Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Image: Allison Corr

Every month, a deluge of new books comes flooding out from big publishers, indie houses, and self-publishing platforms. So every month, The A.V. Club narrows down the endless options to five (or, in this case, six) of the books we’re most excited about.

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey (November 6, Viking)

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It’s not really fair to claim a novel is in direct response to current events—authors don’t exactly whip them up in a weekend—but still, Those Who Knew feels like the perfect story to be coming out at the tail end of 2018, one year into the #MeToo movement that sparked women speaking out about abusive, powerful men. In Idra Novey’s second novel, protagonist Lena is on the trail of a senator she was once involved with, and who she believes killed a young woman. Novey carefully unfolds the present mystery against Lena’s history with the politician, which includes an act of violence she’s never spoken about.

Evening In Paradise and Welcome Home by Lucia Berlin (November 6, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Despite publishing throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, Lucia Berlin never received the attention she deserved during her lifetime. In 2015, when Farrar, Straus and Giroux put out her selected short stories, A Manual For Cleaning Women, the book debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, bringing Berlin’s unadorned yet evocative prose to a wider audience, and earning her comparisons to writers like Raymond Carver and Denis Johnson in the process. Now FSG is releasing 22 more stories, Evening In Paradise, and Berlin’s unfinished memoir, Welcome Home, a collection of autobiographical sketches that she worked on until the time of her death, in 2004 (her son Jeff Berlin has contributed photographs and letters to fill in her biography, as her sketches only go up to 1966). For the many readers who found themselves taken by the rough-hewn worlds of Cleaning Women, picking up these two volumes is a foregone conclusion.

(Note: In the spirit of disclosure, these books share an acquiring editor with A.V. Club editor Laura Adamczyk.)

The Earth Dies Streaming by A.S. Hamrah (November 13, n+1)

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A.S. Hamrah is one of the most incisive film critics working today. His capsule reviews—two to three neat paragraphs—get right to the point, homing in on a particular detail from or angle on a film, and connecting it to larger currents in cinema. He’s pithy, evocative, and mordantly funny—a voice that cuts through the din. The Earth Dies Streaming collects the best of Hamrah’s film writing from the past 16 years, having appeared in such publications as The Baffler, Bookforum, Harper’s, and his current home and book publisher, n+1. Also included are longer pieces on filmmakers and critics like Orson Welles, Sofia Coppola, and Manny Farber.

Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) by Jeff Tweedy (November 13, Dutton)

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The highest compliment one can pay Jeff Tweedy’s memoir is that he clearly had a lot of fun writing it. From his almost constant self-deprecation, to sections that splinter off into conversations with his wife about how much he should share in the book, all the way down to a lighthearted cartoon in the middle, Tweedy took on the project with a kind of glee that makes Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) an incredibly fun read. That’s not to say he denies readers some deeper insight into who he is, but most of that comes through in how he writes about his life, not what he chooses to cover. Long-time fans will get the dirt they’ve longer for, such as how his relationships with Jay Farrar of Uncle Tupelo and Jay Bennett of Wilco both fractured, but the real charm is how unguarded it all feels, and how even the most casual fans can pull something of worth from the book.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (November 20, Doubleday)

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My Sister, The Serial Killer follows two Nigerian sisters: One is the beautiful favorite child and probably a serial killer, seeing as her last three boyfriends have wound up dead. The other sister protects her from getting caught. But when the killer sister starts dating the man the good sister has been in love with for years, a reckoning is on the horizon. My Sister, The Serial Killer sounds like a new Gone Girl, and not just because it revolves around a female psychopath; Gillian Flynn’s novel breathed new life into the murder-mystery genre, with such a fresh perspective on the formula that it turned into a sensation. Debut author Oyinkan Braithwaite may do the same with her foray into the genre, bringing a deadly sense of black humor to the proceedings.

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