Now that all the useless gift book/stocking stuffers have come and gone ($9.95 for The Miniature Kama Sutra! $9.99 for The Little Book of Laughable Limericks!) we can return to our ongoing state of anxiety about the future of literature in America. Fortunately, early 2008 will see some interesting — or at least enticing — titles hit the stores.
My Revolutions, by Hari Kunzru
Dutton Books, January 24
Granta has called Hari Kunzru “one of the twenty best fiction writers under forty,” which is the kind of overblown praise that makes us a little nervous, but the book actually sounds pretty compelling. Michael Frame is really Chris Carver, a 1960s radical whose revolutionary past catches up with his contemporary, suburban life. Drama ensues.
The Jewish Messiah, by Arnon Grunberg
(Translated by Sam Garrett)
The Penguin Press, January 10
This is the story of Xavier Radek, the grandson of a Nazi SS officer who befriends the son of a rabbi and subsequently hatches a plan to convert to Judaism and become the political and religious savior of the Jewish people. This sprawling, ambitious novel is nearly 500 pages long and follows Xavier’s rise to power, and his subsequent downfall. Also, apparently, there’s a botched circumcision somewhere in there. Ouch.
Detective Story, by Imre Kertész
(Translated by Tim Wilkinson)
Knopf, January 22
The latest from Kertész, the Nobel Prize-winning author of Fateless, is the story of an interrogator and torturer for a recently defunct dictatorship, as told from his prison cell. Seems timely and topical. Wonder if this is one of those “allegory” things.
Students for a Democratic Society
A Graphic History, by Harvey Pekar; art by Gary Dumm; edited by Paul Buhle
Hill & Wang, January 8
More than their graphic biographies of Malcolm X and Ronald Reagan, Hill and Wang’s graphic history of Students for a Democratic Society seems well-suited to the graphic novel form. SDS’s intense and short existence as an influential, cohesive organization (1962 to 1969, roughly) is put to the page by none other than brilliant weirdo Harvey Pekar and artist Gary Dumm. We’d probably have done better in school if, say, we had graphic novels for the Dark Ages (snooze) and the Reformation (boooo-ring).
You Must Be This Happy to Enter: Stories
by Elizabeth Crane
February, Akashic/Punk Planet Books
McSweeney’s family member Crane has a third collection of stories that promises to be just as vibrant and strange as her earlier work. Plus, it’s coming from Akashic, who’ve had a winning streak with their short fiction and their Punk Planet imprint.
In a Bear’s Eye, by Yannick Murphy
Dzanc Books, February 19
Yannick Murphy’s on a roll recently. McSweeney’s published her novel, Here They Come, last year, and Little, Brown published another novel, Signed, Mata Hari, in November. This collection features the O. Henry Prize-winning title story, In a Bear’s Eye. Now that’s prolific, unless of course you’re Philip Roth, John Updike or Jocye Carol Oates.
The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff
Voice/Hyperion, February 5
Here’s the first sentence of The Monsters of Templeton, the ambitious, multi-generational, multiple perspective first novel by Lauren Groff: “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” We’re not entirely sure, but we think that’s called a hook.
Careless, by Deborah Robertson
MacAdam Cage, February 8
Australian Deborah Robertson’s first novel is an elegiac story that explores how a single act of violence can set off a devastating and unexpected series of events. No quip to make here — there’s, like, a dead kid in this book. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you might not want to read this one until April or May.