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

Anti M
Lisa Samuels
Chax Press

Mircea Cartarescu

Dossier K: A Memoir
Imre Kertész
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

All That Is
James Salter

His Wife Leaves Him
Stephen Dixon
Fantagraphics Books

The Childhood of Jesus
J. M. Coetzee

The Sinistra Zone
Adam Bodor
New Directions

The Guy Davenport Reader
Guy Davenport

The Adjacent
Christopher Priest

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, Paul Braffort
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

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 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.

Gabriella Giandelli
Fantagraphics Books

Barnaby: Volume One HC
Crockett Johnson
Fantagraphics Books

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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