Books we’re looking forward to in the second half of 2015 (Part four by Valerie O’Riordan)

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A Wild Swan by Michael Cunningham: A new story collection from the guy that brought us The Hours and Specimen Days: even if he’s not fictionalising the literary greats this time, we’re pretty psyched about this.

Beetlebone by Kevin Barry: One of the best and most startling story writers alive today, his debut novel, City of Bohane was violent and insane and beautiful, and there is no way – no way, we insist, that this second one will be anything short of genius.

The Past by Tessa Hadley: Family tensions, dodgy seductions, Tessa Hadley? We’re sold. Hadley’s fiction is fantastically evocative and bitingly observational: a new work is always worth waiting for.

Cockfosters by Helen Simpson: Simpson’s Hey Yeah Right Get A Life is one of our all time favourite short story collections: nobody rips the bandage of parenthood and family life like she does, and we’re primed to see her do it again in Cockfosters, now a book as well of one of London’s most dementedly excellent place-names.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jameson: A non-fiction title that’s just hit the UK shores after a season of being lauded over in the USA: we’re keen to see what the fuss is about. Plus, it’s all to do with pain and injury and suffering – colour us intrigued, if not outright masochistic.

Severed by Frances Larson: Okay, this came out last year, but the paperback’s new, and we’ve been waiting for it: a history of decapitated human heads! Not for the squeamish, but I bet your teenage kids will love it.

An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It by Jessie Greengrass: Overly self-conscious title aside, we’re keen to check out this debut collection, which spans hundreds of years – and which also is one of the first titles from John Murray’s new ‘JM Originals’ imprint. Bring it on, we say.

Soil by Jamie Kornegay: A weird noir psychological thriller about a farmer whose life goes to hell and who starts to think he’s being framed for murder sounds like just the ticket to see us into the winter. Um.

The Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen: Not the Biblican version, but a novel about a terminally ill billionaire who hires a novelist to ghostwrite his memoir. Again, we skipped the hardback but the paperback is here now and we’re digging it out: we’ll either love it or hate it…

Music for Wartime: Stories by Rebecca Makkai: A very diverse-sounding collection, but a book that includes a piece about a reality TV show host messing with the minds of the show’s contestants has got to be a good one, right? Makkai is beloved of the likes of Tin House, which bodes well, too.

You can check out Parts One, Two and Three of our Books we’re looking forward to in the second half of 2015 or look forward to the fifth and final part tomorrow, which includes the likes of Natasha Pulley, Darran Anderson, Ben Johncock, Ros Barber and Lauren Holmes among others. Enjoy, as ever!


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