Back again for the rest of the books slated to be published here in the UK for the rest of spring 2017! If you missed yesterday’s post for the Jan-Feb 2017 releases, you can make your way over by clicking here.
Exit West by Hamish Hamilton (2 March, Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Random House)
“In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia share a cup of coffee, and he makes her smile. A few days later they go for dinner, and over time they share many more meals. They try not to notice the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the public executions. Eventually the problem is too big to ignore: it’s not safe for Nadia to live alone, she must move in with Saeed’s family, even though they are not married and that too is a problem. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. One day soon, when the streets are no longer usable, the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to seek out one such door, joining the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world.”
Does it take a love story for people to be able to relate to the troubles, the pains, and the heartaches of those living in war-torn lands? To be able to empathise with those who are forced to separate from families, friends, and loved ones, to flee to a strange country, possibly by any means necessary, in order to live? I don’t know if this book will do just that, but that synopsis is powerful enough for me to want to read this book when it comes out.
The Accusation by Bandi, translated by Deborah Smith (2 March, Serpent’s Tail/Profile Books)
“In 1989, a North Korean dissident writer began to write a series of stories about life under the country’s totalitarian regime. Smuggled out for global publication in 2017, they provide a unique window on this most secretive of countries. Bandi’s stories tell of ordinary men and women facing the terrible absurdity of daily life in North Korea: the factory supervisor caught between loyalty to an old friend and loyalty to the Party; the staunch Party man whose actor son reveals to him the absurd theatre of their reality; the mother raising her child in a world where the all-pervasive propaganda is the very stuff of childhood nightmare. The Accusation is a reminder that humanity can sustain hope even in the most desperate of circumstances – and that the courage of free thought has a power far beyond those who seek to suppress it.”
Tell me you are not even a little bit curious what this book contains after that blurb. I dare you. I am so excited for March; Serpent’s Tail is going to kill it this month. (No, I do not work for Serpent’s Tail, I am a fan of books).
All The Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan (2 March, Serpent’s Tail/Profile Books)
“A chance encounter in New York brings two strangers together: Liat is an idealistic translator, Hilmi a talented young painter. Together they explore the city, share jokes and homemade meals, and fall in love. There is only one problem: Liat is from Israel, Hilmi from Palestine, and outside reality can only be kept at bay for so long. After a tempestuous visit from Hilmi’s brother, cracks begin to form in the relationship, and their points of difference – Liat’s military service, Hilmi’s hopes for Palestine’s future – threaten to overwhelm them. When they return separately to their divided countries, Liat and Hilmi must decide whether to keep going, or let go. A prizewinning bestseller, banned in Israeli schools for its depiction of a taboo relationship, this is the deeply affecting story of two people trying to bridge one of the most deeply riven borders in the world.”
WHY YES IT’S ANOTHER LOVE STORY ON MY LIST. Bite me, I love love stories (Jane Austen fan here, hello). But does this one not sound as captivating as the first one on this list? The publisher called this ‘Romeo and Juliet for our divided modern world’, and who does not love a Romeo-and-Juliet story? Aside from that, I’m personally curious to also see what it could show/teach me about the conflict in that region.
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (28 March, Tinder Press/Headline)
“When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime. Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell [..]”
The Borden murders were famous in the US but not in the UK, and this novel is an interesting and very descriptive take of imagined events leading to and after the crime. Reading it felt like being a fly on the wall during those times, and it was equal parts gripping and slightly disturbing.
Swimmer Among The Stars by Kanishk Tharoor (6 April, Picador/Pan Macmillan)
“An interview with the last speaker of a language. A chronicle of the final seven days of a town that is about to be razed to the ground by an invading army. The lonely voyage of an elephant from Kerala to a princess’s palace in Morocco. A fabled cook who flavours his food with precious stones. A coterie of international diplomats trapped in near-earth orbit. These, and the other stories in this collection, reveal an extraordinary young storyteller, whose tales emerge from a tradition that includes the creators of the Arabian Nights, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Angela Carter and other ancient and modern masters of the fable.”
I’ve only read one short story book recently (and by that, I mean early part of 2016) and didn’t quite enjoy it. I have Ken Liu’s Paper Menagerie on my stack as my second attempt to love short stories, and I’m hoping stories with a fantastical slant might be my cup of tea. This book looks like it’s been overwhelmingly reviewed as positive on Goodreads, so I can’t wait to check it out.
Skullsworn by Brian Staveley (20 April, Tor/Pan Macmillan)
“Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. She is not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing: Pyrre has spent her life training to kill where necessary. The problem is love. To pass the trial, a skullsworn must offer their partner to Ananshael – but Pyrre has never been in love, and time is short. Pyrre throws herself into the other aspects of her trial – until she’s arrested by the brilliant, enigmatic Commander Ruc Lan Lac. He might be Pyrre’s last chance at love, so she must stay close – even as he investigates the murders she’s committing. It’s a dangerous dance, trying to fall for a man while worshipping a god he loathes. If she succeeds, she must betray her only love. And if she fails, a violent deathawaits them both . . .”
A standalone fantasy novel? I am SHOCKED. But I am also stupendously glad, because everything seems to have to be a series now, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. It’s like those television programmes, where the story is really just fit a limited number of episodes, but because it’s such a hit, they stretch it out and drag it on and on, until everything is ruined. I’m hoping this one turns out good. It also has a female protagonist! Hurrah!
Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic (4 May, One/Pushkin Press)
“At twenty-three, Alice Hare leaves England for New York. She becomes fixated on Mizuko Himura, a Japanese writer living in New York, whose life story has strange parallels to her own and whom she believes is her “internet twin.” What seems to Mizuko like a chance encounter with Alice is anything but—after all, in the age of connectivity, nothing is coincidence. Their subsequent relationship is doomed from the outset, exposing a tangle of lies and sexual encounters as three families across the globe collide, and the most ancient of questions — where do we come from — is answered just by searching online. In its heady evocation of everything from Haruki Murakami to Patricia Highsmith to Edith Wharton, Sympathy is utterly original — a thrilling tale of obsession, doubling, blood ties, and our tormented efforts to connect in the digital age.”
In a time where we meet, connect, and make friends and even lovers online, this sounds like a book a lot of people would probably find somewhat familiar, and therefore interesting. That blurb is making me tingle with anticipation. I’ll definitely have to get this even if I’ve somehow scheduled myself a book ban in May!
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney (1 June, Faber & Faber)
“Sally Rooney’s brilliant, seductive first novel is about Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa, four lively characters who ask each other endless questions. They discuss relationships. They talk, of course, about art and literature, sex and
friendship, politics and feminism. Frances, a twenty-one-year- old, and a poet, is at the heart of it all, bringing us this
tale of a ménage à quatre, which includes her affair with Nick, an older married man. Frances overflows with life and intelligence and wants to understand how to live her life and to love. You can read Conversations with Friends as a rom-com or you can read it as a feminist text. You can read it as a book about the difficulties of intimacy. It’s also about how our minds think about our bodies. The conversations sound like life as it is lived today.”
This is sounding mildly intriguing to me, in that summer read kind of way, but sometimes, I wonder whether I’ve just become old that I find it hard to relate — or remember — how it was like being a teen or young adult. I have friends in their mid-20s that I have no problems getting along with, but then in stories, I find the younger generation quite insufferable at times. I’m hoping it won’t be the latter for this book.
Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett (15 June, Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion)
“Cass Wheeler – a British singer-songwriter, hugely successful since the early 70s, whose sudden disappearance from the music world three decades later has been the subject of intense speculation among her fans – is in the studio that adjoins her home, taking a journey back into her past. Her task is to choose sixteen songs from among the hundreds she has written since her early teens, for a uniquely personal Greatest Hits record, describing the arc of her life through song. It has been over a decade since Cass last put out an album; ten years since the loss of her daughter catapulted her into a breakdown. In the course of this one day – both ordinary and extraordinary – each song Cass plays sets off a chain of memories, leading us deep into her past, and into the creative impulse that has underpinned her work.”
I adored Laura Barnett’s debut effort The Versions of Us, so I’ve been waiting for this novel ever since I heard news she was working on it! Sixteen tracks make up the story of Cass’ life, and if you didn’t know — the author worked with a singer/songwriter to bring the songs to life! There will be an accompanying album along with the book, and I can’t wait to see how W&N campaigns for this book.
And that’s it! The publishers have moved some books around their schedule since putting out their catalogues, so anything I’ve missed I honestly wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Let’s have a chat!
Any books that you’re thinking of adding to your list? How about any suggestions for me?
Don’t forget to check out my previous post for my anticipated releases in January & February 2017!