ILYA KAMINSKY’S FIVE BOOKS

Five books ilya
$96.00 $80.00
As a regular feature here in the McSweeney’s Store, we’ve been asking our various friends, family, staff, and contributors to send us lists of their five favorite McSweeney’s books. We’re compiling these lists and bringing you brand new bundles. This week, we have Pulitzer-nominated, long-time friend of McSweeney’s, and editor of In The Shape of a Human Body I Am Visiting the Earth, Ilya Kaminsky. Ilya has unmatched taste in poetry and beyond, and we’ve asked him to point out his favorite titles here below. Buy them together in one limited-time bundle here, or order your favorites individually.

    Ilya’s Five Books

1) Mr. Gwyn by Alessandro Barricco

Alessandro Barricco is a hypnotic writer. You can open any of his novels and be sure that you will find a) a page-turner, b) beautiful, explosive syntax, c) wild imagination d) tenderness. Give it a try. Baricco is a modern master. -IK

2) City of Rivers by Zubair Ahmed

The great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish one told us that clarity is the deepest mystery. It is the case here. Ahmed has a wonderful range of emotions, but is able to show each with coolness that is quite appealing. A beautiful book that is as precise and clear as it is mysterious. -IK

3) The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler

Hopler is a virtuoso. There is not a single poet in my generation who is as close to Wallace Stevens in his mastery of syntax, in his ability to marry music and tonal surprise. The natural world and urban landscapes in these poems enter the lyric, changing it. -IK

4) Strangest of Theaters: Poets Writing Across Borders by Jared Hawkley, Susan Rich, and Brian Turner

If you ever wanted to write but needed a distance, this is a book for you. If you ever bought a suitcase with a plan to use it, this is a book for you. Especially. What I love about this book is that it combines the essays that inspire one to write with practical advice (what to do, when to do it, what to bring, how to get funding for your travels). It is a guidebook like no other. -IK

5) One Hundred and Forty Five Stories In a Small Box by Deb Olin Unferth, Sarah Manguso, and Dave Eggers

Strange and beautiful, funny and frightening, surprising and tender, the short pieces in this triptych provide us with three very different views–or perhaps I should say “rooms”–where imagination opens and readers find new lovely, unexpected, perspectives on how we live our lives. Many years ago, the Russian scholar Shklyovsky, had invented the literary term, “ostranenie,” or “defimiliarization,” that shows us our lives from an unfamiliar point of view and thereby enhances the perception. The pieces herein do just that. What a lovely gift. -IK

ALSO BY ALESSANDRO BARICCO

ALSO BY ZUBAIR AHMED

ALSO BY EDITED BY JARED HAWKLEY, SUSAN RICH, AND BRIAN TURNER