12 Books to Read This February – Chicago Review of Books


The winter drags on, but that’s fine with us: The cold gives us an excuse to stay in and read, read, read! February brings a bevy of incredible novels, poetry collections, and works of non-fiction that we can’t wait to crack open by a crackling fire (or, more likely, a heated radiator–that’s city living for you!). Here are some of the books we’re looking forward to most this month.

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau
By Michael Zapata
Hanover Square Press

“In 1929 in New Orleans, a Dominican immigrant named Adana Moreau writes a science fiction novel. The novel earns rave reviews, and Adana begins a sequel. Then she falls gravely ill. Just before she dies, she destroys the only copy of the manuscript. Decades later in Chicago, Saul Drower is cleaning out his dead grandfather’s home when he discovers a mysterious manuscript written by none other than Adana Moreau. With the help of his friend Javier, Saul tracks down an address for Adana’s son in New Orleans, but as Hurricane Katrina strikes they must head to the storm-ravaged city for answers.”

The Boatman’s Daughter
By Andy Davidson

“Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm. But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda’s peculiar and precarious life.” 

My Part of Her
By Javad Djavahery; Translated by Emma Ramadan
Restless Books

“In exiled Iranian author Javad Djavahery’s captivating English debut, a youthful betrayal during a summer on the Caspian sea has far-reaching consequences for a group of friends as their lives are irrevocably altered by the Revolution.”

trans(re)lating house one
By Poupeh Missaghi
Coffee House Press

“In the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 election, a woman undertakes a search for the statues disappearing from Tehran’s public spaces. A chance meeting alters her trajectory, and the space between fiction and reality narrows. As she circles the city’s points of connection—teahouses, buses, galleries, hookah bars—her many questions are distilled into one: How do we translate loss into language?”

The Galleons: Poems
By Rick Barot
Milkweed Editions

“For almost twenty years, Rick Barot has been writing some of the most stunningly crafted lyric poems in America, paying careful, Rilkean attention to the layered world that surrounds us. In The Galleons, he widens his scope, contextualizing the immigrant journey of his Filipino-American family in the larger history and aftermath of colonialism.”

b, Book, and Me
By Kim Sagwa; Translated by Sunhee Jeong
Two Lines Press

“Best friends b and Rang are all each other have. Their parents are absent, their teachers avert their eyes when they walk by. Everyone else in town acts like they live in Seoul even though it’s painfully obvious they don’t. When Rang begins to be bullied horribly by the boys in baseball hats, b fends them off. But one day Rang unintentionally tells the whole class about b’s dying sister and how her family is poor, and each of them finds herself desperately alone. The only place they can reclaim themselves, and perhaps each other, is beyond the part of town where lunatics live―the End.”

By Nino Cipri

“Nino Cipri’s Finna is a rambunctious, touching story that blends all the horrors the multiverse has to offer with the everyday awfulness of low-wage work. It explores queer relationships and queer feelings, capitalism and accountability, labor and love, all with a bouncing sense of humor and a commitment to the strange.”

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington
By Alexis Coe

“With irresistible style and warm humor, You Never Forget Your First combines rigorous research and lively storytelling that will have readers–including those who thought presidential biographies were just for dads–inhaling every page.”

Collected Poems: 1946-2016
By Harry Mathews
Sandpaper Press

“Harry Mathews (1930–2017) was among the most inventive and unorthodox writers of his generation. His novels earned comparisons to Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon and bear the mark of one who learned “never to settle for results that are merely reassuring.” But Mathews was a poet first, and he prized poetry for its transformational and redemptive power. Collected Poems: 1946-2016 gathers seven prior collections, together with poems never before published in book form.” 

The Golden Key
By Marian Womack
Titan Books

“London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms. Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.”

The Town
By Shaun Prescott

“This is Australia, an unnamed, dead-end town in the heart of the outback—a desolate place of gas stations, fast-food franchises, and labyrinthine streets: flat and nearly abandoned. When a young writer arrives to research just such depressing middles-of-nowhere as they are choked into oblivion, he finds something more sinister than economic depression: the ghost towns of Australia appear to be literally disappearing. An epidemic of mysterious holes is threatening his new home’s very existence, and this discovery plunges the researcher into an abyss of weirdness from which he may never escape.”

The Ruins
By Mat Osman
Repeater Books

“London, 2010: Icelandic volcanoes have the city in gridlock, banks topple like dominoes and Brandon Kussgarten has been shot dead by gunmen in Donald Duck masks. His death draws his twin brother — shy, bookish Adam — into Brandon’s underworld of deceit and desire. A miniature kingdom sprouts in a Notting Hill tower-block, LA mansions burn in week-long parties, and in a Baroque hotel suite a record is being made that could redeem its maker even as it destroys him. As Adam begins to fall for his brother’s shattered family he finds that to win them for himself he’ll have to lose everything that he holds dear.”


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