Jenn Ashworth’s third novel concerns a family of Lancastrian Mormons who we meet on the day they welcome back errant son Gary from a two year mission in Utah. ‘As the day progresses,’ the inside cover copy informs me, ‘a meltdown looms. Except that nothing goes according to anyone’s plan and the outcome is as unexpected as it is shocking.’ Our reviewer is one the case with this as we speak. Expect a Bookmunch review early January!
Another review we’ll be running in early January, Nicholas Royle’s latest is a tricksy metatextual affair apparently. ‘Either First Novel is a darkly funny examination of the relative attractions of creative writing courses and suburban dogging sites, or it’s a twisted campus novel and possible murder mystery that’s not afraid to blend fact with fiction in its exploration of the nature of identity.’ Our reviewer really liked it. We think you probably will too…
Notes for my Biographer by Philip Roth
Strange one, this – it’s certainly down as being a book on Amazon. Whether it is in fact a memoir and what would be, given Roth’s comments this year, his last official book or, actual notes for his recently appointed biographer Blake Butler – we’re not sure. Just as we spent years waiting for Vonnegut’s last novel (now issued, unfinished, as We Are What We Pretend To Be), we may spend a while waiting to see if this is a book or not. As it is, we’re still looking forward to it…
Decemberists’ frontman Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis return with a sequel to his immensely enjoyable children’s book Wildwood. This time around, Prue McKeel is drawn back into Wildwood, where she and Curtis will face their greatest challenge yet: to save themselves and the lives of their friends, and to bring unity to a divided country. But in order to do that, they must go under Wildwood. Fun fun fun!
Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem
Lethem returns to the slightly memoir-y country of Fortress of Solitude for this, described by long-time Lethem editor Bill Thomas as “a “family epic” set in Sunnyside Gardens that will examine “the disillusionment ideology brings,” or, he adds, “to steal from Philip Larkin, they f- you up, your Marx and Lenin.” Can. Not. Wait.
The Still Point author is back with a beguiling sounding novel: ‘On a remote island in Orkney, a curiously-matched couple arrive on their honeymoon. He is an eminent literature professor; she was his pale, enigmatic star pupil. Alone beneath the shifting skies of this untethered landscape, the professor realises how little he knows about his new bride and yet, as the days go by and his mind turns obsessively upon the creature who has so beguiled him, she seems to slip ever further from his yearning grasp. Where does she come from? Why did she ask him to bring her north? What is it that constantly draws her to the sea?’ Me thinks there might be a Selkie lurking behind the scenes of this one…
Secrecy by Rupert Thomson
One of our national treasures, Rupert Thomson, and a writer deserving of a big push from the critical powers that be. Secrecy is a novel following last year’s memoir, The Party’s Got To Stop, is ‘a love story, a murder mystery, a portrait of a famous city in an age of austerity, an exercise in concealment and revelation, but above all it is a trapdoor narrative, one story dropping unexpectedly into another, the ground always slippery, uncertain…’ Rupert Thomson? Florence, 1691? What’s not to like?
Adichi’s latest is a beefy globe trotting affair that kicks off in Nigeria and takes in both the US and London on its way. Coming hard on the heels of the celebrated Half a Yellow Sun, we’re sure this will have the chattering classes chattering (even as we wonder whether we’ll get a review copy, 4th Estate not so great when it comes to sending us things…) If we get a copy, we’ll review.
A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell
Mankell’s new un looks to be another toe in the territory he first examined in Daniel – ie it’s historical, it’s concerned with issues of colonialisation and race. Set in 1904, the novel revolves around a young woman called Hanna Lundmark who set out on a steamer from Sweden to Australia but jumps ship in Africa and winds up inheriting a brothel, somehow or other. We’re hoping it’s not another Shadow Girls…
The Norfolk Mysteries by Ian Sansom
We’ve said it before and we won’t be surprised if we say it again before too long but we love Ian Sansom and all who sail in him. Fresh from his erudite and witty book on Paper, Sansom returns to the vague area of his Mobile Library series for this, a new novel entitled The Norfolk Mysteries. Amazon tells us this much: ‘The first book in The County Guides to Murder Series. The County Guides to Murder are a series of detective novels set in 1930s England. The books are an odyssey through England and its history. In each county, the protagonists — Stephen Sefton, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, and his employer, the People’s Professor, Swanton Morley — solve a murder. The first book is set in Norfolk. The murder is in the vicarage. There are 39 books — and 39 murders — to follow…’ Yikes.