Gregory Pardlo : Digest

Gregory Pardlo “explores what is American, what is African American, what is the Other, what is city, what is suburban, what is personal & what is persona. Digest offers a changing, rich landscape of verse both haunting, funny, & rigorously intellectual–Jerry Magazine; He “renders history just as clearly & palpably as he renders NYC or Copenhagen or his native New Jersey. But mostly what he renders is America with its intractable conundrums & clashing iconographies. With lines that balance poise & a jam-packed visceral music & images that glimmer & seethe together like a conflagration these poems are a showcase for Pardlo’s ample & agile mind, his courageous social conscience, & his mighty voice.” -Tracy K. Smith

Dani Shapiro : Hourglass

What are the forces that shape our most elemental bonds? How do we make lifelong commitments in the face of identities that are continuously shifting, and commit ourselves when the self is so often in flux? What happens to love in the face of the unexpected, in the face of disappointment and compromise–how do we wrest beauty from imperfection, find grace in the ordinary, desire what we have rather than what we lack? Drawing on literature, poetry, philosophy, and theology, Shapiro writes gloriously of the joys and challenges of matrimonial life, in a luminous narrative that unfurls with urgent immediacy and sharp intelligence.

Jeff Vandermeer : Borne

“Here is the story about biotech that VanderMeer wants to tell, a vision of the nonhuman not as one fixed thing, one fixed destiny, but as either peaceful or catastrophic, by our side or out on a rampage as our behavior dictates–for these are our children, born of us and now to be borne in whatever shape or mess we have created. This coming-of-age story signals that eco-fiction has come of age as well: wilder, more reckless and more breathtaking than previously thought, a wager and a promise that what emerges from the twenty-first century will be as good as any from the twentieth, or the nineteenth.” —Wai Chee Dimock, The New York Times Book Review

Thalia Field : Experimental Animals

“Thalia Field has now composed what very well might be her life’s work–a tragic, comical, & utterly fascinating tale of a marriage that vividly encapsulates not only the origins of experimental medicine, but an entire age that spirited experiments in literature, science, engineering, film, etc. It’s nothing less than a history–gorgeously fictional, purposefully essayistic–of how we got where we are.” -John D’Agata; “Stemming from a through-line of marital discord in the household of the great French vivisector Claude Bernard…this compelling tale is made up largely of excerpts and quotations…a beautiful and thought-provoking collage of…rescued history & a sobering tribute to some of its victims.” —Karen Joy Fowler

Sallie Tisdale : Violation

“That Sallie Tisdale’s a treasure comes as no secret to lovers of the essay, and yet this happy gathering that spans the decades is revelatory, a fascinating look at the epic wanderings of a life mapped by curiosity. Here we get elephants and houseflies, diets and fires, birth and the debris of death, all the mixed and messy vitality of family life. We travel far and we travel wide, but in the end we circle home to Tisdale herself, vulnerable and available, intimate and encouraging, our guide and our friend, her questioning presence lighting the way and celebrating it all, every little step in life’s saga, one lovely sentence at a time.”–Charles D’Ambrosio

Morgan Parker : There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé

Morgan Parker uses political & pop-cultural references as a framework to explore 21st cent. black American womanhood & its complexities: performance, depression, isolation, exoticism, racism, femininity & politics. Parker explores this in the contemporary American political climate, folding in references from jazz standards, visual art, personal family history, & Hip Hop. The voice of this book is a multifarious one: writing & rewriting bodies, stories, & histories of the past, as well as uttering & bearing witness to the truth of the present; actively probing toward a new self, an actualized self. This is a book at the intersections of mythology & sorrow, of vulnerability & posturing, of desire & disgust, of tragedy & excellence.

Melissa Febos : Abandon Me

“Abandon Me is, in many ways, a story about how a woman’s body & the body of literature hold memory. In other ways, Abandon Me is a story about stories. Febos weaves familial stories, feminist stories, communal stories, literary stories & love stories,  revealing much of where she’s been & where we, her readers, might go if we dare. Do we dare? Are we all running away from abandonment? It makes sense that Abandon Me feels completely structurally innovative. Febos has created 21st century text that intimately explores addiction, pain, pleasure & the strangely joyful & terrifying nuances of abandonment. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more thankful to read a book. Abandon Me found me when I most needed it.” – Kiese Laymon