THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV by Dawnie Walton is the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for 2022 winner. The prize “honors an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year. Symbolized by a three-dimensional compass, the award is a tribute to writers who have navigated their way through the maze of imagination and delivered a great read, taking the reader someplace new.” Walton will participate in a reading and Q&A session about the book on November 10 at 7pm at the James Branch Cabell Library in Richmond, Virginia. The event will also be live streamed via Zoom. 37 Ink published THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV on March 30, 2021.
Nada Alic’s debut short story collection BAD THOUGHTS welcomed strong press in the weeks leading up to its publication. Document Journal published an interview with Alic, where Alic shares her thoughts on writing: “I took to writing because it was a controlled space for me to get exactly what I wanted to say down. I think it was just finding a voice in a way where I can [say] this exactly how I want to and I will force you to be my captive audience. I’m now using the book as a jumping off point to get more into performance and feel more comfortable with that. But writing is the perfect outlet for someone who has a lot of feelings, but is mostly embarrassed to say them out loud.” Elsewhere, the book received a great review from Mallory Smart’s Maudlin House, where Smart praises Alic as “equal parts outlandish and realistic at all times throughout this dazzling debut.” Lastly, CBC named BAD THOUGHTS one of the “15 Canadian Books [They] Can’t Wait to Read in July.” Vintage will publish the book on July 12, 2022.
Author Sari Botton spoke about her essay collection AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF… with Joe Donahue on WAMC’s The Roundtable, and with Paul Zakrzewski on “The Book I Had to Write” podcast. WAMC’s write-up praises: “In a series of candid, reflective, sometimes humorous essays, Botton describes coming to feminism and self-actualization as an older person, second (and third and fourth) chances—and how maybe it’s never too late to find your way…assuming you’re lucky enough to live long.” The book also received a glowing review from Publishers Weekly: “Former Longreads editor Botton debuts with an introspective collection of essays about the joys and pains of feeling like a misfits…Botton recounts her mortifying moments, struggles with body image, and countless anxious encounters, readers are likely to find themselves squirming alongside her. The result offers a cathartic look at an imperfect life lived fully.” Heliotrope Books LLC published the book on June 14, 2022.
Keri Picolla published a wonderful review of Liska Jacobs’ THE PINK HOTEL for Kelp Journal. In the review, Picolla praises Jacobs’s rendering of Los Angeles’s twinned attraction and revulsion in the highest terms: “THE PINK HOTEL leaves a lasting impression, one of strange dichotomies of both hope and despair...Jacobs has deftly captured the bittersweetness of longing for the beauty that comes from hoping for a more perfect world. Even when the world is at its ugliest, spinning in an intoxicated shit show, there is an unbreakable human need to believe in love despite it all…The story of THE PINK HOTEL and its crazy cast of characters [will] stick with you, long after you’ve finished that last page. Hang on for a wild and haunting ride. You won’t be able to put this novel down.” MCD will publish the book on July 19, 2022.
PopSugar included Antonia Angress’ SIRENS & MUSES in a collection of must-reads for 2022, praising: “Antonia Angress’ debut novel SIRENS & MUSES sucks readers into the merciless New York City art scene where four artists wrestle with rivalries, attraction and politics…[with a] tumultuous dynamic.” and praised the characters’ “tumultuous dynamic.” Ballantine Books will publish the novel on July 12, 2022.
GOLDEN AX, the debut poetry collection by Pushcart Prize-nominated poet Rio Cortez, received a beautiful rave in the July/August print issue of Essence. The review reads: “Cortez examines how her family came to the American West after Reconstruction — and reimagines the landscape through the lens of Black people who both embody and defy its realities. In the process, we are pushed to envision our own futures on the frontier, united by a collective aspiration to freedom.” Elsewhere, The Atlantic published a poem from the collection titled “Ars Poetica with Mother and Dog” on July 3. Penguin Books will publish GOLDEN AX on August 30, 2022.
CONCERNING THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP by Adam Soto received a great review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer writes: “Soto (THIS WEIGHTLESS WORLD) returns with an imaginative and otherworldly collection...In these well-crafted stories, Soto evocatively shows how the characters are at turns mystified by inexplicable experiences or haunted by burdensome pasts...Readers will be enriched by the way this work thoroughly investigates the human heart.” Astra House will publish the short story collection on September 27, 2022.
Carlene Bauer’s latest novel GIRLS THEY WRITE SONGS ABOUT was named one of the “Best New Books of 2022” by People Magazine, who praise it as “a fantastically vivid story about feminism and friendship.” Farrar, Straus and Giroux published the book on June 21, 2022.
IN SENSORIUM by Tanaïs is one of NPR’s Best Books of 2022. Book critic and Desi Books podcast host Jenny Bhatt writes: “All our perceptions, interpretations and emotions are filtered through our five senses and stored as sense memories. American Bangladeshi Muslim writer, perfumer and entrepreneur Tanaïs’ IN SENSORIUM shows how these sense memories can evoke our most powerful emotional responses across time and space. With bold and lyrical language, this singular sensorium is structured like a perfume with base, heart and head notes. It interlaces South Asian history with personal history, diasporic longing with homeland love, and ancestral trauma with present-day crises. Well-researched explorations of eroticism in ancient religions, the violence of British colonialism and South Asian patriarchal cultures, and capitalism-induced environmental damage are synthesized artfully with intensely personal revelations about love, sex, liberation, selfhood and healing.” Harper published the book on February 22, 2022.
THE STARS ARE NOT YET BELLS by Hannah Lillith Assadi is one of NPR’s Best Books of 2022. Author and editor Leland Cheuk writes: “Hannah Lillith Assadi’s second novel, THE STARS ARE NOT YET BELLS, is vastly different from her dazzling debut, SONORA. While SONORA was a contemporary, coming-of-age story centered on female friendship, THE STARS ARE NOT YET BELLS is a historical romance, spanning generations. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, Elle, the novel’s elderly protagonist, looks back on a lifetime of compromises in love and health. Assadi’s sharp and impressionistic sentences elevate a familiar premise into an exhilarating reading experience.” Riverhead Books published the novel on January 11, 2022.