Comics & Graphic Novels
The Best American Comics 2017
Edited by Bill Kartaloupous and Ben Katchor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Working with series editor Kartaloupous, guest editor Katchor (Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer) has curated a rich anthology of works by wildly inventive and eccentric cartoonists including such acclaimed artists as Gabrielle Bell, Michael DeForge, and Tim Lane.
The Customer Is Always Wrong
Mimi Pond. Drawn & Quarterly.
In her latest fictionalized memoir, Pond (Over Easy) returns to 1970s Oakland, once again in the guise of Madge, a cartoonist-waitress at the Imperial Café, a cheap and quirky haven for an irresistible cast of sleazeballs, eccentrics, charmers, and drunks.
Erased, Vols. 1 and 2
Kei Sanbe. Yen.
In this lively seinen (manga for older male readers) fantasy-thriller, a young struggling manga artist (and pizza delivery guy) with the inexplicable ability to time travel, goes back in time 18 years to try and prevent a kidnapping and murder during his childhood.
Fantasy Sports No. 3: The Green King
Sam Bosma. Nobrow.
This is the latest volume in Bosma’s hilarious manga-influenced mash-up of fantasy and conventional sports. In this entry, Wiz, the cool magical teen girl mistress of all sports, and her buddy, the massive Mug, rescue an oppressed kingdom by playing mini golf.
Hellboy in Hell (library ed.)
Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart. Dark Horse.
The story of Mignola’s demon-fighting demon comes to an end with a dark, meditative journey through Hell that ends with Hellboy fulfilling his ultimate destiny. Some of Mignola’s best work ever, the volume collects a pair of stories for both old and new Hellboy fans.
Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four: The World’s Greatest Artist’s Edition
Jack Kirby. IDW.
The ultimate Kirby collectible to celebrate his 100th birthday: an oversize art book with Kirby’s spectacular pencil drawings reproduced in fine detail. The book includes some of his unsurpassed Fantastic Four stories.
Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller. SelfMadeHero.
A vivid and detailed chronicle of the life of Baker (1906–1975) that takes readers from her scandalous Parisian stage debut in 1925 (and admirers such as Picasso and Le Corbusier) to the French Resistance during WWII, her fight against racial bigotry, and, of course, her 12 adopted multiethnic children.
Songy of Paradise
Gary Panter. Fantagraphics.
Punk original Panter follows up his Dante adaptations by taking on John Milton’s “Paradise Regained” with a hillbilly named Songy standing in for Jesus on his 40 days of desert wanderings. Oversized pages give the trippy narrative all the room it needs.
Tenements, Towers and Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City
Julia Wertz. Black Dog & Leventhal.
While the large hardcover format makes this suitable for coffee tables, the engrossing social history of New York as told through its architecture and vanishing storefronts makes this a hard book to put down.
Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
William Moulton Marston et al. DC.
The origin of Wonder Woman’s lasting mythology—her lasso of truth, golden bracelets, and journey to Man’s World—is all here in her early stories from the ’40s, along with some oddball philosophizing from creator Marston. But fans of the movie will still find much to admire.
Kayla Rae Whitaker. Random House.
Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses meet in a college art class. Confident and talented Mel anticipates a career in animation, while quiet, lonely, and inexperienced Sharon knows only that she wants to be an artist. Whitaker tracks the duo’s long career in creating adult cartoons together, and the result is a rich and wonderful look at the creative process and how pain translates into art.
The Burning Girl
Claire Messud. Norton.
Julia is the narrator of Messud’s latest novel, about two young girls, inseparable since nursery school in a small Massachusetts town, who feel they’re “joined by an invisible thread” but drift apart as they come of age. Rife with elegant prose, this novel is haunting and emotionally gripping.
The Book of Disquiet
Fernando Pessoa, edited by Jerónimo Pizarro, trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa. New Directions.
This landmark work of Portuguese literature, first published in 1982, is now presented in English in its totality for the first time. A fictional autobiography or diary containing exquisite melancholy observations, aphorisms, and ruminations, Pessoa’s existential masterpiece bears comparison to Waiting for Godot and “Bartleby, the Scrivener.”
Conversations with Friends
Sally Rooney. Hogarth.
When Frances and Bobbi, former lovers and college students who perform Frances’s poetry together, meet Melissa, a famed photographer who wants to do a story about them, the two young women’s lives are transformed. Rooney’s insightful debut is a treatise on married life, the impact of infidelity, and how the person one chooses to be with can affect one’s individuality.
The Epiphany Machine
David Burr Gerrard. Putnam.
Gerrard’s superb novel has an exhilarating premise: what if there were a machine that could reveal your deepest secret—the uncomfortable truth about yourself you choose to overlook—by tattooing it on your forearm? This is a wildly charming, morally serious bildungsroman.
The Golden House
Salman Rushdie. Random House.
In Rushdie’s ambitious and rewarding novel, René, an aspiring filmmaker, becomes involved with a mysterious billionaire and his three adult sons, who have changed their names and moved to New York City in an attempt to reinvent themselves after a tragedy.
The Last Mrs. Parrish
Liv Constantine. Harper.
Amber Patterson, the heroine of this ingenious debut thriller, will resonate with fans of Gone Girl. She sets her sights on Daphne and Jackson Parrish, a wealthy couple living with their two young children in a tony coastal Long Island Sound community. With singular focus, Amber moves in on the glamorous couple, befriending Daphne and ultimately seducing Jackson as part of her master plan to become the next Mrs. Parrish.
Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng. Penguin.
When the eccentric artist Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, move into a house in Shaker Heights, Ohio, neither they nor their more affluent landlords have any reason to anticipate how dangerously enmeshed the two families will become. This powerful novel about motherhood is also a captivating portrait of an eerily perfect suburban town with dark undertones.
The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman. Simon & Schuster.
Hoffman delights in this prequel to Practical Magic, in which Susanna Owens has fled her home in Massachusetts, married, and settled in New York, where she and her husband raised their three children. Susanna has done her best to keep them away from the powers of magic, but the children can’t deny their special abilities.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
Hannah Tinti. Dial.
Seamlessly transposing classical myth into a quintessentially American landscape and marrying taut suspense with dreamy lyricism, Tinti’s intricate second novel is at its core the story of a daughter and her father, tracing his criminal past through the 12 bullet wounds that scar his body.
Mysteries & Thrillers
Andy Weir. Crown.
Weir follows his bestselling debut, The Martian, with a crime caper set on the first and only city on the moon, a popular tourist destination. Fans of the hit film version of The Martian will be eager to see if Weir can keep up the tension.
Krysten Ritter. Crown Archetype.
Actress Ritter (Marvel’s Jessica Jones) makes her fiction debut with a suspense novel in which Chicago environmental lawyer Abby Williams returns to her Indiana hometown as part of a legal team considering civil litigation against a corporation whose chemicals may have caused illness and damaged crops.
A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery
Ellen Byron. Crooked Lane.
With Christmas and the arrival of Cajun Santa, Papa Noel, looming in Pelican, La., series heroine Maggie Crozat has to act fast to solve the murder of the unscrupulous hedge fund manager who was targeting her family’s company.
The Cuban Affair
Nelson DeMille. Simon & Schuster.
Set in 2015, during the early days of the thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, bestseller DeMille’s thriller takes Florida charter boat captain Daniel “Mac” MacCormick to Cuba, where he attempts to recover a cache of money and documents hidden in a cave.
The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander Novel
David Lagercrantz. Knopf.
Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, still unable to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, enlists the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist to discover the secrets that might finally explain her to herself.
A Legacy of Spies
John le Carré. Viking.
Spy fiction fans will welcome the return of British agent George Smiley, though it’s Peter Guillam, Smiley’s devoted assistant from MI6, who takes center stage as the descendants of victims of a Cold War operation that went awry in East Germany look for restitution.
Linwood Barclay. Doubleday Canada.
In the follow-up to his Promise Falls trilogy, Barclay returns to the upstate New York town of Promise Falls for a thriller that examines the dark intersection of revenge and social media.
Liz Nugent. Scout.
Winner of the Irish Book Award for Crime Novel of the Year, Nugent’s debut, an intense character study, examines the motive behind a seemingly unprovoked attack by children’s book author Oliver Ryan on his wife in their Dublin home.
The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers
Peter Lovesey et al. Soho Crime.
The holiday stories in this anthology range from Mick Herron’s lighthearted title tale to Colin Cotterill’s grim “There’s Only One Father Christmas, Right?” Other contributors include Timothy Hallinan, Sujata Massey, and Stuart Neville.
Felicia Yap. Mulholland.
Yap’s debut, a psychological thriller with a science fiction twist, posits a dual-class society: the elite duos, who can remember the preceding two days of their lives after age 23, and the stigmatized monos, who recall only the previous 24 hours of their lives after age 18.
Nanni Balestrini, trans. from the Italian by Peter Valente. Commune.
Balestrini, a participant in the revolutionary autonomia operaia movement in 1970s Italy, responds to the state’s 1977 crushing of the movement and the New York City blackout of the same year. Translated into English for the first time, this 1980 text takes found-language experimentalism to a new level.
A Doll for Throwing
Mary Jo Bang. Graywolf.
The Bauhaus school, and Lucia Moholy-Nagy in particular, serve as inspiration for Bang’s extraordinary collection of architecturally precise prose poems. Aesthetics, politics, philosophy, identity—all come under consideration as Bang reflects on how environment influences the construction of both self and object.
Eve L. Ewing. Haymarket.
This formally varied debut reveals Ewing as a versatile, deeply perceptive, and imaginative thinker dedicated to the revolutionary potential of art. Social justice is a motivating theme throughout; Ewing’s approach to her material gets her readers to reevaluate their notions of self in relation to community and the space they inhabit in the world.
Heaven Is All Goodbyes
Tongo Eisen-Martin. City Lights.
Eisen-Martin draws on his experiences as an educator and organizer to detail the realities of life in America’s underserved communities: police violence, mass incarceration, economic insecurity, and more. His fresh approach reads more like scattered snippets of street conversation than a tightly regimented lyric, which makes this call to arms work so well.
Joy of Missing Out
Ana Božicˇevic´. Birds.
The antidote to fear of missing out is to instead take joy in doing so. Božicˇevic´ is fully attuned to the pervasive crush of the spectacle, yet in her poems she navigates the world with a disarming sense of calm. Humorous, incisive, and politically savvy, these poems aren’t missing anything.
My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter
Aja Monet. Haymarket.
A community organizer and Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam winner, Monet is both gifted wordsmith and someone who can turn ideas into praxis. In this expansive collection she writes stirringly of transitions from youth to adulthood, black women’s revolutionary lineage, and bonds of solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation.
Tommy Pico. Tin House.
Pico further develops the voice he cultivated in his much-lauded debut IRL, confronting his own reluctance to write about nature as a queer Native American. Frenetic without feeling rushed, this book-length poem puts “natural” behaviors under the spotlight and exposes the liminal zone where self-identification meets cultural stereotypes.
Jen Bervin. Nightboat.
Experimental poetry has a reputation for being unwelcoming, but Bervin, a textile artist and poet, has written a remarkable love poem from the perspective of a silkworm. Her form—inspired by silk’s DNA structure—and content blend into a meditative examination of the inseparability of language and biology.
There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé
Morgan Parker. Tin House.
Black women in America are often stereotyped as being fierce and fearless while their material status regularly forces them to conform to such views for survival. Few writers today address this dichotomy more eloquently than Parker, who faces self-doubt as she pays homage to her forebears.
Javier Zamora. Copper Canyon.
Zamora recounts his harrowing journey to the U.S. as a 9-year-old without legal documents in this heartbreaking collection. He shares tales of the extended family he left in conflict-torn El Salvador and the strain of joining parents he hardly knew in a country where he wasn’t welcome.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
Chen Chen. BOA.
With wisdom and whimsy in equal measure, Chen explores the intertwined nature of shame and desire from his particular perspective as a gay, Asian-American poet. He continually defies expectations, both in the way he transitions between registers and how he deals with his feelings and the situations in which he finds himself.
Romance & Erotica
Sarah Hegger. Zebra.
A clothing store owner stumbles into the good-hearted, good-looking sheriff’s arms in this hilarious and charming Christmas-themed contemporary. Paired with the first book in the series, Positively Pippa, it’s a treat for any fan of small-town romance.
A Christmas to Remember
Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath, Megan Frampton, and Vivienne Lorret. Avon.
Four stars of historical romance combine forces for a spirited anthology that will make any Regency fan’s heart beat faster.
The Christmas Room
Catherine Anderson. Berkeley.
Anderson strikes a vein of love story gold with this tender romance between the descendants of two feuding Montana families brought together by Christmas love.
Wilde in Love: The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 1
Eloisa James. Avon.
A new series from James is always special, and a great opportunity to introduce someone to her work. This intelligent Georgian romance has expertly developed characters and a cliff-hanger conclusion.
Above the Timberline
Gregory Manchess. Saga.
Manchess is best known for his paintings, which grace many sci-fi and fantasy book covers. This beautiful oversize hardcover combines 120 works of Manchess’s art with a near-future adventure story about a man searching for his father in a snowbound lost city.
Fonda Lee. Orbit.
Fans of fantastical action and adventure will love YA author Lee’s intense first book for adults, set in an Asia-inspired alternate world of warring clans, modern technology, and superhuman powers.
A Lot Like Christmas
Connie Willis. Del Rey.
SFWA Grand Master Willis fills this charming retrospective with clever, funny speculative stories about goodness and cheer at Christmastime.
New York Fantastic: Fantasy Stories from the City That Never Sleeps
Edited by Paula Guran. Night Shade.
Anthologies are great gifts, and this one will perfectly suit anyone who loves both New York City and urban fantasy. Contributors include George R.R. Martin, Peter Straub, Naomi Novik, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Holly Black.
The Weight of Words
Edited by Dave McKean and William Schafer. Subterranean. ISBN 978-1-59606-825-4
This magnificent illustrated anthology contains 12 stories inspired by the visions of artist McKean, including stunning works from genre luminaries Caitlín R. Kiernan, Alastair Reynolds, and Catherynne M. Valente.