March 2018 Books to Read!

Wow, there are a lot of exciting books coming out this March! I’ve already read a few, and they are exciting — I hope to review them soon. In the meantime, please luxuriate in the riches below!

Which ones have I missed that you’re excited about?

The links to Amazon.com are affiliate links, so if you purchase the book (or any item) by going there from this page, we’ll make a bit of money for the site. Do not feel obligated, of course — we’ll keep going regardless! Release dates are based on the U.S. release date.

March 6

Tomb Song
by Julián Herbert
translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Graywolf Press

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Graywolf Press:

Sitting at the bedside of his mother as she is dying from leukemia in a hospital in northern Mexico, the narrator of Tomb Song is immersed in memories of his unstable boyhood and youth. His mother, Guadalupe, was a prostitute, and Julián spent his childhood with his half brothers and sisters, each from a different father, moving from city to city and from one tough neighborhood to the next.

Swinging from the present to the past and back again, Tomb Song is not only an affecting coming-of-age story but also a searching and sometimes frenetic portrait of the artist. As he wanders the hospital, from its buzzing upper floors to the haunted depths of the morgue, Julián tells fevered stories of his life as a writer, from a trip with his pregnant wife to a poetry festival in Berlin to a drug-fueled and possibly completely imagined trip to another festival in Cuba. Throughout, he portrays the margins of Mexican society as well as the attitudes, prejudices, contradictions, and occasionally absurd history of a country ravaged by corruption, violence, and dysfunction.

Inhabiting the fertile ground between fiction, memoir, and essay, Tomb Song is an electric prose performance, a kaleidoscopic, tender, and often darkly funny exploration of sex, love, and death. Julián Herbert’s English-language debut establishes him as one of the most audacious voices in contemporary letters.

Awayland
by Ramona Ausubel
Riverhead Books

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Riverhead Books:

Acclaimed for the grace, wit, and magic of her novels, Ramona Ausubel introduces us to a geography both fantastic and familiar in eleven new stories, some of them previously published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Elegantly structured, these stories span the globe and beyond, from small-town America and sunny Caribbean islands to the Arctic Ocean and the very gates of Heaven itself. And though some of the stories are steeped in mythology, they remain grounded in universal experiences: loss of identity, leaving home, parenthood, joy, and longing.

Crisscrossing the pages of Awayland are travelers and expats, shadows and ghosts. A girl watches as her homesick mother slowly dissolves into literal mist. The mayor of a small Midwestern town offers a strange prize, for stranger reasons, to the parents of any baby born on Lenin’s birthday. A chef bound for Mars begins an even more treacherous journey much closer to home. And a lonely heart searches for love online–never mind that he’s a Cyclops.

With her signature tenderness, Ramona Ausubel applies a mapmaker’s eye to landscapes both real and imagined, all the while providing a keen guide to the wild, uncharted terrain of the human heart.

Trick
by Domenico Starnone
translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri
Europa Editions

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Europa Editions:

Trick is a stylish drama about ambition, family, and old-age that goes beyond the ordinary and predictable. Imagine a duel between two men. One, Daniele Mallarico, is a successful illustrator who, in the twilight of his years, feels that his reputation and his artistic prowess are fading. The other, Mario, is Daniele’s four-year-old grandson. Daniele has been living in a cold northern city for years, in virtual solitude, focusing obsessively on his work, when his daughter asks if he would come to Naples for a few days and babysit Mario while she and her husband attend a conference. Shut inside his childhood home?an apartment in the center of Naples that is filled with the ghosts of Mallarico’s past?grandfather and grandson match wits as Daniele heads toward a reckoning with his own ambitions and life choices.

Outside the apartment, pulses Naples, a wily, violent, and passionate city whose influence can never be shaken.

Trick is a gripping, brilliantly devised drama, “an extremely playful literary composition,” as Jhumpa Lahiri describes it in her introduction, by the Strega Prize-winning novelist whom many coinsider to be one of Italy’s greatest living writers.

Berlin Alexanderplatz
by Alfred Döblin
translated from the Germany by Michael Hofmann
NYRB Classics

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from NYRB Classics:

The inspiration for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s epic film and that The Guardian named one of the “Top 100 Books of All Time,” Berlin Alexanderplatz is considered one of the most important works of the Weimar Republic and twentieth century literature.

Berlin Alexanderplatz, the great novel of Berlin and the doomed Weimar Republic, is one of the great books of the twentieth century, gruesome, farcical, and appalling, word drunk, pitchdark. In Michael Hofmann’s extraordinary new translation, Alfred Döblin’s masterpiece lives in English for the first time.

As Döblin writes in the opening pages:

The subject of this book is the life of the former cement worker and haulier Franz Biberkopf in Berlin. As our story begins, he has just been released from prison, where he did time for some stupid stuff; now he is back in Berlin, determined to go straight. 

To begin with, he succeeds. But then, though doing all right for himself financially, he gets involved in a set-to with an unpredictable external agency that looks an awful lot like fate. 

Three times the force attacks him and disrupts his scheme. The first time it comes at him with dishonesty and deception. Our man is able to get to his feet, he is still good to stand. 

Then it strikes him a low blow. He has trouble getting up from that, he is almost counted out. And finally it hits him with monstrous and extreme violence.

Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories
by Thomas McGuane
Knopf

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Knopf:

From one of our most acclaimed writers, a sumptuous gathering of his singular work in the short form–forty-five stories, including seven entirely new pieces appearing for the first time in book form.

For more than four decades, Thomas McGuane has been heralded as an unrivaled master of the short story. Now the arc of that achievement appears in one definitive volume. Set in the seedy corners of Key West, the remote shore towns of the Bahamas, and McGuane’s hallmark Big Sky country, with its vast and unforgiving landscape, these are stories of people on the fringes of society, whose twisted pasts meddle with their chances for companionship. Moving from the hilarious to the tragic and back again, McGuane writes about familial dysfunction, emotional failure, and American loneliness, celebrating the human ability to persist through life’s absurdities.


March 13

The Right Intention
by Andrés Barba
translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman
Transit Books

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Transit Books:

Nothing is simple for the men and women in Andrés Barba’s stories. As they go about their lives, they are each tested by a single, destructive obsession. A runner puts his marriage at risk while training for a marathon; a teenager can no longer stand the sight of meat following her parents’ divorce; a man suddenly fixates on the age difference between him and his younger male lover. In four tightly wound novellas, Andrés Barba establishes himself as a master of the form.

Heretics
by Leonardo Padura
translated from the Spanish by Anna Kushner
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Farrar, Straus and Giroux:

A sweeping novel of art theft, anti-Semitism, contemporary Cuba, and crime from a renowned Cuban author, Heretics is Leonardo Padura’s greatest detective work yet.

In 1939, the Saint Louis sails from Hamburg into Havana’s port with hundreds of Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the Nazi regime. From the docks, nine-year-old Daniel Kaminsky watches as the passengers, including his mother, father, and sister, become embroiled in a fiasco of Cuban corruption. But the Kaminskys have a treasure that they hope will save them: a small Rembrandt portrait of Christ. Yet six days later the vessel is forced to leave the harbor with the family, bound for the horrors of Europe. The Kaminskys, along with their priceless heirloom, disappear.

Nearly seven decades later, the Rembrandt reappears in an auction house in London, prompting Daniel’s son to travel to Cuba to track down the story of his family’s lost masterpiece. He hires the down-on-his-luck private detective Mario Conde, and together they navigate a web of deception and violence in the morally complex city of Havana.

In Heretics, Leonardo Padura takes us from the tenements and beaches of Cuba to Rembrandt’s gloomy studio in seventeenth-century Amsterdam, telling the story of people forced to choose between the tenets of their faith and the realities of the world, between their personal desires and the demands of their times. A grand detective story and a moving historical drama, Padura’s novel is as compelling, mysterious, and enduring as the painting at its center.

The Sparsholt Affair
by Alan Hollinghurst
Knopf

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Knopf:

From the winner of the Man Booker Prize, a masterly novel that spans seven transformative decades as it plumbs the complex relationships of a remarkable family; an immediate best seller upon its publication in England, hailed by the Observer as “perhaps Hollinghurst’s most beautiful novel yet.”

In 1940, David Sparsholt arrives at Oxford, his sights set on joining the Royal Air Force. Handsome, athletic, charismatic, he is unaware of his powerful effect on others—especially on Evert Dax, the lonely and romantic son of a celebrated novelist who is destined to become a writer himself. With the world at war, and the Blitz raging in London, Oxford exists at a strange remove: a place of quiet study, but also of secret liaisons under the cover of blackouts. A friendship develops between David and Evert that will influence their lives for decades to come.

Hollinghurst’s astonishing new novel evokes across three generations the intimate relationships of a group of friends brought together by art, literature and love.  We witness shifts in taste and morality through a series of vividly rendered episodes: a Sparsholt holiday in Cornwall; eccentric gatherings at the Dax family home; the adventures of David’s son Johnny, a painter in 1970s London. With tenderness, wit and keen insight, The Sparsholt Affair explores the social and sexual revolutions of the past century, even as it takes us straight to the heart of our current age.

Richly observed, emotionally charged, this is a dazzling novel of fathers and sons; of family and legacy; and of the longing for permanence amid life’s inevitable transience, by the writer acclaimed in The Wall Street Journal as “one of the best novelists at work today.”

The Life to Come
by Michelle de Kretser
Catapult

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Catapult:

Set in Australia, France, and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, as societies, and as nations. Driven by a vivid cast of characters, it explores necessary emigration, the art of fiction, and ethnic and class conflict.

Pippa is an Australian writer who longs for the success of her novelist teacher and eventually comes to fear that she “missed everything important.” In Paris, Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka, but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time and can’t commit to his trusting girlfriend, Cassie. Sri Lankan Christabel, who is generously offered a passage to Sydney by Bunty, an old acquaintance, endures her dull job and envisions a brighter future that “rose, glittered, and sank back,” while she neglects the love close at hand.

The stand-alone yet connected worlds of The Life to Come offer meditations on intimacy, loneliness, and our flawed perception of reality. Enormously moving, gorgeously observant of physical detail, and often very funny, this new novel by Michelle de Kretser reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform and distort the present. It is teeming with life and earned wisdom? exhilaratingly contemporary, with the feel of a classic.


March 20

Encircling 2: Origins
by Carl Frode Tiller
translated from the Norwegian by Barbara J. Haveland
Graywolf

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Graywolf:

Book two of The Encircling Trilogy continues piecing together the fractured identity of David, the absent central figure who has lost his memory. Three very different friends write letters about his childhood on the backwater island of Otterøya. Ole, a farmer struggling to right his floundering marriage, recalls days in the woods when an act of pretending went very wrong. Tom Roger, a rough-edged outsider slipping into domestic violence, shares a cruder side of David as he crows about their exploits selling stolen motorcycles and spreads gossip about who David’s father might be. But it is Paula, a former midwife now consigned to a nursing home, who has the most explosive secret of all, one that threatens to undo everything we know about David.

With a carefully scored polyphony of voices and an unwavering attention to domestic life, Carl Frode Tiller shows how deeply identity is influenced by our friendships. The Encircling Trilogy is an innovative portrayal of one man’s life that is both starkly honest and unnervingly true.

Journeying
by Claudio Magris
translated from the Italian by Anne Milano Appel
Yale University Press

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Yale University Press:

A writer of enormous erudition and wide-ranging travels, Claudio Magris selects for this volume writings penned during trips and wanderings over the span of several decades. He has traveled through these years with many beloved companions, to whom he dedicates the book, and sought the kind of journey “that occurs when you abandon yourself to [the gentle current of time] and to whatever life brings.”

Taken together Magris’s essays share a clearly identified theme. They represent the motif of the journey in all its aspects—literary, metaphysical, spiritual, mythical, philosophical, historical—as well as the author’s comprehensive understanding of the subject or, one might say, of his own way of being in the world. Traveling from Spain to Germany to Poland, Norway, Vietnam, Iran, and Australia, he records particular moments and places through a highly personal lens. A writer’s writer and a reader’s traveler, Magris proves that wandering is equal part wondering.

The Valley of the Fallen
by Carlos Rojas
translated from the Spanish by Edith Gorssman
Yale University Press

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Yale University Press:

This historical novel by one of Spain’s most celebrated authors weaves a tale of disparate time periods: the early years of the nineteenth century, when Francisco de Goya was at the height of his artistic career, and the final years of Generalissimo Franco’s Fascist rule in the 1970s. Rojas re-creates the nineteenth-century corridors of power and portrays the relationship between Goya and King Fernando VII, a despot bent on establishing a cruel regime after Spain’s War of Independence. Goya obliges the king’s request for a portrait, but his depiction not only fails to flatter but reflects a terrible darkness and grotesqueness. More than a century later, transcending conventional time, Goya observes Franco’s body lying in state and experiences again a dark and monstrous despair.

Rojas’s work is a dazzling tour de force, a unique combination of narrative invention and art historical expertise that only he could have brought to the page.

The Linden Tree
by César Aira
translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews
New Directions

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from New Directions:

The Linden Tree was written in 2003. In it the narrator, who could be Aira himself (born the same year, in the same place, a writer who is now also living PBK in Buenos Aires) revisits down his childhood memories. Beginning with an enigmatically beautiful black father who gathered linden flowers to make a sleep-inducing tea, and continuing on to an irrational and physically deformed mother of European descent, the narrator also catalogs his best childhood friends and the many gossiping neighbors. Aira creates a colorful mosaic of an epoch in Argentina when the poor, under the guiding hand of Eva Pero´n, aspired to a newfound middle class. Moving from anecdote to anecdote, alternating between the touching, amusing, and sometimes surreal, we are comforted by the fact that for Aira “everything is allegory.”

This is a charming novella?evocative, reflexive, amusing, intelligent?that invites the reader to look further into Aira’s great body of work.

The Italian Teacher
by Tom Rachman
Viking

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Viking:

A masterful novel about the son of a great painter striving to create his own legacy, by the bestselling author of The Imperfectionists.

Conceived while his father, Bear, cavorted around Rome in the 1950s, Pinch learns quickly that Bear’s genius trumps all. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy of his father’s attention–first trying to be a painter himself; then resolving to write his father’s biography; eventually settling, disillusioned, into a job as an Italian teacher in London. But when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father’s legacy–and make his own mark on the world.

With his signature humanity and humor, Tom Rachman examines a life lived in the shadow of greatness, cementing his place among his generation’s most exciting literary voices.


March 27

The Chandelier
by Clarice Lispector
translated from the Portuguese by Benjamin Moser
New Directions

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from New Directions:

Fresh from the enormous success of her debut novel Near to the Wild Heart, Hurricane Clarice let loose something stormier with The Chandelier. In a body of work renowned for its potent idiosyncratic genius, The Chandelier in many ways has pride of place. “It stands out,” her biographer Benjamin Moser noted, “in a strange and difficult body of work, as perhaps her strangest and most difficult book.” Of glacial intensity, consisting almost entirely of interior monologues?interrupted by odd and jarring fragments of dialogue and action?the novel moves in slow waves that crest in moments of revelation. As Virginia seeks freedom via creation, the drama of her isolated life is almost entirely internal: from childhood, she sculpts clay figurines with “the best clay one could desire: white, supple, sticky, cold. She got a clear and tender material from which she could shape a world. How, how to explain the miracle …” While on one level simply the story of a woman’s life, The Chandelier’s real drama lies in Lispector’s attempt “to find the nucleus made of a single instant … the tenuous triumph and the defeat, perhaps nothing more than breathing.” The Chandelier pushes Lispector’s lifelong quest for that nucleus into deeper territories than any of her other amazing works.

The Solitary Twin
by Harry Mathews
New Directions

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from New Directions:

John and Paul were also visitors to the town. They were twins, as identical as can be. They wore the same clothes, chino trousers and open-neck sweaters, in John’s case adorned with a faded maroon neckerchief. Both were addicted to the shellfish harvested year-round from the rocks and sands of the coast: little clams, winkles, cockles, crabs, and above all sea urchins–their dessert, as both said. They drank only McEwan’s India pale ale and smoked the same thin black Brazilian cigars …

So begins the great writer Harry Mathews’s final novel, The Solitary Twin, a rollicking yet incredibly moving story of two young men who come to a picturesque beach town. Seen prismatically through the viewpoints of the town’s residents, they offer a variety of worldviews. Yet are they really twins or a single person?

Harry Mathews, the first American member of the French avant-garde literary society Oulipo, and long associated with the New York School of Poets, passed away this year, and The Solitary Twin is his last novel. “I believe this novel is his finest,” his friend John Ashbery wrote.

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