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Announcing the Finalists for the 2019 Big Other Readers’ Choice Award!


Several months ago, I asked a host of stellar writers to send me a list of their favorite books published in 2019. Once the eye-bleeding collation and tabulation of the books was finished, over two hundred books emerged. What follows is unlike any book list I’ve seen, that is, it’s refreshingly diverse in terms of form, genre, etc.; and it’s skewed significantly toward small presses, which is understandable, since they do most of the heavy lifting in publishing anyway. A short list of finalists of books receiving the most votes is followed by a list of the rest of books, both in author alphabetical order. The winner of the 2019 Big Other Readers’ Choice award will be announced May 16, 2020 at the inaugural Big Other Book Awards Ceremony.

All the books are linked to their respective pages at Bookshop. I also set up a Big Other Shop there, where you can find the list in its entirety.

Big thanks to the following writers (many of whom are Big Other contributors) for their lists:

Gary Amdahl, Kate Angus, Louis Armand, Rae Armantrout, Sarah Blackman, Jeff Bursey, Tobias Carroll, Gillian Cummings, Samuel R. Delany, Rikki Ducornet, Brian Evenson, Renée E. D’Aoust, Forrest Gander, Johannes Göransson, Jefferson Hansen, Alissa Hattman, Christopher Higgs, Noy Holland, Tim Horvath, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Laura Ellen Joyce, Babak Lakghomi, Karen An-hwei Lee, Robert Lopez, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Peter Markus, David Naimon, Joe Pan, Aimee Parkison, Tommy Pico, D. A. Powell, Elizabeth Powell, Natanya Ann Pulley, Martin Riker, Lisa Russ Spaar, Shya Scanlon, Rosamond S. King, Peter Selgin, Eleni Sikelianos, Gary Sloboda, Terese Svoboda, Kailey Tedesco, Tony Trigilio, J. A. Tyler, Keith Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop, Rick Whitaker, Curtis White, Angela Woodward, and Micah Zevin.

Stayed tuned for announcements of the longlists for the 2019 Big Other Book Awards in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry! In the meantime, here’s the list of finalists for the 2019 Big Other Readers’ Choice Award:

Etel Adnan’s Time
Jane Alison’s Meander, Spiral, Explode
Anne Boyer’s The Undying
Jericho Brown’s The Tradition
Ted Chiang’s Exhalation
Jayy Dodd’s The Black Condition ft. Narcissus
Timothy Donnelly’s The Problem of the Many
Lindsey Drager’s The Archive of Alternate Endings
Lucy Ellman’s Ducks, Newburyport
Elaine Equi’s The Intangibles
Sarah Rose Etter’s The Book of X
Brian Evenson’s Song for the Unraveling of the World
Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s Sabrina & Corina
Madeline ffitch’s Stay and Fight
Evelyn Hampton’s Famous Children and Famished Adults
Rob Hart’s The Warehouse
Jac Jemc’s False Bingo
Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic
László Krasznahorkai’s Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, translated by Ottilie Mulzet
John Langan’s Sefira and Other Betrayals
Karen An-hwei Lee’s The Maze of Transparencies
Hillary Leftwich’s Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock
Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School
Yiyun Li’s Where Reasons End
Gary Lutz’s The Collected Gary Lutz
Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House
Lucie McKnight Hardy’s Water Shall Refuse Them
T. Kira Madden’s Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
Morgan Parker’s Magical Negro
Kimberly King Parsons’s Black Light
T. F. Powys’s Unclay
Raquel Salas Rivera’s While They Sleep (Under The Bed Is Another Country)
Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9-Fog
Prageeta Sharma’s The Grief Sequence
Brandon Shimoda’s The Grave on the Wall
Jake Skeets’s Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers
Arthur Sze’s Sight Lines
Leila Taylor’s Darkly: Black History and America’s Gothic Soul
Brian Teare’s Doomstead Days
Miriam Toews’s Women Talking
Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
D. Harlan Wilson’s The Psychotic Dr. Schreber


Honorable Mentions:

8 Broadsides
Alejandro Albarrán Polanco’s Cowboy and Other Poems, translated by Rachel Galvin
Will Alexander’s A Cannibal Explains Himself to Himself
Katherine Angel’s Daddy Issues
Takako Arai’s Factory Girls
Assmann’s The Martian LSD Experiments
Jamie Attenberg’s All This Could Be Yours
Mona Awad’s Bunny
Diannely Antigua’s Ugly Music
Jacob M. Appel’s Who Says You’re Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned
Tash Aw’s We, the Survivors
Nathan Ballingrud’s Wounds
Zsófia Bán’s Night School: A Reader for Grownups
Laird Barron’s Black Mountain
Kevin Barry’s Night Boat to Tangier
Mark Baumer’s Meow
Amanda Berenguer’s Materia Prima
Jonathan Blum’s The Unusual Uncertainties
Sean Bonney’s Our Death
Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House
Ayse Papatya Bucak’s The Trojan War Museum
Gabriel Bump’s Everywhere You Don’t Belong
Sue Burton’s Box
Miguel Angel Bustos’s Vision of the Children of Evil, translated by Lucina Schell
Pete Buttigieg’s The Shortest Way Home
James Byrne’s The Caprices
Sean Carroll’s Something Deeply Hidden
Bill Carty’s Huge Cloudy
Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay
Mary Jean Chan’s Flèche
Gabrielle Civil’s Experiments in Joy
Grégoire Courtois’s The Laws of the Skies
Kim Chinquee’s Wetsuit
Ryan Chapman’s Riots I Have Known
Heather Christle’s The Crying Book
Maure Coise’s Cultural Object Ontologies
Tim Conley’s Collapsible
Mike Corrao’s Gut Text
Michael Earl Craig’s Woods and Clouds Interchangeable
Cynthia Cruz’s Disquieting: Essays on Silence
Kathryn Davis’s The Silk Road
Lydia Davis’s Essays One
Oliver de la Paz’s The Boy in the Labyrinth
Jeffrey DeShell’s Masses and Motets: A Francesca Fruscella Mystery
John Domini’s The Color Inside a Melon
Noam Dorr’s Love Drones
Mark Doten’s Trump Sky Alpha
Joseph DeRoche’s Ceremonial Entries, edited by Martha Collins and Kevin Gallagher
Brian Dillon’s In the Dark Room
Norman Dubie’s Robert Schumann is Mad Again
Marguerite Duras’ Me & Other Writing
Chris Eaton’s Symphony No. 3
Will Eaves’s Murmur
Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s Room in Rome, translated by David Shook
Percival Everett’s Telephone
Robert Fanning’s Severance
What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, edited by Michele Filgate
Maria Gainza’s Optic Nerve
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Stony the Road
Miciah Bay Gault’s Goodnight Stranger
Greg Gerke’s Especially the Bad Things
Carmen Giménez Smith’s Be Recorder
Myla Goldberg’s Feast Your Eyes
Pam Grossman’s Waking the Witch
Sinead Gleeson’s Constellations
Jan-Henry Gray’s Documents
JP Gritton’s Wyoming
Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad, translated by Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler
Agustin Guambo’s Andean Nuclear Spring, translated by Carlos Moreno
Carol Guess and Aimee Parkison’s Girl Zoo
Mark Haber’s Reinhardt’s Garden
Sarah Hall’s Sudden Traveler
Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women and Queer Radicals
Lyn Hejinian’s Tribunal
Julian Herbert’s The House of the Pain of Others
Hilda Hilst’s Of Death. Minimal Odes
Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s Sir
Ada Hoffman’s The Outside
Jackie Shannon Hollis’s This Particular Happiness
Fanny Howe’s Love and I
Christine Hume’s A Different Shade for Each Person Reading the Story
David Huddle’s Hazel
Kim Hyesoon’s A Drink of Red Mirror
MC Hyland’s The End
Rachel Ingalls’s Binstead’s Safari
Doyali Islam’s Heft
Mitchell S. Jackson’s Survival Math
Mira Jacob’s Good Talk
Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Jessie Janeshek’s Madcap
Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s The Exhibition of Persephone Q
Pam Jones’s Ivy Day
Shane Jones’s Vincent and Alice and Alice
Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist
Margarita Khemlin’s Klotsvog
Paul Kingsworth’s Savage Gods
M Kitchell’s Experimental Men
Caroline Knox’s Hear Trains
Rebecca Kokitus’s Seasonal Affected
Aaron Kunin’s Love Three
Ilyse Kusnetz’s Angel Bones
R. A. Lafferty’s The Best of R. A. Lafferty
Mario Levrero’s Empty Words, translated by Annie McDermott
Norman Lock’s Feast Day of the Cannibals
Andrea Long Chu’s Females
Sophie Lewis’s Full Surrogacy Now
Timothy Liu’s Let It Ride
Trisha Low’s Socialist Realism
Deborah Levy’s The Man Who Saw Everything
David Lehman’s One Hundred Autobiographies
John L’Heureux’s The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast: New & Selected Stories
Carrie Lori’s The Blood Barn
Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive
Lynn Lurie’s Museum of Stones
Anthony McCann’s Shadowlands
Jill McDonough’s Here All Night
Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Thick
Robert MacFarlane’s Underland
Nathaniel Mackey’s Blue Fasa
Grant Maierhofer’s Peripatet
Richard Makin’s Concussion Protocols
C.P. Mangel’s A Wounded Deer Leaps Highest
Rodrigo Márquez Tizano’s Jakarta
Manuel Marrero’s Not Yet
Jennifer Martelli’s My Tarantella
Joseph Massey’s A New Silence
Beth Mayer’s We Will Tell You Otherwise
Imbolo Mbue’s How Beautiful We Were
Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King
Jane Mead’s To the Wren: Collected and New Poems
Jan Mieszkowski’s Crises of the Sentence
Mary Miller’s Biloxi
Roy Morris, Jr.’s Gertrude Stein Has Arrived: The Homecoming of a Literary Legend
Tyler Mills’s Hawk Parable
S. J. Morden’s No Way
Sarah Moss’s Ghost Wall
Gerald Murnane’s A Season on Earth
Malcolm Murray’s The Philosopher: One-Act Plays
João Gilberto Noll’s Lord
James Nulick’s Haunted Girlfriend
Jenny O’Dell’s How to Do Nothing
Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police
Pola Oloixarac’s Dark Constellations, translated by Roy Kesey
Dexter Palmer’s Mary Toft
Bob Perelman’s Jack and Jill in Troy
Imani Perry’s Breathe
Sarah Pinsker’s Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea
Meg Pokrass’s The Dog Seated Next to Me
Max Porter’s Lanny
Sara Quin and Tegan Quin’s High School
Michelle Reale’s Season of Subtraction
Ariana Reines’s A Sand Book
Paisley Rekdal’s Nightingale
Mary Ruefle’s Dunce
Mercè Rodoreda’s Garden by the Sea
Reina María Rodríguez’s The Winter Garden Photograph, translated by Kristin Dykstra and Nancy Madsen
Lee Ann Roripaugh’s Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50
Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s Human Matter
Jordan A. Rothacker’s Gristle
Jerome Rothenberg’s The President of Desolation
Joshua Rothes’s The Art of the Great Dictators
Lee Rourke’s Glitch
Claire Rudy Foster’s Shine of the Ever
Adam Ehrlich Sachs’s The Organs of Sense
Joe Sacksteder’s Make/Shift
Lila Savage’s Say Say Say
Sam Savage’s An Orphanage of Dreams
Zachary Schomburg’s Pulver Maar
Susan M. Schultz’s I Want to Write an Honest Sentence
Rion Amilcar Scott’s The World Doesn’t Require You
Chet’la Sebree’s Mistress
Maureen Seaton’s Sweet World
Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift
Sophia Shalmiyev’s Mother Winter
Leanne Shapton’s Guestbook
Brenda Shaughnessy’s The Octopus Museum
Aaron Smith’s The Book of Daniel
Ed Smith’s Punk Rock Is Cool for the End of the World: Poems and Notebooks of Ed Smith, edited by David Trinidad
Sarah Elaine Smith’s Marilou is Everywhere
Zadie Smith’s Grand Union
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Red Wheel: March 1917: Node III: Book 2
Gregory Spatz’s What Could Be Saved
Caitlin Starling’s The Luminous Dead
Susan Steinberg’s Machine
Simon Strantzas’s Nothing Is Everything
Stephanie Strickland’s How the Universe Is Made
Sara Stridsberg’s Valerie: or, The Faculty of Dreams
Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s Bangkok Wakes to Rain
Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women
Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
John Trefry’s Apparitions of the Living
Tony Trigilio’s Ghosts of the Upper Floor
Jeannie Vanasco’s Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl
Jeff Vandermeer’s Dead Astronauts
Divya Victor’s Curb
Isabel Waidner’s We Are Made of Diamond Stuff
Eric Walker’s Selected Poems
Esmé Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias
Lindsey Warren’s Unfinished Child
Andrew Weatherhead’s $50,000
David-Wallace Wells’s After the Warming, the Uninhabitable Earth
Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys
Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here
Leia Penina Wilson’s Splinters Are Children of Wood
Charles Wright’s Oblivion Banjo
Candice Wuehle’s Bound
Christine Wunnicke’s The Fox and Dr. Shimamura, translated by Philip Boehm
Karolina Zapal’s Notes for Mid-Birth
Matthew Zapruder’s Father’s Day
Olga Zilberbourg’s Like Water and Other Stories
Nell Zink’s Doxology
Magdalena Zurawski’s The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom


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