April 16, 2022
The books this week include a debut novel by one of our own, two books from the ’60s by a highly admired Danish writer, a collection of short fiction from a prolific Mexican writer, a haunting novel from South Korea, and an award-winning Black poet’s newest compilation. Several are in translation, from small presses, and in affordable paperback editions. All shine a light on these writers’ extraordinary facility with language itself.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Tove Ditlevsen
Published by Picador
Translated by Tiina Nunnally
I finally read Ditlevsen’s searingly honest memoirs, The Copenhagen Trilogy, last Christmas. The author, who died by her own hand in 1976, had a tortured inner life, but left a legacy of enduring literature. Her newly released 1968 novel features a children’s book writer driven mad by her obsession with her husband’s infidelities and the belief she is being gaslighted by her housekeeper. Ditlevsen writes so sensitively and humanely about her characters (these ‘faces’), and about mental illness, that you are left with a feeling not exactly of hope but of deep compassion.
The Trouble with Happiness
By Tove Ditlevsen
Published by FSG
Translated by Michael Favala Goldman
As a bonus, there is also a new collection of subtle, dark stories by Ditlevsen in its first English translation. There is definitely a cult around the mysterious Ditlevsen—a bit like the one around Ferrante or Paula Fox, who was also ‘rediscovered’ — and I am an impassioned member..
damn near might still be is what it is
By marcus scott williams
Published by Noemi Press
marcus is one of The Center’s original booksellers and is currently the Inventory Manager. How they have time to write such beautiful and inventive prose, I am not sure. Their debut novel, which we will launch this week, follows a 2017 poetic memoir, Sparse Black Whimsy. In the new novel, williams takes the reader along on their travels here and abroad, in a style and genre that defies categorization but never fails to intrigue as they explore love, family, Blackness, the world, and life.
By Kyung-Sook Shin
Published by Feminist Press
Translated by Anton Hur
Shin, who won a Man Asian Literary Prize (Please Look After Mom), portrays a lonely young woman who works in a flower shop in Seoul where she is trying to make a new home. But amid the urban chaos of the city, she feels vulnerable and insecure, and it is difficult to connect with other people. Violets becomes a metaphor for San’s unstable mind and her feelings of desperation. In San’s search for empowerment Shin’s new novel once again illuminates contemporary life in South Korea and is utterly hypnotic..
New and Selected Stories
By Cristina Rivera Garza
Published by NYRB Dorothy, A Publishing Project
New York Review Books has taken on distribution of Dorothy, a publishing project—a small feminist press that puts out two pieces of fiction each year—which is great news for readers. This collection gathers over three decades of work by an extremely gifted Mexican writer who came to the U.S. in 1988. Working class women in Mexico City, gender identity, migration, a bit of the fantastic, and even Yoko Ono are at the heart of these wide-ranging stories, some reworked and revised from earlier versions and some brand new, all full of rich, thought-provoking language.
By Roger Reeves
Published by W. W. Norton
Professor Reeves, who teaches in the Creative Writing program at UT-Austin and has received a Whiting Award, addresses many present-day issues in this poetry collection, like police violence against Black people, racism, and fatherhood. Early on, he was inspired and influenced by the music of the rapper duo, Outkast. In the eponymous poem, “Rich Black, or Best Barbarian,” he tells us, “the world is always ending while someone is and ain’t being born. . . .” Reeves’s ability to bring a musicality to his poems to talk about the darker issues of contemporary America makes you want to audit one of his classes..