Our preview of books first published overseas
'Memoirs of a Polar Bear' will be out on Nov. 8.
Memoirs of a Polar Bear
Trans. by Susan Bernofsky
Germany: March 17, 2014 | Konkursbuch
U.S.: Nov. 8, 2016 | New Directions
Three generations of talented polar bears—writers, dancers, and circus performers—mix in human circles far from their native North Pole. In this quirky novel, Tawada examines alienation, exile, and artistic endeavor through the bears’ lives, which are rooted in the very real contexts of Soviet censorship, East German totalitarianism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the ...
Annie Proulx photographed by Gus Powell.
Annie Proulx first caught the public’s attention in 1993 with the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Shipping News. The film Brokeback Mountain, based on a Proulx short story, won three Academy Awards. Her latest novel, Barkskins, follows two families from 1693 to modern times as they hitch their fates to the felling of North American forests, which, in turn, brings refuge, tragedy, riches, and hardship to both families. Our reviewer gave Barkskins a rave: “Part ecological fable à la Ursula K ...
Ha Jin photographed by Jerry Bauer.
Though his writing is censored in his native country, Ha Jin says he fails to qualify for full boat-rocker status.
“No, I’m much tamer,” says the National Book Award-winning author, who calls his latest novel The Boat Rocker. In Chinese, he clarifies, that phrase comes across as less iconoclast, more troublemaker—someone whom others would do well to avoid. However, he shares one important distinction with the book’s investigative journalist protagonist.
They’re both blacklisted.
“I’ve been in the States for ...
With all the big-name authors publishing books in September and October, it can be hard for an unknown to get attention (and readers). Here are a few less-heralded titles coming out this month, all from small presses, all of which got starred reviews.
The Loved Ones by Sonya Chung (Relegation Books): Charles Lee, the African-American father of a biracial Washington, D.C., family, forms a powerful relationship with Hannah Lee (no relation), his children’s 13-year-old babysitter, the daughter of ...
John Pipkin photograped by Andrew Damon.
Sometimes you have to chase the story. And sometimes the story chases you. The tension between the two often drives writers mad, but it can also inspire some of their greatest work. John Pipkin is no stranger to this enterprise.
“One of the great challenges of writing fiction is not so much coming up with ideas for topics to write about,” says Pipkin, “but rather how to get access to those topics. Astronomy is something I've always been ...
Adam Haslett photographed by Beowulf Sheehan.
Novelist Adam Haslett started his writing career with his short story collection, You Are Not a Stranger Here, where he explores how sexuality and mental illness affect relationships among families and friends. These issues are what Haslett takes to heart, and most of his work has put individualism in tension with the body in one way or the other. In his new work, Imagine Me Gone, the Lambda Award–winning author introduces his readers to the complex inner workings of an ...
Jonathan Lethem photographed by Jerry Schatzberg.
A gambler’s most important anatomical feature may be nerves, but a reader of Jonathan Lethem’s latest novel, A Gambler’s Anatomy, won’t need nerve; rather, the subtle humor may require a gag on the reader in public spaces. Yet Lethem’s latest novel also plays with serious themes, including identity, high stakes in a novel playing at its own high level.
The protagonist, Alexander Bruno, is a gambler with possible telepathic powers, yet his game of choice, backgammon, as Lethem acknowledges, keeps ...
Bob Dylan photographed by Alberto Cabello.
In 2012, the Pulitzer committee decided not to bestow a fiction award. This year, the Swedish Academy gave the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan. To me, both decisions felt like similar slaps in the face to American writers. I’m not going to argue the relative merits of Dylan’s lyrics, and I don’t think of myself as the kind of critic who wants to police the boundaries of literature. But when no American has won the Nobel since Toni ...