Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Most Anticipated Books of 2012

The literary website The Millions has put together an extremely thorough list of most anticipated books of 2012. If you love books and especially love staying on the cutting edge of literature it is a fantastic resource. But to be thorough it has to be long and detailed and your eyes can go a little cross-eyed scanning through the whole thing. So I’ve pulled out three books on the list that are, for whatever that’s worth, Josh’s Most Anticipated books of 2012.

Varamo by Cesar Aira: In some ways you could say Cesar Aira does the same thing over and over; he writes short, strange, beautiful, intelligent, mysterious, philosophical novels. But each novel is different. They have different tones, different themes, even different prose styles, and they are all fantastic. I’ve read three of them; Ghosts, set in an apartment complex still under construction on New Year’s Eve, The Literary Conference, which involves pirate treasure, cloning, and works in translation, and How I Became a Nun, which starts with an accidental poisoning by cyanide-laced ice cream and goes, well...elsewhere. Whatever Varamo is, it’s sure to challenging, interesting, and exciting. Varamo is scheduled to be released in February.

A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava was originally self-published and is now being brought out by the University of Chicago Press. It’s gathering comparisons to some really big, really amazing, really ambitious books, such as Infinite Jest, Underworld, and even Moby-Dick. Following a New York City public defender who has never lost a case, De La Pava explores the underpinnings of our understanding of justice and order. What excites me about the book is the praise from critic Steven Moore, author of The Novel: An Alternative History (volume 2 please!). If he’s excited about this book then so am I. A Naked Singularity is scheduled to be published in May.

Your Name Here by Helen DeWitt and Ilya Gridneff: I’ve read much of this book as a PDF on my computer so I am thrilled to see it come out as a printed book. Playing with language, translation, narrativity, and the construction of words into books, and featuring a pretty great running joke about If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (can there be any other kind of joke about If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler?). Your Name Here will (I hope) finally earn Helen DeWitt the attention and acclaim she deserves as one of our most innovative writers of fiction. It follows her daring, scathing, satirical novel Lightning Rods (which was a staff pick here) and picks up with the innovation and exploration that made The Last Samurai such a compelling book. Your Name Here is scheduled for publication some time this fall.

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