⏤Melanie F., Bookstore Buyer.
damn near might still be is what it is
By marcus scott williams
Published by Noemi Press
From one of our own multi-talented booksellers!
williams takes the reader along on their travels here and abroad, in a poetic style that defies categorization but never fails to intrigue as they explore love, family, Blackness, the world, life.
⏤Melanie F., Bookstore Buyer
Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta
By James Hannaham
Published by Little, Brown and Company
This book has everything: literary lineage back to Joyce, characters that you will NEVER forget.
⏤Melanie M., Senior Director of Public Programming.
A Line in the World
By Dorthe Nors
Published by Graywolf Press
Translated by Caroline Waight
Travel to the coast of Denmark with the always amazing Dorthe Nors as your thoughtful guide (and no need for all the layers of warm clothes).
⏤Melanie M., Senior Director of Public Programming