New Books in 2014 by authors represented by BFA





DIANE ACKERMAN, Nonfiction: The Human Age (Norton)
 “Our relationship with nature has changed . . . radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.”Our finest literary interpreter of science and nature, Diane Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place (for better and worse) in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the planet. Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We now collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. Ackerman takes us on an exciting journey to understand this bewildering new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future. The Human Age is a beguiling, optimistic engagement with the earth-shaking changes now affecting every part of our lives and those of our fellow creatures—a wise book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.


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 COLEMAN BARKS, Poetry Translation: Rumi: Soul Fury and Kindness, the Friendship of Rumi and Shams Tabriz
 

Coming Soon!


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GEORGE BILGERE, Poetry: Imperial (University of Pittsburgh Press)
In Imperial, George Bilgere’s sixth collection of poetry, he continues his exploration of the beauties, mysteries, and absurdities of being middle-aged and middle-class in mid-America. In poems that range from the Cold War anxieties of the 1950s to the perils and predicaments of an aging Boomer in a post-9/11 world, Bilgere’s rueful humor and slippery syntax become a trapdoor that at any moment can plunge the reader into the abyss. In Bilgere’s world a yo-yo morphs into an emblem for the atomic bomb. A spot of cancer flames into the Vietnam War. And the death of a baseball player reminds us, in this age of disbelief, of the importance—the necessity—of myth.

 


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RICHARD BLANCO, Memoir: Title to Come (Ecco Press)

Coming Soon!


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AMY BLOOM
, Novel: Lucky Us (Random House)
So begins the story of teenage half sisters Eva and Iris in this brilliantly written, deeply moving, and fantastically funny novel by the beloved and critically acclaimed author of Away. Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star, and Eva, the sidekick, journey across 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the sisters from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island. With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine through a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war.  Filled with memorable characters and unexpected turns, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, these unforgettable people love, lie, cheat, and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.


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JERICHO BROWN, Poetry: The New Testament (Copper Canyon)

Coming Soon!


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PETER COLE, Poetry: The Invention of Influence (New Directions)
Peter Cole has been called "an inspired writer" (The Nation) and “one of the handful of authentic poets of his own American generation” (Harold Bloom). In this, his fourth book of poems, he presents a ramifying vision of human linkage. At the heart of the collection stands the stunning title poem, which brings us into the world of Victor Tausk, a maverick and tragic early disciple of Freud who wrote about one of his patients’ mental inventions — an "influence machine" that controlled his thoughts. In Cole’s symphonic poem, this machine becomes a haunting image for the ways in which tradition and the language of others shape so much of what we think and say. The shorter poems in this rich and surprising volume treat the dynamics of coupling, the curiously varied nature of perfection,the delights of the senses, the perils of poetic vocation, and more.

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JOSHUA FERRIS, Novel: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Little Brown & Co.)
Paul O'Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn't know how to live in it. He's a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online "Paul" might be a better version of the real thing. As Paul's quest to learn why his identity has been stolen deepens, he is forced to confront his troubled past and his uncertain future in a life disturbingly split between the real and the virtual. At once laugh-out-loud funny about the absurdities of the modern world, and indelibly profound about the eternal questions of the meaning of life, love and truth, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is a deeply moving and constantly surprising tour de force.


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CAROLYN FORCHE, Anthology: The Poetry of Witness: The Traditions in English, 1500-2001 (Norton)
A groundbreaking anthology containing the work of poets who have witnessed war, imprisonment, torture, and slavery. A companion volume to Against ForgettingPoetry of Witness is the first anthology to reveal a tradition that runs through English-language poetry. The 300 poems collected here were composed at an extreme of human endurance—while their authors awaited execution, endured imprisonment, fought on the battlefield, or labored on the brink of breakdown or death. All bear witness to historical events and the irresistibility of their impact. Alongside Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth, this volume includes such writers as Anne Askew, tortured and executed for her religious beliefs during the reign of Henry VIII; Phillis Wheatley, abducted by slave traders; Samuel Bamford, present at the Peterloo Massacre in 1819; William Blake, who witnessed the Gordon Riots of 1780; and Samuel Menashe, survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. Poetry of Witness argues that such poets are a perennial feature of human history, and it presents the best of that tradition, proving that their work ranks alongside the greatest in the language.

 


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FORREST GANDER, Translation: Fungus Skull Eye Wing: Selected Poems of Alfonso D'Aquino (Copper Canyon)
Fungus Skull Eye Wing is a book of shifting subjectivity and liquid perspective, of surrealist tradition and Butoh-like gestures. The text flirts with the margins of the "rational," perception, and the subjective mind. The speaker morphs into what he observes; speech comes alive while a plant becomes speech. Impeccably translated from Spanish by award-winning poet Forrest Gander in a bilingual edition.

 

 


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FORREST GANDER and RAUL ZURITA, Translation: Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America (Copper Canyon)
This intensely focused bilingual anthology pinpoints the heart of Latin American self-identification. In selecting these fifteen essential poems, Chilean poet Raúl Zurita was guided by the question, "What poem, had it not been written, would have rendered the author another author and Latin American poetry something else?" This extraordinary gathering of talent—from Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda to Ernesto Cardenal and César Vallejo—spans the twentieth century.

 

 


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NATALIE GOLDBERG, Nonfiction: The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language (ppb, Atria Books)
Sit. Walk. Write. These are the barest bones of Natalie Goldberg’s revolutionary writing and life practice, which she presents here in book form for the first time. The True Secret is for everyone, like eating and sleeping. It allows you to discover something real about your life, to mine the rich awareness in your mind, and to ground and empower yourself. Goldberg guides you through your own personal or group retreat, illuminating the steps of sitting in silent open mind, walking anchored to the earth, and writing without criticism.  The capstone to forty years of teaching, The True Secret of Writing is Goldberg’s Zen boot camp, her legacy teaching. Stories of her own search for truth and clarity and her students’ breakthroughs and insights give moving testament to how brilliantly her unique, tough-love method works. In her inimitable way, Goldberg will inspire you to pick up the pen, get writing, and keep going. The True Secret of Writing will help you with your writing—and your life.

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DONALD HALL, Essays: Essays After Eighty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
From a former Poet Laureate, a new collection of essays delivering a gloriously unexpected view from the vantage point of very old age. Donald Hall has lived a remarkable life of letters, a career capped by a National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president. Now, in the “unknown, unanticipated galaxy” of very old age, he is writing searching essays that startle, move, and delight. In the transgressive and horrifyingly funny “No Smoking,” he looks back over his lifetime, and several of his ancestors’ lifetimes, of smoking unfiltered cigarettes, packs of them every day. Hall paints his past: “Decades followed each other — thirty was terrifying, forty I never noticed because I was drunk, fifty was best with a total change of life, sixty extended the bliss of fifty . . .” And, poignantly, often joyfully, he limns his present: “When I turned eighty and rubbed testosterone on my chest, my beard roared like a lion and gained four inches.” Most memorably, Hall writes about his enduring love affair with his ancestral Eagle Pond Farm and with the writing life that sustains him, every day: “Yesterday my first nap was at 9:30 a.m., but when I awoke I wrote again.”  

 


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JUAN FELIPE HERRERA, Nonfiction: Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (Dial)
This visually stunning book showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics.  Gorgeous portraits complement sparkling biographies of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, and many more. Complete with timelines and famous quotes, this tome is a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation.

 


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TONY HOAGLAND, Essays: Twenty Poems That Could Save America (Graywolf Press)
A fearless, wide-ranging book on the state of poetry and American literary culture by Tony Hoagland, the author of What Narcissism Means to Me. Twenty Poems That Could Save America presents insightful essays on the craft of poetry and a bold conversation about the role of poetry in contemporary culture. Essays on the “vertigo” effects of new poetry give way to appraisals of Robert Bly, Sharon Olds, and Dean Young. At the heart of this book is an honesty and curiosity about the ways poetry can influence America at both the private and public levels. Tony Hoagland is already one of this country’s most provocative poets, and this book confirms his role as a restless and perceptive literary and cultural critic.


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LINDA HOGAN, Poetry: Dark. Sweet. (Coffee House Press)
Dark. Sweet.offers readers the sweep of Linda Hogan's work—environmental and spiritual concerns, her Chickasaw heritage—in spare, elemental, visionary language.

 


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TED KOOSER, Poetry: Splitting An Order (Copper Canyon)


Coming Soon!

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TED KOOSER, Prose Poems: The Wheeling Year (University of Nebraska)
Ted Kooser sees a writer’s workbooks as the stepping stones upon which a poet makes his way across the stream of experience toward a poem. Because those wobbly stones are only inches above the rush of the days, sometimes what’s jotted there feels closer to life than any finished work that might come of it. Kooser, a former U. S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has filled scores of workbooks. The Wheeling Year offers a sequence of polished workbook entries that may be both closer and truer to life, and perhaps more moving, than any poem he might have forced into shape. The University of Nebraska Press presents this lovely book in the year in which Ted Kooser turns 75, with 60 years of workbooks stretching across the years behind him.


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JEAN HANFF KORELITZ,
Fiction: You Should Have Known (Grand Central Publishing)
Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended. Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Already Know, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.

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BEN MARCUS, Stories: Leaving the Sea (Knopf)
From one of the most innovative and vital writers of his generation, an extraordinary collection of stories that showcases his gifts—and his range—as never before. In the title story, told in a single breathtaking sentence, we watch as the narrator’s marriage and his sanity unravel, drawing him to the brink of suicide. As the collection progresses, we move from more traditional narratives into the experimental work that has made Ben Marcus a groundbreaking master of the short form. In these otherworldly landscapes, characters resort to extreme survival strategies to navigate the terrors of adulthood. In these piercing, brilliantly observed investigations into human vulnerability and failure, it is often the most absurd and alien predicaments that capture the deepest truths. Surreal and tender, terrifying and life-affirming, Leaving the Sea is the work of an utterly unique writer at the height of his powers.


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MARILYN NELSON, Memoir: How I Discovered Poetry (Dial)
A powerful and thought-provoking Civil Rights era memoir from one of America’s most celebrated poets. Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement. A first-person account of African-American history, this is a book to study, discuss, and treasure. 


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ALICIA OSTRIKER, Poetry: The Old Woman, The Tulip, and the Dog (Pittsburgh University Press)
This book by a major American poet is a sequence of poems that will surprise and delight readers—in the voices of an old woman full of memories, a glamorous tulip, and an earthy dog who always has the last word.


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BENJAMIN PERCY, Fiction: Red Moon (ppb, Grand Central/Hatchet)
Acclaimed, award-winning author Benjamin Percy gives us an epic and terrifying thriller set in the American West. They live among us. They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers. They change. When government agents kick down Claire Forrester's front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge...and the battle for humanity will begin. 


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FRANCINE PROSE, Novel: Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 (Harper)
A richly imagined and stunningly inventive literary masterpiece of love, art, and betrayal, exploring the genesis of evil, the unforeseen consequences of love, and the ultimate unreliability of storytelling itself. Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club’s loyal denizens, including the rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, the socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and the caustic American writer Lionel Maine. As the years pass, their fortunes—and the world itself—evolve. As the exuberant twenties give way to darker times, Lou experiences another metamorphosis— sparked by tumultuous events—that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more.

 

 


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CLAUDIA RANKINE, Poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press)
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.


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ROBIN ROBERTSON, Poetry: Sailing the Forest (Farrar Straus & Giroux)

 Coming Soon!


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GEORGE SAUNDERS, Nonfiction: Congratulations, by the Way (Random House)
Three months after George Saunders gave a convocation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the web site of The New York Times, where its simple, uplifting message struck a deep chord. Within days, it had been shared more than one million times. Why? Because Saunders’s words tap into a desire in all of us to lead kinder, more fulfilling lives. Powerful, funny, and wise, Congratulations, by the way is an inspiring message from one of today’s most influential and original writers.


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GEORGE SAUNDERS, Fiction: Tenth of December (ppb, Random House)
One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story; and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet. The unforgettable characters that populate these pages are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation. Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human. Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”


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PHILIP SCHULTZ, Novel in Verse: The Wherewithal (W.W. Norton)
This astonishing novel in verse tells the story of Henryk Wyrzykowski, a drifting, haunted young man hiding from the Vietnam War in the basement of a San Francisco welfare building and translating his mother’s diaries. The diaries concern the Jedwabne massacre, an event that took place in German-occupied Poland in 1941. Wildly inventive, dark, beautiful, and unrelenting, The Wherewithal is a meditation on the nature of evil and the destruction of war.


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MICHAEL THOMAS, Memoir: The Broken King (Grove Press)
Michael Thomas’s extraordinary new book, The Broken King, traces the lives of the men in his family against the backdrop of the last century-and-a-half in American history. From Reconstruction to the Jim Crow South and the Civil Rights movement, Thomas explores fathers and sons, lovers and beloved, trauma and recovery, race and deracination, success and failure, soccer and the Boston Red Sox in a beautiful and unique memoir. Reminiscent of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Thomas delivers a series of powerful vignettes reaching back to his grandfather who, though trained as a pharmacist, could never find work as one; his father, the president of his class at Boston University, an artist and philosopher who was an unsuccessful businessman and a failed parent; his estranged brother’s lawlessness; and his own two sons’ relatively privileged and safe living in Brooklyn today.


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BRIAN TURNER, Memoir: My Life as a Foreign Country (WW Norton)
A war memoir of unusual literary beauty and power from the acclaimed poet who wrote the poem “The Hurt Locker.” In 2003, Sergeant Brian Turner crossed the line of departure with a convoy of soldiers headed into the Iraqi desert. Now, each night beside his sleeping wife, he imagines himself as a drone aircraft, hovering over the terrains of Bosnia and Vietnam, Iraq and Northern Ireland, the killing fields of Cambodia and the death camps of Europe—a landscape of ongoing violence, revealing all that man has done to man. In this breathtaking memoir, Turner retraces his war experience— pre-deployment to combat zone, homecoming to aftermath. Free of self-indulgence or self-glorification, his account combines recollection with the imagination’s efforts to make reality comprehensible. Across time, he seeks parallels in the histories of others who have gone to war, especially his taciturn grandfather (World War II), father (Cold War), and uncle (Vietnam). Through it all, Turner paints a devastating portrait of what it means to be a soldier and a human being.


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KEVIN YOUNG, Poetry: Book of Hours (Random House)
A beautiful book of both grief and birth from the award-winning poet whose work thrills his audience with its immediate emotional impact and musical riffs. A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of the poet's father, we witness the unfolding of his grief. "In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor," he tells us, in one of the collection's piercing two-line poems. Young captures the strange silence of bereavement: "Not the storm/ but the calm/ that slays me." But the poet acknowledges, even celebrates, life's passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence describing the birth of his son: in "Crowning," he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing "her face/ full of fire, then groaning your face/ out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air." Ending this book of birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking "What good//are wishes if they aren't/ used up?" while understanding "How to listen/ to what's gone."


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FORTHCOMING IN 2015

JILL BIALOSKY, Poetry: The Players (Knopf)
MARK DOTY, Poetry: Deep Lane (Norton)
NICK FLYNN, Poetry: Title TBD (Graywolf)
MAT JOHNSON, Novel: Loving Day (Random House)
TED KOOSER, Children's Book: The Bell in the Bridge (Candlewick)
BENJAMIN PERCY, Fiction: The Dead Lands (Grand Central/Hachette)
DAVID SHIELDS, Nonfiction: I Think You're Totally Wrong: A Quarrel (Knopf)
TRACY K SMITH, Memoir: Ordinary Light (Knopf)