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The Book of Monelle
Marcel Schwob
A dark, haunted book by a man who was a secret literary influence on an astonishing number of great avante-garde writers. Schwob wrote this about, and for, a young girl of the streets whose death shattered him. He channels both the thunder of...
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Christ Stopped at Eboli
The Story of a Year
Carlo Levi
A genuinely wonderful portrait of a place (southern Italy) and its people: vividly rendered, humane, and surprising. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Crow with No Mouth
Ikkyū
A 15th century Zen monk-poet, one of my very favorites, who does his tradition proud: so lusty, so stark. Stephen Berg's translations in run-on lines capture a charming voice. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Debt
The First 5,000 Years
David Graeber
An history of debt written by an anarchist-sympathizing anthropologist (and a respected one, mind you)—who better to dig beneath the assumptions taken for granted by the Western science of Economics? From blood debts in moneyless societies...
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The Dispossessed
A Novel
Ursula K. Le Guin
This classic is an exemplar of the most enjoyably intelligent, thought-provoking, humanistic side of the science fiction field. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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House of Prayer No. 2
A Writer's Journey Home
Mark Richard
Based on its subject matter and jacket copy, this might have been an inspirational memoir. But in Mark Richard's hands, the story of his own life is weird and unsettling and haunting and very much like an ocean hiding outlandish fauna somewhere beneath...
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NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book is playful, psychogeographically rich, sometimes messy, dark, and has a wicked stiletto of an ending. Most of all, its subtleties hold up under the mulling over after you've finished reading it. A smart look at the complexities...
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The Plain in Flames
Juan Rulfo
Stories by a legendary Mexican writer back in a new translation. Perfect little tales of peasants and landlords and bandits and murder, stark as the desert, but very human too, tales that don't say too much, or too little. ––Recommended by Matt
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Red Dust
A Path Through China
Ma Jian
Red Dust is a rich, strange, searching travelogue through the outposts of communist China by an adventurous, dissident poet. Author Ma is often compared to the Beats--but imagine if Kerouac had to escape from a Kafka novel in order to go "on the road"...
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Season of Migration to the North
Tayeb Salih
Tayeb Salih is able to inscribe the mythic onto everyday life throughout Season of Migration to the North. The narrator of the novel must confront his home after studying abroad, and finds that a new presence has entered his community. What is revealed is a thoughtful look into human interaction after the colonial legacy, and the social residue...
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The Sheltering Sky
Paul Bowles
This book is brave, imaginative, and brutal; and just when you think it's gone far enough, it goes farther. Bowles spent most of his life in North Africa, but his genius is not in his familiarity with the culture; rather, it's in brilliantly recreating...
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Soul
And Other Stories
Andrey Platonov
A Soviet author heavily censored in his time, Platonov writes about work, progress, war and love with incredible earnestness, dreamlike strangeness, and a uniquely animistic sense of the universe. The title story here is unforgettable: at once truly...
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Suttree
Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy's last book set in the South before he moved his focus to the West, this is an emotionally opaque but terribly powerful portrait of a damaged man. This book teaches by a sort of unrelenting immersion; plunging you into a world of vivid squalor...
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The Tanners
Robert Walser
Loosely based on his own life and his large family, The Tanners follows Simon Tanner as he wanders from job to job, in search of a calling. Along his journey of self-definition, we meet his other siblings: the painter brother whose romantic brooding...

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