Literary cats! An Ai Weiwei graphic novel! 22 new books out today.


January 30, 2024, 4:55am

The wheel of this newest of years keeps turning, and that means that the end of January is just about here. It feels astonishing, at least to me, that so much time has passed already. But there can be comfort in little constants when the clock seems to be moving too fast, and one of those is that there will always be new books to look forward (well, until some apocalyptic event, but we’ll leave that bit of dismal speculating to the doomscrollers). For now, there’s a great deal to look forward to.

Below, you’ll find twenty-two exciting new novels, story and poetry collections, and nonfiction books to check out. You’ll find a zodiac-influenced graphic novel by the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei; a striking subculture travelogue by Moshe Kasher; an anthology of writers’ thoughts on cats; an anthology of new and old Black voices in poetry curated by Kwame Alexander; many notable debut novels and stories from established authors; and much, much more.

As February approaches, I hope you’ll pick up one of these new books to start the next month off right.

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Held - Michaels, Anne

Anne Michaels, Held
(Knopf)

“Anne Michaels’s compelling novel, Held, couldn’t be more timely: war and its damages, passed through generations over a century. Through luminous moments of chance, change, and even grace, Michaels shows us our humanity—its depths and shadows.”
–Margaret Atwood

How We Named the Stars - Ordorica, Andrés N.

Andrés N. Ordorica, How We Named the Stars
(Tin House)

How We Named the Stars is a novel of first love and last rites. Ordorica captures perfectly the challenges of building a life out of experience, out of allowing ourselves to feel everything. A beautiful tale of friendship and the comfort found in stories of the past and in the arms of elders, living and dead.”
–Richard Mirabella

Hard by a Great Forest - Vardiashvili, Leo

Leo Vardiashvili, Hard by a Great Forest
(Riverhead)

“[A] spectacular debut….The tense plot ups the ante from one narrow escape to the next, and Vardiashvili layers his seamless blend of genres (police thriller, fairy tale quest, coming-of-age story) with lush depictions of Georgia’s landscape, culture, and resilient people. This will leave readers breathless.”
Publishers Weekly

Zodiac: A Graphic Memoir - Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, Elletra Stamboulis, Zodiac (trans. Gianluca Costantini)
(Ten Speed Graphic)

“The internationally renowned Chinese artist recalls a life of resistance and oppression. In this graphic treatment of his life, with illustrations by Italian artist Costantini, Ai blends manifesto and fairy tale for an audience made up of his young son….Finally allowed to leave the country, Ai continues to resist the Chinese regime, closing with the pointed observation, ‘Any artist who isn’t an activist is a dead artist.’ A welcome introduction to the life and work of an exemplary artist.”
Kirkus Reviews

Puss in Books: Our Best-Loved Writers on Their Best-Loved Cats - Magrs, Paul

Paul Magrs, Puss in Books: Our Best-Loved Writers on Their Best-Loved Cats
(HarperCollins)

“This is a glorious marriage of wonderful words and illustrations. Cat-lovers everywhere will be clamoring for it.”
–Milly Johnson

Subculture Vulture: A Memoir in Six Scenes - Kasher, Moshe

Moshe Kasher, Subculture Vulture: A Memoir in Six Scenes
(Random House)

“A] winning blend of humor and pathos….Kasher is an erudite and charismatic tour guide, providing well-researched introductions to each of his chosen subcultures before diving into his own experiences with them. This will resonate with readers who’ve felt alone in an overwhelming world.”
Publishers Weekly

Root Fractures: Poems - Nguyen, Diana Khoi

Diana Khoi Nguyen, Root Fractures: Poems
(Scribner)

“In Root Fractures, we come face-to-face with a dark gravitational pull, the great black hole of war. Through the Vietnamese American experience, Diana Khoi Nguyen languages a feeling many of us can relate to….Yet, she reminds us, there is a way out. As they ‘illuminate what once was broken,’ each of these poems glimmers and pulses along a pathway out—not for one person alone, but as enduring starlight, for generations to come.”
–Layli Long Soldier

Spectral Evidence: Poems - Pardlo, Gregory

Gregory Pardlo, Spectral Evidence: Poems
(Knopf)

“Infused with a scholar’s deep knowledge of literature, art, and history….[Spectral Evidence is] complex, linguistically rich, and unsparing in its analysis of both the current national psyche as well as the poet’s own.”
Library Journal

This Is the Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poets - Alexander, Kwame

Kwame Alexander, This Is the Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poets
(Little Brown)

“Poet Alexander’s…anthology gathers an astonishing abundance of voices, introducing new poets and also offering a rich gathering of celebrated and familiar voices….This amazing anthology may be the most important poetry collection of this decade. It is a book for poetry lovers, a book for the curious, a book of comfort, a book of prayer, a book of passion and a book of joy, a book of sorrow and a book of desire, but in the end, it is simply and wondrously a grand and glorious book.”
Library Journal

Come and Get It - Reid, Kiley

Kiley Reid, Come and Get It
(Putnam’s)

“Reid returns after her smash hit Such a Fun Age with a sardonic and no-holds-barred comedy of manners….Reid is a keen observer­—every page sparkles with sharp analysis of her characters. This blistering send-up of academia is interlaced with piercing moral clarity.”
Publishers Weekly

Your Utopia: Stories - Chung, Bora

Bora Chung, Your Utopia: Stories
(Algonquin)

“Bora Chung’s stories glisten at the border of our weird world, and all our other weird worlds. A truly sublime book.”
–Samantha Hunt

Good Material - Alderton, Dolly

Dolly Alderton, Good Material
(Knopf)

“Dolly Alderton[‘s] hit memoir Everything I Know About Love distilled lessons learned the messy way in her 20s about romance…and when she later published her debut novel, Ghosts, its plot felt tantalizingly autobiographical….Good Material is her second novel and it allows Alderton to reflect on heartbreak-as-muse while simultaneously propelling her into a more definitively fictional realm….There’s a distinctly Hornbyesque charm to her well-meaning characters and their relatable dramas….[S]olid.”
The Guardian

Dear Sister: A Memoir of Secrets, Survival, and Unbreakable Bonds - Horton, Michelle

Michelle Horton, Dear Sister: A Memoir of Secrets, Survival, and Unbreakable Bonds
(Grand Central Publishing)

“A searing read. The next frontier in preventing abuse against women is shining a spotlight on the cruelty and ignorance with which our courts treat victims of abuse, particularly those who defend themselves against violent men. Dear Sister is an important and painful story, beautifully told.”
–Leslie Morgan Steiner

Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis - Blitzer, Jonathan

Jonathan Blitzer, Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis
(Penguin Press)

“A New Yorker staff writer examines the tragedy of Central America against the backdrop of U.S. immigration policy….It’s a sorrowful yet urgent topic, and Blitzer navigates it with both journalistic rigor and compassion. A sobering, well-reported history in which no one emerges a winner.”
Kirkus Reviews

One Nation Under Guns: How Gun Culture Distorts Our History and Threatens Our Democracy - Erdozain, Dominic

Dominic Erdozain, One Nation Under Guns: How Gun Culture Distorts Our History and Threatens Our Democracy
(Crown Publishing Group)

“A corrective consideration of the right to bear arms. Erdozain delivers a formidable and timely argument: Contrary to the claims of contemporary gun rights advocates, the founders of the U.S. feared the prospect of armed individuals, and the Second Amendment was crafted to guarantee the existence of a supervised collective force rather than the rights of individual gun owners. A profound demolition of misguided gun-rights arguments and a compelling call to action.”
Kirkus Reviews

One Hour of Fervor - Barbery, Muriel

Muriel Barberry, One Hour of Fervor
(Europa Editions)

“Barbery’s beautiful descriptions of nature and her infusion of Japanese folklore and wisdom give her story an elegant and meditative quality. With its many poetic observations on life, this is a perfect novel for book groups.”
Booklist

Wolves of Winter - Jones, Dan

Dan Jones, Wolves of Winter
(Viking)

“Dan Jones brings us his Essex Dogs in a new campaign—the siege of Calais in 1347—where their grim courage and innate violence are thrown against the high walls and deep moats of Calais. A convincing picture of hard men in a hard time, Dan Jones’s fiction rings with the authority of his scholarly history.”
–Philippa Gregory

Errand Into the Maze: The Life and Works of Martha Graham - Jowitt, Deborah

Deborah Jowitt, Errand Into the Maze: The Life and Works of Martha Graham
(FSG)

“A] portrait of a modern dance icon. Veteran dance critic [Deborah] Jowitt offers an authoritative, sensitive biography….Prodigious research informs an insightful [work].”
Kirkus Reviews

Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too - Oluo, Ijeoma

Ijeoma Oluo, Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World—And How You Can, Too
(HarperOne)

“Oluo, author of So You Want To Talk About Race, makes race central to an inspiring look at those fighting against the ‘deep, systemic issues.’ The author considers punishment and incarceration, gender justice and bodily autonomy, labor and business, disability, the environment, education, and the arts, highlighting men and women who are enacting creative solutions to achieve change….An urgent plea for individual and collective action.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Cleaner (Original) - Wells, Brandi

Brandi Wells, The Cleaner
(Hanover Square Press)

“Welcome to the office building at night, an eerie and yet totally mundane ship helmed by one woman desperate for connection and valiantly, perhaps delusionally, striving for meaning in her work. Brandi Wells’ The Cleaner is laugh out loud funny, but its project of validating unseen labor is totally serious. This is a book that celebrates humanity, even while tearing down the corporate culture that denies it in the drollest and wittiest of ways.”
–Julia Fine

A Quantum Love Story (Original) - Chen, Mike

Mike Chen, A Quantum Love Story
(Mira Books)

“Combining the sweet redemption and understated romance of Groundhog Day with the multiple explosive resets of Edge of Tomorrow, this novel from Chen loops its way through a charming story about opposites attracting, the human ability to reset expectations and emotions against all the odds, and the power of one woman willing to make a big sacrifice for a small change that might just save the universe.”
Library Journal

The Excitements - Wray, Cj

CJ Wray, The Excitements
(William Morrow)

“A joy from beginning to end. I loved the jovial adventures of two fearless female nonagenarian war veterans set alongside their intriguing and often thrilling wartime experiences. It’s utterly wonderful.”
–Annie Lyons



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