The newest novel from Ottessa Moshfegh is a change of pace from her usual style of immediate, biting provocation. With Death in Her Hands, she crafts an unnerving murder mystery that unfolds solely within the mind of her narrator...or does it? This is a heavily internalized work of psychological suspense in the vein of another great New England writer, Shirley Jackson. Moshfegh has a delicate handle on the perspective of her prickly narrator, and slowly envelops the reader in an interior world of delusions both grand and small. This is by no means a traditional mystery, but a suspenseful and genuinely chilling character study.
This book by the late anthropologist David Graeber explores the staggering phenomenon of "bullshit jobs," a term he coined originally in a 2013 essay. Over a third of people are estimated via self-reporting to have jobs so pointless that even the employee cannot justify their existence (though they are asked to do so as a term of their employment). In accessible fashion, Graeber illuminates why bullshit jobs have proliferated, examines the psychological toll on those stuck in them, and explores the social implications of their existence. What separates this book from mere theory is Graeber's profoundly empathetic lens. He's able to make a resounding case for separating human value and financial dependence from work, and presents a much more exciting alternative.
Don't let the sheer bulk of this six-volume autobiographical novel keep you from enjoying one of the best voices in fiction today. The first book is a rewarding, accessible, and largely self-contained work that's easy to devour. Knausgaard creates an internal world that feels truly expansive in its beauty, pain, and humor. He has an extraordinary eye for the quotidian details of life that so often get glazed over in fiction. This skill, combined with a carefully digressive narrative style, allows him to create an epic from the personal.