upcoming releases

Readings: Bakewell, Aziz

I feel like I am finally getting my life back. Might even go running today, if all goes well.

existentialistAfter fairly reading-deprived March, I now seem to be devouring books at a steady clip. I have belatedly dived into Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Cafe, which is very very good if you are looking for non-fiction. I find myself drawn to these types of ‘group biographies’, wherein a certain time period or theme is explored through lives of several people. In this case, philosophy and existentialism in particular are explored through lives of people who started the whole wonderful mess: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Karl Jaspers, and a whole host of others. Bakewell does a fantastic job connecting both philosophy and biography elements of the book, so the volume is both a great intro to existentialism and a fascinating look at some interesting lives.

I also finished The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz (translation by Elisabeth Jaquette). I have woefully enormous gaps when it comes to Middle Eastern literature, so this is filling some of those. The easy description of it would be 1984 mixed with Arab Spring. This is the kind of book reviewers would describe as ‘chilling’, I suppose. It is firmly in the ‘disturbingly true dystopia’ camp. Something called the Gate appears after a failed uprising. The Gate controls all of citizens’ lives, including their access to doctors and healthcare. One must submit applications to have life-saving surgery (which obviously means one does not get said surgery in time to save life). Mind you, the Gate is never open, and so the action takes place almost entirely in the queue that forms in front of it. It is a rather grim little book, but worth reading. Out May 24th.

Advertisements

All the books: August and early September releases

End of August and beginning of September is an amazing time. September in general is heavy on great new releases, and this year it’s almost overwhelming with the number of books I have either read and liked or look forward to reading. Here’s an incomplete list of amazing stuff for your perusal:

1) David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (out 9/2). I read it way back in April, and now I need to reread it because I swallowed it in two sittings, filed it under ‘really liked, but had issue X (specifically, what I called ‘the scouring of the Shire’ ending’), and then promptly forgot all the fine details. A couple of my friends who read it a bit later tried to engage me in conversation about it, and I realized I could not form coherent thoughts. On reread pile it goes. Oh, and if you are anywhere DC on September 17th, Politics & Prose is having an event with Mitchell, details and tickets here (shameless employment place self-promotion). I’ll be there, attempting not to look like an idiot or drool on the author.

mirrorempire2) Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire. This is out on 8/26. I did not get a chance to read the ARC, but I’m quite excited to read the final product. This promises a complex world, gender politics, and a multi-layered story. It’s already been reviewed by a bunch of intelligent and articulate people, if you want to take a look: Alex Ristea at Ristea’s Reads, Justin Landon at Staffer’s Book Review, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn, or Neth at Neth Space. I feel that I should leave this one for when I feel I have enough mental capacity for it, but it seems like an essential book if you are a genre reader.

3) Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs (out 9/9). I had so much fun with this one. Bennett is among one of my favorite writers. I am yet to read anything by him I did not enjoy (incidentally, David Mitchell is in the same category).

4) Jeff Vandermeer, Acceptance (out 9/2), the conclusion to the Southern Reach trilogy. This will firmly solidify your fear of natural world and prevent you from leaving the house or visiting any nature preserves, possibly forever. And once more with the shameless self-promotion: Jeff Vandermeer will be at P&P on September 27th at 6 pm. Of course I’ll be there. If I can leave the house.

hieroglyphThere are many more shiny new books, like Lauren Beukes’s Broken Monsters, or this collection of stories called Hieroglyph (I am still on a short story kick, so this is very exciting). Really, I need to stop here and go read now.

Happy fall. Have all the books.