Best New Fiction: January 2015


Best New Fiction is a monthly segment dedicated to highlighting the most interesting and noteworthy releases that will be published over the next thirty days.

People love lists. At least, that’s what they keep telling us. It seems they figure that this here website could be a really great thing if only we published more bite-sized, enumerated articles. Why don’t you have more features like: 5 books to read while shitting at the airport, 14 titles to help alleviate albuminurophobia, or a look at the 10 best novels featuring doughnut munching detectives? That’s the number one question we hear from readers.  Okay, number two.  Number one is: exactly how do you pronounce typographicalera? Sigh.

Enjoy the return of yet another one of our regular, yet numberless, list-based features that has suffered over the past few months (New in Translation being the other). It’s not that there hasn’t been a wealth of great new fiction to talk about, it’s just that we’ve been really busy with other activities.  We’re not going to number them or anything (why start now), but below you’ll find five new books dropping this month that we think are worth your precious reading time.

by Ned Beauman
January 20th

Love is not a strong enough word to describe the feelings we harbor deep inside our damaged little medulla oblongatas for Beauman’s Man Booker long listed novel The Teleportation Accident. This guy could write a book about whacked-out foxes, sleep disorders, radical new party drugs, sudden disappearances, and dirty corporate connivances all rolled into one and we’d read it in a second.

Luckily for us, that’s just what he went and did.

First_Bad_ManThe First Bad Man
by Miranda July
January 13th

It’s been nearly 7 years since the brilliant and enigmatic Miranda July published her first collection of short fiction, No One Belongs Here More Than You.  Of course, she’s been busy with other writing projects, art pieces, family, and film.  But if you’re a Miranda July fan, then this debut novel is a really big deal and, like us, you probably can’t wait to devour it (if you haven’t already).

Hall_Of_Small_MammalsHall of Small Mammals
by Thomas Pierce
January 8th

How do we properly describe this collection of twelve bizarre short story gems? In one, reality TV and science collide as an animal returns from extinction, but who can adequately care for a beast that should not exist in our world (listen to the first five minutes read by MacLeod Andrews here)? In another, a man must decide what to do after he finds out his loved one’s biggest secret: she’s married…to another man…in her dreams. 12 beautifully strange tales, all of which playfully explore the overlapping affects that science and religion have on our daily lives, and ask what responsibility, if any, being in possession of a consciousness carries.

by Robert Repino
Soho Press
January 20th

When a colony of massive people-sized ants finally unleash their diabolical plot to destroy the world, who will rise up to save mankind? Mort(e) will of course! Formerly a house cat, this feline used to answer to the name Sebastian, but that was before the ants poisoned the world’s drinking water supplies, leading to animals everywhere mutating into intelligent, two-legged beings. It won’t be easy, but Mort(e) will risk all of his nine lives in a bold attempt to uncover what happened to his missing friend from life’s simpler times, a dog named Sheba.

George Orwell’s Animal House meets the pitch-perfect science-fictional creations of a George Saunders’s like-world in this fascinating exploration of what it means to become just like the very creatures that you had no choice but to rely on for your continued survival. After reading this one you might never look at any of the planet’s animals in quite the same way ever again.

19881988: I Want to Talk With the World
by Han Han
Translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt

January 13th

Have you ever wanted to just jump in your beat up old shitbox and hit the open road? I’m not talking joyride. I’m mean reset to zero. Begin again somewhere new. Start fresh. Lu Ziye would be doing just that, ripping down the open road on his way across China, if only that pregnant prostitute he’s suddenly got riding shotgun wasn’t slowing him down.

Han Han’s novel, expertly translated by Howard Goldblatt, is amusing, introspective, and surprisingly moving as well. As the pair journey down the highway together, what they reveal about themselves to one another —and what they choose not to—will help to define the most unlikely, and unusual, of relationships.

What books are you looking forward to reading this month? Do be sure to tell us in list format using the comment form below. Also, expect our February picks to follow shortly.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.