It’s been a rough year, 2016. So at the beginning of this last full month before the official onset of the apocalypse, we’re grateful at least that everything’s coming up normal. As in Normal, by Warren Ellis. Which is, perhaps, appropriate—Ellis is after all the man now being credited for having predicted Trump, etc, twenty years ago in Transmetropolitan.
But Normal is actually a book of right now. And while we can’t promise that the future now looks incredibly rosy for us humans (and others), there are few bright spots for us to point out: The book made the Indie Next List for December (it’s “1984 meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” says Randy Schiller of Left Bank Books in St Louis—see, rosy!) and one of Amazon’s Best Books of December (“a mind-blowing morsel of paranoia…or prescience” according to Amazon’s Adrian Liang)—and, in fact, one of Amazon’s Top 100 Best Books of the Year!
But for all you internet nerds actually visiting our website, the brightest spot of all is the news that the one and only John Hodgman agreed to lend his dulcet tones to the audiobook edition of Normal.
In 2016, one of FSG Originals’ most ambitious and rewarding challenges was the publication of all four volumes of Lian Hearn’s Tale of Shikanoko across the course of the year. With the publication of Tengu’s Game of Go, the set is now complete. And—just to toot our own horn for a moment, excuse us—it is glorious to behold, utterly gorgeous and deeply satisfying, inside and out.
Mike Roberts is the author of Cannibals in Love, a novel published by FSG Originals in September. Mike spoke with Will Chancellor, the author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, at BookCourt in Brooklyn about the sense of paranoia and youth that drives the post-9/11 novel. Conversation then ranged from the import of physical movement in fiction to the underappreciated pitfalls of allegorical novels about cattle.
Sometimes the book is not enough. Through no fault of the author’s own. In fact, in this case, it’s a sign of just how good the book is. Jace Clayton’s Uproot is a guided tour of the global(ized) world of 21st-century music and digital culture. As he introduces us to the Moroccan Berber musicians who pioneered the outer limits of Auto-Tune and Mexican teens revolutionizing EDM by pushing cheap software past its “natural” uses, to Japanese noise artists and Indigenous Australian rappers (and to so, so many more), you can’t help but needing to hear it—even if you’ve already intuited that the good stuff’s not going to be on Spotify or iTunes. But Jace is on the case—with some enterprising use of Soundcloud and assiduous scouring out Youtube, he has been pulling together a deeply satisfying online Listening Guide to Uproot, fully of plenty of listening and even more to read. Join the adventure at uprootbook.com.
If that’s still not enough - if what you want to hear is not just the deep cuts from such an audacious listener’s library but what’s energizing him right now, he’s got you covered there, too, with a brand new mixtape known as the BOOK NRG MIX, just premiered by the The Fader. “Writing is such a strange activity. You sit at your desk for weeks, months on end,” he wrote them in an email. “After all that I needed to dance around and make a summer mix.” Give it a listen here.
If all this makes you just want a taste of the book (what, you haven’t read it yet?), Pitchfork has an excerpt up to help you out. That, perhaps along with a dose of Jace’s conversation with Kimberly Drew (aka @museummammy) from the book launch at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, should do the trick.
Maryse Meijer is the author of Heartbreaker, out today from FSG Originals. In an inversion of the prototypical author interview, here she asks her twin sister, Danielle Meijer, about fantasy, escapism, and finding the perfect reader. Welcome to the Twinterview.
Clay Byars is the author of Will & I, out today from FSG Originals. Here he talks with Drew Broussard about twinship as collaboration, his reluctance to sugarcoat, and what it’s like to be irrevocably changed by an event.