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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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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