Now Reading
The Best New Books of February 2018

The Best New Books of February 2018

Does anyone really like February? For me, its only redeeming quality is not-being-January. Thankfully, this February is chock-full of interesting new books, including three Chicago-based poets and writers. Here are my picks for the best new books of February 2018. We’ll have reviews or interviews for most of them in the next few weeks.


By Will Boast
(Chicago author)
Liveright, February 6

“In mesmerizing prose, best-selling and Rome Prize–winning author Will Boast reimagines the myth of Daphne and Apollo in this much-anticipated debut novel.”


Empty Set
By Verónica Gerber Bicecci
Translated by Christina MacSweeney
Coffee House Press, February 6

“A Venn diagram for love, Bicecci’s narrator traces and reconstructs her relationships using geometry, ice cores, and tree rings.”

Editor’s note: I hate math, so I wasn’t expecting to love this little book so much. Thankfully, it’s more about trees and space-time and love and loss. It’ll push parts of your brain around (in a good way). I can’t say I’ve ever read anything like it — a novel, sure, but with the spirit (and sometimes the form) of poetry, or linked short stories, along with drawings and a fascinating epilogue on how it was translated. Highly recommended. You can read it in one hour-long sitting, and finish with the feeling of a caffeine high. — Adam


The Line Becomes A River:
Dispatches from the Border
By Francisco Cantú
Riverhead Books, February 6

“For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story.”


An American Marriage
By Tayari Jones
Algonquin Books, February 6

“The author of Silver Sparrow returns with a stunning novel about race, loyalty, and love that endures.”


By Lisa Halliday
Simon & Schuster, February 6

“A singularly inventive and unforgettable debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art, from 2017 Whiting Award winner Lisa Halliday. Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice.”


Feel Free: Essays
By Zadie Smith
Penguin Press, February 6

“Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, ‘Joy,’ and, ‘Find Your Beach,’ Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive—and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.”


By Sue Burke
(Chicago author)
Tor Books, February 6

“A sweeping SF epic of first contact that spans generations of humans struggling to survive on an alien world Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches…and waits.”


Call Me Zebra
By Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, February 6

“From an award-winning young author, a novel following a feisty heroine’s quest to reclaim her past through the power of literature—even as she navigates the murkier mysteries of love.”


The Undressing: Poems
By Li-Young Lee
(Chicago author)
WW Norton, February 20

See Also

“Celebrated poet Li-Young Lee returns with a breathtaking new volume about the violence of desire and the peace of love. The Undressing is a tonic for spiritual anemia; it attempts to uncover things hidden since the dawn of the world. Short of achieving that end, these mysterious, unassuming poems investigate the human violence and dispossession increasingly prevalent around the world, as well as the horrors the poet grew up with as a child of refugees.”


Monster Portraits
By Del Samatar and Sofia Samatar
Rose Metal Press, February 22

“Relentlessly original and brilliantly hybrid, Monster Portraits investigates the concept of the monstrous through a mesmerizing combination of words and images. An uncanny and imaginative autobiography of otherness, it offers the fictional record of a writer in the realms of the fantastic shot through with the memories of a pair of Somali-American children growing up in the 1980s.”


The Sea Beast Takes a Lover
By Michael Andreasen
Dutton, February 27

“Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses.”


By David Mamet
Custom House, February 27

“A big shouldered, big trouble thriller set in mobbed up 1920s Chicago—a city where some people knew too much, and where everyone should have known better—by the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Untouchables and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross.”


Silver Girl
By Leslie Pietrzyk
Unnamed Press, February 27

“Set in the early 80s, against the backdrop of a city (Chicago) terrorized by the Tylenol Killer, a local psychopath rumored to be stuffing cyanide into drugstore meds, Silver Girl is a deftly psychological account of the nuances of sisterhood. Contrasting obsession and longing, need versus desire, Leslie Pietrzyk delves into the ways class and trauma are often enmeshed to dictate one’s sense of self, and how a single relationship can sometimes lead to redemption.”

Help the Chicago Review of Books and Arcturus make the literary world more inclusive by becoming a member, patron, or sponsor. Each option comes with its own perks and exclusive content. Click here to learn more.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

© 2021 All Rights Reserved.