On the bookshelf
6 books to discover in December
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If you are reading this:. You have reached the first semi-post-pandemic vacation and almost at the end of a difficult year. What better way to escape or face the troubles of the past and the future than with books? The next six should take you through 2022, but watch this space for a very fruitful January.
Our most anticipated December outings include a professor’s memoir about his tumultuous relationship with his late father, a fictional tale of the last man in Wales to be sentenced to death, a translated translation of toxic masculinity and news from the famous non-fiction 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 publisher on the verge of his forties who writes a novel about the women in his life: his girlfriend, his occasional lover, his gay mother and sister. The Literary Man’s Pacifico parody is the unreliable 21st century narrator we deserve. Editor’s Weekly calls it “a dark and funny exploration of tangles and terminal self-esteem.”
Types of creation: and other stories
By Tom Bissell
Pantheon: 224 pages, $ 27
The stories in this collection center on an all too familiar human experience: good times marred by lingering negative thoughts and feelings. There are honeymooners who wonder if their union was a mistake; a publisher who confronts his past as a childhood bully; a sexually bored couple who hire an escort for a threesome, until the husband is pissed off by her tattoo. Bissell’s skills as a journalist and memorialist morph into complex situational fiction.
Men of fortune
By Nadifa Mohamed
Knopf: 320 pages, $ 27
In Cardiff, Wales, in 1952, young Somali immigrant Mahmood Mattan was falsely accused of the murder of a Jewish store owner. He initially rejects the charge, but after his arrest Mattan is forced to defend his innocence during the trial and fight for his life against racism and religious intolerance. Shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, the British Somali author’s novel features the true story 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 remembers a Christmas 30 years ago, re-examining a brief affair in a new light. Eager to turn his social life upside down, another man decides to rob a bank, hiding the site before knocking. From an author whom one critic has called “one of Europe’s most fascinating writers”, come a dozen dark and thoughtful stories about the fragility of reality.
State of the sea: a brief
By Tabitha Lasley
Ecco Press: 176 pages, $ 28
In his mid-30s, Lasley quit his job in London and traveled to Scotland to write about life on the oil rigs and what men were like without the presence of women. She meets Caden, a married drilling 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 memory
By Obed Silva
MCD: 304 pages, $ 27
A former gang member, now an English teacher at East Los Angeles College, mixes his father’s death with memories of a difficult upbringing, where he was transported between his mother’s home in California and the one from his father in Chihuahua, Mexico. His father’s long-standing alcoholism wreaked havoc on his family before he died at the age of 48 from liver failure. Editor’s Weekly called it a “lyrical memoir” on “the complicated ways that grief, family and addiction can come together.”