BY frieze in Books , Opinion | 30 OCT 23

What to Read This Autumn

From a new novel by Teju Cole to the English language debut of an iconic Japanese novel, the frieze team recommend what they’re reading

BY frieze in Books , Opinion | 30 OCT 23

Tremor (October 2023)

By Teju Cole

Teju Cole, Tremor, 2023
Teju Cole, Tremor, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Faber & Faber

I have long been a fan of Teju Cole’s photographs – to me, reminiscent of the work of Luigi Ghirri – of his far-reaching essays on art and of his more recent forays into combining word and image. I try to resist using the word ‘autofiction’ to describe Cole’s writing, but Tremor feels like it resembles parts of Cole’s life: the evocative description, for instance, of a reunion with friends and peers at Bamako Encounters, Mali’s long-running photography biennial, where he also contemplates the region’s musical heritage. In the middle of the novel, the voice of the narrator, Tunde, dissolves into a polyphonic chorus of inhabitants of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. This shift pulls the text out of its interior inclinations – the slow burn of a long-term relationship, for instance – towards something new. Cole’s prose is stylish, measured and considered. Whether pondering the ethics of photography in the vein of Susan Sontag or Roland Barthes, the 1897 plunder of the Benin Bronzes, or J.M.W. Turner’s The Slave Ship (1840), Cole casts an astute critical lens on the ways art can tell the story of our times, full of violent ruptures and tremors.

VANESSA PETERSON, Associate Editor

Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism and Minding Other People's Business​ (October 2023)​​​​​​

By Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay, Opinions​, 2023
Roxane Gay, Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism and Minding Other People's Business​, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Harper

‘For my mother, who taught me that my opinions matter,’ reads the dedication in Roxane Gay’s second essay collection. Featuring more than 60 texts – including film reviews, political commentary, celebrity profiles and advice columns – it’s clear not only that Gay has a lot of opinions but that she has had to pay a heavy price for expressing them. As a Black woman with a large platform who talks about race, gender politics and cancel culture, the author has endured endless harassment online; nevertheless, she persisted and became – as this collection shows – one of the most important cultural critics working today.

CHLOE STEAD, Assistant Editor

The Long Form (April 2023) 

By Kate Briggs

Kate Briggs, The Long Form, 2023
Kate Briggs, The Long Form, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Fitzcarraldo Editions

Kate Briggs’s debut novel tracks the mundane life of a young mother whose morning is interrupted when a used copy of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749) lands on her doorstep. The Long Form blurs genres in a deft and effective way: it often reads like two of my favourite poets, Lyn Hejinian and Rosmarie Waldrop, while depicting the uncanny experience of nascent motherhood.

MARKO GLUHAICH, Associate Editor

Perpetual Slavery (November 2023)

By Ciarán Finlayson

Ciarán Finlayson, Perpetual Slavery, 2023
Ciarán Finlayson, Perpetual Slavery, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Floating Opera Press

This slim, green pocketbook from Floating Opera Press – a small Berlin imprint publishing long-form essays by young art critics – is an extended version of a text Ciarán Finlayson wrote following the second wave of Black Lives Matters protests in 2020. The essay considers the work of Ralph Lemon and Cameron Rowland, two conceptual artists who interrogate the complex legacy of chattel slavery in the US, and the pressing contradiction that ‘human emancipation has yet to arrive’.


The Woman in Me ( October 2023)

By Britney Spears

Britney Spears, The Woman in Me, 2023
Britney Spears, The Woman in Me, 2023. Courtesy: Gallery UK

In a last-ditch effort to swell the bellies of celebrity journalists who continue to pick away at Britney Spears’s career like carrion crows, the beleaguered pop star offers up the last 20 plus years of her life in a tell-all memoir. Fetishized as a child and denied agency as an adult, Spears finally sells her own story after a lifetime of being told that her body was her only commodity.

ANGEL LAMBO, Associate Editor

A Long Arc: Photography and the American South (November 2023) 

By Various

A Long Arc: Photography and the American South, 2023
A Long Arc: Photography and the American South, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Aperture

This monograph – co-published by Aperture and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta – spans 175 years of photography of the Southern United States. Though the region has often been derided and ignored by Northerners and Westerners, when not being violently contested, these photographs demonstrate how essential the South has been not only to American history and identity, but to American photography – from Mathew Brady’s battlefield images of the Civil War (1861–65) to the intimate interiors of Carrie Mae Weems.

ANDREW DURBIN, Editor-in-Chief

Night Side of the River (October 2023) 

By Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson, Night Side of the River, 2023
Jeanette Winterson, Night Side of the River, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Jonathan Cape

Jeanette Winterson’s new book is a collection of ghost stories. Her lucid, witty and heartfelt writing never fails to captivate me, and I am excited to read her latest take on the chilling and the uncanny – perfect reading for the colder, darker months.

CLAUDIA KENSANI, Publishing and Events Manager

The Premonition (October 2023) 

Translated by Asa Yoneda

Asa Yoneda, The Premonition, 2023
Banana Yoshimoto, The Premonition, 2023, book cover, translated by Asa Yoneda. Courtesy: 

Counterpoint LLC

First published in Japan in 1988, Banana Yoshimoto’s The Premonition was finally released in English translation this month. A nostalgia-inflected coming-of-age tale, The Premonition sees Yoshimoto cast a subtle shadow over cosy domesticity by unpacking a young woman’s haunting childhood memories and familial secrets.

ANNALISA GIACINTI, Editorial Trainee

Contemporary Art and Culture