Another start to the year means more chances for productivity and starting resolutions you’ve always wanted to do. If your goal is to read more, Our Culture has you covered — each month, we’ll be selecting upcoming books to add to your reading list.
The Fetishist, Katherine Min (Jan 9)
Daniel has long lusted after Asian women, treating them like throwaway dolls when he finds a new one to play with, but Kyoko, the daughter of Emi, the woman whose death he had caused, doesn’t let him get away so easily. After a bungled homicide attempt to get revenge, she kidnaps Daniel and must live with the man who broke her family. Katherine Min confronts race and the ways in which we try to seek it out or see through it in her blazing and thrilling posthumous novel.
City of Laughter, Temim Fruchter (Jan 16)
A debut novel that explores queerness, Judaism, and international sagas, City of Laughter is a detailed and moving portrait of women trying to find themselves. Navigating through life after a breakup and losing your father is hard enough, but Shiva, a student of Jewish folklore, takes her chance and visits Poland to try to make sense of her family identity. In an attempt to define her past, she also makes sense of her present.
Beautyland, Marie-Helene Bertino (Jan 16)
Adina is a girl living in Philadelphia, who, for all intents and purposes, believes she is an alien sent from space. While sleeping, she visits a classroom where she intuits her purpose on earth is to report on human life and send it to her superiors via fax machine. In this warm and thoughtful novel, we see the best, worst, and small intricacies of human behavior through the eyes of a girl who believes herself to be separate from the pack. Adina’s alien status might just be a metaphor, but the feelings of joy, pain, and loneliness that surround her as she moves through life as a human are as real as they get.
Filterworld: How Algorithms Flattened Culture, Kyle Chayka (Jan 16)
From New Yorker staff writer and author of a previous book about minimalism comes a new work about a relatively innocuous staple of modern-day culture: the algorithm. When we’re scrolling on Instagram and TikTok and find a new movie, show, coffee shop, or product to consume, we assume it’s for our best intentions, but the data-mining behind the content is just the tip of the iceberg. In a thoughtful exploration, Chayka details how the internet knows us in and out and how companies are all too eager to use the information to profit.
Bad Foundations, Brian Allen Carr (Jan 17)
The author of Opioid, Indiana, returns with an absurd (in a great way) novel about Cook, a man who crawls under houses for a living. Broken up between unfiltered thoughts, off-kilter ‘crawls’ where wealthy couples are shocked to hear how much a renovation costs, lengthy trips to get sales up and dreamlike conversations between his daughters, Bad Foundations is a constantly unpredictable read.
Martyr!, Kaveh Akbar (Jan 23)
In poet Kaveh Akbar’s debut novel, an Iranian poet travels to New York City to speak to Orkideh, a dying performance artist currently in the middle of her last exhibition. Inspired to write a book of martyrs, Cyrus is haunted by the death of his mother, killed in a civilian plane downed by the United States, and wishes his own death to mean something. Interspersed with POVs from characters like his uncle and mother alongside poignant and honest self-reflections about writing, legacy, Akbar’s debut is one to watch.
Broughtupsy, Christina Cooke (Jan 23)
In this emotional and strong debut novel, twenty-year-old Akúa flies home to her native Jamaica after a family emergency to wander the island in search of what she’s missed and the effect the distance has had on her personality and upbringing. After falling in tow with a queer sex worker, Akúa must confront painful truths about her identity that she didn’t know she was hiding.
Good Material, Dolly Alderton (Jan 30)
Dating columnist and advice guru Dolly Alderton returns with Good Material, a novel as compulsively readable, funny, and relatable as her first, Ghosts. Jen has just broken up with Andy, a floundering stand-up comic who spins into delusion after the split. He throws Jen’s perfume into a canal, has nights out with the boys, and gets a personal trainer to all help him recover, but he still has trouble with recognizing the fact that he and Jen are over. Alderton crafts stories with heart and thoughtfulness, and her newest is a continuation of her brilliant storytelling skills.
Your Utopia, Bora Chung (Jan 30)
South Korean writer Bora Chung’s second short story collection, Your Utopia, continues the same eerie science fiction, horror, and magical realism as her first, the unforgettable Cursed Bunny. This time, she tackles AI, class, capitalism and crime with her signature unsettling touch. Like her first collection, these stories will follow you well after you put the book down, for better or for worse.