BY frieze in Books , Critic's Guides | 07 APR 23

What to Read This Spring

From César Aira’s visions of ancient Rome to a posthumous collection of strange tales by Izumi Suzuki, the frieze team selects the books they’re reading this season

BY frieze in Books , Critic's Guides | 07 APR 23

Fulgentius (March 2023)

By César Aira

César Aira, Fulgentius, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: New Directions

César Aira (a one-time contributor to this magazine) is hard to keep up with – having published over a hundred books in his illustrious career, his prolific spirit is perhaps unmatched by any contemporary writer. It’s been a while since I’ve curled up with one his fanciful novellas though, so I’m quite excited for Fulgentius, a waggish tale of an imperial Roman general who also moonlights as a playwright.


I Could Not Believe It: The 1979 Teenage Diaries of Sean DeLear (April 2023)

Edited by Michael Bullock and Cesar Padilla

Sean DeLear, I Could Not Believe It: The 1979 Teenage Diaries of Sean DeLear, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Semiotexte

Sean DeLear was a pathbreaking, much loved artist who fronted the influential band Glue in the 1990s. I Could Not Believe It records DeLear’s teenaged longings and ambitions at a moment before they took shape in something real and concrete. What I love about this ‘potent historical artifact of Black youth’, as Brontez Purnell describes it in his introduction, are its notes of uncertainty, lack of pretention and its persistent faith in tomorrow. 

ANDREW DURBIN, Editor-in-Chief

Other Reflexes (May 2023)

By Diana Georgiou

Diana Georgiou, Other Reflexes, 2022, book cover. Courtesy: Book Works

Curator and writer Diana Georgiou’s debut novel is told as five interrelated stories, each connected to one of the senses. It’s the second release in Book Works’s ‘Interstices’ series, an open submission guest edited by Bridget Penney. Georgiou’s closely observed prose follows an anonymous protagonist from 1980s postcolonial Cyprus to the present-day, touching on intimate personal relationships and evocative recollections. 

SEAN BURNS, Assistant Editor

Mild Vertigo (May 2023)

By Mieko Kanai

Mieko Kanai, Mild Vertigo, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: New Directions

Mieko Kanai’s writing – encompassing fiction, poetry and criticism – has been sorely overlooked in the English-speaking world, so the new translation of her 1997 novel Mild Vertigo is a welcome arrival. The book is a surrealistic portrayal of quotidian middle-class life in late-20th century Japan.

MARKO GLUHAICH, Associate Editor

Greek Lessons (April 2023)

By Han Kang

Han Kang, Greek Lessons, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Penguin Random House

I’m very much looking forward to this new novel by the author of the Booker Prize-winning The Vegetarian (2016). I read The Vegetarian recently and thought it was wonderful – dark, gentle, strange and profound.

CLAUDIA KENSANI SAVIOTTI, Content Operations Manager

This Is Not Miami (April 2023)

By Fernanda Melchor

Fernanda Melchor, This Is Not Miami, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Fitzcarraldo Editions

Melchor’s latest novel is set in and around Veracruz, Mexico and structured as a series of tales or vignettes – ‘relatos’, as Melchor refers to them. The collection stitches together disparate characters and episodes: a beauty queen who commits filicide, a meeting with the devil, a customs-agent-come-cartel-cocaine-cutter. Melchor resists the seductive burden of explaining the realities (or exaggerations) of such non-European regions in blistering, true-crime detail. Though based on real events, these relatos are decidedly not journalistic, and not even realist. Melchor’s prose blooms under that strange light.

LISA YIN ZHANG, Assistant Editor

Ordinary Notes (April 2023)

By Christina Sharpe

Christina Sharpe, Ordinary Notes, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Daunt Books

In her new book, the writer and academic Christina Sharpe casts her astute, critical gaze on monuments, exhibitions and other sites of historical memorialisation, asking what they can tell us about the past, present and future of Black life and existence. Comprising over 200 notes of moving prose, including passages from some of Sharpe’s collaborators and peers, the book also acts as a poignant tribute to the life and legacy of Sharpe’s mother, Ida Wright Sharpe, an influence felt throughout the book. Ordinary Notes touched me deeply. It is a book I will be referencing and recommending for years to come.

VANESSA PETERSON, Associate Editor

Hit Parade of Tears (April 2023)

By Izumi Suzuki

Izumi Suzuki, Hit Parade of Tears, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Verso Books

Despite taking her own life in 1986, Japanese sci-fi writer Izumi Suzuki still writes from the future. Hit Parade of Tears, her second collection of short stories to be translated into English, features time travel, eternal humans and space pirates in 11 fantastical tales that never lose touch with reality. If first-look reviews are anything to go by, the new collection retains Suzuki’s wild and restless feminist spirit. (A cheating husband gets transformed into a strip of cured meat). I can’t think of anyone I’d rather read this spring than this countercultural icon of the Japanese literary underground. 

ANGEL LAMBO, Associate Editor

Main image: Han Kang, Greek Lessons, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Penguin Random House

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