Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Image: Rebecca Fassola

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 of the books we’re most excited about.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (February 5, Riverhead)

Image: Rebecca Fassola

Marlon James, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History Of Seven Killings, turns to the world of fantasy with his fourth novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Unlike his previous work, which rooted itself in the history of Jamaica’s turbulent past to deal with raw topics like slave revolts and religious violence, James fuses mythology and African history to invent an alternate reality in which a famed mercenary breaks with his own solitary habits to join the search for a lost boy, only to begin questioning the very nature of his mission as the danger grows with each step. James’ work has always had a magical, otherworldly air, even as he dealt with all-too-real incidents of tragedy and trauma. This new book, the first in a planned trilogy, will allow his potent imagination the freedom to create a new world and open the door for some exceptional and unusual storytelling.

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Wang (February 5, Graywolf)

Image: Rebecca Fassola

Esmé Wang’s 2016 novel, The Border Of Paradise, built its plot around mental illness, neurosis, and suicide. Wang’s deft and restrained prose grounded the narrative when it reached melodrama, and she’s brought that same careful craft to a new book of essays, The Collected Schizophrenias. Here Wang looks both inward and outward, examining her own diagnosis of schizophrenia and the broader landscape of mental illness. The collection expands to include the medical community and institutionalization, with Wang relying on her background as a lab researcher to bring a scientist’s penetrating eye to her own, personal story.

The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (February 12, Knopf)

Image: Rebecca Fassola

Valeria Luiselli’s nonfiction has been as well-received as her fiction, so she could really have gone in any direction after 2017’s Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay In Forty Questions. Her latest, Lost Children Archive, is an ambitious road-trip novel that traverses geography, ideology, and time, while exploring the dissolution of a marriage. Luiselli has a gift for layering on the themes—as you might guess from the title, Lost Children Archive is heartbreakingly relevant to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border—while also homing in on what makes the political so personal.

Nothing But The Night by John Williams (February 12, New York Review Books)

Image: Rebecca Fassola

New York Review Books completes its reprinting of John Williams’ novels with the American author’s first book, originally published in 1948. Nothing But The Night is being described as a “psychological noir,” the story of a college dropout named Arthur who holes up in a big-city hotel drinking and feeling bad about himself. When his estranged father comes to town, their meeting sends Arthur into a wild night of dancing and even more drinking as he faces past trauma, presumably the cause of his haunted unrest. Those coming to Nothing But The Night by way of Williams’ melancholy, elegiac Stoner (first published in 1965 and re-released, also by NYRB, to wide acclaim in 2006) can probably expect more ennui and personal torment, albeit in a higher register.

The City In The Middle Of The Night by Charlie Jane Anders (February 12, Tor/Forge)

Image: Rebecca Fassola

Welcome to January—the planet, not the month. One side is dark and permanently frozen; the other is blindingly bright and blazing with heat. In the “sliver of dusk” where the halves meet, humans live in two cities: one bound by rigid rules, the other wild and lawless. After being banished by the former’s oppressive police force to January’s dark side, shy Sophie forms a connection with its mysterious native beasts and takes action. Another futuristic tale that comments on our present day, The City In The Middle Of The Night follows up Charlie Jane Anders’ award-winning 2016 science-fantasy, All The Birds In The Sky.

Anders is the co-founder and former editor of iO9, which, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter