6 books to add to your reading list for December
On the shelf
6 Books to look out for in December
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If you’re reading this: Congratulations! You’ve made it to the first semi-post-pandemic holidays and almost to the end of a tough year. What better way to escape from — or face up to — troubles past and future than with books? The following six should carry you into 2022 — but watch this space for a very fruitful January.
Our most anticipated December releases include a professor’s memoir about his tumultuous relationship with his late father, a fictional retelling of the story of the last man in Wales to be sentenced to death, a translated sendup of toxic masculinity, and short stories from celebrated nonfiction writer Tom Bissell.
The Women I Love
By Francesco Pacifico, translated by Elizabeth Harris
Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 240 pages, $27
The hip Italian satirist follows Marcello, a poet and editor on the brink of 40 who is writing a novel about the women in his life: his girlfriend, his occasional lover, his mother and his estranged gay sister. Pacifico’s parody of the literary male is the 21st-century unreliable narrator we deserve. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a darkly funny exploration of entanglements and terminal self-regard.”
Creative Types: And Other Stories
By Tom Bissell
Pantheon: 224 pages, $27
The tales in this collection center on a human experience all too familiar: good times marred by persistent negative thoughts and feelings. There are newlyweds on their honeymoon wondering if their union was a mistake; an editor who confronts his past as a childhood bully; a sexually bored couple who hire an escort for a threesome, until the husband is unnerved by her tattoo. Bissell’s skill as a journalist and memoirist transfers to complex situational fiction.
The Fortune Men
By Nadifa Mohamed
Knopf: 320 pages, $27
In Cardiff, Wales in 1952, young Somali immigrant Mahmood Mattan is falsely accused of murdering killing a Jewish shop owner. He initially dismisses the accusation, but after his arrest, Mattan is forced to defend his innocence at trial and fight for his life against racism and religious intolerance. Shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, the Somali British author’s novel fictionalizes the true tale of the last person executed in Wales — and posthumously exonerated decades later.
It’s Getting Dark: Stories
By Peter Stamm, translated by Michael Hofmann
Other Press: 208 pages, $23
An artist recalls a Christmas from 30 years past, re-examining a brief affair in a new light. Eager to shake up his mundane life, another man decides to rob a bank, casing the site before he strikes. From an author one critic called “one of Europe’s most exciting writers” come a dozen reflective and somber stories about the tenuousness of reality.
Jason Mott took home the National Book Award for fiction. Other winners included Tiya Miles, Martín Espada and Malinda Lo.
Sea State: A Memoir
By Tabitha Lasley
Ecco Press: 176 pages, $28
In her mid-30s, Lasley quit her job in London and traveled to Scotland to write about life on oil rigs and what men were like without the presence of women. She meets Caden, a married rig worker and her first interview subject, and the two begin an affair. In The Times’ fall season preview, Bethanne Patrick called Lasley’s memoir a “brutally honest account of need and loss.”
The Death of My Father the Pope: A Memoir
By Obed Silva
MCD: 304 pages, $27
A former gang member, now an English professor at East Los Angeles College, entwines his father’s death with memories of a rocky upbringing, where he was shuttled between his mother’s home in California and his father’s in Chihuahua, Mexico. His father’s lifelong alcoholism wreaked havoc on his family before his death at age 48 from liver failure. Publisher’s Weekly called it a “lyrical memoir” about “the complicated ways grief, family, and addiction can intertwine.”
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