Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

From the November/December 2017 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 Louise Erdrich’s new novel, Future Home of the Living God, and Victoria Chang’s new poetry collection, Barbie Chang, for a glimpse into the worlds of these new and noteworthy titles.

“Why do people keep asking to see / God’s identity papers / when the darkness opening into morning / is more than enough?” Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (Penguin Press, October 2017) by Mary Oliver. Thirty-fourth book, twenty-seventh poetry collection. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy. Editor: Ann Godoff. Publicist: Elisabeth Calamari.

“When Marvin Gaye sang the National Anthem at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, he knew he was going to die soon.” They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us (Two Dollar Radio, November 2017) by Hanif Abdurraqib. Second book, first essay collection. Agent: None. Editor: Eric Obenauf. Publicist: Eric Obenauf.

“August 7. When I tell you that my white name is Cedar Hawk Songmaker and that I am the adopted child of Minneapolis liberals, and that when I went looking for my Ojibwe parents and found that I was born Mary Potts I hid the knowledge, maybe you’ll understand.” Future Home of the Living God (Harper, November 2017) by Louise Erdrich. Twenty-second book, sixteenth novel. Agent: Jin Auh. Editor: Terry Karten. Publicist: Jane Beirn.

“Coming up the drive in the rental car, Cathy sees the sign and has to laugh.” Fresh Complaint (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 2017) by Jeffrey Eugenides. Fourth book, first story collection. Agent: Lynn Nesbit. Editor: Jonathan Galassi. Publicist: Jeff Seroy.

 “Once Barbie Chang worked on a / street named Wall” Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, November 2017) by Victoria Chang. Fourth book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Michael Wiegers. Publicist: Emily Grise.

“As we stood / In the unreflective / Pall of the canvas / Neatly pocked by broken / Plates, light / Swallowed by / The sickly sweet strokes / Of crap paint / Clumsily / Slapped across it, / I picked up Sacha / & asked him / If it might be / A bit much, / The painting’s title?” Attributed to the Harrow Painter (University of Iowa Press, November 2017) by Nick Twemlow. Second book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editors: Mark Levine and Emily Wilson. Publicist: Allison Means.

“My wife could take your skin off with one glance, she was that excruciating.” Catapult (Sarabande Books, October 2017) by Emily Fridlund. Second book, first story collection. Agent: Nicole Aragi. Editor: Ariel Lewiton. Publicists: Ariel Lewiton and Joanna Englert.

“I am hours from giving birth, from the event I thought would never happen to me, and R has gone up a mountain.” The End We Start From (Grove Press, November 2017) by Megan Hunter. First book, novel. Agent: Emma Paterson. Editor: Elisabeth Schmitz. Publicists: Deb Seager and John Mark Boling.

“What I’m trying to tell you is that underneath the surprise, there was something else that Ayelet and I didn’t dare talk about, that in the back of our minds we knew—okay, I knew—that it could happen.” Three Floors Up (Other Press, October 2017) by Eshkol Nevo, translated from the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston. Seventh book, fifth novel. Agent: Markus Hoffmann. Editors: Judith Gurewich and Alexandra Poreda. Publicist: Maria Whelan.

“It is said that silk filature began in China under a / mulberry tree in a teacup resting lightly in the / slender hand of the empress Hsi-ling Shi” Silk Poems (Nightboat Books, October 2017) by Jen Bervin. Tenth book, second poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Stephen Motika. Publicist: Andrea Abi-Karam.

“In my office is a time capsule: seven large clear plastic bins safeguarding frozen moments in time, a past that began before my birth.” Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir (Ecco, October 2017) by Amy Tan. Eighth book, second memoir. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra. Editor: Daniel Halpern. Publicist: Sonya Cheuse.

“There was no moon that first night, and we spent it as we spent our days: your fathers and your mothers have always worked with their hands.” The King Is Always Above the People (Riverhead Books, October 2017) by Daniel Alarcón. Fifth book, second story collection. Agent: Eric Simonoff. Editor: Laura Perciasepe. Publicist: Claire McGinnis.