Notable new books

Jessica Lobaccaro and Lillian Burnes Heath 

Martyrdom. Late capitalism. The meeting of Cortés and Moctezuma. They’re all the subjects of new books that stand out this season. Also out are the latest works by Hanif Abdurraqib, Tommy Orange, Brontez Purnell, and Marilynne Robinson—every one of them authors that delve into unconventional terrains with singular styles.

You Dreamed of Empires, by Álvaro Enrigue; translated by Natasha Wimmer (Riverhead; $28). Enrigue, a Mexican author who lives in New York City, follows up his celebrated 2013 tennis novel Sudden Death with a historical recounting of Cortés and Moctezuma’s fated interaction. To some, “The Meeting” teleologically collapsed into religious conversion; Enrique spins some sin into this myth. 

Martyr!, by Kaveh Akbar (Random House; $28). Akbar’s inspired novel follows a newly sober son of Iranian immigrants who is obsessed with martyrdom. As he embarks on a search for a deep familial secret, he encounters a diverse plethora of guiding stories and philosophizes on life’s meaning. 

The Singularity, by Balsam Karam; translated by Saskia Vogel (Feminist Press; $16.95). In her latest ambitious novel, Karam entwines two women who confront themes of motherhood, generational trauma, migration, and loss. Both narratives offer a devastating but beautiful hymn while decentering the conventional white European voice. 

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Ladies of the Rachmaninoff Eyes, by Henry van Dyke (McNally Editions; $18). A reissue of a witty classic that strikes the same nerve as a facetious sitcom, van Dyke’s novel explores the misadventures of a queer Black teen living with a cast of characters in 1950s Michigan. 

Immediacy: Or; The Style of Too Late Capitalism, by Anna Kornbluh (Verso; $24.95). Kornbluh (Luddite, critic, Lacanian) crusades against selfies and autofiction—and their nullifying temporality. A call for plot, symbolism, and the expansion of exposition in the face of the quickest of transactions. 

Wrong Norma, by Anne Carson (New Directions; $17.95). Carson’s blank spaces are always of a heaving and cutting make. Irrelevantly not verse or prose, Wrong Norma is a gash along the complacent edge of comprehension. 

Ordinary Human Failings, by Megan Nolan (Little, Brown; $27). Nolan, the princess of Dublin’s underdog arts and letters renaissance, investigates salacious street crimes and the agency of children. An unformulaic procedural wherein gossip transmutes itself into dull familial terror. 

Room Swept Home, by Remica Bingham-Risher (Wesleyan University Press; $26). The tendrils attaching five generations of Virginia women—mental illness, childbirth, slavery, belief—serendipitously implode into this paper trail book of poetry. How to memorize and record such slippery recollections? 

Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt: A Memoir in Verse, by Brontez Purnell (MCD; $17). The Bay Area wunderkindpoet returns, after a fabulous record release in the fall, with a memoir about chaos, enemies, and all sorts of boyfriends (and fluids). 

Wandering Stars, by Tommy Orange (Knopf; $29). The prequel to There There, the seminal novel about the pedagogical and aesthetic machinations of genocide. In this new work, Alcatraz and addiction foreground a wheeling passage of time, or an impossible erasure. 

Reading Genesis, by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; $29). Robinson, of canonical titles Housekeeping and Gilead, takes on all creation. Ever the craftsman, she constructs the singularity and prefabrication contained within existence and the finished sentence. 

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension, by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House; $32). From the renowned poet and author, a new memoir reflecting on his personal lifelong love of basketball and the question of home. A unconventional sports book that is ennobled by Abdurraquib’s unique lyrical and emotional flair. 

Through the Night Like a Snake: Latin American Horror Stories (Two Lines Press; $16.95). Published by the San Francisco imprint of the Center for the Art of Translation, this anthology of 10 unsettling stories experiments with the horror genre, finding new fringes in the supernatural. 

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