50 Books You Might Want To Read in 2011* (Pt 2)


The Pale King by David Foster Wallace – Quite possibly the most anticipated book of 2011 in many quarters, what we can guarantee is that Foster Wallace’s posthumous, unfinished epic featuring a character called David Foster Wallace working in an office will garner serious column inches and seriously serious reviews.  

Paradoxical Undressing by Kristen Hersh – Having long been a fan of Kristen Herch, the thought of a memoir that touches on the ups and downs of this most unique of singer-songwriters is just what the doctor ordered. The flyleaf says: ‘Paradoxical Undressing chronicles the unraveling of a young woman’s personality, culminating in a suicide attempt; and then her arduous yet inspiring recovery, her unplanned pregnancy at the age of 19, and the birth of her first son. Playful, vivid, and wonderfully warm, this is a visceral and brave memoir by a truly original performer, told in a truly original voice.’ Essential as far as I’m concerned…

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah – Due out in the second half of 2011, The Book of Memory is the debut novel by the author of the award winning Elegy for Easterly collection – so any and all talk of ‘eagerly anticipated’ is to be thoroughly expected. As for what the book is about: ‘Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between the past and the present, Memory weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate and the treachery of memory.’

Ours Are the Streets by Sunjeev Sahota – ‘Imtiaz Raina, born in Sheffield, young father, young husband, son of loving parents, has decided to die. He has convinced himself that he believes in his cause. And before he leaves home for a final time, he wants to be sure his family understand why. So he decides to write for them, to leave his journey behind.’ Sahota’s sure to be incendiary debut promises ‘the story behind the news story’ – which might make it a slightly more street smart Reluctant Fundamentalist

Celluloid by Dave McKean – Neil Gaiman’s buddy Dave McKean is back with a new graphic novel that, if his previous work is anything to go by (Arkham Asylum, Cages, Death: The High Cost of Living etc), will not in any way resemble anything that anyone else is producing at the moment. The Fantagraphics catalogue describes the book as ‘erotica for the mind and the eye’ so maybe we can expect McKean’s own Lost Girls

Monsieur Pain by Roberto Bolano – The Picador/Bolano issues/reissues continue pace with Monsieur Pain, a novel that concerns a hiccupping Peruvian poet, a timid mesmerist, mysterious Italian men, Mme. Curie, tarot cards, an assassination, and nightmares on the crepuscular, rainy streets of Paris… Philip Hensher probably won’t like it but if we enjoy it as much as The Skating Rink we’ll be happy…

The Possessions of Dr Forrest by Richard T Kelly – After blowing us all away a couple of years back with his David Peace-esque political novel, Crusaders, Richard T Kelly is changing his game with The Possessions of Dr Forrest which promises to be a spine-tingling modern Gothic fable that mashes up two of our favourite doctors, Jekyll and Faustus. Am giddy about this one…

Waterline by Ross Raisin – We love love LOVED Ross Raisin’s debut novel, In God’s Country and so Waterline, which introduces us to Mick Little who used to be a shipbuilder in the Glasgow docks but is looking to find a new way to live in an unfamiliar town far from his old life, is not just in the 50 books we’re looking forward to next year – Waterline is top 5, baby.

Untitled novel by Rohinton Mistry – Not due out until September, there’s a veil of secrecy around the new novel by Rohinton Mistry. I’ve not even been able to dig out the title never mind the plot of the book – but ever since his Booker-nominated A Fine Balance we have been huge, huge fans of the Indian Dickens and we’ll be counting the days until we can get our hands on this…

Dickens biography by Claire Tomalin – And speaking of Dickens, Claire Tomalin, that Queen of the Biography, having delivered us terrific bios of the likes of Pepys, Hardy and Dicken’s alleged mistress, she now turns her hand to Dickens himself with what will no doubt be the benchmark by which all future books on Dickens will be judged. Peter Ackroyd won’t be happy…


*When I say ‘you’ I mean ‘me’ and I say ‘me’ in the hope that this will help those of you (you know who you are) who tend to be mortally offended by the imputation that you’d deign to read any books that might either be popular or written by a man.


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