Gayle’s Spring Picks 2023
Selected by Gayle Lazda
There are two books I’m recommending to everyone this Spring. The first is Catherine Lacey’s Biography of X, a novel refreshingly unlike almost all the new fiction I’ve read in recent years: a fake biography of an avant-garde artist, written by her grieving widow, and at the same time, an alternate history of twentieth century America – one in which the South seceeded from the North in 1945 and became a totalitarian theocratic state. It’s incredibly ambitious and clever and strange, but it’s all those things while also being great fun to read.
Jeremy Cooper’s third novel, coming in May from Fitzcarraldo, is a very different beast, but one I am nonetheless fanatical about. Brian is a quiet novel about a man who leads a small, narrow existence, until he starts going to the BFI to watch films. It's about how art can expand our lives and open us up to friendship and community, as well as being a love letter to cinema, the BFI and London – all things extremely close to my heart.
Also on my radar: Amy Key on building a life without romantic love; Isabella Hammad’s follow-up to The Parisian, Enter Ghost; K Patrick’s extremely hot debut Mrs S; Fernanda Melchor’s first non-fiction collection to be published in English, This Is Not Miami; Sven Holm’s strange and terrifying post-apocalytic dystopia Termush; Caleb Azumah Nelson’s second novel Small Worlds; Ian Penman on Fassbinder; Elizabeth Bingham on church kneelers; and Alice Slater’s Death of a Bookseller, which is both a cracking thriller, and the most accurate literary depiction of bookselling I’ve ever read.
Recommended by Gayle
‘I can’t tell you how tenderly I – a person who spends much of their time going to the BFI alone – feel about Jeremy Cooper’s Brian, a novel about a man who spends all his time going to the BFI alone. A love letter to the BFI and to London! To small, quiet lives made expansive by access to film and art! To friendship and community!’
From the publisher:
The one thing that can solve Stephen's problems is dancing. Dancing at Church, with his parents and brother, the shimmer of Black hands raised in praise; he might have lost his faith, but he does believe in rhythm. Dancing with his friends,…