September 2018 Books to Read!

September is one of my favorite months of the year. School has begun again, the nights get longer — it’s time to read. Here are a few coming out this month that caught my attention. Please let me know if there are any I’m missing that you’re excited for.

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.

September 4

River
by Esther Kinsky
translated from the German by Iaian Galbraith (2018)
Transit Books

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Transit Books:

A woman moves to a London suburb near the River Lea, without knowing quite why or for how long. Over a series of long, solitary walks she reminisces about the rivers she has encountered during her life, from the Rhine, her childhood river, to the Saint Lawrence, and a stream in Tel Aviv. Filled with poignancy and poetic observation, River is an ode to nature, edgelands, and the transience of all things human.

Paul reviewed the book for The Mookse and the Gripes here.

Pat Barker The Silence of the GirlsThe Silence of the Girls
by Pat Barker
Doubleday

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Doubleday:

From the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration trilogy comes a monumental new masterpiece, set in the midst of literature’s most famous war. Pat Barker turns her attention to the timeless legend of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War.

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman–Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war’s outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis’s people, but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war–the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead–all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives–and it is nothing short of magnificent.

Charles Bovary, Country Doctor: Portrait of a Simple Man
by Jean Améry
translated from the German by Adrian Nathan West
NYRB Classics

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from NYRB Classics:

Fans of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary will want to read this reimagination of one of literature’s most famous failures, Charles Bovary. Part fiction, part philosophy, Charles Bovary, Country Doctor is also a book about love.

Jean Améry undertakes one of the most unusual projects in twentieth-century literature: a novel-essay devoted to salvaging the poor bungler Charles Bovary from the depredations of his creator, Gustave Flaubert. As a once-promising novelist reduced to hack journalism for two decades after the Second World War, Améry had a particular sympathy for failure, and Charles Bovary, Country Doctor is his phenomenology of the loser, blending fiction and philosophy to assert the moral claims of the most famous, most risible cuckold in all of Western literature. Charles tells his side, Améry vindicates Flaubert’s hated bourgeoisie, and in the end, the Master himself winds up in the docket, forced to account for the implausibility of his own vaunted realism. At the same time, in Charles’s words, Améry offers a moving paean to the majesty of Emma Bovary herself, and to the supreme value of love.


September 11

Moderan
by David R. Bunch
NYRB Classics

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from NYRB Classics:

Welcome to Moderan, world of the future. Here perpetual war is waged by furious masters fighting from Strongholds well stocked with “arsenals of fear,” earth is covered with vast sheets of plastic, and humans vie to replace more and more of their own “soft parts” with steel machinery. What need is there for nature when trees and flowers can be pushed up through holes in the plastic? Who requires human companionship when new-metal mistresses can be ordered from the shop? But even a Stronghold master can doubt the catechism of Moderan. Wanderers, poets, and his own children pay visits, proving that another world is possible.

“The effect is as if Whitman and Nietzsche had collaborated,” Brian Aldiss wrote of David R. Bunch’s stories. Originally published in science-fiction magazines in the 1960s and ’70s and passionately sought by collectors, the stories have not been available in a single volume for nearly fifty years, and this new edition of Moderan will include ten previously-uncollected stories. Like Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange, and borrowing from the Bible and the language of advertising, Bunch coined a mind-bending new vocabulary. His intent was not to divert readers from the horrors of modernity but to make them face it squarely.

CoDex 1962: A Trilogy
by Sjón
translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
Farrer, Straus and Giroux

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Farrer, Straus and Giroux:

Over the course of four dazzling novels translated into dozens of languages, Sjón has earned a global reputation as one of the world’s most interesting writers. But what the world has never been able to read is his great trilogy of novels, known collectively as CoDex 1962 — now finally complete.

Josef Löwe, the narrator, was born in 1962 — the same year, the same moment even, as Sjón. Josef’s story, however, stretches back decades in the form of Leo Löwe — a Jewish fugitive during World War II who has an affair with a maid in a German inn; together, they form a baby from a piece of clay. If the first volume is a love story, the second is a crime story: Löwe arrives in Iceland with the clay-baby inside a hatbox, only to be embroiled in a murder mystery — but by the end of the volume, his clay son has come to life. And in the final volume, set in present-day Reykjavík, Josef’s story becomes science fiction as he crosses paths with the outlandish CEO of a biotech company (based closely on reality) who brings the story of genetics and genesis full circle. But the future, according to Sjón, is not so dark as it seems.

In CoDex 1962, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material and folklore and cosmic myths into a singular masterpiece?encompassing genre fiction, theology, expressionist film, comic strips, fortean studies, genetics, and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.


September 18

Washington Black
by Esi Edugyan
Knopf

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Knopf:

George Washington Black, or “Wash,” an eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master’s brother as his manservant. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning–and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Christopher and Wash must abandon everything. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic. What brings Christopher and Wash together will tear them apart, propelling Wash even further across the globe in search of his true self. From the blistering cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, from the earliest aquariums of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Blacktells a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again, and asks the question, What is true freedom?

My Struggle: Book Six
by Karl Ove Knausgaard
translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Martin Aitken
Archipelago Books

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Archipelago Books:

The final installment in the long awaited, internationally celebrated My Struggle series.

The full scope and achievement of Knausgaard’s monumental work is evident in this final installment of his My Struggle series. Grappling directly with the consequences of Knausgaard’s transgressive blurring of public and private Book Six is a troubling and engrossing look into the mind of one of the most exciting artists of our time. Knausgaard includes a long essay on Hitler and Mein Kampf, particularly relevant (if not prescient) in our current global climate of ascending dictatorships.


September 25

Madeleine L’Engle: The Kairos Novels: A Wrinkle in Time and Polly O’Keefe Quartets
by Madeleine L’Engle
The Library of America

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from The Library of America

Here, for the first time, in a newly-prepared authoritative text, Madeleine L’Engle’s iconic classic A Wrinkle in Time, one of the most beloved and influential novels for young readers ever written, is presented with all seven of its sequels–what L’Engle called the Kairos (or “cosmic time”) novels–in a deluxe two-volume boxed set, complete with never-before-seen deleted passages from A Wrinkle in Time. L’Engle’s unforgettable heroine, Meg Murry, must confront her fears and self-doubt to rescue her scientist father, who has been experimenting with mysterious tesseracts capable of bending the very fabric of space and time. Helping her are her little brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O’Keefe, and a trio of strange supernatural visitors called Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which. But A Wrinkle in Time was only the beginning of the adventure.

In A Wind in the Door, Meg and Calvin descend into the microverse to save Charles Wallace from beings called Echthroi, who are trying to erase existence. In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, when a madman threatens nuclear war, Charles Wallace must save the future by traveling into the past. And in Many Waters, Meg’s twin brothers are accidentally transported back to the time of Noah’s ark. The final four books center on Calvin and Meg’s daughter Polly. In The Arm of the Starfish, Polly disappears, and Calvin’s research assistant is implicated in her kidnapping. In Dragons in the Waters, Polly and her brother Charles are on a ship sailing to Venezuela when they help solve a murder connected to a stolen portrait of Simon Bolivar. Polly receives an education in different kinds of love in A House Like a Lotus. And in An Acceptable Time, Polly is lured through a tesseract by a friend who may be hoping to sacrifice Polly in order to save himself.

American Fictionary
by Dubravka Ugresic
translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth and Ellen Elias-Bursac
Open Letter Books

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Open Letter Books:

In the midst of the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, Dubravka Ugresic — winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature — was invited to Middletown, Connecticut as a guest lecturer. A world away from the brutal sieges of Sarajevo and the nationalist rhetoric of Miloševi?, she instead has to cope with everyday life in America, where she’s assaulted by “strong personalities,” the cult of the body, endless amounts of jogging and exercise, bagels, and an obsession with public confession. Organized as a fictional dictionary, these early essays of Ugresic’s (revised and amended for this edition) allow us to see American culture through the eyes of a woman whose country is being destroyed by war, and forces us to see through the comforting veil of Western consumerism.

Transcription
by Kate Atkinson
Little, Brown and Company

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Little, Brown and Company:

In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.

Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.
Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of the best writers of our time.

The Shape of Ruins
by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
Riverhead

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Riverhead:

The Shape of the Ruins is a masterly story of conspiracy, political obsession, and literary investigation. When a man is arrested at a museum for attempting to steal the bullet-ridden suit of a murdered Colombian politician, few notice. But soon this thwarted theft takes on greater meaning as it becomes a thread in a widening web of popular fixations with conspiracy theories, assassinations, and historical secrets; and it haunts those who feel that only they know the real truth behind these killings.

This novel explores the darkest moments of a country’s past and brings to life the ways in which past violence shapes our present lives. A compulsive read, beautiful and profound, eerily relevant to our times and deeply personal, The Shape of the Ruins is a tour-de-force story by a master at uncovering the incisive wounds of our memories.

The Order of the Day
by Éric Vuillard
translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti
Other Press

Buy from Amazon.com here.

Here is the blurb from Other Press:

February 20, 1933, an unremarkable day during a harsh Berlin winter: A meeting of twenty-four German captains of industry and senior Nazi officials is being held in secret in the plush lounge of the Reichstag. They are there to extract funds for the accession to power of the National Socialist Party and its Chancellor. This opening scene sets a tone of consent that will lead to the worst possible repercussions.

March 12, 1938, the annexation of Austria is on the agenda: A grotesque day intended to make history–the newsreels capture a motorized army on the move, a terrible, inexorable power. But behind Goebbels’s splendid propaganda, an ersatz Blitzkrieg unfolds, the Panzers breaking down en masse on the roads into Austria. The true behind-the-scenes account of the Anschluss–a patchwork of minor flourishes of strength and fine words, fevered telephone calls, and vulgar threats–all reveal a starkly different picture. It is not strength of character or the determination of a people that wins the day, but rather a combination of intimidation and bluff.

With this vivid, compelling history, Éric Vuillard warns against the peril of willfully blind acquiescence, and offers a reminder that, ultimately, the worst is not inescapable.

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By |2018-09-05T16:49:27+00:00September 4th, 2018|Categories: News|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Bellezza September 4, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I’m looking forward to Washington Black (mostly because I like to read the Man Booker long list) and The Shape of Ruins. It’s interesting to me how Madeleine L’Engle’s books keep getting repackaged and republished. I’m glad; she’s one of my favorite authors. One you didn’t mention that I’m looking forward to is The Labyrinth of Spirits, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s last in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books quartet.

  2. Trevor Berrett September 5, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    I haven’t read any of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books quartet, Bellezza, but I keep thinking I should! Would you recommend them strongly?

  3. Bellezza September 6, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    I would recommend them, especially the first (The Shadow of the Wind). You would know from that if you cared to continue on with the rest, and the good part is that now all four are readily available.

  4. David September 6, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    The Shadow of the Wind is one of those very rare books that I abandoned reading after reading about 80% of it. Initially I thought it was a very interesting story, but somewhere along the way it just started to lose all its air. Normally I would finish a book that far in regardless, but I found my lack of interest had me reading it less and less frequently. I finally got to the point where I realized I simply no longer cared what happened and could not justify wading through the last hundred pages to find out. I can think of other books that seemed to overstay their welcome that I finished, but not one I got so far in and then just stopped.

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