In this installment of A Bookseller Recommends, Jennie highlights surreal, absurd, and altogether bizarre novels from a global cast of authors. These titles are sure to bring a bit of otherworldliness to your bookshelves.
In an average Midwestern town, deer are attacking people. Retirees are training to hunt the animals down. Adults are choosing to abandon society and live in the woods. A local taxidermist finds a strange woman living in his closet. And much of this may be happening due to a mysterious hallucinogen. Strange and surreal and thought-provoking.
In a small vacation town in France with odd traditions and even odder townsfolk, Herman's wife and son have disappeared. And no one seems to be willing to help him. Will Herman ever be able to find them, or even be able to leave? One of the most absurd and utterly disconcerting novels I've read in a long time, I highly recommend for anyone interested in haunting reads.
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Content warning: Sexual assault, self-harm, suicide
Rotting dead infants, vicious dogs, family curses, bizarre fetishes, cults, mental illness, and missing children fill the pages of this macabre short story collection that brilliantly combines horror with socially conscious themes. Mariana Enriquez is, hands-down, one of my new favorite short story authors.
In a small town in twentieth century Cuba, interwoven narratives explore ideas of poverty, hopes and dreams, humanity, violence, joy, religion, and magic, all with a darkly comic tone.
This is the story of a girl who doesn't fit into the society around her and begins to believe she's an alien from another planet. While it covers topics such as loneliness, community, and family, this book challenges MANY societal taboos and is, more often than not, downright disturbing. Dark, weird, perverse, shocking, and unforgettable--this novel is an original and compelling treat for any reader who is ready and willing to experience it.
Reading like a fairy tale mixed with elements of folklore, fantasy, and mystery, Flyaway tells the tale of Bettina, a young woman living in Queensland, searching for her missing brothers and father. With beautiful and spare prose, this short tale by a debut Australian author is not one to miss.
In a slum in Argentina, a young woman is able to see visions of murdered and missing people by eating dirt. After striking up a relationship with a police officer, people start coming to her in search of their missing loved ones. An interesting addition to the crime genre, this story is also a dark and emotionally intense look at the horrors of femicide and female violence.
A fascinating narration of Jesus's final days, Nothomb has created a one-of-a-kind novel once again. In this darkly humorous tale, we see Jesus struggling to come to terms with his humanity and his deity as he prepares to be crucified. Amelie Nothomb is one of my favorite authors and, if you can speak French, I highly recommend reading some of her novels in the original language (Hygiène de l'assassin/ Hygiene and the Assassin, Les Catilinaires/The Stranger Next Door, Stupeur et tremblements/Fear and Trembling).
If you still have not read Oyinkan Braithwaite's 2018 debut novel, now is the time. This is the tale of two Nigerian sisters, Korede and Ayoola and the secret that binds them--Ayoola tends to murder her boyfriends...and Korede helps her clean up and hide the bodies. But how far will Korede be willing to go for her sister? Darkly humorous, witty, and downright fun, you don't want to miss this one.
An utterly bizarre (in the best way possible) short story collection, Herbert brings together all sorts of oddball characters struggling to live normal lives in contemporary Mexico. We meet a man who finds music in his teeth, ghosts, a community where everyone is slowly turning into a cannibal, and a drug lord who happens to look like Quentin Tarantino and kidnaps a film critic to discuss his films. One of the most inventive story collections I've read in a while.
A funny and moving coming-of-age story by the author of Breasts and Eggs, a young boy becomes obsessed with a woman working at the supermarket who always wears bright blue eyeshadow. Quirky, weird, and utterly delightful, this short novella is absolutely worth a read.
I practically have no words. This graphic novel by Australian author/illustrator Matt Coyle is beyond disturbing. A group of creepy dolls leave their home after their humans are murdered and go on a jaunt around town. Extremely detailed and realistic drawings make this tale particularly haunting. A short graphic novel to read and reread if you never want to sleep again.