Welcome to the first ever Outlandish Lit (mostly) full year fiction preview! I hope you love long book lists with personal commentary as much as I do, because I may have gone overboard trying to preview you with 2017 fiction. I tried to leave out the big ones you probably already know about (new Murakami, Gay, Ward, Oates, etc. etc.) and also books that are in a series, but not the first of it. If you love N.K. Jemisin or Sylvain Neuvel, you probably already know you're getting new installations this year. It was difficult, but I narrowed it down to the 50-ish most interesting looking books for this 2017 preview. I'm sure there are so many deserving books that were missed or books that I will hear about later in the year and need immediately. Don't hesitate to leave what books you're looking forward to in the comments!
Homesick for Another World - Ottessa Moshfegh
Ottesha Moshfegh has a book of short stories out!!! Eileen was pretty weird and funny, sort of. I'm excited to see what her stories have in store for us. Apparently, "the grotesque and the outrageous are infused with tenderness and compassion." Dope.
Fever Dream - Samanta Schweblin
I'm pretty sure this book has been mentioned on the last twenty episodes of Book Riots All the Books podcast. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but Liberty Hardy likes it a lot, and is confused by it. "Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale."
Perfect Little World - Kevin Wilson
I haven't read Kevin Wilson before, but I hear he's clever. This novel about a Utopian experiment in which nine couples all raise their children as one family sounds kind of dark, especially considering the main character is a recent high school graduate who is pregnant with her art teacher's baby. YIKES. This sounds like it's going to go really well.
Under a Watchful Eye - Adam Nevill
Adam Nevill's The Ritual is one of the scariest books I've ever read. At least the first half of it was. In this new horror novel, a man believes he is being stalked: "To be a victim without knowing the tormentor. To be despised without knowing the offence caused. To be seen by what nobody else can see. Imprisoned by despair, Seb fears his stalker is not working alone, but rather is involved in a wider conspiracy that threatens everything he has worked for." SPOOKY.
Human Acts - Han Kang
A new book from the author of The Vegitarian, which won awards, even though it wasn't my favorite book ever. I'm still intrigued by Han Kang. This new, equally slim book is about a young boy who is killed during a violent student uprising in South Korea. The novel features the perspectives of different people affected by this act of violence. Sounds good.
Little Heaven - Nick Cutter
GIVE ME MORE CULTS!! Nick Cutter writes horror novels. Some of them are good. Some of them aren't as good. But this premise sounds too amazing to be missed. Three people are hired to find a woman's nephew, who was maybe taken against his will to a settlement called Little Heaven. Some shit goes down, presumably, and said shit may be more supernatural than one might expect. But I don't actually know, I haven't read it.
The Butcher's Hook - Janet Ellis
Not normally a historical fiction gal, but this one was described as dark AND quirky. It's 1763 in London, and Anne is not digging her life. She has a husband lined up by her parents, but she wants the butcher's apprentice who is named Fub, because of course. "In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands."
Agents of Dreamland - Caitlín R. Kiernan
Alright, I might be most excited about this book. Don't tell the other ones I said that. There is a cult (thank god) and also aliens, maybe! There's a special agent doing some stuff, the Children of the Next Level are preparing for the future, and "something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact." Is this the perfect book for me? I think yes.
Swimming Lessons - Claire Fuller
Claire Fuller!!! She wrote Our Endless Numbered Days, which was the most killer debut ever. I know that she can write about anything and I will love reading it. In Swimming Lessons, Ingrid writes letters to her husband about her relationship, but hides them in his books over the years instead of giving them to him. Then she disappears. Twelve years later, her husband Gil thinks that he sees her and his daughter comes back to figure out what happened to her mom. Will they find the letters??
Universal Harvester - John Darnielle
John Darnielle of the Mountain Goast is at it again with the book writing. This time it seems pretty scary. A guy who works at a video store has people coming in with movies they rented that have something strange on them. The movies are interrupted with black and white scenes of a barn overlaid with the sound of breathing. The barn looks very similar to one outside of town. AAHHH. Also, the ARC came in a VHS case, which is delightful.
The Good People - Hannah Kent
Hannah Kent finally has a new book!! I loved Burial Rites so much, despite not generally reading historical fiction. Her new book is set in Ireland in 1825. Nóra lost her daughter and husband and is now taking care of her grandson who can't walk or speak. People are very judgmental about him. Then she starts hanging out with a 14-year-old servant girl, Mary. Together they seek out an old distrusted woman who "consorts" with the Good People in the hopes of helping her grandson. Apparently "only she can return those whom they have taken..." I don't know what that means, but it sounds creepy to me.
Things We Lost in the Fire - Mariana Enríquez
I love some disturbing short stories. These cover all of my favorite topics: "From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion."
Twenty Days of Turin - Georgio De Maria
I have no idea what to say about this book. It sounds so bizarre. Is it fantasy? Is it horror? I don't know or remember what the website said. In the city of Turin, there is a "twenty-day phenomenon of collective psychosis" that results in a bloody mess every night that nobody can explain. Apparently there is also a library where people read each others' diaries? Those get dark too. The phrase "city's occult netherworld" is used in the description, and that's all I need to hear.
Shadowbahn - Steve Erickson
The twin towers appear in the Badlands (one of my favorite places), WHAT. This rightly freaks people out. People begin to congregate there and everybody claims to hear a different song coming from the towers. Then some people think they can see somebody in the high windows of one of the towers. And it only gets weirder from there, I assume.
Encircling - Carl Frode Tiller
The first in an interesting trilogy, Encircling is about a man who loses his memory. He puts out an ad in the newspaper asking for people to share their memories of him. The book is three different accounts given by different people who knew him. Each person potentially has a troubling motivation for writing to him, and the stories of him sometimes contradict. What is the truth??? I love books about memory and also the nature of truth, so I'm very interested in where this goes.
Sonora - Hannah Lillith Assadi
This book has a blurb from Alexandra Kleeman!!! At first I wasn't sure about this book, because it seemed to saucy for me, but even just seeing Kleeman's name on the book sold me. "Ahlam, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli wife, grows up in the arid lands of desert suburbia outside of Phoenix. She battles chronic fever dreams and isolation. When she meets her tempestuous counterpart Laura, the two fall into infatuated partnership, experimenting with drugs and sex, and watching helplessly as a series of mysterious deaths claim high school classmates. "
The Impossible Fairy Tale - Han Yujoo
Creepy Korean book, yes!!! The kids in this novel sound brutal af. One of them is so uncool she's just referred to as "the Child." The students in this school are consumed with rage and they craft their own horrible dark hierarchies within themselves. "Then, one day, the Child sneaks into the classroom after hours and adds ominous sentences to her classmates’ notebooks. This sinister but initially inconsequential act unlocks a series of events that end in horrible violence." I am here for this.
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace - Patty Yumi Cottrell
Described as "a bleakly comic tour de force" this is a book about suicide. Main character, Helen, learns that her adoptive brother killed himself. So she goes back home to figure out why he did it. "There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor, Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive." Sounds dark, I'm into it.
The Barrowfields - Phillip Lewis
The Barrowfields does not immediately feel like a book for me, but every review of it is amazing. It's about father-son relationships and stuff, barf. A writer moves his family to his small Appalachian hometown. His son, Henry, is heavily influenced by his brilliant father, but when some sort of tragedy goes down, Henry doesn't like his dad so much. I guess in this book we'll figure out what happens between them. I'll trust that the Internet is right when it says that it's good.
The Night Ocean - Paul La Farge
"Marina Willett, M.D., has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the legendary horror writer's life: In the summer of 1934, the "old gent" lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow's family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends--or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he's solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears. The police say it's suicide. Marina is a psychiatrist, and she doesn't believe them." Sounds interesting enough.
Frontier - Can Xue
I might mostly like the idea of this book, because there's a place called Pebble Town in it. Apart from that, it's pretty surreal. "Wolves roam the streets and certain enlightened individuals can see and enter a paradisiacal garden." Sounds normal. "Can Xue's latest novel attempts to unify the grand opposites of life--barbarism and civilization, the spiritual and the material, the mundane and the sublime, beauty and death, Eastern and Western cultures."
The Fall of Lisa Bellow - Susan Perabo
A blogger I trust (hi, Sarah) really likes this author, so I want to as well. It's about what happens to the girl left behind when there's the abduction of a child. Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in eighth grade, was in a shop with Meredith, the main character, when she was held at gun point and kidnapped. The rest of the book is about how Meredith copes and how her mother struggles to help her.
Seeing People Off - Jana Beňová
"Beňová's short, fast novels are a revolution against normality." Sign me up. This Slovakian novel is about a young couple dealing with the loneliness of relationships, and probably other stuff. I'm very intrigued by her writing style, which has been compared to Renata Adler and Rosalyn Drexler. Also, what a glorious cover.
Camanchaca - Diego Zúñiga
If you want a book to make you really, really sad, this is probably the choice for you. It is conveniently also really, really short. "Camanchaca is a low fog pushing in from the sea, its moisture sustaining a near-barren landscape. Camanchaca is the discretion that makes a lifelong grief possible. Sometimes, the silences are what bind us." I'm already devastated just reading that.