Spring 2021 Catalog


NAMES FOR LIGHT: A Family History

by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint

Publication Date August 17, 2021  Nonfiction

Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a lyrical meditation on family, place, and inheritance

Names for Light traverses time and memory to weigh three generations of a family’s history against a painful inheritance of postcolonial violence and racism. In spare, lyric paragraphs framed by white space, Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint explores home, belonging, and identity by revisiting the cities in which her parents and grandparents lived. As she makes inquiries into their stories, she intertwines oral narratives with the official and mythic histories of Myanmar. But while her family’s stories move into the present, her own story—that of a writer seeking to understand who she is—moves into the past, until both converge at the end of the book.

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Walking on Cowrie Shells

by Nana Nkweti

Publication Date June 1, 2021 Fiction

A virtuosic debut collection that roves across genres and styles, by a finalist for the Caine Prize

In her powerful, genre-bending debut story collection, Nana Nkweti’s virtuosity is on full display as she mixes deft realism with clever inversions of genre. In the Caine Prize finalist story “It Takes a Village, Some Say,” she skewers racial prejudice and the practice of international adoption, delivering a sly tale about a teenage girl who leverages her adoptive parents to fast-track her fortunes. In “The Devil Is a Liar” a pregnant pastor’s wife struggles with the collision of Western Christianity and her mother’s traditional Cameroonian belief system as she worries about her unborn child.

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Pilgrim Bell

by Kaveh Akbar

Publication Date August 3, 2021 Poetry

Kaveh Akbar’s exquisite, highly anticipated follow-up to Calling a Wolf a Wolf

With formal virtuosity and ruthless precision, Kaveh Akbar’s second collection takes its readers on a spiritual journey of disavowal, fiercely attendant to the presence of divinity where artifacts of self and belonging have been shed. How does one recover from addiction without destroying the self-as-addict? And if living justly in a nation that would see them erased is, too, a kind of self-destruction, what does one do with the body’s question, “what now shall I repair?” Here, Akbar responds with prayer as an act of devotion to dissonance—the infinite void of a loved one’s absence, the indulgence of austerity, making a life as a Muslim in an Islamophobic nation—teasing the sacred out of silence and stillness.

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The Renunciations

by Donika Kelly

Publication Date May 4, 2021 Poetry

An extraordinary collection of endurance and transformation by the award-winning author of Bestiary

The Renunciations is a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma. Moving between a childhood marked by love and abuse and the breaking marriage of that adult child, Donika Kelly charts memory and the body as landscapes to be traversed and tended. These poems construct life rafts and sanctuaries even in their most devastating confrontations with what a person can bear, with how families harm themselves. With the companionship of “the oracle”—an observer of memory who knows how each close call with oblivion ends—the act of remembrance becomes curative, and personal mythologies give way to a future defined less by wounds than by possibility.

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On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal

by Rachel Greenwald Smith

Publication Date August 3, 2021 Nonfiction

A strident argument about the dangers of compromise in art, politics, and everyday life

On Compromise is an argument against contemporary liberal society’s tendency to view compromise as an unalloyed good—politically, ethically, and artistically. In a series of clear, convincing essays, Rachel Greenwald Smith discusses the dangers of thinking about compromise as an end, rather than as a means. To illustrate her points, she recounts her stint in a band as a bass player, fighting with her bandmates about “what the song wants,” and then moves outward to Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl movement, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Poetry magazine, the resurgence of fascism, and other wide-ranging topics.

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See/Saw: Looking at Photographs

by Geoff Dyer

Publication Date May 4, 2021 Nonfiction

A lavishly illustrated history of photography in essays by the author of Otherwise Known as the Human Condition

See/Saw shows how photographs frame and change our perspective on the world. Taking in photographers from early in the last century to the present day—including artists such as Eugène Atget, Vivian Maier, Roy DeCarava, and Alex Webb—the celebrated writer Geoff Dyer offers a series of moving, witty, prescient, surprising, and intimate encounters with images.

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Nervous System

by Lina Meruane, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell

Publication Date May 18, 2021 Fiction

An electrifying novel about illness, displacement, and what holds us together, by the author of Seeing Red

Ella is an astrophysicist struggling with her doctoral thesis in the “country of the present” but she is from the “country of the past,” a place burdened in her memory by both personal and political tragedies. Her partner, El, is a forensic scientist who analyzes the bones of victims of state violence and is recovering from an explosion at a work site that almost killed him. Consumed by writer’s block, Ella finds herself wishing that she would become ill, which would provide time for writing and perhaps an excuse for her lack of progress. Then she begins to experience mysterious symptoms that doctors find undiagnosable.

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by Dante Alighieri, translated from the Italian by Mary Jo Bang

Publication Date July 13, 2021 Poetry 

The second installment in Mary Jo Bang’s exhilarating, innovative translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy

Award-winning poet Mary Jo Bang’s new translation of Purgatorio is the extraordinary continuation of her journey with Dante, which began with her transformative version of Inferno. In Purgatorio, still guided by the Roman poet Virgil, Dante emerges from the horrors of Hell to begin the climb up Mount Purgatory, a seven-terrace mountain with each level devoted to those atoning for one of the seven deadly sins. At the summit, we find the Terrestrial Heaven and Beatrice—who will take over for Virgil, who, as a pagan, can only take Dante so far. During the climb, we are introduced to the myriad ways in which humans destroy the social fabric through pride, envy, and vindictive anger.

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Encircling 3: Aftermath

by Carl Frode Tiller, translated from the Norwegian by Barbara Haveland

Publication Date July 13, 2021 Fiction 

The Encircling Trilogy comes thundering to a close as the man at the center is revealed

The final book in Carl Frode Tiller’s groundbreaking Encircling Trilogy is here. In Barbara Haveland’s powerful translation, two new letters circle closer than ever to David, who allegedly lost his memory. One is from Marius, who has led the life of wealth and privilege that David was meant to live. And yet Marius does not appreciate it—desperate for attention, he lies to his girlfriend, with disastrous consequences. The other comes from Susanne, an ex-lover whose affair with David led to the breakup of her marriage. Humiliated by David’s unflattering portrayal of her in his novel, Susanne is determined to exact revenge on him in the most painful possible way.

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The Dragons, the Giant, the Women

by Wayétu Moore

Publication Date June 15, 2021 Nonfiction

Now in paperback, an engrossing memoir of escaping civil war in Liberia and building a life in the United States

When Wayétu Moore turns five in Monrovia, Liberia, all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised, war breaks out in Liberia, and her family is forced to flee their home, walking and hiding for weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on another journey, this time to the United States.

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The Silk Road

by Kathryn Davis

Publication Date August 3, 2021 Fiction

Now available in paperback, the latest mesmerizing novel by “the most original novelist in America” (Slate)

The Silk Road begins on a mat in yoga class, deep within a labyrinth on a settlement somewhere in the icy north, under the canny guidance of Jee Moon. When someone fails to arise from corpse pose, the Astronomer, the Archivist, the Botanist, the Keeper, the Topologist, the Geographer, the Iceman, and the Cook remember the paths that brought them there—paths on which they still seem to be traveling.

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The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf

by Kathryn Davis

Publication Date August 8, 2021 Fiction

Back in print, an astonishing novel of art, obsession, and the secrets kept by two very different women

In Kathryn Davis’s second novel, Frances Thorn, waitress and single parent of twins, finds herself transformed by the dazzling magnetism of Helle Ten Brix, an elderly Danish composer of operas. At the heart of what binds them is “The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf,” the Hans Christian Andersen tale of a prideful girl who, in order to spare her new shoes, uses the loaf of bread intended as a gift for her parents as a stepping-stone, and ends up sinking to the bottom of a bog. Helle’s final opera, based on this tale and unfinished at the time of her death, is willed to Frances—a life-changing legacy that compels Frances to unravel the mysteries of Helle’s story and, in so doing, to enter the endlessly revolving, intricate world of her operas.

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