It’s December and although the publishing juggernaut is winding down for the year there are still some absolute gems coming into the world this month.
With queer sci-fi, international crime, revolutionary drama and translated fiction there is something for everyone still looking for great new novels to round off a stonking year of fiction.
The Beatrix Gates by Rachel Pollack
(PM Press, 9781629635781, p/b, £10.99)
A queer cult favourite, The Beatrix Gates is a colourful mix of science fiction, magic realism, memoir, and myth exploring themes of spirituality and transformation.
Courage and cowardice contend in a literary odyssey unlike any other. Written especially for this volume, “Trans Central Station” is Pollack’s personal and political take on the transgender experience then and now — and tomorrow? “Burning Beard” is a fiercely revisionist Bible tale of plague and prophecy told through a postmodern prose of many colours. “The Woman Who Didn’t Come Back” is about just what it says. And there is of course PM Press’ usual and unusual Outspoken Interview.
The Dogs of Winter by Kem Nunn
(No Exit, 9780857302533, p/b, £11.99)
A classic surf noir novel where the perfect wave becomes a quest for survival.
Heart Attacks is California’s last secret spot – the premier mysto surf haunt, the stuff of rumour and legend. The rumours say you must cross Indian land to get there. They tell of hostile locals and shark-infested waters where waves in excess of thirty feet break a mile from shore. For down-and-out photographer Jack Fletcher, the chance to shoot these waves in the company of surfing legend Drew Harmon offers the promise of new beginnings. But Drew is not alone in the northern reaches of the state.
Hong Kong Noir edited by Jason Y. NG & Susan Blumberg-Kason
(Akashic, 9781617756726, p/b, £11.99)
Fourteen of Hong Kong’s finest authors explore the dark heart of the Pearl of the Orient in all original stories of depravity and despair.
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighbourhood or location within the respective city. Hong Kong Noir, includes brand new stories by Jason Y. Ng, Xu Xi, Marshall Moore, Brittani Sonnenberg, Tiffany Hawk, James Tam, Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang, Christina Liang, Feng Chi-shun, Charles Philipp Martin, Shannon Young, Shen Jian, Carmen Suen, and Ysabelle Cheung.
North of Dawn by Nuruddin Farah
(Riverhead, 9780735214231, h/b, £19.99)
Set against the backdrop of real events, a provocative story of love, loyalty, and national identity that asks whether it is ever possible to escape a legacy of violence – and if so, at what cost.
For decades, Gacalo and Mugdi have lived in Oslo, where they’ve led a peaceful, largely assimilated life and raised two children. Their beloved son, Dhaqaneh, however, is driven by feelings of alienation to jihadism in Somalia, where he kills himself in a suicide attack. The couple reluctantly offers a haven to his family. But on arrival in Oslo, their daughter-in-law cloaks herself even more deeply in religion, while her children hunger for the freedoms of their new homeland, a rift that will have life altering consequences for the entire family.
Revolutionary Sunday by Wendy Guerra; translated by Achy Obejas
(Melville House, 9781612196619, p/b, £14.99)
A novel about glamour, surveillance, and corruption in contemporary Cuba, from an internationally bestselling author, in her first English translation.
Cleo, scion of a once-prominent Cuban family and a promising young writer in her own right, travels to Spain to collect a prestigious award. There, Cuban expats view her with suspicion – assuming she’s an informant for the Castro regime. To Cleo’s surprise, that suspicion follows her home to Cuba, where she finds herself under constant surveillance by the government. When she meets and falls in love with a Hollywood filmmaker, she discovers her family is not who she thought they were… and neither is the filmmaker.
Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551527314, p/b, £13.99)
A community of parthenogenic women, sent into exile by the male-dominated Salt Water City, goes to war against disease, technology, and powerful men that threaten them with extinction.
Kirilow is a doctor apprentice whose lover, Peristrophe, is a “starfish” – a woman who can regenerate her own limbs and organs, which she uses to help her clone sisters whose organs are failing. When a denizen from Salt Water City suffering from a mysterious flu comes into their midst, Peristrophe becomes infected and dies, prompting Kirilow to travel to Salt Water City, where the flu is now a pandemic, to find a new starfish who will help save her sisters. There, Kirilow meets Kora, a girl-woman desperate to save her family from the epidemic. Kora has everything Kirilow is looking for, except the will to abandon her own family. But before Kirilow can convince her, both are kidnapped by a group of powerful men to serve as test subjects for a new technology that can cure the mind of the body.