Books We’re Looking Forward to July – December 2016



Bye Bye Blondie by Virginie Despentes (9781558619272, The Feminist Press)

Virginie Despentes became something of a cult hero after publication of her controversial novel Baise-Moi (and its film adaptation, which Despentes also made). A rape-revenge novel, Baise-Moi is a punk fantasy that takes female rage to its outer limits. Bye Bye Blondie is perhaps less violent but no less punk. It’s a dark romantic comedy starring Gloria and Eric who meet in a psychiatric institution. 20 years later they find each other again; what follows is a novel that cuts deep to unearth the marriage of institutional violence and heterosexual relationships.  – JT

How to Travel Without Seeing by Andres Neuman & Jeffrey Lawrence (9781632060556, Restless Books)

I, like so many other 20-somethings, have the vaguest notions of someday backpacking around Central and South America. Andrés Neuman did something similar after winning the Premio Alfaguara (a prestigious Spanish literary prize), and reflects on the dizzying experience of visiting 19 countries in Latin American in quick succession. Concluding that world travel consists mostly of “not seeing”, Neuman turned his experience into this experimental travelogue somewhere between personal diary and critical essay. – CM

The Acid Test by Clyde Best (9781909245365, de Coubertin Books)

The first black striker to make an impression on the old First Division, Clyde Best was the most unlikely superstar: one of eight children, he boarded a one-way BOAC flight in 1968 for a week-long trial with West Ham – his first time out of the Caribbean. The rest has fallen into footballing folklore, and Clyde’s extraordinarily varied career – including that infamous pre-match acid threat – are recounted here in riveting detail. – TC

One of Us Is Sleeping by Josefine Klougart (9781940953373, Open Letter)

I’ve been on a roll recently with short-ish books by women, written with the view of a woman narrator coming to terms with or seeking to understand better recent events in her intimate life. Impending mortality of one’s loved ones is also a little inescapable in your twenties, so this conflation of the end of our protagonist’s love affair and the end of her mother’s life is irresistible. – HK

An Unreliable Guide to London by Kit Caless and Gary Budden (9781910312223, Influx Press)

Because I’ve been in London a year now and maybe feel Londoner enough to be engaging with guides to the city outside the fold-out map variety, and because I live in Walthamstow and feel validated by Kit Caless’s statement on the book, written after a transcendental experience in Tottenham Hale: “The ordinary people that live in these forgotten, or never-discussed parts of London are the future of the city. As London expands, these parts of the city will get closer to the perceived centre. In the same way that 30 is the new 20 for my generation, so Zone 4 is the new Zone 2.” – HK

Garden of Flesh by Gilbert Hernandez (9781606999356, Fantagraphics)

A sexy, full-colour version of the bible by a Hernandez brother, for less than eight pounds. I love Love and Rockets and nudey art is my fav, so I can’t miss this volume. – HK

Tatterhood by Ethel Johnston Phelps (9781558619296, The Feminist Press)

Ghostbusters has me really excited for a new wave of stories for children featuring more than now-stereotypical “strong female leads”, instead featuring real, varied representations of women in control. In reality these stories have been around forever – Ethel Johnston Phelps compiled two volumes of feminist folktales from around the world during the twentieth century, and The Feminist Press are releasing an updated collection of twelve of them, with all-new illustrations. All the central characters are spirited women – decisive heroes of extraordinary courage, wit and achievement who set out to determine their own fate. Parents, please buy this for you kids! – HK



God in Pink by Hasan Namir (9781551526065, Arsenal Pulp Press)

God in Pink is a novel about what it means to be queer and Muslim. It follows Ramy, who struggles to find a balance between his sexuality, religion and culture. Incredibly topical and timely, the book sheds light on a subject not often explored and gives a voice to a part of the LGBTQ community not often heard. – JT

The Young Bride by Alessandro Baricco (Europa Editions, 9781609453343)

This novel tells the story of a young woman who has been promised in marriage to the son of a noble family. She arrives at their villa to find a fantastically strange world, where the inhabitants never sleep and the atmosphere quickly turns surreal. Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, best known as Elena Ferrante’s translator, The Young Bride looks to be a magical realist classic in the tradition of Angela Carter. – CM

Hip Hop Family Tree Book 4: 1984-85 by Ed Piskor (9781606999400, Fantagraphics)

Previous volumes of Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree have focused on the genre’s primordial swamp – block parties, records cut on no budget, gang feuds disguised as rap battles… by Volume 4 everything has changed; some hip hop artists are starting to hit serious paydirt. Piskor’s peerless musical history charts the rise of Def Jam and the emergence of key ‘crossover’ artists like Eric B & Rakim, Salt ‘n’ Pepa, and some guy called Will Smith… – TC

Feeding Time by Adam Biles (9781910296684, Galley Beggar Press)

As our life expectancy edges ever onwards, we still seem to pay as little attention to octogenarians and upwards as ever – if they’re not your granny, they seem to lose their humanity in the eyes of the rest of the world. Adam Biles has dedicated his debut novel to this group, featuring a home full of folk who just “happen to be old,” and who are, unsurprisingly, treated woefully by the staff of Green Oaks. Biles comes to his first novel with a bank of wr credits and praise, and Galley Beggar have long earned the trust of those readers looking for something a bit strange. – HK

Critical Hits edited by Zoe Jellicoe (9781910742471, Liberties Press)

I’m all for the expansion of geek culture outside of traditional (male) gatekeepers’ grasp. Zoe Jellicoe – an editor I’ve had an eye on since my earliest publishing career aspirations sprung in early 2010s Dublin – seems the perfect woman to do this. The dawn of the online download store on our current consoles has done away with the limits of your local GAME, and opened up access to an incredible array of indie games of genres so varied, even the most diehard annual FIFA buyers are bound to have a couple in their library. Essays on this new frontier of gaming in Critical Hits from players and pros are crucial to understanding our new choice of entertainment. – HK



We Go Out & We Learn at Home by Miriam & Ezra Elia (9780992834982/ 9780992834999, Dung Beetle Press)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know about the hilarious, misanthropic genius of Miriam Elia’s Ladybird parody We Go to the Gallery. It’s so good it even spawned a load of lesser imitations. Well guess what?… This September she is releasing two new books! I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peek and I promise they are every bit as awesome. In We Go Out, Mummy takes Susan and John around London to introduce them to the different types of oppression in everyday life. In We Learn at Home, Mummy takes Susan and John out of school to teach them an alternative world view from home. – JT

Jerusalem by Alan Moore (9780861662548, Knockabout)

The creator of Watchmen, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta, to name but a few, returns with a typically ambitious and grandiose tome about his hometown of Northampton. Fans have speculated about this story for years, and at over 600,000 words (placing it in the top 10 longest novels in the English language) it’s definitely going to be extraordinary. Moore employs a wide variety of styles – from prose, to poetry and even a play – to create an opulent mythology of England’s Saxon capital. – CM

Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood and Johnnie Christmas (9781506700632, Dark Horse)

When Margaret Atwood fictionalises her own childhood dream of seeing birds and cats get along, you pay attention. The artwork is beautiful and the cat puns are flowing in this superhero comic from the mind of a sci-fi master. – HK

The Longest Day of the Future by Lucas Varela (9781606999516, Fantagraphics)

This reminds me of a futuristic The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan – a wordless graphic novel that takes down consumerism and capitalism. Despite the gloomy setting of a city controlled by two mega-corporations, the artwork has a bouyant retro style, and it promises to be an unusually breezy dose of sci-fi at just over 100 pages. – HK



Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean (9781506701080, Dark Horse)

Dave McKean is best known for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman as well as his award-winning debut, Cages. Here, he presents a new graphic novel telling the story of Paul Nash, an official war artist of WWI. It’s doubly topical – Tate Britain is holding a major retrospective of Nash’s work in October, while the subject matter of how war and extreme situations change us will surely hit home for many. And of course, the artwork is stunningly beautiful. – CM

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls edited by Hope Nicholson (9781506700991, Dark Horse)

Among the boring over-saturation of advice columns on how to get your gamer boyfriend to pay attention to you, this anthology of non-fiction from women creators and fans (including the likes of Margaret Atwood) sees contributors look back to the formation of their own nerdy romantic lives as a new form of advice, collecting successes as well as embarrassments. – HK

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle (9781612195636, Melville House)

Analyses of why we make women’s lives crap are a vital step in our slow journey towards maybe not doing that anymore. Sady Doyle looks at the curious case of the “trainwreck” woman celebrity – she who crashes and burns, without any of the glory granted to her “rockstar” male counterparts. Jennifer Aniston finally bit back at the paparazzi and Beyonce is finally political, so 2016 is the perfect time for us to reexamine our relationship with celebrity. – HK

Under the Bus by Caroline Fredrickson (9781620972533, The New Press)

After a long period of smart but disparate online conversation, finally we have a book-length antidote to Lean InUnder the Bus has changed the conversation about women at work, directing it away from the lofty notions of the corporate “glass ceiling”, and looks instead at the millions of women that are stuck on the floor. – HK

Learning Good Consent by Cindy Crabb (9781849352468, AK Press)

In the face of ignorant complaints made against those student bodies who strive to set up consent workshops, and in an age where women grow up unsure of how much control they really have over access to their own bodies, the proliferation of different kinds of communication about sexual consent is key. AK Press collect enduringly popular zines by Cindy Crabb, explaining the groundwork of good consent in handwritten notes and comic strips, offering an alternative to the more sterile booklets your GP might offer. – HK

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (9780735215405, Riverhead)

I’m reading this at the moment and finding it an incredibly solid account of a young girl having an abortion, mixed in with an Ancient Greek-style chorus of “Mothers” from her local church who judge and scorn in the name of elderly caring. It feels magic without feeling flighty or too fancy, and I love learning about the protagonist’s Southern California community. – HK



Adventures in Lea Valley by David Campany & Polly Braden (9781910566121, Hoxton Mini Press)

I live in Hackney Wick and have spent many happy hours sitting by the River Lea drinking cans in the sun. Even in the rain actually. I’ve also done a lot of walking up and down the river, which is a pretty amazing (and incredibly changeable) part of London. So I’m looking forward to seeing it documented in these photos, which pass from council estates to new builds to wilderness and explore the reinvention of social spaces, the attraction of water; the meeting of different cultures and the persistence of nature. – JT

Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante (9781609452926, Europa Editions)

Anyone who reads this blog has probably noticed that we’re all completely in love with Elena Ferrante. We read the Neapolitan novels in crazy late-night bursts so we could discuss them at great length back in the office the next day. And I know we aren’t the only ones. Which is why I’m excited about November, when this collection of essays, rare interviews and diary entries will be published. Get ready for another round of #FerranteFever. – JT

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron (9781609806576, Seven Stories Press)

This beast of a novel is by lauded America playwright and The Wire writer Kia Corthron. It’s enormous, almost 800 pages in its shorter version. It also looks set to be a very big deal. The story of two sets of brothers, one black and one white, from 1941 to the 21st Century, it deals with themes such as racism, LGBTQ rights, immigration, civil rights and industrial shifts. Much like The Wire, the book is emotionally charged, hard-hitting and incredibly well executed. And Corthron’s prose is incredibly lyrical and unique, so if you like language it’s worth reading just for that. – JT

Defensive Eating With Morrissey & Comfort Eating With Nick Cave by Joshua Ploeg, Automne Zingg (9781621062035/ 9781621066132, Microcosm)

I guarantee these books will be the weirdest and most original cookbooks you will ever see. From chef and queercore founder Joshua Ploeg and illustrator Automne Zingg, they take two music icons and… well, offer up recipes that go with their music! With brilliantly funny illustrations and plenty of vegan food ideas, you’ll love them. Even if you’re not a vegan and even if you hate to cook, like me. – JT

The Artist by Anna Haifisch (9781911081005, Breakdown Press)

This book has been sitting on my desk for the past month, and I reread the whole thing pretty much weekly. It’s that good. Anna Haifisch’s idiosyncratic, irreverent comic was first serialised on Vice, and you can easily see how it resonates with the current generation of creative millennials. She’s encapsulated the feeling of what it means to be a contemporary struggling artist perfectly – satirising the absurd world of fine art while remaining not unsympathetic to those who struggle to “make it” within this exclusive world. It’s hard to choose a favourite strip: between the DRONE ART episode, the excruciating depictions of procrastination, and the sequence where the artist’s parents ask him to paint a picture for their friend’s office: “maybe one with a little birdie would be nice – like ones you drew as a child”. – CM

Forbidden Line by Paul Stanbridge (9781910296714, Galley Beggar Press)

Billed as “the wildest book to be released in Cervantes” 400th Anniversary year’, Forbidden Line promises to be a riot in the same vein as Galley Beggar’s all-conquering Francis Plug: How to be a Public Author. Keep your eyes peeled for this enormous re-telling of DQ set in Essex and London and featuring petrol station assistant confrontations, absurd infighting and, of course, windmill challenges. – TC

Never Look an American In the Eye by Okey Ndibe (9781616957605, Soho Press)

Okey Ndibe’s funny, charming, and penetrating memoir tells of his move from Nigeria to America, where he came to edit the influential African Commentary magazine. It recounts stories of Ndibe’s friendships with Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, and tells of Okey’s own development as a novelist; examines the differences between Nigerian and American etiquette and politics and recalls an incident of racial profiling just 10 days after he arrived in the US. An unmissable non-fiction follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Foreign Gods, Inc. – TC



Our Magic Hour by Jennifer Down (9781925240832, Text Publishing)

First off, this book is so good-looking! Text have put out a really short excerpt of it that describes perfectly the hazily-crossed wires of two bodies drifting in and out of sleep on a night where something is not quite right, and we could all use a bit of real writing about intimacy in our lives. It’s a family drama that explores the plunging of a teenager into adulthood after her best friend kills herself. I feel like lots of us experience something terrible like this at the cusp of maturity, and I’m not sure I’ve seen it examined in a realistic, non-sensational way in before. – HK

At the Bay by Katherine Mansfield (9781612195834, Melville House)

Outside of Beckett, because he’s his own thing, Katherine Mansfield was probably the writer who made me first *get* modernism. Her Garden Party stories are dreamy and exquisite, full of bold, womanly, erotic symbolism, and more exciting than the sausage fest you’re served on most intros to literary modernism. This is the first time the novella-length At the Bay has been published in its own right, and makes a jazzy addition to Melville House’s excellently curated Art of the Novella series. – HK

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