Buyer's Corner: 2018 Review/Preview

Man! Is this year flying by or what? Here we are at the end of August already, and it seems like just yesterday that we were letting y’all know about all we had coming up in 2018. There have been so many great books already this year, but, as publishers and booksellers ramp up for the Fall and holiday seasons, there will be even more amazing reading to look forward to! So, for the Buyer’s Corner this month, I’ve enlisted the help of some of my fellow Brazosians to take a simultaneous look back at some of the best books to come out so far this year, as well as a sneak peek at the titles we’re most excited about that are still to come. BUYER’S CORNER! REVIEW/PREVIEW 2018! Let’s go, Team B!!!

The New Inheritors By Kent Wascom Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802128171
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Grove Press - July 10th, 2018

Now, y’all are probably tired of me talking your ears off about the third novel from Kent Wascom, but it can’t be said enough how innovative and even revolutionary The New Inheritors is for the genre of literary historical fiction. It is a vivid continuation of a Southern epic, and one of the first novels of the 21st century to consider and even give full sway to the natural world throughout the plot as a character in and of itself. Quite simply, this is a stunning artistic exploration of how we are shaped continuously and at once by our families, our histories, and our environments.

An Untouched House By Willem Frederik Hermans, David Colmer (Translated by), Cees Nooteboom (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Willem Frederik Hermans, David Colmer (Translated by), Cees Nooteboom (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781939810069
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Archipelago - October 23rd, 2018

A disillusioned WWII partisan deserts and finds an abandoned house where he decides to stay. What unfolds is a strange and taut psychological tale of how individuals might choose to ignore the horrors of the outside world until they inevitably come crashing down around them. Ending in an explosion of violence that illuminates the true savagery of the human heart, An Untouched House is a little stick of dynamite. Less than 100 pages and damn near perfect.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath By Leslie Jamison Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316259613
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Little, Brown and Company - April 3rd, 2018

The recovery memoir to end all recovery memories--mostly because Jamison abandons all the cliches of the genre to tell an all-encompassing story of literary torment and social insanity. Yes, she drank, and quit, but the story is powerful because of how far outside herself she can see.

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist By Eli Saslow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385542869
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Doubleday - September 18th, 2018

Saslow's harrowing account of Derek Black and his journey out of white nationalism, which shines a vital light on a segment of our population we need to pay start paying more attention to--seemingly polite white racists--because, y'know, they seem to be running our country.

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The Invented Part By Rodrigo Fresán, Will Vanderhyden (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781940953564
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Open Letter - May 16th, 2017

Although it was published in 2017 I didn't have the chance to read The Invented Part until earlier this year. It's a book of such generosity, inventiveness and sheer originality it doesn't even seem fair. Obsessed with pop culture, language and even a bit of science fiction, The Invented Part is big in every way: ideas, size and good humor. It really has everything going: great prose, strange, unforgettable passages and a flawless translation. I won't try summarizing except to say that it's both brilliant and funny. If the novel as a form, as some suggest, is exhausted, Fresan's book is a salvo, set down with a pat on the back and wink of the eye.

After the Winter By Guadalupe Nettel, Rosalind Harvey (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895255
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Coffee House Press - September 4th, 2018

I was already a fan of Guadalupe Nettel before I read her newest book, After the Winter. Now I could be accused of being a Nettel fanatic. A love story in the sense that love stories are not inherently happy stories. Focusing on two relationships, traveling between Cuba, Paris, New York and Mexico, After the Winter shows the reader, with marvelous prose, that we never truly know one another, no matter how close we get. And that no matter what, at the end of the day, we're almost always in relationships for self-serving reasons. Beautiful, melancholic and universal, I am very excited to share this book at the store. (She'll be in conversation with Rodrigo Hasbun on September 18th)

These Rebel Waves By Sara Raasch Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062471505
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Balzer + Bray - August 7th, 2018

A complex and layered world, a knock-out cast of characters, and an ever increasing descent into chaos the left me breathless - this book has everything. The world is a unique blend of magic, piracy, and politics. The characters are wonderfully dimensional and the plot is fast paced. There are no good options, only the choices that will do the least harm. Absolutely incredible!

The Dictionary of Animal Languages By Heidi Sopinka Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947534520
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Scribe Us - September 4th, 2018

A stunning novel with quiet, prayerful prose to take your breath away. Sopinka flawlessly inhabits the rich inner world of her characters as if she could shed her own skin and become another person. Softly powerful, like the static electricity before a storm. This book is an enchantment!

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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) By Min Jin Lee Cover Image
ISBN: 9781455563920
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - November 14th, 2017

Although it was published in 2017, I didn't get to PACHINKO until this year and once I did, I couldn't put it down. It's everything I want in a story: epic scope, historic setting that I knew little to nothing about, compelling, layered characters, forbidden love, tragedy, and family dynasty and drama. Stretching over many decades, the novel begins early in the 20th century in Korea under Japanese rule. Sunja, the beloved daughter of a poor couple, falls for middle-aged gangster Koh Hansu, finds herself pregnant, and the story barrels on from there. The title is both literal -- Pachinko parlors are both a way for the characters to rise from poverty--but also a metaphor for the bouncing whims of fate and life. PACHINKO is bold, and ambitious, delightfully readable and never pretentious, but also juicy and complex. It has something for everyone.

Damsel By Elana K. Arnold Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062742322
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Balzer + Bray - October 2nd, 2018

I reviewed DAMSEL by Elana K. Arnold for Indie Next and while it's marketed as upper YA, it's this dark and timely crossover adult feminist read, an anti- fairy tale that turns the damsel in distress trope inside out while dealing unflinchingly with violence, sexual assault and more. If you're a fan of titles like Margo Lanagan's disturbing but brilliant Tender Morsels (which definitely isn't for everyone), then DAMSEL is for you.

Chemistry: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) By Weike Wang Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525432227
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Vintage - April 3rd, 2018

Weike Wang's CHEMISTRY is a brilliant debut that's best described as an anti-coming-of-age story that combines humor, science, and depression. It's my go-to recommendation for a read that's fast paced, sharp, and above all hilarious. CHEMISTRY enters the brilliant, albeit missing a few pivotal synapses, mind of our narrator who is a Ph.D. student of chemistry struggling with family pressures, relationship issues, and identity. Don't let this pop of yellow fool you, this book will take you on an emotional rollercoaster: you'll cry in laughter, quiver in a bulgy-eyed frustration at the ones you love (think chihuahuas), and exit contented.

A Winter's Promise: Book One of the Mirror Visitor Quartet By Christelle Dabos, Hildegarde Serle (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609454838
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Europa Editions - September 25th, 2018

Europa Edition's breakthrough into YA, A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos, is one of the books I am highly anticipating this fall. Translated from French and the first of the bestselling series The Mirror Visitor, A Winter's Promise, is set after the Rupture where the world has split apart and each "ark" is ruled by an omnipotent spirit. Perfect for lovers of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials and Hayao Miyazaki films.

The Third Hotel: A Novel By Laura van den Berg Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374168353
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 7th, 2018

This book is for anyone who loves surreal writing, horror films, philosophical questioning, and Alfred Hitchcock films, especially Vertigo! The setting of a Latin American Film Festival in Havana, Cuba creates the perfect sweltering backdrop to this grief driven mystery and completely transports the reader walking alongside the widowed protagonist Clare as she processes the events of her husband’s death that have led her to the film festival. Clare begins seeing her “husband” around Havana which leads her on a mysterious journey where more questions appear than are solved. When you finally put this book down you will continue to draw questions about what it truly means to be married to someone.

The Reckonings: Essays By Lacy M. Johnson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501159008
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Scribner - October 9th, 2018

The Reckonings is a fantastic continuation or introduction to Johnson’s works concerning the subject of her own sexual assault which she writes about in her memoir The Other Side. Through the twelve essays Johnson draws from art, history, philosophy, mythology and many other subjects to discuss our current era of sexual assault, harassment, police brutality, school shootings, and issues with incarceration. This collection focuses on what is wrong and how we should try to fix where society has fallen short. Johnson does not suggest pointing the finger or demanding vengeance, rather embracing honesty and the acknowledgement of all people and the pain they have experienced at the hands of others, society, and the law.

The Emissary By Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani (Translated by) Cover Image
By Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811227629
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: New Directions - April 24th, 2018

My favorite book by Yoko Tawada. Though I read it in 2017, it came out in spring of 2018, which meant I got to spend months talking it up! Japan has cut itself off from a mysterious disaster, and everything (everything!) is affected. Tawada examines so many details of everyday life, twists them slightly, but describes them so lovingly, I felt as connected to the world of THE EMISSARY as much as I feel connected to my own. It's a smart, complicated book that interrogates language, community, and cultural trauma but still drew me in marvelously.

Revolution Sunday By Wendy Guerra, Achy Obejas (Translated by) Cover Image
By Wendy Guerra, Achy Obejas (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781612196619
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Melville House - December 4th, 2018

I am sorry to recommend something so fantastic that we have to wait so LONG for –– REVOLUTION SUNDAY doesn't come out until December! On the other hand, it might just be my favorite book of the year (and that's saying something; I had to laboriously narrow down from a top ten to choose it). Wendy Guerra is one of those remarkable writers who's able to write about her homeland in a way that is very close and loving and subtle, but also sweeping enough to be legible to outsiders. If you want to read about a writer, surveillance, family spies, Cuba, Mexico City, femininity, relationships, drinking with Sting, poem-memorizing housekeepers, parties with the intellectual elite, and more, look out for this one.

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