July’s collection of stories is all about the wacky, the disturbing, and the plainly bizarre stories.
From disturbing but artistic horrors to a quirky contemporary novel, the eerie universes in which these surreal tales take place will entice you with their mysteries and keep you hooked with nightmarish imagery that is sure to bother you for quite a while. But beware, you may end up with more questions than answers.
I’m thinking of ending things, Iain Reid
Have you ever had that insignificant feeling that something is quite wrong? Iain Reid’s debut novel epitomizes that sentiment – no wonder it’s an international bestseller, leading up to the original Netflix film. With spooky farms and a long night’s drive through a snowstorm, this intensely unnerving story is the stuff of nightmares.
Jake and his girlfriend visit his parents at their farm in the remote countryside. Things start to get strangely disturbing when they happen; her parents are welcoming but there is just something wrong with the whole experience.
What follows is a chilling examination of the human psyche as the novel turns into utter madness with startling twists you’ll never see coming. Pro tip: Pick up the audiobook as you browse this novel for a more spooky experience.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is available on Book Depository.
Fever dream, Samantha Schweblin
We have all had a feverish dream or two in our lifetime – intensely vivid nightmares leave one particularly unstable even after the fog of the dream has lifted.
Translated from Spanish to English for the first time, Samantha Schweblin’s hypnotic novel takes inspiration from Argentina’s toxic agrochemical consumption, using surrealism to shed light on a current global problem.
This strangely fascinating novel details a conversation between Amanda, a dying woman, and a young boy named David. While she is feverish in a hospital bed, David sits at her bedside, whispering in her ear that worms are seeping into her body.
Amanda responds with her own stories, recounting her last days of vacation with her young daughter in a small country town. Their dialogue reflects a plunging disconnection from reality, parallel to the never-ending disturbing tension that grows with each turn of the page.
Fever Dream is available on Book Depository.
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Grocery Woman, Sayaka Murata
How to become “normal”? This is the question that has plagued 36-year-old Keiko Furukura her entire life. In this quirky and surprisingly heartwarming tale, Sayaka Murata tackles the heavy topic of conforming to social norms, digging deep into the ostracism of people who don’t necessarily exactly fit the mold of what is considered normal.
Keiko never adapted. Since birth, she was sidelined by friends and family because she was just like no other – until she started working at the Hirromachi branch of Smile Mart. Finding comfort and normality in the routine of the store, she follows the store manual to the end, from expected manners to how to dress.
After 18 years as a happy employee of a convenience store, however, people around her are starting to pressure her to quit her current job and find a husband. Both morbid and comedic, Keiko’s unusual story will resonate with you in unexpected ways.
Convenience Store Woman is available on Book Depository.
What we lost in the fire, Mariana Enríquez
Argentina is the playground for this macabre collection of short stories. In 12 Tales, Mariana Enríquez explores Argentina’s underside of inequality, violence and corruption while giving thanks to grotesque imagery and manic narratives that emerge from such an unstable premise.
Spanning genres ranging from magical realism to traditional horror, each story presents a multitude of painfully human characters set against the relentlessly gruesome backdrop of a ravaged Argentina.
In one tale, we follow a group of three young friends determined to distract themselves with drugs and pain in the midst of a government-imposed blackout. In another, a group of women set themselves on fire in protest against domestic violence.
Things We Lost in the Fire is available on Book Depository.
Uzumaki, Junji Ito
If you’re thinking of delving into horror manga, Uzumaki is the place to start. The hazy little coastal town of Kurouzu-cho is cursed. Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn and dark boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, reveals that the city is haunted by the uzumaki, the hypnotic spiral.
Showcase of Junji Ito’s signature art style – body horror – it is filled with madness, mutants and murder, the bodies of the people of Kurouzu-cho are increasingly mutilated by the spiraling curse as it goes. as the plot progresses.
Each chapter is more deranged than the last – school children turn into snails, a man so obsessed with spirals he becomes one, and a particularly grotesque tale about umbilical cords being set up in a maternity hospital. You’ll never look at a spiral the same way again.
Uzumaki is available on Book Depository.
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This article first appeared in Nomads of the city.