BY NICO VREELAND

[This feature is a brief monthly summary of interesting books coming out this month. Click the pictures or the title links to find these books at Powell’s.]

It’s a scrappy month for Book Radar: several of the books I was watching for were pushed back to January. In any case, here’s hoping one of these tickles your fancy. If you’re anticipating a book I missed, let me know in the comments.


420 Characters, by Lou Beach (out 12/6)

These stories started as a Facebook project in which Beach wrote a story per day as a status update. Normally, that conceit would be enough for me to write off the entire thing. But since Machine Man, one of my favorite books this year, started as a blog experiment, I’m giving this one a shot. (It doesn’t hurt that everybody from Jonathan Lethem to George Saunders have given the thing raving blurbs.) The short-shorts come accompanied by Beach’s illustrations (and illustrating seems to be his first love), and you can find samples of them, and audio files of several being read by no less than Jeff Bridges and Ian McShane, at the book’s website.


The Artist of Disappearance, by Anita Desai (out 12/6)

Multiple Booker prize shortlistee Anita Desai turns in three novellas about the art world. The Guardian calls it her best work in years, and also calls her “India’s best living writer.” Worth taking notice.


Stone of Kings: In Search of the Lost Jade of the Maya, by Gerard Helferich (out 12/6)

When modern archaeologists first excavated Maya cities, they discovered a trove of stunning jade artwork, but they couldn’t find the source of the stone. Helferich’s account of the 300-year search for Maya jade claims to be a rollicking jungle adventure tale. I like those.


Angel Makers, by Jessica Gregson (out 12/6)

This creepy debut novel, based on a true story, follows an ostracized medicine woman who lives outside a remote village in early 20th century Hungary. When the men of the village return after World War I, the women decide their lives are better without them, and start killing them off. Sounds like a decent option for the right kind of reader.

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