Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

From the January/February 2021 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

With so many good books being published every month, some literary titles worth exploring can get lost in the stacks. Page One offers the first lines of a dozen recently released books, including Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion and The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void by Jackie Wang, for a glimpse into the worlds of these new and noteworthy titles.

“There’s nothing like a Black man on a mission.” Black Buck (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2021) by Mateo Askaripour. First book, novel. Agent: Tina Pohlman. Editor: Pilar Garcia-Brown. Publicist: Taryn Roeder. 

“I remember you at the helm the day you shouted / of spouts in the distance and within minutes // the giant surfaced alongside our boat— // Space animal in a shroud of baleen” Heaven Beneath (Persea Books, December 2020) by Anne Marie Macari. Fifth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Gabriel Fried. Publicist: Jonah Fried. 

“The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain tissue, very probably by an Associated Press wire, are The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Free Press, the Los Angeles Open City, and the East Village Other.” Let Me Tell You What I Mean (Knopf, January 2021) by Joan Didion. Nineteenth book, sixth essay collection. Agent: Lynn Nesbit. Editor: Shelley Wanger. Publicist: Amy Hagedorn. 

“Another body & another body slipping like tongue from the river’s lip.” Arsenal With Praise Song (Orison Books, January 2021) by Rodney Gómez. Fourth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Luke Hankins. Publicist: Luke Hankins. [Buy this book.]

“The mother was standing behind the screen door when we stepped out of the car.” The Fortunate Ones (Algonquin Books, January 2021) by Ed Tarkington. Second book, novel. Agent: Gail Hochman. Editor: Kathy Pories. Publicist: Stephanie Mendoza. 

“Hannah dreams the family buries her mother, a woman they haven’t seen in more than forty years.” Bride of the Sea (Tin House, January 2021) by Eman Quotah. First book, novel. Agent: Steven Chudney. Editor: Masie Cochran. Publicist: Becky Kraemer. 

“I leaned against the guardrail above the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in New Mexico, 565 feet above the river below, my heart beating fire.” Sanctuary (Random House, January 2021) by Emily Rapp Black. Third book, memoir. Agent: Dorian Karchmar. Editor: Andrea Walker. Publicist: Carrie Neill. 

“Keisha’s pregnancy was difficult.” These Bodies (Tolsun Books, December 2020) by Morgan Christie. First book, story collection. Agent: None. Editor: David Pischke. Publicist: None. 

“All I remember is the coppiced terrain I crossed to find a house to rest in.” The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void (Nightboat Books, January 2021) by Jackie Wang. Second book, first poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Andrea Abi-Karam. Publicist: Caelan Nardone. 

“In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.” Outlawed (Bloomsbury, January 2021) by Anna North. Third book, novel. Agent: Julie Barer. Editor: Callie Garnett. Publicist: Rosie Mahorter. 

“A field sparrow / is at my window, / tapping at its reflection, / a tired / antique god / trying to communicate” Now It’s Dark (Wesleyan University Press, December 2020) by Peter Gizzi. Eighth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: None. Publicist: Stephanie Elliott Prieto. 

“A mother does not know her heart / will leap out of her chest // with such force / it will cause a rebellion” Mama Phife Represents (Haymarket Books, January 2021) by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor. Fifth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Maya Marshall. Publicist: Aricka Foreman.