Recommendations from the staff at Seven Stories Press
The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada (trans. by David Boyd)
Hiroko Oyamada's The Factory, newly published in English by New Directions, follows three alternating protagonists who take jobs at a sprawling factory without a clear product - one of the workers collects moss, another shreds paper, and the third proofreads random documents that don't appear to have any purpose. It's the perfect book for fans of Seasonal Associate by Heike Geissler (trans. by Katy Derbyshire), especially those who would have also liked that book to veer into a more absurdist territory.
Also recommended: Peruvian 60s psych band Telegraph Avenue's eponymous album, Telegraph Avenue. Apparently they went to the Bay Area once for a few months and then, upon return to Lima, adopted an entirely San Francisco-themed identity for the band. I appreciate that aesthetic commitment.
Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems by Natalia Toledo (trans. by Clare Sullivan)
Natalia Toledo is a Mexican poet that writes in Zapotec and Spanish. This collection offers another way of being in the world. Time is circular and space is infinite, borders do not demarcate property. Her ontology renders the preservation of endangered cultures and ecologies possible.
salt slow by Julia Armfield
Julia Armfield's stories are surreal and spooky, from a revenge story about a girl and her wolf step-sister to "The Great Awake," which personifies a city's collective insomnia. I couldn't avoid the comparison to Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body And Other Parties (as much as I tried!) but both have themes of both body horror and the horror of being a woman. I read it this past weekend and haven't stopped thinking about it since.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton
This month I recommend ghost stories, specifically The Turn of the Screw, which is the only book that has ever given me nightmares. This is such a strange, disturbing, masterful little book, perfect reading as the days get shorter and darker. I recommend following it up with the dreamy 1961 adaptation The Innocents starring Deborah Kerr. I do not recommend listening to the audiobook when you are housebound with a fever and have not seen another human being for three days. Or, who knows, maybe that is the optimal way to experience it! You do you!
Fleabag, created by Pheobe Waller-Bridge
If you haven't seen Fleabag yet, then immediately cancel all your plans for the next few nights or the coming weekend and binge this brilliant series created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Fleabag is raunchy, she's petty, she's inappropriate and hilarious. She looks directly at the camera—at us—to say the things one thinks but doesn't say out loud. But this is so much more than just the bad girl escapades of a clever woman with a potty mouth and a repressed family delivered with a wink. Fleabag has layers. The story intensifies bit by ingenious bit, the nuances teasing out grief and love and anger that simmer just under the surface. I was pretty well bowled-over by the depth and intelligence of this show.
Big Thief - Two Hands
Big Thief is known for their raw, emotionally heartfelt songs with melodies that serenade at one second and bite at the next. The intricate guitar riffs and drum patterns sit beautifully under Adrienne Lenker's angelic vocals. Their latest release, Two Hands, will make you want to smile and cry at the same time. Listen to this album while taking a long walk through the woods on a brisk winter morning and you'll never be the same.