If you’re a frequent visitor to this space, you’ve likely at least heard of Matt Bell, but if you haven’t read him, consider this a sign. An intellectual fabulist of the finest kind, Bell’s stories are strange and eloquent, drenched in myth and unflinching beauty, each one pumping with blood you can hear in the back of your throat. If there’s any justice in this world, his first novel (depending, we suppose, on how you count Cataclysm Baby ), In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods will make the man a household name.
You’re forgiven for being unfamiliar with NoViolet Bulawayo — her first novel, We Need New Names, a story of displacement and borders in her native Zimbabwe and America, doesn’t come out until May. A current Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Bulawayo is poised to burst upon the scene with a bang. Not sure? Read an excerpt of her novel over at Granta.
Everyone should read more poetry. And everyone (or at least, everyone interested in the millennials, otherwise known as the future) should read more Alex Dimitrov. His debut book of poems, Begging For It , is passionate and hungry, filled with wolf tongues and black pools to suck you under. And hey, you don’t have to believe us — Michael Cunningham called him “that rarest of creatures, a true poet and a truly contemporary poet. Thank god he’s here.”
Again, if you follow along with the books section here at Flavorwire, you probably know about Amelia Gray, considering that we’re kind of obsessed with her. Strange and alluring, each story is a palace made of clouds and body parts. THREATS ! Read it, and count your fingernails after.
Speaking of women writers with a penchant for the weird, let’s not forget Alissa Nutting, whose creepy, bonkers fairy tales get us every time. We ate up her collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, which won the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, and we’re more than excited to dip into her first novel, Tampa , which will be delivered to us all this summer.
The winner of a 2010 Pushcart Prize and a 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award and, Marra is set to carve out his place in the literary canon this spring with his elegant and captivating first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena , of which Ann Patchett gushed, “Not since Everything Is Illuminated have I read a first novel so ambitious and fully realized. If this is where Anthony Marra begins his career, I can’t imagine how far he will go.”
Not nearly enough people talk about Mike Young, whose delightfully absurdist debut collection Look! Look! Feathers caught our attention back in 2010. We say “delightfully absurdist,” but then, Young’s characters — the overweight tuba player who trawls the internet from a cyst on his hand, the couple who keep a baby in their medicine cabinet — are only slightly more bizarre versions of the people you already know.
After the 2009 publication of her incredibly accomplished debut novel, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice , Evie Wyld was named a debut writer to watch by just about everybody, but hasn’t yet gotten the recognition she deserves on this side of the pond. Her second effort, All the Birds, Singing is slated to come out in the UK this summer.
Alaskan native Melinda Moustakis’s first collection of short stories, Bear Down Bear North: Alaska Stories, won the Flannery O’ Connor Award and the Maurice Prize and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. And no wonder — toughing it out in the wilderness has never sounded so beautiful.
We’re big fans of Kristopher Jansma, whose debut novel The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards just hits stands this month. Fresh, exciting, and a little bit like a young Calvino for the modern age, we’re willing to follow Jansma through all manner of narrative mazes to get to the juicy center.