Ian Mond reviews Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

Build Your House Around My Body, Violet Kupersmith (Random House 978-0-81299-332-5, $27.00, 400pp, hc) July 2021.

Violet Kupersmith’s debut novel, Build Your House Around My Body, is a beautifully wrought, non-linear tale of ghosts, missing girls, and revenge set against the backdrop of colonial and post-colonial Vietnam. It’s not a spoiler to say that one of those disappearing girls is Ngoan Nguyen (though she prefers to go by ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews Undiscovered Territories by Robert Freeman Wexler

Undiscovered Territories, Robert Freeman Wexler (PS Publishing 978-1-786365-89-7, £25.00, 326pp, tp) October 2021.

Although Undiscovered Territories is not Robert Freeman Wexler’s first collection – that would be 2008’s Psychological Methods to Sell Should Be Destroyed – it is his most complete, featuring most of the short fiction he’s published over the last two decades in magazines like Electric Velocipede, Polyphony, and The Journal of Experimental Fiction. The fourteen stories ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews The Second Shooter by Nick Mamatas

The Second Shooter, Nick Mamatas (Solaris 978-1-78108-926-2, $14.00, 400pp, tp) Novem­ber 2021.

Having skewered everything from late-stage capitalism to America’s political and cultural malaise in his last novel, Sabbath, Nick Mama­tas boldly turns his attention to the intractable issue of gun violence and mass shootings with his highly entertaining follow-up, The Second Shooter.

The story centres on journalist and hack-for-hire Mike Karras as he travels across America ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews This Weightless World by Adam Soto

This Weightless World, Adam Soto (Astra House 978-1-66260-063-0, $27.00, 320pp, hc) November 2021.

Recently, on The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and I spoke glowingly about Olga Ravn’s The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century (longlisted for this year’s International Booker Prize). During the discussion, I pas­sionately argued (some might say ranted) that mainstream genre publishers no longer seemed interested in publishing radical science-fiction; that ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews The Peculiarities by David Liss

The Peculiarities, David Liss (Tachyon 978-1-61696-358-0, $17.95, 336pp, tp) September 2021.

David Liss is mainly known for his historical crime novels featuring 18th-century private in­vestigator (or “thief-taker”) Benjamin Weaver. Lately, he’s turned his attention to genre fiction, with a trilogy of middle-grade space adventures (Randoms / Rebels / Renegades) and comics ranging from Black Panther to The Shadow. His 13th and latest novel, The Peculiarities, blends ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews People from My Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami

People from My Neighbourhood, Hiromi Kawakami (Granta Books 978-1-84627-699-6, £7.99, 121pp, tp) August 2020; as People from My Neighborhood (Soft Skull 978-1-59376-711-2, $15.95, 176pp, tp) November 2021.

Hiro Kawakami’s new collection, People from My Neighborhood, isn’t my first exposure to her work. Several years back, I read Kawakami’s Akutagawa Prize-winning collection Record of a Night Too Brief. The three novelettes that comprise that book introduced me to ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

This Thing Between Us, Gus Moreno (MCD x FSG Originals 978-0-37453-923-8, $17.00, 272pp, tp) October 2021.

 

I’ve never owned an Amazon Alexa. I do have a Google Nest sitting beside the TV, but other than my daughter asking the device to play songs from The Greatest Showman soundtrack, the family rarely engages with it. I am, however, aware that both the Alexa and the Nest are always listening, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950 to 1985 by Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950 to 1985, Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds. (PM Press 978-1-62963-883-6, $59.95, 224pp, hc) October 2021.

I’m a child of the cyberpunk generation. One of the first genre novels that left an impression on me was William Gibson’s Neuromancer (even if I didn’t entirely understand it). It wasn’t until my late twenties, when I started attending the monthly meetings of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

Far from the Light of Heaven, Tade Thompson (Orbit 978-0-75955-791-8, $17.99, 384pp, tp) October 2021.

If you’ve been reading my column for the last three years (has it really been that long?), you’ll know that, along with Lavie Tidhar, Tade Thomp­son is one of my favourite contemporary writers. It was a pleasure, back in 2019, to review books two and three of the Rosewater trilogy for Locus.It’s an incredibly ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar

The Escapement, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon 978-1-61696-327-9, $16.95, 256pp, tp) September 2021.

It’s been a busy year for Lavie Tidhar. Due to the vagaries of publishing, made all the more uncertain by COVID, 2021 has seen Tidhar author two novels (The Escapement and The Hood), a collection (The Lunacy Commission), and short stories (including ‘‘Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels’’), and edit an ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki (Viking 978-0-399-56364-5, $30.00, 560pp, hc) September 2021.

Ruth Ozeki’s new novel The Book of Form and Emptiness tells the story of Benny Oh, a troubled teenager who hears voices, and his mother An­nabelle, still recovering from the death of her husband while fighting to keep her small family together. It’s a story narrated to us by a Book. I don’t mean ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Actual Star by Monica Byrne

The Actual Star, Monica Byrne (Harper Voy­ager 978-0-063-00291-3, $27.99, 624pp, hc) September 2021.

Monica Byrne’s The Actual Star is told across two millennia with alternating chapters straddling three different time periods. The story begins in the Ancient Maya city of Tzonya in the last month of 1012 AD, where twin brother and sister Ajul and Ixul are preparing for their ascension to the throne, following the death of their ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Norton 978-0-393-88114-1, $27.95, 288pp, hc) September 2021.

I first became aware of Richard Powers’s work when his novel, Generosity: An Enhance­ment, was nominated for a Clarke Award back in 2011. However, it wasn’t until the publication of The Overstory in 2019 that I read a book by Powers. If Goodreads is any indication, I’m not alone. Having written 11 novels over more than three decades ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell by Brian Even­son

The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, Brian Even­son (Coffee House Press 978-1-56689-611-5, $16.95, 248pp, tp) August 2021.

I first came across Brian Evenson’s work more than a decade ago when I read his unconventional, hard-boiled detective novel Last Days. With its noir-inflect­ed prose and its deeply weird story about a religious cult devoted to the holy act of amputation, the book left an indelible impression. And yet, despite ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

Strange Beasts of China, Yan Ge (Tilted Axis 978-1911284444, £9.99, 220pp, tp) November 2020. (Melville House 978-1-612-19909-2, $25.99, 240pp, hc) August 2021.

As an author, Yan Ge’s remarkable career began when, as a teenager, she won a national short-story contest in China. She was quickly picked up by a publisher and released her first collection at the age of 17. By the time Yan Ge moved with her husband ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Angels of L19 by Jonathan Walker

The Angels of L19, Jonathan Walker (Weather­glass Books 978-1-838-01813-9, £10.99, 240pp, tp) August 2021.

Jonathan Walker’s The Angels of L19 is the second offering from newly established small press Weatherglass Books. Founded by Da­mian Lanigan and Neil Griffiths, Weatherglass is part of the vanguard of micro- and small publishers, including Galley Beggar Press, Sublunary Edi­tions, Tramp Press, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Boiler House Press, and Influx Press, breathing life into a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix (Berkley 978-0593201237, $26.00, 352pp, hc) July 2021.

With his fiction and non-fiction, Grady Hendrix has spent the last five years analysing and re­defining the tropes that made horror fiction so popular during the ’70s and ’80s. His “Freaky Fridays” column, which he wrote for Tor.com back in 2017, was Hendrix’s hilarious look back at the out-of-print, garish paperbacks that I’m sure many ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Slipping by Mohamed Kheir

Slipping, Mohamed Kheir (Two Lines Press 978-1949641165, $16.95, June 2021, pb) June 2021.

It still amazes me how long it takes for acclaimed writers in non-English speaking countries to have their first novel, book of poetry, or short story collection translated into English. I know it’s a question of economics, that translated works are a labour of love for those, primarily small presses, who do publish these books. But ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Good Neighbours by Nina Allan

The Good Neighbours, Nina Allan (Quercus 978-1529405170, £16.99, 304pp, hc) June 2021.

I remember exactly where I was when I fell in love with Nina Allan’s fiction. I was eating lunch in the work cafeteria, finishing the final story in her first book, The Silver Wind. I recall being in awe of the collection’s bold sense of ex­perimentation, a time-travel narrative told through five interlocking stories that subverted ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The High-Rise Diver by Julia von Lucadou

The High-Rise Diver, Julia von Lucadou (World Editions 978-1642860764, $16.99, 288pp, tp) March 2021.

In Julia von Lucadou’s dystopian novel, The High-Rise Diver (translated from German into English by Sharmila Cohen), a psychologist, Hitomi Yoshida, is assigned to assess Riva, a professional high-rise diver (she literally jumps off skyscrapers). The latter has abruptly broken her contract with her employer. This is a shocking development, partly because Riva is an ...Read More

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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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