The story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante: The fourth and final novel in the ‘My brilliant friend’ series, which follows the friendship of two girls from Naples through childhood into old age. The other three in the series have acquired a solid fanbase and by all accounts this one is just as good.
Submission by Michel Houellebecq: The original publication of this latest from the wild child of French literature suffered from spectacularly unfortunate timing, which coincided with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, catapulted the book to international notoriety and forced the author to go into hiding. Is it worth the controversy? Finally the anglophone world gets the opportunity to decide for itself.
A Strangeness in my Mind by Orhan Pamuk: Pamuk can be a bit heavy going, but without a doubt he offers a highly sophisticated commentary on Turkish society and politics. So we’re intrigued read this one and find out what goes on inside the head of an Istanbul street vendor.
Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett: There’s a lot more to Nigerian the fiction scene than Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and this satire about a Lagosian who wakes up on the morning of a job interview to discover he has turned into a white man promises to be a hilarious and thought-provoking addition.
The Lost Landscape by Joyce Carol Oates: Over a fifty year career Joyce Carol Oates has published novels, short stories, plays, poetry and essays. It’s about time she wrote a memoir. The Lost Landscape promises to reflect on her early years growing up on a farm in America and how this shaped her writing.
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin: It’s already been made into a film, now the 1922 novel is being rereleased by Vintage. Elizabeth Von Armin holds the claim to fame of being Katherine Mansfield’s cousin, and was a member of the literary jet set and hugely popular in her own time. Apparently she has a perceptive eye for human interactions, so this novel about four very different women on a post-WW1 respite in a medieval Italian castle should be worth a read.
The Hotel Years by Joseph Roth: Another flashback to inter-war Europe, this time by a prominent Austrian political journalist, who spent the 1920s and 30s wandering around small (mostly Eastern) European towns and writing about it. According to the blurb they paint a picture of ‘a continent racked by change yet clinging to tradition’. Plus ça change.
Arcadia by Iain Pears: An innovative bid by an established writer to bring interactive storytelling to the mainstream. A ‘multi-layered story of history and time’ which you read in a purpose built mobile app which lets you choose the order in which you read different passages, thus revealing different relationships between characters and casting different lights on the story. Phew. Welcome to the future.
Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin: Eugene (Or Evgeny) Vodolazkin is a scholar of old Russian literature, and the original version of his novel set in fifteenth century Russia has won two big prizes over there.
The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud: The fact that the Arab is the only character in L’Etranger without a name has (according to the French reviews) rankled for years, and inspired this riposte from Algerian journalist and writer Kamel Daoud, who has reimagined the story from the point of view of the murdered man’s brother. It won the Goncourt first novel prize and promises thrills, irony and dark humour. Expect a review on Bookmunch very soon!
Check out Part One here. Look out for Part Three of 50 books tomorrow, including newbies from Paul Murray, China Mieville, Garth Risk Hallberg, Una and Kate Beaton, among others…