Mark's Top 10 Books Under the Radar

With thousands of books released every year it can be difficult for a single book to be noticed or gain recognition. Oftentimes being a bookseller seems like a passion project, an enterprise focused solely on getting those undiscovered gems in people’s hands, perhaps the book with a small publisher or the book not endlessly lauded in the major newspapers and websites. Below is a list of some incredible books that may have been missed, perhaps received some acclaim but not, in my opinion, nearly enough.

The Things We've Seen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781913097301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Fitzcarraldo Editions - August 3rd, 2021

This novel is easily my favorite book of the year as well as a sad statement about the lack of curiosity (or sense of possibility) for major US publishers. How this was largely ignored by American publishers is embarrassing. It's a groundbreaking novel whose themes accumulate slowly until one understands the web Mallo has spun. This novel incorporates history (our own and the world’s): the moon landing, the Spanish Civil War, and moves literally everywhere, from Brooklyn to Florida to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Complex, but never complicated. Ideal for fans of Roberto Bolaño and the films of David Lynch.

Cremation Cover Image
By Rafael Chirbes, Valerie Miles (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811224307
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - November 2nd, 2021

A dense, bitter book about family, money, and the lies we tell ourselves. Told by a chorus of voices, the different characters slowly begin to blend, leaving the reader immersed in the echoes of the greed that took place following the dictatorship in Spain. Ideal for fans of Faulkner.  

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The Breaks Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566896160
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 7th, 2021

What is family? What is it supposed to look like? In stunning prose Singh walks us through a humane and new way of seeing oneself in the world. Told as a letter to her daughter, this book-length essay is tender, loving and filled with some of the most beautiful writing. While never ignoring the social, environmental, and political problems we face, this is a magical and singular book.

Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time (Berlin Family Lectures) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226641355
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Chicago Press - October 27th, 2021

One of America’s great writers returns with a collection of essays ranging from art to subjects as vast as photography, epiphany, and family. A stunning collection that contains essays read at the University of Chicago.

Gallery of Clouds Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681375434
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: New York Review Books - May 11th, 2021

A light and luminous collection that feels like a dream. Steeped in the pleasures of books and reading, Eisendrath focuses on Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th century pastoral romance, Arcadia. Yet the reader needs no knowledge of this work as the essays inside are universal and uplifting. 

Trafik Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566896061
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - April 13th, 2021

Rikki is an American treasure. Her novels and essays are some of the most original and singular works in the last two decades. This tiny novel bursts with imagination and a love of language. A post-earth, cosmic adventure, Quiver (mostly human) and her sidekick robot, Mic travel through space until they find themselves on the run. Evoking a longing for a planet they never knew, Quiver and Mic search for the fabled planet Trafik. An entire galaxy in under 100 pages. Magnificent. 

Western Contingent (American Literature) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781628972825
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - April 1st, 2019

Based largely on events which took place during the Chinese Civil War, Anderson’s brief novel is a powerful statement on the futility, mania, and waste of war. A group of young civilians are conscribed to fight a mysterious enemy and, once indoctrinated, they travel. This, in fact, is all they do: travel. Amidst skirmishes and death the soldiers slowly realize no one is in charge and never has been. Even more frightening, they realize there is no safe haven in their own country. A haunting little novel.

Last Summer in the City: A Novel Cover Image
By Gianfranco Calligarich, Howard Curtis (Translated by), André Aciman (Contributions by), André Aciman (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780374600150
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 10th, 2021

A classic of contemporary Italian literature, this is Calligarch’s first novel translated into English. A young man moves to Rome as a freelance journalist. He mostly drinks, attends parties, and reflects on his circle of friends writing and living in Rome. A love letter to youth, aimlessness, and the classic Italian city. 

Migratory Birds Cover Image
By Mariana Oliver, Julia Sanches (Translator)
ISBN: 9781945492525
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Transit Books - June 22nd, 2021

A thoughtful, provoking meditation on nature, migration, and the spaces we inhabit. This book is both grounded and yet light, with essays on the Berlin Wall, Revolutionary Cuba, and more. Delightful and quietly profound.

Insignificance Cover Image
ISBN: 9781552454343
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coach House Books - September 7th, 2021

 A day in the life of a plumber and yet so much more. It’s the plumber’s first day back at work after a nervous breakdown. The plumber is also a married father whose son went to prison for attempting to kill his mother (yes, the plumber’s wife) believing she was an imposter and not his ‘real’ mother. This novel's inner monologue is as funny and manic as it is sad and human. A tender look at masculinity and mental health. 

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