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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Ian Mond Reviews Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings, Sayaka Murata (Grove Press 978-0-8021-5700-3, $26.00, 256pp, hc) October 2020.

Earthlings, Sayaka Murata’s second novel to be skillfully translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori, is the evil twin to her much loved and critically acclaimed first book, Convenience Store Woman. That novel was a beautiful, poignant story about a woman in her mid-30s, Keiko, who has never fit in but who finds comfort in the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Fauna by Christiane Vadnais

Fauna, Christiane Vadnais (Coach House Books 978-1-55245-416-9, $15.99, 144 pages) September 2020.

Originally published in French back in 2018, the award-winning Fauna by Quebec author Christiane Vadnais imagines an Earth radically transformed by climate change. The short novel comprises ten linked stories set mostly around Shivering Heights where “life is an enigma of water and sky” and where some days the rain “falls in perfectly formed pearls… [and] on ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Afterland by Lauren Beukes

Afterland, Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books 978-0-31626-783-0, $28.00, 411pp, hc) July 2020.

Released in April, the popularity of Law­rence Wright’s plague novel, The End of October, may have persuaded some to believe there was still an appetite for fictional pandemics. Six months later, and with a second wave of COVID-19 erupting across the globe (as I write this my hometown, Melbourne, is in the fifth week of Lockdown 2.0) ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Sinister Quartet by Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick

A Sinister Quartet, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick (Mythic Delirium Books 978-1732644038, $19.99, 380pp, tp) June 2020.

With fiction from C.S.E Cooney, Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee, and Mike Allen, Mythic Delirium’s excellent new anthology, A Sinister Quartet (edited by Mike Allen), provides fur­ther evidence that long-form genre fiction is not just alive and well but thriving. The book opens with Cooney’s ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

The Invention of Sound, Chuck Palahniuk (Grand Central Publishing 978-1-538-71800-1, $27.00, 240pp, hc) September 2020.

Chuck Palahniuk’s outlandish new novel, The Invention of Sound, toggles between two very different individuals. Mitzi Ives is a foley artist who, following in her father’s footsteps, special­ises in screams so devastating and true-to-life they almost sound real. Gates Foster is an investigator who spends his days hunting through child-pornography sites for a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Pill by Hari Kunzru

Red Pill, Hari Kunzru (Knopf 978-0-451-49371-2, $27.95, 304pp, hc) September 2020.

The narrator of Hari Kunzru’s provocatively titled new novel, Red Pill, is an unnamed academic and freelance writer suffering from a mid-career crisis. When the prestigious Deuter Centre selects him for a three-month residency at their villa in Berlin, he accepts the invitation. It’s not only an opportunity for him to work on his latest project (“I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Tender Is the Flesh, Agustina Bazterrica (Scribner 978-1-982-15092-1, $16.00, 224pp, tp) August 2020.

Tender Is the Flesh, by Argentinian author Agustina Bazterrica (and wonderfully translated from the Spanish by Sarah Moses), is not for the faint of heart. The novel is set sometime in the future, when animals across the world have been infected by a virus that’s made them poisonous to eat. In response, governments cull their ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Clown in a Cornfield, Adam Cesare (HarperTeen 978-0062854599, $17.99, 352pp, hc) August 2020.

I’ve not previously read the work of Adam Cesare, but I was drawn to his new teen horror novel, Clown in a Cornfield, because of its strik­ing red and black cover, of a cornfield fashioned in the image (you guessed it) of a grinning clown. It’s a cover that gave me pleasing flashbacks to the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Dust by Yoss

Red Dust, Yoss (Restless Books 978-1632062468, $16.99, 208pp, tp) July 2020.

Red Dust, Yoss’s latest novel to be translated into English, is an entertaining yarn narrated by a positronic robot (or “pozzie”) named Ray­mond in honour of its favourite author. Alongside its fellow automatons, Raymond guards the corridors and docking bays of space-station, the William S. Burroughs, under the eagle-eye of the Galactic Trade Confederation, and its mem­ber ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia Avenue, David Mitchell (Random House 978-0812997439, $30.00, 592pp, hc) July 2020.

Five years in the writing, David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue is set during the height of the British Invasion, which famously began when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. This opened the door to acts like the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones, who became household names in America. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu

Chosen Spirits, Samit Basu (Simon & Schuster India 978-9386797810, ₹499.00, 243pp, hc) April 2020. (Self-published, $3.99, eb) April 2020.

Samit Basu’s Chosen Spirits presents us with a near-future India where drones saturate the sky, where every room has a listening device, and where those who speak out tend to disappear. It wasn’t meant to be like this. When she was young, our protagonist Bijoyini “Joey” Roy, re­calls attending demonstrations ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Sisters by Daisy Johnson

Sisters, Daisy Johnson (Riverhead Books 978-0-593-18895-8, $26.00, 224pp, hc) August 2020.

In my review of Sophie Mackintosh’s second novel Blue Ticket, I noted that her first book, The Water Cure, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2018. The other debut novelist who snagged a Booker nomination that year, getting as far as the shortlist, was Daisy Johnson with Everything Under, a gender-fluid retelling of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Mordew by Alex Pheby

Mordew, Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press 978-1-913-11102-1, £14.99, 604pp, tp) August 2020.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Alex Pheby’s Mordew – the first volume in a new epic fantasy trilogy – since publisher Galley Beggar Press announced it more than a year ago. (If you have the spare cash, I highly recommend subscribing to Galley Beggar Press, one of the best small press publishers who produce gorgeous, award-winning books.) I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

A Children’s Bible, Lydia Millet (Norton 978-1-324-00503-2, $25.95, 224pp, hc) May 2020.

Lydia Millet’s 12th novel, A Children’s Bible, may feature some of the worst parents ever committed to prose. We’re not talking a single mother or father (like Queen Gertrude from Hamlet or Jack Torrance from The Shining) or even a couple (like Ma and Pa Wormwood from Matilda) but rather a gaggle of horrible ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin

Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin (Oneworld 978-1-786-07792-9, £14.99, 256pp, hc) March 2020. (Riverhead Books 978-0-525-54136-3, $26.00, 256pp, hc) May 2020.

In 2017 Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin caught the attention of English-language readers, critics, and the judges of the International Man Booker Prize with Fever Dream, a nightmarish novella that, amongst other things, critiqued the environmental effect of pesticides. She followed this up in 2019 with a collection of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Cho Nam-Joo (Liveright 978-1-63149-670-7, $20.00, 176pp, hc) April 2020.

Since its publication in 2016, Cho Nam-Joo’s Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 has sold over a million copies in South Korea, been touted as one of the country’s most important feminist novels, and sparked vicious attacks from anti-feminists, which were reignited when the book was adapted into a film in 2019. Given its popularity and the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Harpy by Megan Hunter

The Harpy, Megan Hunter (Picador 978-1- 52901-021-3, £14.99, 256pp, hc) September 2020. (Grove 978-0-80214-816-2, $26.00, 256pp, hc) November 2020.

If you’re not familiar with Megan Hunter, you should be. Her 2017 debut, The End We Start From, is a fragmented story about a mother and her newborn child struggling to survive during a climate apocalypse. With prose that’s sparse but beautiful, and drawing on fables and myths, Hunter ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh (Doubleday 978-0-38554-563-1, $26.95, 304pp, hc) June 2020.

Sophie Mackintosh’s much anticipated second novel, Blue Ticket, shares several qualities with her critically acclaimed and Man Booker longlisted debut The Water Cure. Both books feature dystopian settings. Both books are deeply concerned with a new wave of reactionary politics – fuelled by right-wing populists and conservative legislative bodies – that look to undermine women’s rights. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer

A Peculiar Peril, Jeff VanderMeer (Macmillan/ Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-374-30886-5, $19.99, 656pp, hc) July 2020.

Jeff VanderMeer’s relationship with the Lambhead family goes back to 2003 when he and Mark Roberts co-edited The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, a compendium of weird and wonderful ailments, featuring well over 30 entries (and illustrations) from authors as diverse as Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, L. ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Paula Guran Review Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey 978-0-5256-207-85, $27.00, 320pp, hc) July 2020.

Noemí Taboada is a flighty but intelligent young socialite in 1950 Mexico City. Perhaps she’s growing out of her capriciousness, though. She seems focused on a career in anthropology and is determined to live up to family duty and her father’s trust. Her recently married cousin Catalina has written Noemí’s father a distressing letter stating her husband ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Pew by Catherine Lacey

Pew, Catherine Lacey (Farrah, Straus, Giroux 978-0374230920, $26.00, 224pp, hc) May 2020.

Catherine Lacey first came to my attention with her 2017 novel The Answers, a quirky thought experiment about pain management, the biology of love, and a bizarre project into human relationships funded by an eccentric movie star. Her latest book, Pew, is about a stranger, with no name, no memory, and no identity, who drops ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books 978-1683691433, $22.99, 408pp, hc) April 2020.

The year is 1993, and Patricia Campbell, along with her career-driven husband Carter and their two malcontent teenagers Korey and Blue, live in the Old Village, the wealthy section of Mt. Pleasant SC and the backdrop to Grady Hendrix’s latest novel The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Once ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews We All Hear Stories in the Dark by Robert Shearman

We All Hear Stories in the Dark, Robert Shearman (PS Publishing 978-1-786364-46-2, $£90.00, 1,759pp, three volumes, hc) April 2020.

Robert Shearman’s new collection, We All Hear Stories in the Dark, is a remarkable feat of storytelling. Nine years in the making, it comprises over 100 pieces of fiction, spans three volumes (with introductions from Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith, and Lisa Tuttle, and a “peculiar” middleword by Steven ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Temporary by Hilary Leichter

Temporary, Hilary Leichter (Coffee House Press 978-1566895668, $16.95, 208pp, tp) March 2020.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve reviewed several novels that borrow from the genre toolkit to critique modern-day capitalism. Ling Ma’s 2018 novel Severance (a book that has seen a massive upsurge in popularity for reasons that will soon become obvious) uses an apocalyptic pandemic, born in the sweatshops of China, to echo Marx’s view that ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

By Force Alone, Lavie Tidhar (Head of Zeus 978-1-838-93127-8, £18.99, 512pp, hc) March 2020. (Tor 978-1250753458, $27.99, 416pp, hc) June 2020.

Lavie Tidhar has built a career out of not playing it safe. Over the last decade he has written bold, pro­vocative novels that, with a flair for metafiction and inspired by the pulps (both hard-boiled and genre), reimagine Osama bin Laden as a pulp-fiction hero (Osama), ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

Death in Her Hands, Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press 978-1-984-87935-6, $18.99, 272pp, hc) April 2019.

Vesta Gul (pronounced “like the ocean bird”) is walking her dog, Charlie, through the woods when she finds a note on the ground. The note reads:

Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.

Except there is no body, “no bloodstain. No tangle of ...Read More

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Ian Mond & Gary K. Wolfe Review Ghost Species by James Bradley

Ghost Species, James Bradley (Hamish Hamilton 978-1-926-42866-6, AU$29.99, 320pp, tp), April 2020.

REVIEW BY IAN MOND

Back in February, Jeff Bezos earmarked ten bil­lion dollars for the establishment of the “Earth Fund.” He joins fellow billionaire philanthropists Michael Bloomberg and Bill and Melinda Gates in throwing large sums of money at the climate crisis. While it’s questionable whether these acts of rich-people tokenism will play any role in sav­ing ...Read More

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