In a culture with 90-second news cycles, half of what’s current is still pending release. The album released today was reviewed the day before and has been streaming for a week. Amazon has gotten hip to this trend and allows us to order pre-released movies, albums and books almost half a year in advance.
I admit to having a similar impatience when it comes to contemporary literature; I’m always looking for my next read and even once I’ve finished that, I’m Googling the author to find out when they’re penning their next release.
This list of 2014 literature to look forward to is as much for me as it is for you, but as a bonus you get to vote on the books that most strikes your fancy and the two books that receive the most votes will be reviewed here upon their release. Luckily, I find all of the books contained on this forecast equally riveting and would be pleased to read and review any of them. Enjoy!
For Today I Am a Boy is the courageous tale of Peter Huang, the son of a Chinese immigrant, and sole male heir with three older sisters. Peter, whose Chinese name juan chaun means powerful king, feels no connection with the title as he is certain he is meant to be a girl. An eloquent debut novel from Kim Fu, For Today I Am a Boy addresses the struggle of gender identity and the costs of forging one’s own path. For Today I Am A Boy is scheduled for release on January 14, 2014.
Jenny Offhill’s fast-paced read Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of marriage that ponders on the mysteries of trust, intimacy, fidelity and the clumsy befallings of our human condition. The novel is told in letters once exchanged between a husband and wife who have dealt with the commonly tragic occurrences that are assumed to punctuate marriage– stalled ambitions, a faltering bond, colicky infants. The heroine, known simply as wife, muses on her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. Ideal for reading in a single sitting, The Dept of Speculation will draw you in and keep you captive until the last page is turned. Due for release late January 2014.
Being an introvert myself, I was very interested when I heard of Rabih Alameddine’s forthcoming novel, An Unnecessary Woman. It tells the story of Aaliya Sohbi, an aging woman who lives alone in her Beirut apartment and whose greatest pleasure are books. Each year she translates a new favorite book into Arabic before storing it away where no one else will ever read it. Now with thirty-seven translated books and no discernible family, friends or assumed reason for living, Aaliya embarks on a late-life crisis that examines whether a solitary life is one worth celebrating and the transformative power of great literature. An Unnecessary Woman hits bookshelves in February 2014.
The Empathy Exams: Essays chronicles author Leslie Jamison’s quest to understand the complexity behind human empathy. At first drawing from her own experiences of personal loss and illness, Jamison ultimately engages in a far-reaching exploration that exposes our current attitudes towards everything from poverty tourism to phantom diseases to reality television. The final essay, which addresses women’s expressions of pain and how they’re received by society, is especially gripping. This collection is slated for release in April 2014.
I admit to being drawn in by stories that explore current attitudes towards sex and sex workers in particular, so when I stumbled upon an upcoming novel from Walter Mosley that centers around these issues, I immediately added Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore: A Novel to my to-read list. Debbie Dare is an infamous black porn star known for her shocking blond wig and blue contacts who, after a unique string of circumstances, finds herself retiring from the adult industry. The tale that unfolds recounts Debbie’s struggle to find a future not dictated by her past and achieve a peace of mind that does not include suicide. Debbie Doesn’t Do it Anymore is expected for publication in May 2014.
Fans of noir thrillers will enjoy the expected 2014 release from Peter Swanson, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart: A Novel. Our protagonist George Foss is jolted when he is unexpectedly revisited by a love who left him two decades before. Liana Dector is the first love George never forgot, but may also be a murderer with a warrant out for her arrest. When she comes to George in trouble demanding help, he is plunged into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, secrets, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape. The Girl With a Clock For a Heart is a tense and addicting suspense novel that will keep you guessing until its final pages. The novel is scheduled for release on February 4, 2014.
Award-winning playwright and best-selling author Pearl Cleage is set to release a memoir entitled Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons & Love Affairs about the art of juggling marriage, motherhood, and politics while working to become a successful writer. It recounts her feminist breakthrough to pursue her own passions, even if it meant losing her marriage and the approval of many in her community. Startlingly honest and relatable, Cleage is certain to raise the bar for women’s confessional writing with this anticipated release. Things I Never Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons & Love Affairs is due out in April 2014.
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu, is a riveting coming of age story that takes place during the African revolution and follows its protagonist to the United States after the political climate in his home country reaches a breaking point and is too unsafe for him to continue to pursue his university education there. In America, he is granted the permission to reinvent himself and leave his violent past behind, but quickly finds that some wounds are not as quick to heal. An emotional read, All Our Names explores identity and the forked paths we embark on with no regard for our past. Due in March 2014.
So dorks, what are your thoughts on the list? What 2014 releases are you most looking forward to? Any that you anticipate being made into feature films? I admit the Walter Mosley seems like it would translate well, but maybe I’m really just eager to see a sex worker’s story painted in a light different than the overused “hooker with a heart of gold” trope.
Huge thanks to everyone who voted in the poll! I will be reviewing Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons & Love Affairs by Pearl Cleage in April 2014 and Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley in May 2014.