Gabino Iglesias

Making Michael Arceneaux's I Don't Want to Die Poor required reading in high schools across the country would help a lot of young people think twice about the promise that going to college at any cost is the only path to upward social mobility.

Arceneaux, also the author of I Can't Date Jesus, writes in his new book of essays:

"The student loan industry is a barely regulated, predatory system, and with Donald Trump in the White House and those equally useless people in Congress, oversight of the industry is becoming nonexistent."

Fernanda Melchor's Hurricane Season is so strange, wild, and foul-mouthed that I almost missed the sharp critiques embedded in the story. A mix of drugs, sex, mythology, small-town desperation, poverty, and superstition, this novel spreads like a fungus from the dark center of the literary space where crime fiction and horror meet.

When journalist Eduardo Porter moved to Los Angeles in the 90s and started writing about the city, he realized race was everywhere — and that it determined "where you go to school, church, or work; how you dress and talk; whom you marry; how you fare when you run into the cops."

That realization became the seed of his latest book, American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed Our Promise.

James McBride's Deacon King Kong is a feverish love letter to New York City, people, and writing. The prose is relentless and McBride's storytelling skills shine as he drags readers at breakneck speed trough a plethora of lives, times, events, and conversations. The novel is 370 pages, but McBride has packed enough in there for a dozen novellas, and reading them all mashed together is a pleasure.

Andy Davidson probably wrote The Boatman's Daughter sitting at a table at home or at a coffee joint. But it reads as if he pulled it out of the wet earth of the Arkansas bayous with his bare hands on a moonless night while chanting an incantation he learned from a dying witch.

Tola Rotimi Abraham's Black Sunday will destroy you. It won't be an explosion or any other ultraviolent thing. Instead, the novel will inflict a thousand tiny cuts on you, and your soul will slowly pour from them. Well, at least I think that's what Abraham wants to do. I'm sure that's the reason this gem of a novel is packed with so much poetry, pain, abandonment, abuse, heartbreak, and poverty.

Meng Jin's Little Gods is one of the most complex character studies I've ever read. Each of us present a different version of ourselves to different people, and Jin looks at this performance with a clinical eye, showing us what it looks like through the perspectives of different characters. Steeped in trauma, loss, and imperfect love, Little Gods is a novel about performing the self, filtered through academia, abandonment, and migration. This is a smart and emotionally devastating novel.

Lee Goldberg's Lost Hills is not only the first book in what promises to be a superb series — it's also that rare novel in which the formulaic elements of mainstream police procedurals (blood, violence and forensic science) share narrative space with a unique female protagonist. All that, and it's also a love letter to the chaos and diversity of California.

The story of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, which would eventually be known as the Greely Expedition, is important in terms of the areas it helped map, the wealth of scientific observations made, and the fact that the group reached the Farthest North — a record that had belonged to the British for three centuries.

The first thing I learned about shopping after moving to Texas from the Caribbean was this: Go to Goodwill.

Andre Perry's Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now is a raw chunk of life sliced into essays packed with truths, devastating realizations, music, failed coping mechanisms, a constant search for the self, and a lot of booze.

The book is divided into three distinct sections, but they merge into a unified chronicle that follows a young black man standing at the intersection of race, art, masculinity, education, and the desire for growth and new experiences.

Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House is the most innovative memoir I've ever read.

On the surface, Sam Roberts' A History of New York in 27 Buildings: The 400-Year Untold Story of an American Metropolis is a book about the architectural history of New York City.

As How We Fight for Our Lives is Saeed Jones' biography, it is a unique narrative of the events that shaped him.

Turkish novelist Ahmet Altan is one of many writers thrown in prison by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's oppressive regime.

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