Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

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 Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees and Patricia Smith’s Incendiary Art, for a glimpse into the worlds of these new and noteworthy titles.

“I want to begin by letting you know / that the title is no lie, even though / this poem is not quite a portrait of / reader and writer.” Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon Press, February 2017) by Dean Rader. Second book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Michael Wiegers. Publicist: Kelly Forsythe.

“We drive slowly into the town centre—if you can call it a centre, that is: a mini-roundabout and a scattering of houses.” Encircling (Graywolf Press, February 2017) by Carl Frode Tiller, translated from the Norwegian by Barbara J. Haveland. Fifth book, novel. Agent: George Lucas. Editor: Fiona McCrae. Publicist: Caroline Nitz.

“He found the mammoth in the rock-hard earth.” Animals Strike Curious Poses (Sarabande Books, February 2017) by Elena Passarello. Second book, essay collection. Agent: Sarah Burnes. Editor: Sarah Gorham. Publicist: Ariel Lewiton.

“Fame would strike someone, usually the kind that healthy-minded people would not wish upon themselves, such as being kidnapped and kept prisoner for years, suffering humiliation in a sex scandal, or surviving something typically fatal.” The Refugees (Grove Press, February 2017) by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Fifth book, first story collection. Agent: Nat Sobel. Editor: Peter Blackstock. Publicists: John Mark Boling and Deb Seager.

“I was working the crank on the new pencil sharpener, feeding it fresh Ticonderogas, trying to get the points just right.” The Evening Road (Little, Brown, February 2017) by Laird Hunt. Eighth book, seventh novel. Agent: Anna Stein. Editor: Josh Kendall. Publicist: Nicole Dewey.

“I am free with the following conditions.” There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House Books, February 2017) by Morgan Parker. Second book, poetry collection. Agents: Daniel Kirschen and Tina Wexler. Editors: Matthew Dickman and Tony Perez. Publicist: Sabrina Wise. 

“My first encounter with before and after was in one of the fashion magazines my friends told me to subscribe to when I came to America.” Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life (Random House, February 2017) by Yiyun Li. Fifth book, first memoir. Agents: Sarah Chalfant and Jacqueline Ko. Editors: Kate Medina and Simon Prosser. Publicist: Jennifer Garza. 

“We had no television, no god, no family less than a day’s drive away, but we had stories.” Abandon Me (Bloomsbury, February 2017) by Melissa Febos. Second book, first essay collection. Agent: Ethan Bassoff. Editor: Nancy Miller. Publicist: Tara Kennedy.

“When Loo was twelve years old her father taught her how to shoot a gun.” The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (Dial Press, March 2017) by Hannah Tinti. Third book, second novel. Agent: Nicole Aragi. Editor: Noah Eaker. Publicist: Maria Braeckel. 

“Sometimes the page was tacked, flush against plaster with a pearl hatpin, / or jammed into a dime-store frame with a glowing Jesus.” Incendiary Art (TriQuarterly Books, February 2017) by Patricia Smith. Eighth book, seventh poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Parneshia Jones. Publicist: JD Wilson.

Tinus, a Latin suffix forming adjectives from adverbs of time, for example pristinus, ‘former,’ ‘previous,’ ‘ancient,’ ‘old,’ from classical Latin prior, ‘in front,’ ‘previous,’ ‘former,’ ‘earlier,’ ‘elder,’ ‘superior,’ ‘more important.’” Romanian Notebook (FSG Originals, March 2017) by Cyrus Console. Third book, first nonfiction book. Agent: None. Editor: Lorin Stein. Publicist: Stephen Weil.

“I am sixty-four, millions of lives are buttons / on the coats of magnificent birds that arise / from lost memories of building China from / under waves of assaults…” Spirit Boxing (University of Pittsburgh Press, February 2017) by Afaa Michael Weaver. Twelfth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Ed Ochester. Publicist: Maria Sticco.