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Ugly GirlsLindsay Hunter

The top ten American writers you need to read this year

We select our favourite writers on the rise stateside from Buzzfeed's LBGT editor to alt lit darling Ana Carrete

It's State of Literature week within our all-things-USA celebration of creativity so it was only right to give you the lowdown on ten of the best writers on the rise. Ignore the haters; from a cooperative publishing house/residency in Maine to, obviously, Brooklyn, US literature is thriving right now, and these are the people making it.


Compiling top ten lists is a delicate process, like baking an obscure ancestral pastry or cunnilingus. If a single person or entity appears on many top ten lists of approximately similar themes, the writer attempting a new (sort of) one faces a dilemma: make a glaring omission, or include someone obvious? In this case, a glaring omission is not an option. Virginia-based Seidlinger’s work as novelist, publisher-in-chief of the indie press Civil Coping Mechanisms, book reviews editor at Electric Literature, and general champion of indie lit has been described as “tireless” by some and “insane” by others(/himself). His new novel, The Fun We’ve Had, is an existential meditation on the past and future set on a coffin helmed by lovers floating on a symbolically endless sea.


The editors at Shabby Doll House, an online journal Shaw founded in 2012, are not only generous yet discerning publishers; they’re also very active writers in the New York indie publishing scene themselves. Shaw’s fiction and poetry (direct, unabashed) have shown up at Thought Catalog, Illuminati Girl Gang, and The Quietus, and Alexander’s poetry (fluid, fast-paced) has been featured on Everyday Genius, Hobart, and Pop Serial.


Hodson’s chapbook, Pity the Animal, is a 30-page essay that answers the question “How much can a body endure?” with “Almost everything,” tracing an understanding of submission as it explores advertising, personal anecdotes, animals, Marina Abramović, and sugar daddy websites. Hodson’s blog, Inventory, is a popular catalog-in-progress of everything she owns, with daily photo entries accompanied by evocative quotations, snippets of prose-poetry, and ephemera.


A fixture on alt lit scenes proto- and rapidly developing, Carrete edits the beloved web journal New Wave Vomit, which re-launched this year to cheers from indie writers and readers around the Internet. The prolific Mexican-born poet now calls California home, and she just released a chapbook, WHY FI, that will form part of a full-length collection.


Lacey’s debut novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing, out from FSG earlier this month, doesn’t let you off easy; its protagonist’s increasing unhingedness as she abandons her life—husband, job, etc—in New York for a tenuous invitation in New Zealand is not the stuff of self-discovery travel narrative, “I went, I reflected, I came home with a t-shirt.” Instead, Lacey, as in her essays and short fiction, remains devoted to hard truths of ambivalence and ambiguity while maintaining a voice that is clear, perceptive, and thoughtful. Read an extract from Nobody Is Ever Missing over at Adult here.


Born in Tehran and raised in California, Khakpour has contributed essays and journalism to publications both “mainstream” and independent, but it’s her dark, funny, piercing novels, Sons and Other Flammable Objects (2007) and this year’s The Last Illusion, which draws on a mix of contemporary history, Iranian myth, and psychology, that make her work feel so new and important. 


Last August, Gillig declared on her Facebook page that she had “won poetry.” Though the Internet oozes with similar brags that lamely come up short, her Frank O’Hara/Drake mash-up (“Ode to the Best I Ever Had”) was perfect, and it spawned an entire album of classic-readings-plus-pop-songs that bth emphasize the depth of pop culture and highlight the musicality of poetry. Her work as a poet goes alongside her work as an activist, publisher, archivist, and editor, and she’s a current resident at the boost house cooperative in Maine.


BuzzFeed’s LGBT editor has a debut full-length poetry collection, Prelude to Bruise, out from the esteemed Coffee House Press in September. His work is imaginative and lyrical while maintaining a self-proclaimed ferocity, as if there could really be any other kind, that challenges conventions of masculinity and race in a deeply emotional way. 


Following last year’s edgy collection of short stories on violence, anger, and significant “barf,” Don’t Kiss Me, Hobart editor Lindsay Hunter will publish her debut novel this November. Ugly Girls promises the straight-in-the-eye focus on uncomfortable topics we’ve come to expect from Hunter, plus danger and intrigue!


Bushnell’s Twitter profile reads “Fuck novelists,” and his new poetry collection OHSO is so intense that it could probably persuade you to espouse the same. Lacking any punctuation and encompassing what feels like the entirety of existence in a single block of text, the poems in OHSO are both feverish and meticulous, feeling both stream-of-consciousness and painstakingly considered. The mischievous, face-painted figure who emerged on the scene in 2007 is back.