Few exceptions aside, the most compelling, challenging, absorbing literary art is being produced by small presses and their respective writers. I asked a number of writers, editors, and publishers to send me a list of small press books to look out for in 2016. Below you’ll find my own list, which is informed by Kate Angus, John Cayley, Lauren Cerand, Samuel R. Delany, Rikki Ducornet, Andrew Ervin, Lily Hoang, Sean Lovelace, Scott McClanahan, Hubert O’Hearn, Jane Unrue, and Curtis White.

Below you’ll also find lists from Jeff Bursey, Tobias Carroll, Gabino Iglesias, Janice Lee, Dawn Raffel, Nick Francis Potter, John Reed, Adam Robinson, Michael Seidlinger, Terese Svoboda, Jason Teal, Angela Woodward, and Jacob Wren. All the abovementioned people are small press heroes and great writers in their own right. My thanks to all of them.

Here’s my list, which is by no means exhaustive. Be sure to let me know—in the comments below—what I’ve missed!

Nick Potter’s New Animals (Subito Press) was recently unleashed on this old animal. Still recovering from having been fiercely bitten by earlier incarnations of several of these creatures. Looking forward to being eaten alive by all of them.

I loved Claire Donato’s Burial, which I think of as “the thinking that occurs around the so-called unthinkable, what is spoken about the so-called unspeakable,” and so I’m eager to read her second full-length collection, which Amina Cain (whose Creature I described as “full of defamiliarizing compressions and suspensions, the narrator(s) alternately winsomely whimsical and devastatingly deadpan”) describes as “Generous, violent, open, and dark, The Second Body continuously lays clear a self-other, and that self-other continuously extends into the universe. As a person, and a reader, I feel very thankful for that, to be in that kind of space, in that kind of literature.”

Ramsey Scott’s The Narco-Imaginary: Essays Under the Influence (Ugly Duckling Presse) is a collection of “epistolary essays, personal narratives, meditations on avant-garde writers, and unorthodox forays into the ‘narco-imaginary’—the habits and conventions surrounding literary and cultural representations of drug use—attend[ing] to the residue of transient impressions that remain, long after the delirium of creative activity subsides.”

Also from UDP: Bill Berkson’s Invisible Oligarchs; Waly Salomão’s Algaravias: Echo Chamber; and Hirato Renkichi’s Spiral Staircase: Collected Writings.

John Domini’s first story collection, Bedlam, “with its ruined men, whether succumbing to PTSD-induced delusions or to their long-arrested imaginations, forced me, after reading it, to temporarily have difficulty distinguishing “suits” from ghosts and other spectralities.” I’m looking forward to being similarly overwhelmed by Movieola! (Dzanc), which has already received nods from Matt Bell, Padgett Powell, David Shields, Christopher Sorrentino, and Amber Sparks. Here’s advance praise from Sam Lipsyte: “Movieola! is a glory—smart, cutting, and funny. John Domini moves through the absurd tropes of modern Hollywood with menace and glee, and eventually gets to that scary place where we all dwell, our delusional but self-sustaining personal movies flickering inside our skulls, all of us bit players praying for a major arc.”

I’m always on the lookout for all things New Directions, but I’m especially looking forward to Vampire in Love, a career-spanning collection of Enrique Vila-Matas’s short fiction; and Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador, which Roberto Bolaño called a “parody of certain works by Bernhard and the kind of book that makes you laugh out loud.”

New Directions is also bringing out two great books in paperback this year: Helen DeWitt’s staggeringly brilliant The Last Samurai; and John Keene’s Counternarratives, a stunning, virtuosic performance, in form and style, and, and, and…

A new book from Rikki Ducornet is always a notable event, so I’m very much looking forward to Brightfellow, which Coffee House Press promises is a “fragrant, voluptuous novel of imposture, misplaced affection, and emotional deformity.”

As demonstrated in his two previous books, Rose Alley and Fancy, Jeremy M. Davies is a stylist par excellence. The Knack of Doing (Godine), his debut collection of short fiction, promises to be a virtuosic exploration of narrative form.

Good to know another of Alexandra Chasin’s genre-trespassing books is on its way this. Assassin of Youth (University of Chicago) is “a lyrical, digressive, funny, and ultimately riveting quasi-biography of [Harry J.] Anslinger,” who “was to drug enforcement what J. Edgar Hoover was to crime more generally” and “was best known for his relentless prosecution of drug offenders and his particular animus for marijuana users.”

Sam Lipsyte says the characters in Dylan Hicks’s Amateurs “will haunt you with their longing, and inspire you with their sweet, caustic wit.” Bring on the haunting!

I’ve read all of Diane Williams’s books, a library of American absurdities, each concision an incision slicing up American life; and so I expect that despite its title all is not fine in Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (McSweeney’s).

Simply put, I’m looking forward to everything Dalkey Archive is publishing this year.

Douglas Murphy’s Last Futures: Nature, Technology, and the End of Architecture (Verso Books) “traces the lost archeology of the present day through the works of thinkers and designers such as Buckminster Fuller, the ecological pioneer Stewart Brand, the Archigram architects who envisioned the Plug-In City in the ’60s, as well as co-operatives in Vienna, communes in the Californian desert and protesters on the streets of Paris. In this mind-bending account of the last avant-garde, we see not just the source of our current problems but also some powerful alternative futures.”

Olja Savičević’s Adios, Cowboy (McSweeney’s) is “the American debut by a poet from Croatia’s ‘lost generation,’ [which] explores a beautiful Mediterranean town’s darkest alleys: the bars where secrets can be bought, the rooms where bodies can be sold, the plains and streets and houses where blood is shed.”

From the excerpt I’ve read, Janice Lee’s The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms) promises to be lyrical essaying on space and other uncertainties.

Brian Evenson is the great destabilizer, unsettling genre conventions, upsetting whatever number of certainties; and, like all of his fiction, The Collapse of Horses dramatizes “the terror of living with the knowledge of all we cannot know.”

Sergio Chejfec is a recent discovery for me, and he’s become one of my favorite contemporary writers. He says the following about Jacob Wren’s Rich and Poor (BookThug):

“For far too long, literature has deemed it inconvenient to speak about the rich and the poor. Jacob Wren’s intriguing novel calls this notion into question. Details, short impressions, the very temperature of fleeting events—these are what make this book great, precisely because it deliberately eschews all bombast. The narrative, in the way it projects the past as a perpetual present, produces in the reader the illusion of being inside a manual of minutiae, being written alongside the act of reading itself. Wren’s ability to speak about the abstruse and unusual, hidden in all that is profane in our social comings and goings, forms the basis of the novel’s magnificent and defining concept, one that does not seek to be a testimony, but rather, to be rapturous metaphor.”

Speaking of Sergio Chejfec and Brian Evenson, I’ve found they’ve both blurbed João Gilberto Noll’s Quiet Creature on the Corner (Two Lines Press):

“A wonderfully dislocated read, Quiet Creature on the Corner shimmers through the consciousness of a wounded, and wounding, man who experiences the sharpest impacts of himself with the world and is able to hang on to very little else, including the passage of time. It’s like what might have happened if Werner Herzog had written a hypnotized sequel to Peter Handke’s The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.” — Brian Evenson

“Noll’s literature doesn’t seek to impart a lesson or demonstrate anything. Above all, it shows the poetry in the fact that no one individual is a permanence but rather many simultaneous things.” — Sergio Chejfec

Annie De Witt’s White Nights in Split Town City (Tyrant Books) is a “coming-of-age story and cautionary tale. In her mother’s absence, Jean is torn between the adult world and her surreal fantasies of escape as she and Fender build a fort to survey the rumors of their town.”

I’ve read and loved all of László Krasznahorkai’s books so I’ll soon be devouring Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens. Subverting the conventions of the travel memoir, Krasznahorkai explores the “chaotic flux of globality.” Can’t wait for The Last Wolf (New Directions), too; it certainly doesn’t hurt that the narrative is constructed as a single-sentence loop.

Memoir? Fiction? The Clouds finds Juan José Saer exploring madness and history and reality, their various intertwistings, in Paris, where “Pinchón Garay receives a computer disk containing a manuscript—which might be fictional, or could be a memoir—by Doctor Real, a nineteenth-century physician tasked with leading five mental patients on a trip to a recently constructed asylum. This ragtag team, which includes a delusional narcissist and a nymphomaniac nun who tricks the other patients into sleeping with her, ploughs full steam ahead on a tragicomic trip that ends in disaster and fire.”

Uncertain Reading: Collected Essays (Semiotext(e)) “brings together for the first time [Robert] Glück’s nonfiction, a revelatory body of work that anchors his writing practice. Glück’s essays explore the ways that storytelling and selfhood are mutually embedded cultural forms, cohering a fractured social reality where generating narrative means generating identity means generating community.”

Sarah Schulman’s The Cosmopolitans (Feminist Press) is, among other things, a modern retelling of Balzac’s Cousin Bette. Samuel R. Delany writes: “Vivid and moving. Novels about the past that can celebrate it with intelligence rather than nostalgia are rare and are themselves to be celebrated.”

Augury Books has two compelling forthcoming books: Sara Schaff’s Say Something Nice About Me, a collection of “darkly beautiful (and often quite funny) stories of modern love, families, and heartbreak”; and Arisa White’s you’re the most beautiful thing that happened, whose poems—which take “their titles from words used internationally as hate speech against gays and lesbians”—“ rework, reenvision, and reembody language as a conduit instead for art, love, and understanding.”

According to Matthew Zapruder, Kate Angus’s So Late to the Party (Negative Capability Press) “does not merely describe, but enacts a faith in life, and in poetry’s necessity. This is the poetry for those of us who don’t just want but need to ‘always and silently unseal everything,’ to see what we can feel and know.”

Maggie Nelson writes: “Rarely have I come across tenderness, venom, and fire held so intimately, so exquisitely, as in Lily Hoang’s A Bestiary (CSU Poetry Center). This book would be impressive enough as a collection of finely-forged fragments, but as it weaves itself into an even more impressive whole, my hat came off. Lily Hoang writes like she has nothing to lose and everything at stake.”

Bardo or Not Bardo (Open Letter) “takes place in [Antoine Volodine’s] universe of failed revolutions, radical shamanism, and off-kilter nomenclature.”

I’d never heard of Lola Ridge until I’d heard about Terese Svoboda’s Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet (Schaffner Press), the first full-length biography—a “lively, nuanced, and complex portrait”—of this influential Irish-American poet; editor of avant-garde, feminist, and anarchist publications; and champion of the working-class.

Mark de Silva’s Square Wave (Two Dollar Radio) “gracefully weav[es] a study of the psychological effects of a militarized state upon its citizenry with topics as diverse as microtonal music and cloud physics.”

Two books to look out for from Relegation Books: Daniel Paisner’s A Single Happened Thing: an “enchanting new novel about neurosis, intimacy, and balancing familial needs while juggling two careers and the demands of modern life.” And Sonya Chung’s The Loved Ones.

Tobias Carroll’s book and music criticism is as smart as it is expansive, which is why I’m looking forward to Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms)

Steve Toutonghi’s Join (Soho Press) is a “literary sci fi thriller that brings to life the ‘future of the mind’ in which humans can merge consciousnesses to form permanent ‘Joins,’ expanding life and consciousness—but at what cost?”

Johannes Göransson mentioned on Facebook that he’s “been reading, writing about, and teaching [Dolores Dorantes’s Style] for ages”; and after seeing it described as “a prose book in which a plural feminine voice narrates the vicissitudes of a war designed to suppress that voice,” I’m happy to see it getting published this year in English.

Among the books forthcoming from Sarabande Books is Randa Jarrar’s Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, featuring “resonant and otherworldly narratives” and “displaced characters.”

Action Books can be counted on to publish the most challenging, genre-trespassing literature. They have five books forthcoming this year and I want to read each one of them:

Kim Hyesoon’s Poor Love Machine (trans. Don Mee Choi)

taylor jacob pate’s Becoming the Virgin

Jane Wong’s Overpour

Valerie Hsiung’s exchange following and gene flow: a trilogy

Farid Tali’s Prosopopoeia (trans. Aditi Machado)

Thoroughly enjoyed Molly Gaudry’s We Take Me Apart’s fragmentary lyricism, so I’m very much looking forward to Desire: A Haunting (Ampersand Books).

I’ve been lucky to have heard a few of the stories in Good People, read by Robert Lopez, himself, stories whose deadpan humor and cutting sentences provide further proof that Lopez is one of the country’s finest writers of weirdly dark and darkly weird comedy.

The Port-Wine Stain (Bellevue Literary Press), the third novel in Norman Lock’s American Novels series “is a gothic psychological thriller whose themes are possession, identity, and storytelling that the master, Edgar Allan Poe, might have been proud to call his own.”

Anastasia Higginbotham’s Death Is Stupid (The Feminist Press)—appears to be a necessary tonic for all kinds of received wisdom and knowledge.

Matt Tompkins’s Studies in Hybrid Morphology (The Newer York Press) “is a story collection trapped in the body of a scientific journal. Presented as a series of faux-scholarly articles, this genre-bending mash-up offers an array of surreal stories and flash fictions exploring the beings we want to be, can be, should not be, and will never be.”

With its “aimless twenty-something,” whose “legs are rotting,” who’s caring for a “human baby that might actually be a dog,” T. Sean Steele’s Tacky Goblin (Curbside Splendor) promises to be engagingly strange. Also from Curbside Splendor is Zoe Zolbrod’s The Telling: A Memoir, an unflinching memoir reflecting on the decade-long molestation she suffered as a child, filtered through a “kaleidoscopic series of experiences as an adult, mother, and feminist.”

Two books by Bohumil Hrabal are on the way from Archipelago Books!

A collection of flash fictions featuring “Bogeyman reunions and voodoo dolls to an introspective Superman and godly affairs,” Christopher DeWan’s Hoopty Time Machines: Fairy Tales for Grown Ups (Atticus Books) looks like a must-read. Advance praise from Kevin Brockmeier certainly doesn’t hurt.

Post-apocalyptic poetry? Enough said. A book that’s “a burning down, a kind of end of the world while, at the same time, a new, triumphant beginning”? Ditto.

What Weaponry (Black Lawrence Press): “[Elisabeth] Colen is not timid about addressing the perversities of American culture head-oaps more discomfortn…The subjects are dark, generating perh than comfort, but Colen reminds us that the human heart is still quite functional.” —D. A. Powell.

Future Tense Press, going strong at twenty-five-plus years, has at least two titles to check out this year: Monica Drake’s The Folly of Loving Life; and Meredith Alling’s Sing the Song.

Timothy Yu’s 100 Chinese Silences (Les Figues Press) rewrites “poets from Ezra Pound and Marianne Moore to Gary Snyder and Billy Collins, this book is a sharply critical and wickedly humorous travesty of the modern canon, excavating the Asian (American) bones buried in our poetic language.”

Judith Butler calls Sara Uribe’s Antígona González (Les Figues Press) a “brilliant and moving book [that] revives the story of Antigone to confront the horrifying violence shrouded within the present landscape—Antigone, a solitary figure before the law, facing certain death, who invokes a way of resistance at once textual and political. Sophocles’ play resonates throughout this act of poetic testimony and fierce interpretation, making emphatic graphic marks precisely where there is no trace of loss.”

The description for Selah Saterstrom’s Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics (Essay Press) seems tailor-made for me:

“How does one participate (read and write) from within the membranous precinct between our multiple bodies, from within the larger rhizomic field of resonances, where much is sounding and also unsounded? By employing various ‘divinatory generators’ (instructions, methods, trances), the essays in Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics genuflect to practices that celebrate engagement with uncertainty, cultivating strategies through which one might collaborate with rupture and rapture.”

The stories in Samuel Ligon’s Wonderland (Lost Horse Press) are, at turns, whimsical, funny, and outright weird, with all kinds of kooky characters and odd situations. It has the feel of a storybook for adults, where the art sings in counterpoint with the stories, and the stories themselves offer strange takes on tall tales, fairy tales (“The Little Goat” and “Paradise Lost”), the nursery rhyme, the letter, the blurb (I have a piece in that collection as well!), etc. I also really like “This Land Was Made for You & Me,” with its deft play on the term “intellectual property”; and “Exxon, My Love,” which I’m reading as a wry attack on predatory (Is there any other kind?) multinational corporations.

Samuel Ligon’s Among the Dead and Dreaming (Leapfrog Press) is “a dark love story of two damaged people brought together by the deaths of their spouses, and further joined by repercussions of past violence and corruption, leaking, then pouring into the present. The book employs multiple first-person narrators, with characters’ names as section headers, like in As I Lay Dying.”

James Reich’s Mistah Kurtz! (Anti-Oedipus Press) engagingly gives voice to one of fiction’s most enigmatic characters: the petty tyrant, dying demigod, and supposed embodiment of imperialist Europe from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Looking forward to seeing how the eponymous empty-but-paradoxically-still-overflowing vessel of Nice Things by James Franco, edited by Sean Lovelace and Mark Neely (New Michigan Press) thinks.

In Liz Waldner’s Little House, Big House (Noemi Press) “travelogue divides into dirge, into etymology of pop iconography, then multiplies into an other America, one against (the pre-packaged) and for a construction of stories lying ahead of a self, made in an unknown home ‘where I grew to be me.’”

Juliet Escoria’s Witch Hunt (Lazy Fascist Press) “delves into the terror and beauty that occurs when love, madness, and addiction collide.”

Of Elizabeth Gonzalez’s The Universal Physics of Escape (Press 53), Karen Russell writes:

“I loved every story in this collection by Elizabeth Gonzalez. With quiet authority, in prose of luminous clarity, she travels fluidly between the natural world and her characters’ secret interiors. These science-inflected tales include octopus escape artists, ‘reclamation specialists,’ cracked geodes, and the intractable laws of physics. Out of a bedrock of fact, Gonzalez raises a lush set of questions about our mysterious species: why do we stay, when do we go, how do we build our selves and our homes?”

Ricardo Cavolo and Scott McClanahan’s The Incantations of Daniel Johnston: A Graphic Novel (Two Dollar Radio) depicts “Johnston’s colorful life, from his humble beginnings as a carnival employee to folk musician in Austin, to his rise to MTV popularity and persistent struggle with personal demons.”

In Madeleine E. (Outpost19), Gabriel Blackwell—genre-trespasser par excellence—offers a “commonplace book, arranging passages from critics considering Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, along with fragments of memoir and fiction. Presented first as random notes on watching the legendary film, the meticulously arranged fragments soon take up multiple threads and, like a classic Hitchcock movie, present competing realities.”

Three books from Deep Vellum Publishing caught my eye:

Jung Young Moon’s Vaseline Buddha, a “tour-de-force in automatic writing”; “Ukrainian literary rockstar” Serhiy Zhadan’s Voroshilovgrad, whose “poetic, expressive prose” mixes “magical realism and exhilarating road novel”; Michèle Audin’s One Hundred Twenty-One Days, whose “narrative oscillates stylistically from chapter to chapter, sometimes resembling a novel, at others a fable, historical research, or a diary, locking and unlocking codes, culminating in a captivating, original reading experience.

“While absurdly funny on its face, Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin (Restless Books) is deadly serious in its implications. [Oleg] Kashin’s experience exemplifies why so few authors dare to criticize the state—and his book is a testament of the power of literature to break the bonds of power, corruption, and enforced silence.”

Susan E. Eaton’s Integration Nation (The New Press) “is a desperately needed road map for a nation still finding its way beyond anti-immigrant hysteria to higher ground.

About Anthony Michael Morena’s The Voyager Record: A Transmission (Rose Metal Press):

“Combining elements of poetry, flash fiction, and essay, Anthony Michael Morena creates a collage of music, observation, humor, and alienation. Giving the 38-year-old original playlist a B-side update, Morena’s The Voyager Record calls out to its namesake across the billions of miles of emptiness.”

Native Believer is Ali Eteraz’s “long-awaited debut novel [:] a darkly comic, provocative, and insightful vision of the contemporary American experience.”

Susan Daitch’s The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir (City Lights) is a “satiric, post-colonial adventure story of mythic proportions” that “takes place against a background of actual events, in a part of the world with a particular historical relationship to Russia and the West. But though we are treated to visual ‘evidence’ of its actual existence, Suolucidir remains a mystery, perhaps an invention of those who seek it, a place where history and identity are subject to revision, and the boundaries between East and West are anything but solid, reliable, or predictable.”

City Lights is also bringing Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry back into print.

Will Stone’s Sleepwalkers (Shearsman Books) “ranges across Britain and continental Europe, past, present and future, conjuring extraordinary visions of beauty and despair, joy and horror, revelation and nostalgia. From delicate insight to apocalyptic rage, the glory and savagery of human achievement and destruction is set against the majestic power and fragility of nature.”

Also, be sure to check out two books I’m publicizing: Matthew Binder’s High in the Streets, which Clancy Martin describes as being “as philosophically astute as it is hilariously funny”; and Angela Woodward’s Natural Wonders, which Matt Bell says “beautifully juxtaposes a recounting of a short but intense marriage against a retelling of both the marvelous expanse of geological time and the fraught history of scientific discovery.

Among the books I missed last year that I’m excited about reading this year is Jeff Bursey’s Mirrors on which dust has fallen, set in Bowmount, the fictitious town first introduced in Bursey’s Verbatim: A Novel. The new novel features a “varied cast of characters [who] examine and defend their spiritual beliefs, from God to evolution; their views on art, as painting battles photography for supremacy; and their sexuality, from confusion to pagan flagrancy.”

I also somehow missed Kathy Fish and Robert Vaughan’s RIFT (Unknown Press), which features advance praise from Luke Goebel, Robert Lopez, Michael Martone, Lidia Yuknavitch, among others.

As a father of an amazing ten year old daughter, I can’t help being interested in Every Father’s Daughter: Twenty-four Women Writers Remember Their Fathers (McPherson & Company).

Hope to see books from Ellipsis Press this year. I’ve loved so many of their books. Hoping or the same about Calamari Press for the same reason. Looking forward to checking out their recently published Gotham Grammarian, by the incomparable Gary Lutz. Read an excerpt!

I can’t help wondering if we’ll see new books from any number of my favorite writers, small press heroes all, like Mary Caponegro, Samuel Delany, Jaimy Gordon, John Haskell, Shelley Jackson, Bhanu Kapil, Eugene Lim, Michael Leong, Carole Maso, Joyelle McSweeney, and Ken Sparling.




Matches, by S.D. Chrostowska; published by Punctum Books.

This work is built on fragments that collide and splinter further, that prop each other up unexpectedly, with a dry humour that slides into pessimism, as the persona of a male essayist comments on art, culture, politics, philosophy, and much else. Allusions and quotations abound, as do dialogues between characters familiar from logical arguments. You don’t need to be a fan of the Frankfurt School or Adorno or Benjamin to enjoy this book. It hasn’t been paid enough attention. Is it because it’s from such a small press and that it’s by a Canadian? It’s a must-read.

Tyler’s Last (Outpost19), by David Winner: Mr. Ripley and Patrician Highsmith meet in this literary experiment praised by Ann Beattie. Is this also a meta-thriller? Looking forward to finding out.

My Struggle: Book Five (Archipelago Books): Since I read the previous four avidly I’m more than curious where Karl Ove will take me with this latest volume.

Bardo or Not Bardo (Open Letter) by Antoine Volodine: The back cover speaks of Tibet and wandering souls as they wait to make their way back from the afterlife to our sphere. An intriguing premise.

Compartment No. 6 (Graywolf), by Rosa Liksom: Train rides and Russia (practically synonymous), a Finnish woman and a former soldier, and conversation that takes them to Mongolia. What’s not to look forward to in this novel, winner of the Finlandia Prize?

The Last Wolf (New Directions), by László Krasznahorkai: A single-sentence story by a master of form, ostensibly about a Spanish wolf, but likely to be about much more.

This Marlowe (Goose Lane), Michelle Butler Hallett: A historical novel set in the late 16th century, using Marlowe and others, but current in its tone, and in its themes about espionage, Empire, and loyalty, by an emerging Canadian writer.

Visit Jeff Bursey online.




Brian Blanchfield’s Proxies: Essays Near Knowing (Nightboat Books): Essays about memory and the flaws of memory take on a powerfully cumulative effective.

Dolan Morgan, Insignificana (Civil Coping Mechanisms): Wonderfully surreal, visceral, cerebral short fiction.

Norman Lock’s The Port-Wine Stain (Bellevue Literary Press): In which Lock’s ongoing project riffing on 19th-century American history and culture intersects the work and obsessions of Edgar Allan Poe.

Wendy C. Ortiz’s Bruja (Civil Coping Mechanisms): In her earlier books, Excavation and Hollywood Notebook, I was floored both by Ortiz’s prose and her ability to upend expectations of what can be done in a memoir. So I’m very eager to read book number three, which ventures into the territory of dreams.

D. Foy’s Patricide (Stalking Horse Press): Based on the excerpts of this that have surfaced, this promises to be another harrowing, compelling novel from Foy, following 2014’s Made to Break.

Margaret Wappler’s Neon Green (Unnamed Press): I will happily read a coming-of-age novel set in the 90s where aliens make an appearance, yes.

Amelia Martins’s The Spoons in the Grass Are There to Dig a Moat (Sarabande): Prose poems and evocative titles have a way of getting my attention.

Visit Tobias Carroll online.




I’m looking forward to a lot of stuff this year.

The first indie press on my list is Broken River Books. Sure, I’m biased, but BRB puts out consistently amazing books. This year they will continue to put out an amazing array of voices, and that includes books by David Bowles, Marilyse Figueroa, Kelby Losack, and Grant Wamack. I can’t pick one over the other, so keep your eyes on BRB and grab them all as soon as they’re available.

Another indie press that never disappoints is Lazy Fascist Press. They have a lot of good books coming this year, but these are the three I’m most stoked about:

Juliet Escoria’s Witch Hunt: Escoria’s Black Cloud made her a household name, and now that she knows what her voice is, I expect this to be even better, harder, grittier, and amazing.

Andrea Kneeland’s The Birds & The Beasts: With How to Pose for Hustler, Kneeland made me a fan for life, and I’ve been waiting for this one since the second I finished the last one.

Brian Allen Carr’s Lemon Yellow Poison: There’s no one out there who can do what Carr does. Also, his best work has come from Lazy Fascist Press (The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World and The Shape of Every Monster Yet to Come). With such a track record, to say Carr has a new book coming from Lazy Fascist Press is saying “save a space on your best of 2016 list because something truly great is coming.”

The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura: SOHO Press does great things, and translating Nakamura is at the top of the list. This comes out in July and will surely get people talking about Nakamura all over again. And that’s a good thing because he’s one of the best living crime writers.

The Incantations of Daniel Johnston, a graphic novel by Ricardo Cavolo and Scott McClanahan: Cavolo + McClanahan + Johnston + Two Dollar Radio = Gold. TDR never disappoints, but this one is already special. McClanahan has a unique voice and Cavolo’s art is fun and very recognizable, so this book is one I’m already incredibly excited about.

Civil Coping Mechanisms puts out great books, and this year is no different. Two I’m especially excited about are You with Your Memory Are Dead, by Gary J Shipley; and Transitory, by Tobias Carroll. Shipley is a master of the dark and bizarre narratives; and Carroll, who we have to thank for Vol. 1 Brooklyn, is a talented storyteller who also stands at the center of indie lit.

Visit Gabino Iglesias online.




The Surrender, by Scott Esposito (Anomalous Press)

The excerpts I’ve read of this are so sensitive and devastating and perceptive, I’m anticipating having my heart turned inside out and can’t wait to hold this book in my hands.

Potted Meat, by Stephen Dunn (Tarpaulin Sky)

This amazing excerpt from the book:

“Everyone is downstairs crying. I walk upstairs to Grandma’s room. It is dark. Her dirty pink house shoes are lined up by the nightstand like she just got into bed. The covers on her side are pulled back like she just got out of bed. I leave and ask my mom how Grandma died. My mom says she just turned yellow and died. What, I say. You heard me, she says, she just turned yellow and died. I will never eat dandelions again.”

Hardly War, by Don Mee Choi (Wave Books)

I’ve admired Don Mee Choi for her work both as a translator (she introduced me to Kim Hyesoon’s intense and visceral poetry), as well as a poet (her earlier book, The Morning News Is Exciting, dealt so aptly with complex issues of past, history, trajectory, identity). I admire how she bluntly and honestly deals with questions of “ethnic” identity and hidden traumas, and questions around how to reconcile history with memory.

Cheer Up, Femme Fatale, by Kim Yideum, translated by Ji Yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes Göransson (Action Books)

“I’ve written a little bit previously on this title at Enclave:

This book struck me in a very physical way. As if so many of these actions were happening inside my gut, bowels, heart twisting and stretching in the shadows of contradiction, loss, resentment, conjuration, desire. The poetry in this book is so much about seeking out those grotesque and creepy spaces where, despite the filth and shame, we still must reside.”

Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, by Brian Blanchfield (Nightboat Books)

Maggie Nelson has said about the book:

“Into what some are calling a new golden age of creative

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