Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

From the January/February 2020 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 Cleanness by Garth Greenwell and Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, for a glimpse into the worlds of these new and noteworthy titles.

“Ever since you were a boy, you’ve dreamt of being Kung Fu Guy.” Interior Chinatown (Pantheon, January 2020) by Charles Yu. Fourth book, second novel. Agent: Julie Barer. Editor: Tim O’Connell. Publicist: Josefine Kals. 

“today, i elect jonathan, eleven & already making roads out of water / young genius, blog writer, lil community activist, curls tight / as pinky swears, black as my nation” Homie (Graywolf Press, January 2020) by Danez Smith. Third book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Jeff Shotts. Publicist: Caroline Nitz. 

“That night, when Mrs. Chamberlain called, Emira could only piece together the words
‘. . . take Briar somewhere . . .’ and ‘. . . pay you double.’” Such a Fun Age (Putnam, December 2019) by Kiley Reid. First book, novel. Agent: Claudia Ballard. Editor: Sally Kim. Publicists: Elena Hershey and Ashley Hewlett. 

“Depending on whom you ask, it was either the apex, the inflection point, or the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley’s startup scene—what cynics called a bubble, optimists called the future, and my future coworkers, high on the fumes of world-historical potential, breathlessly called the ecosystem.” Uncanny Valley (MCD x FSG, January 2020) by Anna Wiener. First book, memoir. Agent: Chris Parris-Lamb. Editor: Emily Bell. Publicist: Sarita Varma. 

“First, there was faith— / how a terrestrial // body pulled by the force of / attraction toward // earth’s molten center / nonetheless hung willing // from a fixed point.” Your New Feeling Is the Artifact of a Bygone Era (Sarabande Books, January 2020) by Chad Bennett. Second book, first poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Sarah Gorham. Publicist: Joanna Englert. 

“In the dream he was a hawk with blood on its beak.” Summer Snow (Ecco, January 2020) by Robert Hass. Eleventh book, seventh poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Daniel Halpern. Publicist: Martin Wilson. 

“We had agreed to meet at the fountain in front of the McDonald’s in Slaveykov Square.” Cleanness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 2020) by Garth Greenwell. Second book, novel-in-stories. Agent: Anna Stein. Editor: Mitzi Angel. Publicist: Brian Gittis. 

“When I first arrived in the desert, I desperately wanted to be the first female explorer to cross the Sahara.” Stories of the Sahara (Bloomsbury, January 2020) by Sanmao, translated from the Chinese by Mike Fu. First of twenty-four books, nonfiction. Agent: None. Editor: Morgan Jones. Publicist: Katie Boni. 

“Whose foreheads should we kiss to check for fever, / whose memories are those that we keep // so close to our wrists.” Little Envelope of Earth Conditions (Alice James Books, January 2020) by Cori A. Winrock. Second book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Carey Salerno. Publicist: Alyson Sinclair. 

“The young soldier was part of the ‘Baby Bottle Conscription,’ the boys called up when there were no more men, young or old, to fight the war.” A Long Petal of the Sea (Ballantine Books, January 2020) by Isabel Allende, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson. Twenty-fourth book, twentieth novel. Agents: Johanna Castillo, Maribel Gutierrez, and Lluis Miguel Palomares. Editor: Jennifer Hershey. Publicists: Jennifer Garza and Mary Moates. 

“The sidewalk was cleansed of the blood.” The Teacher (Open Letter, January 2020) by Michal Ben-Naftali, translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir. Sixth of seven books, first of two novels. Agent: Nilli Cohen. Editor: Kaija Straumanis. Publicist: Anthony Blake. 

“So used to drought, the city looked astonished / at the sky & I have to believe that’s why // she didn’t see me in the crosswalk.” Dispatch (Persea Books, December 2019) by Cameron Awkward-Rich. Second book, poetry collection. Agent: None. Editor: Gabriel Fried. Publicist: Jonah Fried.