New year, new you. NEW BOOKS! If you are as excited as us for 2019 you’re probably already casting a careful eye over the what’s good in new releases next year. So to improve your odds of finding that next Great Read, here is a super-selection of what we’re looking forward to come January and beyond…
Comemadre by Roque Larraquy; translated by Heather Cleary
(Text Publishing, 9781911231288, p/b, £8.99, April 2019)
As soon as I heard about this book I knew it was for me! Argentinian author Roque Larraquy’s first novel to be translated into English, Comemadre combines the best of South American magical realism with B-movie horror. Involving twisted early 20th century medical experiments – in which terminally ill patients are decapitated and recording what they say in the nine seconds they’re able to speak after their heads are removed – with gruesome performance art a century later, the world of Comemadre is full of vulgarity, excess and farce. Strange ants form almost perfect circles, body parts go missing, and we see obsessive love affairs and flesh-eating plants in a grotesque and hilarious narrative of the body’s relationship to science and art.
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s by Lisa Blower
(Myriad Editions, 9781912408160, p/b, £8.99, April 2019)
A long seated scepticism of short stories was blown away by last year’s Attrib., and now I can’t wait for this forthcoming collection by Lisa Blower. Many of Blower’s stories have already won prizes and from the description, it’s not hard to see why. ‘It’s gone dark over Bill’s mother’s’ is an old potteries’ saying that means the outlook is bleak, a little like rain – and these stories are raw, gritty yet bleakly funny narratives. Lisa Blower is already celebrated as a champion of working-class fiction, with endorsements from the likes of Kit de Waal, Hollie McNish and Paul McVeigh. And it has an absolutely cracking cover!
The Missing of Clairedelune by Christelle Dabos; translated by Hildegarde Serle (Europa Editions, 9781787701601, h/b, 15.99, July 2019)
The second volume of international YA publishing sensation The Mirror Visitor series picks up where A Winter’s Promise left off, with Ophelia poised to become Vice-Storyteller to Farouk, the irascible ancestral spirit of the Pole Ark. I look forward to returning to Christelle Dabos’ incredibly well-conceived and imaginative world, and seeing how the brilliantly realised and determined Ophelia has developed as she combats political plotting and the prospect of a loveless marriage to Thorn.
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
(Galley Beggar Press, 9781910296967, p/b, £14.99, July 2019)
This 900 page (yes, that’s right), one sentence (uh-huh), stream-of-consciousness (hell yeah!) novel is going to set the world on fire next year. Narrated by an Ohio housewife trying to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the USA, Ducks, Newburyport is a scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster. This is the great American novel we need at this moment, and I cannot wait.
Delta-v by Daniel Suarez
(Dutton, 9781524742416, h/b, £20, April 2019)
Described as the next William Gibson and read by the likes of Elon Musk, Daniel Suarez has become a big deal in science fiction and his latest book, Delta-v, promises to continue that trend. An octane techno-thriller, it takes place in the near-future, where a charismatic billionaire has dispatched a team of adventures into the unknown to launch a deep-space mining operation. A high risk and even higher stakes venture attempting to kickstart humanity’s future among the stars. What could go wrong? A lot, I imagine. Ian McDonald’s Luna series introduced me to amazing storytelling opportunities offered by the idea of capitalism in space, so I couldn’t be more pumped for Delta-v.
Moonshadow: The Definitive Edition by J.M. DeMatteis & Jon J Muth
(Dark Horse, 9781506709468, h/b, £24.99, May 2019)
This was the first American graphic novel to get fully painted – and if that wasn’t reason enough to be excited, it’s about magic, coming of age, interplanetary adventure, and a war-torn universe. Each page is illustrated in breathtaking watercolours that have a beautiful, haunting, ethereal quality to them, while telling a story hailed as a “fairy-tale for adults” that got even Ray Bradbury excited. Originally published by the legendary Vertigo Comics (that brought us the likes of V for Vendetta and The Sandman) in the 80s, Dark Horse has had the entire series digitally restored and collected here in a deluxe hardcover edition. For sure reading this is going to be a total treat.
Portrait of Humanity by The British Journal of Photography
(Hoxton Mini Press, 9781910566527, h/b, £25, May 2019)
In 2018 Hoxton Mini Press collaborated with the British Journal of Photography to publish the first Portrait of Britain book – collecting shortlisted portraits from the exhibition of the same name. Next year, Hoxton are doing the same for the BJP’s Portrait of Humanity exhibition, which invites photographers of every level to capture the many faces of humanity this time from around the world. 200 of those photos will be collected here, depicting a truly global portrait of humanity. Portrait of Britain was one of my favourite non-fiction picks for 2018, for the stunning way it captured a huge range of compelling identities living in the UK, each with their own eye-opening stories and backgrounds. I look forward to this next instalment going even further.
The Poe Clan Vol. 1 by Moto Hagio
(Fantagraphics, 9781683962083, h/b, £39.99, June 2019)
A manga classic from one of Japan’s most influential creators of all time, The Poe Clan tells the story of an undead race of “vampirnella” that feed off the energy of the living to render themselves immortal. Revolving around three undying adolescents locked eternally on the cusp of adulthood it explores love, loss what it means to be alive, in other words it sounds like Twilight done right, and actually has a protagonist called Allan Twilight, which is awesome. Even better it’s going to feature at the British Museum’s manga exhibition next year, so I will definitely be picking this up in advance!
Is This How You See Me? by Jaime Hernandez
(Fantagraphics, 9781683961826, h/b, £19.99, April 2019)
The long-awaited follow-up to Jaime’s 2014 masterpiece The Love Bunglers! The Love Bunglers is one of the most brilliant comic books I have ever read, and in this sequel my most favourite literary characters, Maggie and Hopey, reunite for a punk scene reunion in their old neighbourhood. Threaded through are flashbacks to various stages of their lifelong relationship. I am extremely excited for this – watching them grow from scrappy punks to middle age has been incredible, and this is the first time in what feels like years that Jaime has written a lengthy storyline specifically focused on the two of them.
Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria
(Melville House, 9781612197593, p/b, £12.99, May 2019)
This looks WILD. It’s the story of 14-year-old Juliet who begins to unravel one day, finding herself on a downward spiral of mental illness and self-destruction. Sent to a ‘therapeutic boarding school’ in rural Oregon, Juliet gives us an honest portrayal of a teenage girl living with mental health issues that defies the traditional recovery narrative, one that offers no clear answers and no definitive ending. Blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction, it’s been described as ‘bold’ and compared to both The Bell Jar and Miranda July’s stories.
Death Threat by Vivek Shraya & Ness Lee
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551527505, h/b, £12.99, June 2019)
In 2017, after she had come out as trans, Vivek Shraya started to receive vivid and disturbing hate mail from a total stranger. In Death Threat, she collects these letters – and her responses to them – alongside illustrations by Ness Lee. The result is an unflinching portrayal of violent harassment from the perspective of both the perpetrator and the target, illustrating the dangers of online accessibility, and the ease with which vitriolic hatred can be spread digitally. Vivek Shraya’s I’m Afraid of Men was one of the most powerful and affecting things I read in 2018, so I’m excited to read this one.
Daddy Issues by Katherine Angel
(Penisula Press, 9781999922399, p/b, £6, July 2019)
Peninsula Press has only published three books so far, but every one of them has been incredible. I have no doubt that Daddy Issues will be nothing less. Following on from Mixed-Race Superman by Will Harris and Exposure by Olivia Sudjic, this is the next book in Peninsula’s pocket essays series. It’s a personal essay on the entanglement of fathers and feminism, and an exploration of the father-daughter relationship today, drawing on works from Virginia Woolf and Valerie Solanas as well as recent examples from books, films and TV.
Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road (Silver Sprocket, £51.99, February 2019)
& Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle (Liminal 11, Autumn 2019)
Some bonus 2019 tarot decks! In January comes the long-awaited Next World Tarot from queer Latinx artist and writer Cristy C. Road. I kept coming across this deck online just from following my general interests down various wormholes, so was pleased to see we’ll be distributing into the UK next year.
The Modern Witch Tarot from Liminal 11 hasn’t even been fully announced yet, but it’s scheduled to publish next autumn. I am a big fan of Liminal 11’s Luna Sol Tarot and have seen some of the finished designs for The Modern Witch deck and they are dreamy.
Evil Things by Katja Ivar
(Bitter Lemon, 9781912242092, p/b, £8.99, January 2019)
The current wave of Scandi noir has been cresting for a while now, but I haven’t dipped my toes in yet. I have a feeling this will change with Katja Ivar’s Evil Things, a historical thriller set in darkest Lapland in the 1950s. It stars Hella Mauzer, the first female inspector in the Helsinki Homicide Unit, which is interesting enough already – and that’s before she’s deemed ‘too emotional’ for the job and transferred out of the way to the snowy north. When a man disappears along the contentious Soviet border, she ends up uncovering a mystery deeper than she could have imagined. Can’t wait to be spooked by this one.
Frank by Ben Rankel
(Renegade Arts Entertainment, 9781988903354, p/b, £17.95, March 2019)
This very striking graphic novel from Ben Rankel follows the story of Eve Lee, whose big plans for a new life with Frank have not turned out all that well. When a former lover disappears under dubious circumstances, she has to pull herself from the bottom of the bottle to play detective and find out the truth. As well as being a riveting drama, Frank intrigues by being set during the Frank Slide, one of Canada’s most destructive natural disasters. Stunning art and a plethora of positive press – “…a timeless tale of money, murder and Mother Nature, powerfully told and vibrantly illustrated”, according to Brian K. Vaughan of Saga and Paper Girls fame – have combined to make me wish March was here already.
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch (Riverhead, 9780735210936, h/b, £21.99, June 2019)
I’ve been an avid listener of the Lingthusiasm podcast for several months now, and been intrigued every time co-host Gretchen McCulloch drops mysterious hints about her upcoming book – imagine my delight when it turns out that it’s one we’re getting the opportunity to distribute. Gretchen is a linguist who has studied and written about the ways modern languages have changed because of the internet, and the many unique linguistic features that appear in different online communities, from the syntax of memes to creative punctuation usage conveying tone in a text-only environment. I’m very excited to get my hands on this no-doubt fascinating book, and I’m also going to use this opportunity to plug the Lingthusiasm podcast. Seriously. It’s great.
The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby
(No Exit Press, 9780857302946, p/b, £12.99, March 2019)
Like basically everyone else, I am very into Peaky Blinders (Cillian Murphy – call me, yeah?). The Birmingham setting is essentially a character in and of itself, and The Conviction of Cora Burns is just as deeply entrenched in the city, albeit 50 years prior to the Shelby family rein. The Conviction of Cora Burns takes places within the 19th century triangle of the Birmingham gaol, workhouse, and asylum as Cora tries to build a new life for herself. Also like Peaky Blinders, the book asks whether violence is inherent or learned, and if we can ever truly change our station.
All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil
(Soho Teen, 9781641290340, h/b, £14.99, June 2019)
I don’t tend to think of myself as a YA fan, but there are a select few that I have really enjoyed, and I think All of Us With Wings is likely to join that collective. When seventeen-year-old runaway Xochi encounters precocious twelve-year-old Pallas in San Francisco, she stumbles into a position as the girl’s governess and moves in with her family – the rock band Lady Frieda. One night, as an after-party rages in the house below them, Xochi and Pallas perform a pagan ritual that unintentionally summons a pair of ancient creatures determined to seek vengeance for the wrongs Xochi has experienced in her life. I was immediately intrigued by the title, and completely sold by the time I hit the first mention of riot-grrrl – the sort-of-psychotic vengeance demons are just an excellent, vicious bonus.
No Apocalypse by Al Burian
(Microcosm, 9781621065210, p/b, £12.99, June 2019)
No Apocalypse is the first collection of Al Burian’s writing on punk and politics, with selected pieces from Punk Planet, Heartattack, and The Skeleton. Essentially all I need in my life is the occasional dose of conversational writing about punk, DIY and weirdness, so this will be me well sorted.