Cover Trend Alert: Laying the Paint on Thick

As we celebrate the arts this month here at Booklist, I noticed a painterly trend in recent book covers. Certainly, abstract art on book covers is nothing new, and going down the aisles of the newest face-out fiction in your local library can be like visiting a modern art gallery. Conveying the graphic realism of a novel may be a priority for some publishers, while for others, the impasto brushstrokes themselves project the drama and/or turmoil within. Progressing from barely figurative to just-the-paint, we present this exhibit of painted-on fiction.

Ordinary People, by Diana Evans

A painted study of an amorphous head. The paint even looks smeared into the canvas, much like each character in Evans’ novel about two couples coping with midlife and discovering themselves.


Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff

The painting is a little more abstract here, but you can still make out there is a storm-swelled ocean enveloping the title. This cover of Groff’s long look at a marriage states boldly that there are no safe seas in this drama.


A Separation, by Katie Kitamura

We’ve veered into hostile territory now. Not only are the brushstrokes not conveying any physical presence, but the color is violently fire-like. Those familiar with Kitamura’s story of a missing philandering husband will recognize the scorched earth implied in the paint.


The Italian Teacher, by Tom Rachman

Focusing solely on the paint seems to take priority for a story about the erratic relationship between an eccentric world-renowned painter and his son. The hot and cold way in which father and son relate to each other is reflected in the heavy blues and oranges struggling at either side of the novel’s cover.


Euphoria, by Lily King

What looks like stripped-away layers of paint appropriately conveys the tattered state of a marriage amid an anthropological excursion into New Guinea between two world wars.



About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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