The Monthly Booking: October 2020

Monthly reading list October 2020
The Monthly Booking in October 2020

The autumn of intense publication continues, added to by the recent appearance of shortlists for the Booker Prize and the Deutscher Buchpreis, but as is so often the case my core reading list for October is composed of books already sitting on my shelves. A couple are relatively recent releases, while the others are stalwarts of contemporary literary and translated fiction I really ought to have read by now and am greatly looking forward to ticking off my list.

Other things to keep an eye out for this month include a few new titles from trail-blazing Seven Stories Press and the ever-inspiring Istros Books, whose October release is a return to fiction after last month’s beautiful book-length essay Our Daily Bread. There’s more action from new small presses as well, with another publication date for Catalan specialists Fum d’Estampa and the first-ever title from literary fiction aficionados Watermark Press. Stay tuned for more on these!

Finally, looking ahead to next month, November for me is going to be all about shorter works of literature: essays on the non-fiction side and short stories in original English and translation. I’d love to hear your recommendations for both categories, so please drop suggestions in the comments below.

Meanwhile, the monthly booking for October will be:


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury)

What the publisher says: ‘A heart-wrenching new novel of the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister, their childhood home, and a past that will not let them go [. . .]Told with Ann Patchett’s inimitable blend of humour, rage and heartbreak, The Dutch House is a book for our times; of family, love, loss, and the powerful bonds of place and time that magnetize and repel us for our whole lives.’


The Unreality of Memory by Elisa Gabbert (Atlantic Books)

What the publisher says: ‘Poet and essayist Elisa Gabbert’s The Unreality of Memory consists of a series of lyrical and deeply researched meditations on what our culture of catastrophe has done to public discourse and our own inner lives. In these tender and prophetic essays, she focuses in on our daily preoccupation and favourite pastime: desperate distraction from disaster by way of a desperate obsession with the disastrous. Moving from public trauma to personal tragedy, from the Titanic and Chernobyl to illness and loss, The Unreality of Memory alternately rips away the facade of our fascination with destruction and gently identifies itself with the age of rubbernecking.’


Resistance by Julián Fuks, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Charco Press)

What the publisher says: ‘Resistance unfolds as an intimate portrayal of the formation of a family under extraordinary circumstances, told from the point of view of the youngest child. It’s an examination of identity, of family bonds, of the different forms that exile can take, of what it means to belong to a place, to a family, to your own past. Already winner of the Jabuti Award for Book of the Year 2016 (Brazil), the José Saramago Literary Prize 2017 (Portugal) and the Anna Seghers Prize 2018 (Germany), Resistance demonstrates remarkable courage and skill by one of Brazil’s rising literary stars.’

Small Press

A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Tramp Press)

What the publisher says: ‘A true original, this stunning prose debut by Doireann Ní Ghríofa weaves two stories together. [. . .] Doireann Ní Ghríofa has sculpted a fluid hybrid of essay and autofiction to explore the ways in which a life can be changed in response to the discovery of another’s – in this case, Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill’s Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, famously referred to by Peter Levi as “the greatest poem written in either Ireland or Britain during the eighteenth century.” A devastating and timeless tale about finding your voice by freeing another’s.’

2 thoughts on “The Monthly Booking: October 2020

  1. I absolutely loved The Unreality of Memory. I read it last month but just reviewed it. I thought it might feel a bit academic or overly pretentious but it was extraordinary. So many great lines and intriguing ideas. Excited to hear what you think of it!

    Liked by 1 person

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