I’ve suddenly got a new stack of books by my bed. A few were kindly passed on by one of my magazine editors, and the rest are for review.

The first is Kissing in Manhattan, published by Dial Press—a collection of linked stories by David Schickler. The first story, “Checkers and Donna,” is both repellent and seductive; I had to read on even though I didn’t really care about either Checkers or Donna, and was puzzled by Schickler’s terse sentences.

Then there’s the much acclaimed new book by Claire Messud, The Emperor’s Children, published by Knopf, (read Kakutani’s review) which I am more than excited to explore. And, The Dissident, a novel by Nell Freudenberger out from Ecco (they published Joyce Carol Oates’ recent novel Black Girl, White Girlclick here to read my review in the SFCBR). It seems to be about secrets and American life viewed by a Chinese dissident who ends up in Los Angeles, but that’s just going by the jacket copy.

I just finished Iran-born Paris-based playwright, artist and author Yasmina Reza’s new short novel Adam Haberberg, out this month from Knopf. My review of the US translation by Geoffrey Strachan will run in the Miami Herald in a few weeks.

Coming out in March are three books that seem interesting, and reflect my usual position as a ‘multi-cultural’ critic: Certainty, a debut novel by Canadian writer Madeleine Thein (Little, Brown) about a brother and sister enduring the Japanese occupation of Malaysia; Grotesque, a literary thriller about murdered prostitutes by Japanese author Natsuo Kirino, and A Far Country, about a girl growing up on a sugarcane plantation, by Daniel Mason, the latter two published by Knopf.

But really, I am dying to read David Mitchell’s latest, Black Swan Green, (read Ali Smith’s review in the Sunday Telegraph). When it arrives at my door some time soon it will take top billing, despite deadlines. His previous novel, Cloud Atlas (read AS Byatt’s review in the Guardian), was so astonishing and amazing, so multi-layered and immaculate, I’m almost frightened to see what he’s done now.

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