We took a long, hard look at the season’s offerings from independent and university presses, and, after consulting with PW’s reviews editors and booksellers, came up with a list of 20 books that readers won’t want to miss.
Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Martin Aitkin (Sept., $33, hardcover)
First printing: 15,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Three-city tour, including the 92nd Street Y in New York City and City Arts and Lectures in San Francisco; profiles in PW and GQ.
Weighing in at nearly 1,200 pages, this is a big finish to Knausgaard’s monumental autobiographical work. In a starred review, PW called this “a thrilling conclusion to Knausgaard’s epic series” and noted that “the final book of Knausgaard’s six-volume masterpiece goes maximalist and meta-textual, examining the impact that the autobiographical series has had on the author’s life and the lives of those around him.... The rationale for his project comes into brilliant focus.”
Nicole Chung (Oct., $26, hardcover)
Publicity & marketing plans: Multicity author tour; first serial to Buzzfeed; an ABA Indies Introduce Selection; one of the most anticipated books of The Millions and The Rumpus.
“All You Can Ever Know is a memoir that reads with such urgency and emotional depth that at times it feels like an overheard confession, one not meant for my ears,” says Vanessa Martini of City Lights Books in San Francisco. “But Nicole Chung grabbed me by the hand and made me bear witness alongside her. Her writing is so strong, her voice so sure, even when she’s questioning everything, that I’ll follow her wherever she goes next.”
Guadalupe Nettel, trans. from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (Sept., $16.95, trade paper)
First printing: 10,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Four-city author tour; giveaways on Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.
In a starred review, PW called the latest book from the author of The Body Where I Was Born “an engrossing examination of what happens before and after a brief affair.” The parallel and entwined stories of Claudio and Cecilia move from Havana to Paris to New York City.
Brent Dulak et al. (Sept., $18.95, trade paper)
First printing: 7,500
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour, including book launch at Destiny City Comics in Tacoma, Wash.; launch event at New York Comic Con 2018, where Dead Reckoning will exhibit for the first time; promotional giveaways and contests; social media promotion.
In the first book from Naval Institute Press’s new graphic novel imprint, Sgt. Brent Dulak, an Army medic in Afghanistan, writes about what it was like to be in the military. “This episodic tale of military life has a gritty honesty, like a guy at a dive bar with a story to get off his chest,” PW’s review said.
Wayétu Moore (Sept., $26, hardcover)
Announced first printing: 30,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Multicity author tour; Goodreads giveaway; targeted advertising; social media promotion; BookExpo Buzz Selection; #1 Indie Next Pick.
“Wayétu Moore’s debut novel is an incredible, mythical story of the founding of Liberia, as told through three unique and unforgettable characters: Gbessa, an African woman exiled from her community, who cannot die; June Dey, a slave from Virginia with extraordinary strength; and Norman Aragon, a half-British and half-Jamaican Maroon who can disappear at will,” says Dan Schwartz of Changing Hands in Phoenix, Ariz. “Moore weaves in history, magical realism, spirituality, and just beautiful writing to create a real epic that is unlike any other book.”
Rebecca Solnit (Sept., $15.95, trade paper)
First printing: 30,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Extensive galley distribution, more than 500 copies.
In her latest collection of essays, Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me) turns her attention to the battles over meaning, place, language, and belonging that are at the heart of the defining crises of our time. “While reading these essays, I often found myself nodding along with quiet agreement punctuated with an occasional enthusiastic explosion of ‘Yes!’ or a vigorous and effusive ‘Exactly!’—and a furtive quick glance around to make sure no one was looking,” says Conrad Silverberg of Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee.
Ada Limón (Aug., $22, hardcover)
Publicity & marketing plans: Multicity author tour, including a launch party at Green Apple on the Park in San Francisco and an appearance at the Miami Book Festival; outside publicist.
In a starred review, PW called the fifth collection of poetry from the author of Bright Dead Things “gorgeous” and “thought-provoking,” and noted how “this fearless collection shows a poet that can appreciate life’s surprises.”
Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants
Mathias Énard, trans. from the French by Charlotte Mandell (Nov., $19.95, hardcover)
First printing: 8,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Not available at press time.
The latest book from the author of Compass, which won the Prix Goncourt in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2017, is set in Constantinople in 1506, where Michelangelo becomes immersed in cloak-and-dagger intrigue. “I’m impressed by how Énard is able to animate the historical record in a way that excavates a sense of loss and frustrated desire—it makes for a quick, affecting read,” says Michael Abraham of Book Culture in New York City.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape
Sohaila Abdulali (Nov., $15.99, trade paper)
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; extra ARC mailing with a letter from Sarah McNally of McNally Jackson Books in New York City; giveaways on New Press social media and Goodreads.
This examination of sexual assault is told from the perspective of a writer, counselor, and activist who was gang-raped as a 17-year-old in Mumbai. Sarah McNally of McNally Jackson Books in New York City calls this book “a safe space for survivors, and a broad minded attempt to open the conversation to everyone.” She adds, “It’s a global book, relevant in refugee camps and American suburbs. I hope the world is ready to accept the change this book could bring.” (See our starred review on p. 88.)
Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl
Uwe Johnson, trans. from the German by Damion Searls (Oct., boxed set with two
Publicity & marketing plans: 200 galleys, more than any other NYRB book.
Originally published in Germany in four volumes between 1970 and 1983, this massive work, totaling nearly 2,000 pages, is being published in its entirety in the U.S. for the first time. It follows one year (August 1967–August 1968) in the life of an East German immigrant who lives in New York City with her young daughter, and chronicles a year marked by the murders of Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and Che Guevara; riots in American cities; and the escalation of the Vietnam War.
Martin Rees (Oct., $18.95, hardcover)
First printing: 40,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour, including 92nd Street Y in New York City.
Humanity has reached a critical moment, writes British astrophysicist Rees, who regards our approach to the future as characterized by short-term thinking, polarizing debates, alarmist rhetoric, and pessimism. Former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt calls Rees’s “techno-optimist” book “excellent,” adding, “Here, one of the world’s most eminent scientists takes you through what will happen and why.”
L. Nichols (Sept., $21.95, trade paper)
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour, including appearances MIT’s Media Lab, Comic Arts Brooklyn, and next year’s Chicago Alternative Comics Expo; to be displayed at multiple trade shows, including the Small Press Expo.
In this moving childhood graphic memoir, Nichols, a trans man, draws himself as a rag doll, tormented in his conservative Christian community in rural Louisiana. “Written and drawn with equal parts raw honesty and a wide-open heart,” this work speaks to “the experience of any reader challenged by their gender identity, sexuality, and/or conflicting religious beliefs,” PW’s review noted.
Claire G. Coleman (Sept., $17,
First printing: 10,000
Publicity & marketing plans: National online ad campaign through Litbreaker; excerpt on Literary Hub; reading group guide.
This debut about colonization by an indigenous Australian author turns Australian’s colonial history on its head. The Stella Prize judges called it “an arresting and original novel.... Terra Nullius is a novel for our times, one whose tone is as impassioned as its message is necessary.” The book has been shortlisted for the Stella Prize and longlisted for the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2018; it is the winner of the Norma K. Hemming Award 2018.
Ike’s Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler
Peter Shinkle (Dec., $29.95, hardcover)
Announced first printing: 25,000 copies
Publicity & marketing plans: Three-month East Coast and Midwest author tour, including an appearance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City; outside publicist; large ARC giveaway at the fall regional shows; audio rights licensed to Blackstone.
This book brings a new dimension to the understanding of the inner workings of the Eisenhower White House. It also shines a light on the contributions and sacrifices made by patriotic gay Americans in an era when Executive Order 10450 banned anyone suspected of “sexual perversion” (i.e., homosexuality) from any government job, and gays in the government were persecuted by Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn in the Senate and by J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson at the FBI.
Univ. of California
Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work
Alex Rosenblat (Oct., $26.95, hardcover)
First printing: 15,000
marketing plans: Author tour, including Town Hall Seattle; online and print advertising; two New York Times opinion pieces, one directly referencing the book.
An American startup that promised to deliver entrepreneurship for the masses through its technology, Uber instead built a new template for employment using algorithms and internet platforms, Rosenblat argues. The book paints a future where anyone could be managed by a faceless boss.
Univ. of Chicago
Eve L. Ewing (Oct., $22.50, hardcover)
First printing: 25,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; national advertising; widespread ARC mailing; Twitter and Facebook promotion; Goodreads giveaway.
“Ghosts in the Schoolyard combines fine scholarship and urgent advocacy without compromising either,” says Jeff Deutsch, director of the Seminary Coop Bookstore in Chicago. “Ewing grounds the 2013 Chicago Public School closings within the larger historic context of racist political decisions affecting civic institutions and city services in communities of color. She offers an astute critique of the myopic, decontextualized, and self-fulfilling metrics of success which drive these destructive decisions.”
Liza Jane & the Dragon
Laura Lippman, illus. by Kate Samworth (Oct., $16.95, hardcover)
First printing: 15,000
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; targeted outreach to Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area media, libraries, and bookstores; social media campaign; outreach to schools and libraries and stores with large children’s sections; Lexile Leveling and Guided Reading Leveling; giveaways on LibraryThing and through Advance Access.
Bestselling crime fiction author Lippman’s picture book debut tells the story of what happens when Liza Jane fires her mom and dad and hires the first applicant who comes to the door to be her new parent. The only problem is that the dragon has only one response to all problems: opening his mouth and belching fire. No one wants to play with Liza Jane. And all that fire is bad for the furniture.
James Baldwin, illus. by Yoran Cazac (Aug., $22.95, hardcover)
Publicity & marketing plans: Launch events in New York City, including a symposium at NYU Center for the Arts and a panel at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Goodreads giveaway; teaching guide.
This reissue of Baldwin’s only children’s book, about his nephew Tejan Karefa-Smart, who wrote the foreword, received a starred review in PW: “Through luminous prose and fine observation, readers come to care deeply about TJ and his friends, and they’ll wish their story didn’t end so soon.” Edited and with an introduction by Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody. Afterword by Aisha Karefa-Smart. Ages 10–up.
Christelle Dabos, trans. from the French by Hildegarde Serle (Sept., $19.95, hardcover)
First printing: 50,000
Publicity and marketing plans: Extensive preorder campaign that began with a cover reveal in Entertainment Weekly; book trailer for social and sales platforms; YA influencer outreach campaign; dedicated series website; outside publicist for major media and YA blogger outreach.
Plainspoken, headstrong Ophelia cares little about appearances. Her ability to read the past of objects is unmatched in all of Anima and, what’s more, she possesses the ability to travel through mirrors. But her idyllic life is disrupted when she is promised in marriage to Thorn, a taciturn and influential member of a distant clan. “Dabos’s darkly enchanting debut, a French bestseller, employs vibrant characters, inventive worldbuilding, and a sophisticated plot that will dazzle readers,” noted PW’s starred review.
Yuyi Morales (Sept., $18.99, hardcover)
First printing: 75,000
Publicity & marketing plans: 10-city author tour, including appearances at conferences, trade shows, and festivals; special pitch and galley mailing to reviewers and influencers.
This picture book by Caldecott Honor artist Morales is both a memoir of the author’s journey from Mexico to the U.S. and an illustrated manifesto showing that immigrants have much to offer their new country. Simultaneously published in Spanish as Soñadores. Ages 4–8.
Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the year of the school closings covered in Eve Ewing's Ghosts in the Schoolyard. It also misstated the format of Mathias Énard's Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants.