Carol Emshwiller

Books of the Year 2013

It was a pretty good year, especially for fiction. I stand no chance of ever catching up on my backlog of books to read, so these are less “Books of the Year” than “Books of My Year,” ones which happened to be published in 2013 (or late 2012). A boom in non-Waggish writing resulted in me not having time to write up some of these books, which I really do regret. I spent a month rereading old Pynchon novels alongside Bleeding Edge, which was blessedly worthwhile, but did not help my productivity. Reading list longa, vita brevis.

The order is fairly random though I have tried to put my favorites toward the top of each section. Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo was probably foreordained to be at the top, while the final appearance of Lem’s Summa Technologiae in English was a major event for me. (See my review here.) As with War and War when I first read it, I don’t have a lot to say about Seiobo right now. Maybe in ten years.

As with last year, I haven’t read the entirety of some of the nonfiction selections: Judith Herrin’s two volumes of essays will take some time, while the Maimonides book had me flagging on several topics that just aren’t my thing.

If anyone’s curious as to why some book or other made the list, feel free to ask in the comments. Thanks again for reading my work here or elsewhere.

(As always, I do not make any money from these links; they’re just the easiest way to get the thumbnails.)



Seiobo There Below (Ndp; 1280)

László Krasznahorkai (New Directions)

Towards the One and Only Metaphor

Miklos Szentkuthy (Contra Mundum Press)


Philip Terry (Reality Street)

The Black Spider (New York Review Books Classics)

Jeremias Gotthelf (NYRB Classics)

Anti M

Lisa Samuels (Chax Press)


Mircea Cartarescu (Archipelago)

The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller: Vol. 2

Carol Emshwiller (NonStop Press)

Dossier K: A Memoir

Imre Kertesz (Melville House)

Mo Said She Was Quirky

James Kelman (Other Press)

When the Time Comes

Josef Winkler (Contra Mundum Press)

The Forbidden Kingdom (Pushkin Collection)

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (Pushkin Collection)


Joseph McElroy (Dzanc Books)

Bleeding Edge

Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press)

Middle C (Vintage International)

William H. Gass (Vintage)

All That Is

James Salter (Knopf)

His Wife Leaves Him

Stephen Dixon (Fantagraphics)

The Childhood of Jesus

J. M. Coetzee (Viking)

The Sinistra Zone

Adam Bodor (New Directions)

The Guy Davenport Reader

Guy Davenport (Counterpoint)

The Adjacent

Christopher Priest (Gollancz)

The Book of Monelle

Marcel Schwob (Wakefield Press)

Georges Perec and the Oulipo: Winter Journeys (Atlas Anti-Classics)

Georges Perec, Michèle Audin, Marcel Bénabou, Jacques Bens (Atlas Press)

A Hero of Our Time (Oxford World’s Classics)

Mikhail Lermontov, Nicolas Pasternak Slater, Andrew Kahn (Oxford University Press)



Summa Technologiae (Electronic Mediations)

Stanislaw Lem (Univ Of Minnesota Press)

Nagarjuna’s Middle Way: Mulamadhyamakakarika (Classics of Indian Buddhism)

Mark Siderits, Shoryu Katsura (Wisdom Publications)

Being, Humanity, and Understanding

G. E. R. Lloyd (Oxford University Press)

Savage Energies: Lessons of Myth and Ritual in Ancient Greece

Walter Burkert (University Of Chicago Press)

Properties as Processes

Johanna Seibt (Ridgeview Publishing Digital)

Oral Tradition and the Internet: Pathways of the Mind

John Miles Foley (University of Illinois Press)

Foundations of Modern International Thought

David Armitage (Cambridge University Press)

Baroque Science

Ofer Gal, Raz Chen-Morris (University Of Chicago Press)

Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield

Jeremy Scahill (Nation Books)

The Matter and Form of Maimonides’ Guide

Josef Stern (Harvard University Press)

Consciousness and the Social Brain

Michael S. A. Graziano (Oxford University Press)

Trade and Romance

Michael Murrin (University Of Chicago Press)

Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium

Judith Herrin (Princeton University Press)

Margins and Metropolis: Authority across the Byzantine Empire

Judith Herrin (Princeton University Press)

Complexity and the Arrow of Time

(Cambridge University Press)

The Engine of Complexity: Evolution as Computation

John E. Mayfield (Columbia University Press)

How Did Poetry Survive?: The Making of Modern American Verse

John Timberman Newcomb (University of Illinois Press)

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea

Mark Blyth (Oxford University Press)

The Essential Hirschman

Albert O. Hirschman (Princeton University Press)

Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman

Jeremy Adelman (Princeton University Press)

Quantum Computing since Democritus

Scott Aaronson (Cambridge University Press)



Incidents in the Night: Volume 1

David B. (Uncivilized Books)

Black Paths

David B. (SelfMadeHero)


Gabriella Giandelli (Fantagraphics)

Barnaby (Vol. 1) (Barnaby)

Crockett Johnson (Fantagraphics)

7 thoughts on “Books of the Year 2013

  1. I see several titles on Albert Hirschman. I tend to pay attention more to what political or sociological books you selected! I’m definitely checking out those Hirschman titles.

    I wonder if a supposed book of his, “Senile Lines by Dr. Awkward,” has ever been widely published.

  2. I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on Philip Kitcher’s book on Death in Venice. What did you like about it? Did it avoid the usual pitfalls of analytic philosophers writing on literature?

    • It’s not a work of aesthetic analytic philosophy, to be sure. There’s no modal analysis of fictional statements or anything like that. It’s closer to the philosophical-literary criticism of J.P. Stern, Erich Heller, and Clayton Koelb, looking at Mann through the influences of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. It’s very well-researched, concise, and says some new things. I plan to post on it in the near future.

  3. Hey David,

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a few years now. I’m always learning about new writers from your posts, this one being no exception. I had only heard of a few of the writers your list here, and I hope I can acquaint myself with some of them in the near future.

    I didn’t read much new stuff this year (I feel like I’m always catching up on older writers, for better or worse), although I did enjoy two books of poetry: pH Neutral History by Lidija Dimkovska and Tranfer Fat by Aase Berg. Not sure if you’re a fan of postmodern/contemporary poetry, but these books both have a an odd, spastic magic to them and are well worth checking out.

    Anyway, thanks for all of your posts. I really enjoy them!

  4. David,

    How does the Dirty Wars book compare to the documentary? I’ve already seen the documentary. Is it worth reading the book?


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