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The 2017 Culture Trip Literary Gift Guide
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The 2017 Culture Trip Literary Gift Guide

Picture of Michael Barron
Books and Digest Editor
Updated: 13 November 2017
When considering gifts for the holiday season, it never hurts to look for a book.

Bookstores, like any other retailer, make their highest sales during the December holidays. But finding the perfect book can become exhausting — fifteen minutes can turn into an hour, even two, as you page through countless first chapters in search of the right literature to fill a stocking, or place under a tree. While it is easy to gravitate toward best-sellers, lesser-known, but more higher-quality work might offer a more enjoyable read. To help whittle down your choices, we’ve curated a selection by genre of some of books recently reviewed by our editors and contributors.

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Cover of US edition courtesy of New Directions

NOVEL
Go, Went, Gone
by Jenny Erpenbeck
translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky
320pp | $16.95 | £14.99
“Jenny Erpenbeck newest translated novel Go, West, Gone, provides a haunting portrayal of the experiences of impoverished African refugees in Germany, the bureaucracy that impedes their slightest advancement, and the challenges for ordinary Germans to empathize with their plight.” —Rosie Clarke
READ THE FULL REVIEW

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Cover of UK edition courtesy of Tinder Press

SHORT STORIES
What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky
by Lesley Nneka Arimah
240 pp | $26.00 | £14.99
“It’s clear that these stories are bound to one another, like a chorus of misfit storytellers gathered to illustrate the speed bumps of life that await us on the slow drive to self-actualization.” —Maranatha Bivens
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Cover of UK edition courtesy of Parthian Books

NARRATIVE NON-FICTION
Women Who Blow on Knots
by Ece Temelkuran
translated from the Turkish by Alexander Dawe
450 pp.| $13.95 | £9.99
“An epic adventures of four women road tripping from Tunisia to Lebanon during the height of the Arab Spring. Or, as it was described during one of Temelkuran’s talks in London a few months ago: a Thelma & Louise road trip for the modern Middle East.” —Simon Leser
READ THE FULL REVIEW

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Cover courtesy of New York Review Books

MEMOIR
Slow Days, Fast Company
The World, the Flesh, and L.A.

by Eve Babitz
184 pp. | $15.95
“Mid-70s L.A. is Babitz’s muse, but it’s a relationship she finds herself defending from critics who were quick to embrace Joan Didion, but unwilling to seriously consider the lively chronicles of a sunlight chasing Hollywood native, who had a Marilyn Monroe-like ability to infuse extroverted ditz with closeted intellectualism.”
READ THE FULL REVIEW

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Cover courtesy of Ugly Duckling Presse

POETRY
The Happy End / All Welcome
by Mónica De La Torre
128 pp | $17.00 | £14.00
“A collection of poems that highlights how easy it is to cut-and-paste our professional lives and puts a playful and perspicacious spin on that unromantic human condition: the daily grind.”—Michael Barron
READ THE FULL REVIEW

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Cover courtesy of Verso Press

ESSAYS
Modernism in the Streets
by Marshall Berman
edited by David Marcus & Shellie Sclan
400 pp | $29.95 | £20.00
“For Berman, there is a continuity between every quintessentially modernist expression, be it the Zuccotti Park encampment, Grandmaster Flash, or the brazen cruelty of Robert Moses’ public works projects. Through poetic prose, he shapes modern social realities.” —Tyler Curtis
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Cover courtesy of Saqi Books


HUMOR
Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic
by various authors / edited by Lynn Gaspard
192pp. | $18.95 | £12.99
“An unpretentious, funny, and even pretty little book, taking an often satirical aim at the nastiest of Trump’s early policies—the so-called Muslim Ban—and the culture that has allowed it to fester.” —Simon Leser
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Cover courtesy of Yale University Press

BIOGRAPHY
A Difficult Death
by Morten Høi Jensen
272 pp | $30.00 | £25.00
“A perspicacious study of a undersung writer written by a promising new talent, one who shows us how one writer informed by both Nietzschean philosophy and Darwinism was able to distill these two modes of thought into something formidably novelistic.” —Michael Barron
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Cover of UK edition courtesy of Penguin

GRAPHIC NOVEL
Other Russias
written and illustrated by Victoria Lomasko
translated by Thomas Campbell
320 pp | $20.00 | £16.99
“Inverting the trend in contemporary arts that pitches artists as elite intelligentsia, Lomasko digs into the Russian tradition of complaint, wherein personal narratives of discontent are a kind of national pastime, to emerge with a wide appealing work of social art and literature.” —Cassandra Hartblay
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