Spring 2021 Season Preview | Book*hug Press

Spring 2021 Season Preview

Spring 2021 Season Preview

We always look forward to spring, but this year, we’re especially eager, and not just for flowers (which those of us with allergies might be looking forward to less eagerly). Spring is a season of transformation: a chance to reconsider, reimagine, and reinvent in both minor and major ways. Our forthcoming Spring 2021 titles offer the same chance; the same opportunity to look at the world differently. We’re delighted to be able to share them with you today.

March Releases

In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova

In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, Translated from the Russian by Sasha Dugdale
Literature in Translation Series | Documentary Fiction
On Sale March 2nd, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

From one of the most powerful and distinctive voices of Russia’s first post-Soviet literary generation comes the documentary novel, In Memory of Memory. With the death of her aunt, the book’s narrator is left to sift through an apartment full of faded photographs, old postcards, letters, diaries, and heaps of souvenirs: a withered repository of a century of life in Russia. These shards tell the story of how a seemingly ordinary Jewish family somehow managed to survive the myriad persecutions and repressions of the last century. Dipping into various forms—essay, fiction, memoir, travelogue, and historical documents—Stepanova assembles a vast panorama of ideas and personalities and offers an entirely new and bold exploration of cultural and personal memory.

In Memory of Memory won the prestigious 2018 Bolshaya Kniga Award, an annual Russian literary prize presented for the best book of Russian prose, and the 2019 NOS Literature Prize, and has been published in over seventeen languages. Elif Batuman, author of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction-nominated novel, The Idiot, calls In Memory of Memory a “luminous, rigorous, and mesmerizing interrogation of the relationship between personal history, family history, and capital-H History.” Acclaimed poet Ilya Kaminsky calls it a “microcosm all its own… I am especially grateful to Sasha Dugdale for her precise and flawless translation which makes this book such a joy to read in English.”

Begin by Telling by Meg Remy

Begin by Telling by Meg Remy
Essais Series No. 11 | Nonfiction / Memoir |
On Sale March 16th, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

In Begin by Telling, experimental pop sensation Meg Remy (U.S. Girls) spins a web out from her body to myriad corners of American hyper-culture.

As though channel surfing, we catch glimpses of Desert Storm, the Oklahoma City Bombing, random street violence, the petrochemical industry, small town Deadheads, a toilet with uterus lining in it, the county STD clinic, and missionaries at the front door. Each is shared through language of the body; the sensation of experiencing many of the defining events and moments of a country. These threads nimbly interweave with probing quotes and statistics, demonstrating the importance of personal storytelling, radical empathy, and the necessity of reflecting on society and one’s self within that construct. Immersive and utterly compelling, Begin by Telling is an artifact of our time; a fascinating perspective on American culture.

“With sharp emotional intelligence, Remy reveals a cultural systemic rot that begins with family and fractals out into school, life, the media, the government, and history,” writes Michelle Tea, author of Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions and Criticisms. “Both hallucinogenic and lucid, this work is a radical interrogation of trauma, and a literary salve for the feminist psyche.”

Phantompains by Therese Estacion

Phantompains by Therese Estacion
On Sale March 31st, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

Phantompains is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with magic surrealism. Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that nearly killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and reproductive organs. She says she wrote these poems out of necessity: an essential task to deal with the trauma of hospitalization and what followed.

Taking inspiration from Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion incorporates some Visayan language into her work, telling stories of mermen, gnomes and ogres that haunt childhood stories of the Philippines and, then, imaginings in her hospital room, where she spent months after her operations, recovering. There is a dreamlike quality to these pieces, rivaled by depictions of pain, of amputation, of hysterectomy, of disability, and the realization of catastrophic change. They are demonstrations of the power of our imaginations to provide catharsis, preserve memory, rebel and even to find self-love.

April Releases

Catalogue d'oiseaux by Aaron Tucker

Catalogue d’oiseaux by Aaron Tucker
On Sale April 13th, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

From the author of Irresponsible Mediums: The Chess Games of Marcel Ducahmp comes Catalogue d’oiseaux. The book began as notes sent to poet Aaron Tucker’s long-distance partner. Not initially intended for publication, the writings moved, over time, into a long, lyrical, confessional love poem. Following the couple on travels across the globe—from Berlin to the Yukon, Porto to Toronto—this poem is expansive, moving sensually through small, intimate spaces and the larger world alike.

Catalogue d’oiseaux is a stunning work; a celebration of the depth of adult love, and the elemental parts of life that make it so. The book lives between geographies and chronologies as a kaleidoscopic gathering of the many fractals that make up a couple’s life.

Duct-Taped Roses by Billeh Nickerson

Duct-Taped Roses by Billeh Nickerson
On Sale April 15th, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

In Duct-Taped Roses, Nickerson uses his signature irreverence, honesty and wit to question what can be repaired, and what—inevitably—is lost to time. Such humour contrasts the poignancy of Nickerson’s relationship with his father, celebrated in the long poem “Skies”, and his exploration of the continued scourge of death for queer men—first AIDS and now addiction, mental illness and fentanyl overdoses. These poems reminisce about young love while exploring the complex, deep and often rending relationships between gay men, especially as they age.

Duct-Taped Roses is Frank O’Hara meets Lorna Crozier; David Sedaris meets Eileen Myles. “You’ve covered me with tattoos,” writes Nickerson. “I can only see with my eyes closed, can only feel when I imagine your fingers.”

We, Jane by Aimee Wall

We, Jane by Aimee Wall
Literary Fiction
On Sale April 27th, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

Aimee Wall is the translator of many books, including Vickie Gendreau’s Testament and Drama Queens. Her debut novel, We, Jane, explores the precarity of rural existence and the essential nature of abortion, and probes the importance of care work by women for women. The novel follows the Montréal-based, Newfoundland-born Marthe, who begins an intense friendship with an older woman—also from Newfoundland—who tells her a story about a duty to fulfill back home. Marthe travels back to Newfoundland with the older woman to continue the work of an underground movement: abortion services performed by women, always referred to as Jane. Marthe commits to learning how to continue this legacy and protect such essential knowledge, but the nobility of her task and the reality of small-town, rural life compete, and personal fractures in the small movement become clear.

We, Jane is a quiet, compelling novel about the magnitude of women’s friendships and connection. It underscores the complexity of relationships in close circles, and beautifully captures the inevitable heartache of understanding home.

May Releases

Erase and Rewind by Meghan Bell

Erase and Rewind by Meghan Bell
Literary Fiction / Short Stories
On Sale May 18th, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

Meghan Bell’s debut collection of short stories is a highwire balance of levity and gravity, finding the surreal in everyday life. In it, an assault survivor realizes she can rewind time and relives the experience in order to erase it; a teen athlete wonders why she isn’t more afraid of death when the plane carrying her team catches fire; the daughter of a superhero ruminates on how her father neglected his children to pursue his heroics; and two shut-in depressives form a bond on Twitter while a deadly virus wipes out most of the population of North America.

Told from the perspective of female protagonists—from early teens to early thirties—Erase and Rewind probes the complexities of living as a woman in a skewed society. Bell’s work picks at rape culture, sexism in the workplace, uneven romantic and platonic relationships, and the impact of trauma under late-stage capitalism. “Utterly bold, darkly funny, candid and bizarrely tender, Meghan Bell’s debut is a testament to being young and female, lost, lonely, and neurotic, while simultaneously trying to navigate the perilous journey of everyday life,” writes Lindsay Wong, author of The Woo-Woo. Susan Swan calls Bell a “tough compelling new voice that tells us what it’s like to be young nowadays.”

Permanent Revolution by Gail Scott

Permanent Revolution: Essays by Gail Scott
Nonfiction / Essays
With an introduction by Zoe Whittall
On Sale May 25th, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

Permanent Revolution traces Gail Scott’s seminal investigation of prose experiment to the present, relating the matter of writing in sentences to ongoing social upheaval. As Scott writes, “Where there is no emergency there is likely no real experiment.”

In this collection, which includes a recreation of Scott’s iconic Spaces Like Stairs, the writer interrogates her era, engaging in conversation with other writers across the continent identified with current queer and feminist avant-garde trajectories. Permanent Revolution is an evolutionary snapshot, and Scott—belonging in the canon alongside Maggie Nelson, Lydia Davis and Renee Gladman—is an important feminist thinker of our time.

“A writer may do as she pleases with her epoch,” Scott writes. “Except ignore it.”

June Releases

The Union of Synchronized Swimmers by Cristina Sandu

The Union of Synchronized Swimmers by Cristina Sandu, Translated from the Finnish by Cristina Sandu
Literature in Translation Series | Literary Fiction
On Sale June 22nd, 2021. Available now for pre-order.

In The Union of Synchronized Swimmers—written and translated by award-winning Finnish-Romanian author Cristina Sandu—six girls begin a journey to the Olympics. In a stateless place, on the wrong side of a river separating East from West, the girls meet each day to swim. At first, they play, splashing each other and floating languidly on the water’s surface. But as summer draws to an end, the game becomes something more.

They hone their bodies relentlessly. Their skin shades into bruises. They barter cigarettes stolen from the factory where they work for swimsuits to stretch over their sunburnt skin. They tear their legs into splits, flick them back and forth, like herons. They force themselves to stop breathing.

Then, one day, it finally happens: their visas arrive.

Cristina Sandu is one of Finland’s most exciting contemporary writers. Her debut novel, The Whale Called Goliath (2017), was nominated for the Finlandia Prize, the most prestigious literary prize in Finland. The Union of Synchronized Swimmers, won the 2020 Toisinkoinen Literary Prize, and is her first book to be published in English. “Cristina Sandu’s spare and sparkling prose is intimate and visceral,” writes Lindsay Zier-Vogel, author of Letters to Amelia (forthcoming from Book*hug Press in Fall 2021). “A deeply moving story about six women who dare to dream bigger than their muddy river, whose lives splinter from their tight synchronized formations into an unflinching, often unforgiving world. An exquisite and powerful read.” Finnish magazine Suomen Kuvalehti calls Sandu’s narration “magical.”

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