Hello and happy Tuesday, trolls and Time Lords! Today we’re looking at some cover reveals, directorial news for The Night Circus, a very nerdy musical, exciting new releases, and a review of Tentacle by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas.
This newsletter is sponsored by Disney Publishing Worldwide.
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents a brilliant sci-fi romp with Cuban influence that poses this question: What would you do if you had the power to reach through time and space and retrieve anything you want, including your mother, who is no longer living (in this universe, anyway)?
News from hither and yon:
I definitely forgot that a Dark Phoenix movie was in the works, but here’s a trailer. I have mixed feelings about the newer X-Men movies (as well as the older ones), but I will at the very least be renting this one because I just cannot help myself.
If you would like to speculate a bunch about the Wheel of Time TV adaptation, Tor.com has you covered.
Not technically books, but Jonathan Frakes will be directing some of Patrick Stewart’s new Star Trek series!
Also not technically books but very nerdy, the Buffy musical is coming to vinyl. I do not own a record player, but dang if that artwork isn’t fantastic.
New releases for this week!
Mahimata by Rati Mehrotra (Asiana #2), please note, I am reading this right now and it’s GREAT
Famous Men Who Never Lived by K. Chess
Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston
The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco (The Bone Witch #3), SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE
Please also have some ebook deals:
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly, $2.99
Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale Vol. 1 by Ashley Poston, $1.99
Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu, $1.99
And now for today’s review, of a book that came to me like a fever dream.
Tentacle by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas
Trigger warnings: rape, homophobia, racial and homophobic slurs
As I mentioned, I was in Los Angeles last week, and one of my vacation rituals is to visit bookstores and grab a book that I’ve never heard of or seen anywhere else, usually off the Staff Picks shelf. Skylight Books in Los Feliz had this one on a Translated Fiction display, and both the cover and staff blurb grabbed me. Add to that that Achy Obejas is the one translator I can name at this moment in time, and this became my plane book. I read it cover to cover in one sitting, and it is a knockout.
Acilde Figueroa is a prostitute working the streets of a harsh future Santo Domingo when a trick unexpectedly comes with a job, as housekeeper to an old santera named Esther. All Acilde wants is to earn enough money, by hook or by crook, for the sex-change drug RainbowBrite; the path there ends up involving a cult of the sea anemone, a prison sentence, and dislocation in time.
Acilde is by far my favorite narrator, but is not our only one; we also get the macho cokehead artist Argenis, who has screwed up one opportunity after another and has one last shot: an artist colony funded by a rich couple obsessed with saving the marine life of Sosúa.
Both Argenis and Acilde become unmoored in time, and find themselves living simultaneous lives in different timelines of the Dominican Republic’s past, present, and future. (Think Cloud Atlas but on just so many drugs.) The plot winds around and through itself like a nautilus, and the story winds around and through the lives of its characters, but it always comes back to Indiana’s central theme: the destruction we inflict on our environment, and on ourselves.
A beautiful ode to marine ecology; a call for awareness and action; and a deep dive into the complex, difficult, sometimes unsavory, sometimes transcendent human psyche, Tentacle is both a difficult and noteworthy read. Art, queer politics, faith, magic, colonialism, class, race, time travel, drugs, sex, and identity — it packs a huge punch in its 132 pages. It also won the Grand Prize of the Association of Caribbean Writers, and translator Obejas is both a Pulitzer winner for journalism and winner of two Lambda Literary Awards. So if you’re looking for award-winning fiction, translated fiction, and above all weird speculative fiction, get this novel posthaste.
Bonus and/or TL;DR: My fellow Rioter Amanda also recently read this book, and describes it as “like if China Miéville wrote queer Dominican eco disaster fic,” to which I can only offer a hearty cosign.
And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda, or on Twitter as jennIRL.