Ian Mond Reviews The Little Devil and Other Stories by Aleksey Remizov

The Little Devil and Other Stories, Aleksey Remizov (Columbia University Press 978-0-23118-381-9, $16.95, 336pp) April 2021.

As fate, coincidence, or the publishing gods would have it, in the same month that New York Review Books is releasing a collection of supernatural stories by Teffi, Columbia University Press is publishing a collection of supernatural stories by Teffi’s compa­triot and contemporary: Aleksey Remizov. As with Teffi, I was unaware of Remizov’s ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints by Teffi

Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints, Teffi (NYRB Classics 978-1-68137-539-7, $17.95, 256pp, tp) April 2021.

New York Review Books’ publication of Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints continues a rediscovery of Teffi’s short fiction that began with the Pushkin Press release of Subtly Worded back in 2014. I should note that before picking up a review copy of Other Worlds, my interest piqued by references to the occult ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Subdivision by J. Robert Lennon

Subdivision, J. Robert Lennon (Graywolf Press 978-1-64445-048-2, $16.00, 240pp, tp) April 2021.

If my column has a mission statement, it’s to shine a light on literary or translated works with speculative elements that rarely get recognised or discussed within the genre. J. Robert Lennon is an example of the former, a literary author whose fiction has increasingly gravitated toward the fantastic but who is likely to be unfamiliar to ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf 978-0-59331-817-1, $28.00, 320pp, hc) March 2021.

Over the last couple of years, it’s been sur­prising to see literary authors of the cali­bre of Jeanette Winterson and Ian McE­wan, with their respective novels Frankissstein (which I reviewed in 2019) and Machines Like Me, raise concerns about machine consciousness. Compared to climate change, pandemics, or the fallout from late-stage capitalism, the robot-apocalypse is ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dead Souls by Sam Riviere

Dead Souls, Sam Riviere (Catapult 978-1-646-22028-1, $26.00, 320pp, hc) May 2021.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Sam Riviere loathes poetry. His shaggy dog tale of a second novel, Dead Souls, is, amongst other things, an evisceration of the poetry industrial complex: the poems, their au­thors, and the publishers. Riviere is, of course, famously a poet who runs an independent press (If a Leaf Falls Press) and has ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Defekt by Nino Cipri

Defekt, Nino Cipri (Tordotcom 978-1-250-78749-1, $14.99, 176pp, tp) April 2021.

Nino Cipri’s enjoyable new novella, Defekt, is a perpendicular sequel to last year’s Finna: perpendicular because both books briefly meet then diverge in different directions. Like Finna, Defekt is set in LitenVärld, a company that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Swedish multinational famous for its flat-pack, do-it-yourself furniture and maze-like stores. The wonderfully ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rise & Shine by Patrick Allington

Rise & Shine, Patrick Allington (Scribe 978-1-925-84976-9, $27.99, 224pp, hc) June 2020; (Scribe US 978-1-950-35442-9, $16.00, 240pp, tp). April 2021.

I’ve noticed that I seem to be gravitating toward post-apocalyptic fiction. This is not something I set out to do, and yet when I look back at my col­umn over the last seven months, I’ve read at least six post-apocalyptic novels (more if you include dystopian fiction). What’s striking ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The City of Good Death by Priyanka Champaneri

The City of Good Death, Priyanka Champaneri (Restless Books 978-1-632-06252-9, $28.00, 448pp, hc) February 2021.

Priyanka Champaneri’s debut, The City of Good Death, winner of the 2018 Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing, explores the rituals and customs of death from a non-Western perspective. The story is set in the holy city of Banaras, also known as Kashi, on the banks of the River Ganges, where the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

Peaces, Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead 978-0-593-19233-7, $27.00, 272pp, hc) April 2021.

Peaces is my second encounter with Helen Oy­eyemi’s work. The first book of hers I read was 2016’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, a col­lection of stories that Kirstyn McDermott and I discuss at length on The Writer and The Critic podcast. I found reading the collection to be an invigorating experience, inspired by Oyeyemi’s embrace ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

Hummingbird Salamander, Jeff VanderMeer (MCD 978-0-374-17354-8, $27.00, 368pp, hc) April 2021.

With due regard to Jeff VanderMeer’s ear­lier work, which I adore, his new novel, Hummingbird Salamander, contin­ues an extraordinary run of books that began with the publication of Annihilation in 2014. Having given us existential horror, modernist science fiction, and portal fantasy, VanderMeer turns the genre dial to the hard-boiled end of the scale with a tale ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rabbit Island by Elvira Navarro

Rabbit Island, Elvira Navarro (Two Lines 978-1-949641-09-7, $19.95, 184pp, tp) February 2021.

Rabbit Island is Spanish writer Elvira Navarro’s first collection to be translated into English by the always terrific Christina MacSweeney. While this is my first encounter with her work, two of Navarro’s novels – A Working Woman and Happy City, both of which have won numerous awards – have also been published in English.

Rabbit Island ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The White Library by Paul Voermans

The White Library, Paul Voermans (PS Pub­lishing 978-1-786365-92-4, £25.00, 246pp, hc) November 2020.

Because it happens so rarely, I always get a buzz when my hometown of Melbourne is depicted in genre fiction. It’s even exciting when it’s an alternate version of the city with a different name and a divergent history, provided I can recognise the famous landmarks, the streets, and alleyways. This is the case in Paul ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Machinehood by S.B. Divya

Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga 978-1-982-14806-5, $27.00, 416pp) March 2021.

S.B. Divya’s debut Machinehood is that rare thing in contemporary science fiction: a novel with a near-future setting that’s not a dystopia or post-apocalyptic hellscape. To be clear, Divya’s rendition of the late 21st century (the story takes place in 2095) isn’t all shining cities and jetpacks. Climate change has made parts of the planet unin­habitable, with most people living ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories by Kevin Brockmeier

The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories, Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon Books 978-1-524-74883-8, $27.00, 288pp) March 2021.

I became aware of Kevin Brockmeier’s work back in 2008 when Robert Shearman, in an in­terview with Eric Forbes, included Brockmeier in a list of writers “who play with the short story, squeeze as much out of it as they can.” Sadly, I’ve only now gotten around to reading Brock­meier’s short fiction, picking up ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Edited by Aiki Flinthart

Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Aiki Flinthart, ed. (Cat Press 978-0-648-99173-1, $29.99, 460pp) January 2021.

On her website, novelist and editor Aiki Flinthart tells us that “after being diag­nosed with terminal cancer in late 2019, [she] reached out to as many of the best sci-fi/fantasy/horror authors as would answer.” The end product of this clarion call is Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, an anthology that, despite the tragic circumstances surrounding ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Weak Spot by Lucie Elven

The Weak Spot, Lucie Elven (Soft Skull 978-1-593-76630-6, $15.95, 176pp, tp) February 2021.

Lucie Elven’s novella, The Weak Spot, is set in a village somewhere in Europe; “an unrushed place” situated at the top of a mountain, which can only be reached by a funicular. Into this secluded environment comes our unnamed narrator, a young pharmacist who scores a gig at the local chemist, under the tutelage of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Live; live; live by Jonathan Buckley

Live; live; live, Jonathan Buckley (Sort of Books 978-1-908-74587-3, £11.99, 288pp, tp) July 2020. (New York Review Books 978-1-681-37547-2, $16.95, 272pp, tp) February 2021.

I first heard Jonathan Buckley’s name mentioned on the Locklisted podcast (a Patreon-only spin-off of Backlisted, the best literary podcast on the planet) where the co-host John Mitchinson spoke glowingly of Buckley’s 11th and latest novel, Live; live; live. What caught my ear was ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self by Pauline Hopkins

Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self, Pauline Hopkins (Poisoned Pen Press 978-1-464-21506-3, £11.05, 208pp, tp) February 2021.

Recently I asked my friends list on Face­book (many of them genre fans) if they recognised the name Pauline Hopkins. The vast majority said no. To be fair, I had no idea who she was either. If not for Poisoned Press and the Horror Writers Association reprinting Hopkins’s Of One Blood, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future by Lavanya Lakshminarayan

Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future, Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Ha­chette India 978-9-389-25308-5, Rs399, 310pp, tp) February 2020.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Lavanya Lakshminarayan’s Analog/Virtual: And Other Simula­tions of Your Future, I’ve decided that all far-future dystopias should be structured as a series of linked short stories. That’s not to say George Orwell missed a trick by neglecting the perspec­tives of Julia, Mr. Charrington, or O’Brien; 1984 famously generates its ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Only Living Girl on Earth by Charles Yu

The Only Living Girl on Earth, Charles Yu (Scribd Originals, subscription required, 43pp) January 2021.

Last year Charles Yu wrote one of my favourite novels of 2020, Interior Chinatown, the de­served winner of the National Book Award. It’s a comic, surreal and emotional story about the struggles of being an immigrant, and the child of immigrants, in America. Yu is not so prolific as to have written another ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reveiws Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing by Guido Mor­selli

Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing, Guido Mor­selli (New York Review Books 978-1681374765, $15.95, 120pp, tp) December 2020.

On the eve of his 40th birthday, a man decides to end his life. He tells us that 40 is “a point of passage… when maturity begins to decline toward old age. I wanted to be off while I was still thirty-nine, if only technically.” He chooses to drown himself up in the ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2020 by Ian Mond

Several things kept me sane over the last 12 months. My family, the privilege of having a job while in lockdown, the Backlisted and Coode Street podcasts (particularly Coode Street‘s “10 minutes with” series), and the books I read. Yes, there were times in 2020 where I struggled to read more than a handful of pages, but the novels, novel­las, and collections I did complete (47 of which I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

Crosshairs, Catherine Hernandez (Atria 978-1-982-14602-3, $27.00, 272pp, hc) December 2020.

Catherine Hernandez’s vivid, angry, outspoken dystopian novel, Crosshairs, begins in a base­ment somewhere in Toronto. There we meet Kay, a self-identified “Queer Femme Jamaican Filipino man” hiding behind a furnace, sleeping on a bed made from cardboard, and spending his days narrating a “Whisper Letter” to his “beauti­ful Evan.” He recounts the sheer joy of dancing to Liberace’s ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Last Good Man by Thomas McMullan

The Last Good Man, Thomas McMullan (Bloomsbury 978-1-526-60924-3, £12.99, 313pp, hc) November 2020.

Did you know there’s a Wikipedia entry on On­line Shaming with more than 140 references and what feels like an endless (though I’m sure not complete) list of examples? I didn’t; though, given the way Twitter and social media more broadly have made the act of “dog-piling” so much easier, it doesn’t come as much of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick by David Wong

Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick, David Wong (St. Martin’s 978-1-250-19579-1, $27.99, 368pp, hc) October 2020.

David Wong enjoys an eye-catching title. His 2007 debut went with the striking John Dies at the End, followed by the equally intriguing and impressive This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It (2012) and What the Hell Did I Just Read (2017). The title to Wong’s latest ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Eartheater by Dolores Reyes

Eartheater, Dolores Reyes (HarperVia 978-0062987730, $24.99, 224pp, hc) November 2020.

Eartheater (translated by Julia Sanches) is a strong debut from Dolores Reyes, the second Argentine author I’m reviewing this month. The novel is set in an impoverished barrio in present-day Argentina, told from the perspective of a young woman (she’s never named) burdened with visions of the lost and murdered. On the day her mother is laid to rest, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Clerk by Guillermo Saccomanno

The Clerk, Guillermo Saccomanno (Open Letter 978-1-948-83025-6, $15.95, 138pp, tp) September 2020.

Going back to the country’s independence in 1816, Argentina has been a rich source of genre and genre-adjacent fic­tion. Most will be aware of Jorge Luis Borges – the father of magical realism – but there’s also Silvina Ocampo, Carlos Gardini, and An­gélica Gorodischer, whose 1979 mosaic novel Trafalgar was finally translated into English in 2013 thanks ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass

Rest and Be Thankful, Emma Glass (Blooms­bury 978-1-526-60107-0, £12.99, 144pp, hc) March 2020.

While I know it’s odd to say anything remotely positive about 2020, I found this to be an incredible year for fiction and especially sophomore novels from some of the UK’s brightest authors, including Daisy Johnson, Sophie Mackintosh, Megan Hunter, and now Emma Glass. Peach, Glass’s debut novel published in 2018, was an ambitious, if ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories by Eugen Bacon

The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories, Eugen Bacon (Meerkat Press 978-1-94615-431-6, $16.95, 192 pages) December 2020.

The 24 stories that make up Eugen Bacon’s new collection The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories run the gamut in terms of tone, genre, and structure. There are experimental, modern­ist pieces reminiscent of the New Wave, namely “A Good Ball”, “The Enduring”, or “A Man Full of Shadows”; playful, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Ian Mond Review The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem

The Arrest, Jonathan Lethem (Ecco 978-0-06-293878-7, $27.99, 320pp, hc) November 2020.

A little more than halfway into Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest comes a chapter titled “Postapocalyptic and Dystopian Stories”, in which the screenwriter protagonist and his movie-producer friend debate the appeal of such tales while name-checking a panoply of authors and titles – Vonnegut, King, Atwood, Walter Tevis, Philip K. Dick, George R. Stewart, Walter M. Miller, Emily St. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada

The Hole, Hiroko Oyamada (New Directions 978-0811228879, $12.95, 112pp, tp) October 2020.

I reviewed Japanese author Hiroko Oyamada’s English language debut, The Factory, back in December 2019. That novel, set in the almost infinite environs of the eponymous Factory, marked Oyamada out as a writer with an eye for political satire and a taste for the absurd. Unlike its predecessor, which immediately drops the reader into its Kafka-esque ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, Laura van den Berg (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0374102098, $26.00, 224pp, hc) July 2020.

The 11 stories that make up Laura van den Berg’s new collection, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, may have been written over the last sev­eral years, but they feel very much of the now. Just as the rude shock that is 2020 has forced many of ...Read More

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