Forthcoming and recent releases
(p) paperback (l) hardback/large paperback depending on availability
Each month, we provide our Hotlist of titles. Some are entirely new, others are moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after a long time out of print. All are due for publication on various dates that month, or early in the next one. The Hotlist helps local readers to plan and budget for book ordering. Here are some recent lists.
The Catalan author and screenwriter Carlos Ruiz Zafón exploded onto the global literary world in 2001 with the publication of La Sombra Del Viento, which would later be translated into the English version, The Shadow Of The Wind. That enthralling gothic mystery set in Barcelona was followed by The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner Of Heaven, two novels building on the plot lines and characters of the first book.
Now comes the translation of El Laberinto De Los Espiritus (2016), The Labyrinth Of The Spirits (l), the fourth and final work featuring byzantine conspiracies in the saga of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, the memorable Barcelona book repository.
The Labyrinth Of The Spirits is the lengthiest novel of the four. It solves all the remaining mysteries in the previous three books, but may also be read as a standalone work as the author fills in enough of the previous plots. It leads off this month’s Hotlist of titles, some entirely new, others moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after years out of print. All are due for publication on dates in September, with availability in print this month or in early October. The Hotlist helps readers to plan and budget for book ordering.
Transcription (l) by Kate Atkinson picks up in 1940 as Juliet Armstrong, 18, is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage in an obscure department of the UK secret service monitoring British fascist sympathizers. When World War II ends, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, and now a producer at the British Broadcasting Corporation, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. There is a different war now, and a different battleground, but she finds herself once more under threat. A reckoning is due, and she finally realises that there is no action without consequence.
Paris Echo (l) is the latest novel from Sebastian Faulks, the author of Birdsong. At its core lies a question; does an understanding of history and a deep cultural awareness help people to live better and more useful lives? Set in 2006, the plot follows Hannah 31, an American post-doctoral researcher looking into the lives of women during the German occupation of Paris in 1940–44; and Tariq, 19, who has run away from Morocco, searching for sex and adventure. Through their culture clash, Faulks takes us back into the hidden Paris of ‘the Dark Years’, the Algerian war, and the simmering discontents of the city’s suburbs.
In Henki Kawamura’s novel, If Cats Disappeared From The World (p), the narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat, Cabbage, for
company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing disappear, he can have one extra day of life. Thus begins a very bizarre week. How do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil, the narrator will take himself, and his beloved cat, to the brink.
Other general fiction works worth a look include: Love Is Blind (l), by William Boyd; Three Things About Elsie (p), by Joanna Cannon; The Rules Of Magic (p), by Alice Hoffmann; French Exit (l), by Patrick de Witt; The Rules Of Seeing (l), by Joe Heap; Ghost Wall (l), by Sarah Moss; The Oblique Place (p), by Caterina Soderbaum; and, Wish You Were Here (p), by Graham Swift.
Standouts among the crime fiction and thrillers include: The Tattoo Thief (p), by Alison Belsham; The Rhythm Section (p), a Mark Burnell novel that is soon to be a major movie starring Jude Law and Blake Lively; Fox (l), by Frederick Forsyth; Denial (p), by Peter James; Hallowdene (p), by George Mann; Dead Men Whistling (p), by Graham Masterton; The Clockmaker’s Daughter (l), by Kate Morton; Macbeth (p), by Jo Nesbø; I Invited Her In (p), by Adele Parks; Leverage In Death (l), by JD Robb; and, The Piranhas (l), by Roberto Saviano.
Four new cookery books command attention this month. In Etxebarri (l), John Sarabia delivers the first and highly anticipated book on the Asador Etxebarri restaurant in Atxondo in Spain’s Vizcaya province, which is considered one of the best grills in the world. Employing the oldest culinary technique in the world, fire, chef Bittor Arginzoniz grills food using utensils designed by himself, uses specific woods, and searches obsessively for the best product, revolutionising the way people roast meat, fish or vegetables. He cooks everything over a grill, even pudding, so everything has a unique taste to it. In words and stunning photography, this book describes the chef, his kitchen and his recipes.
Marti Buckley’s cookbook, Basque Country (l), unlocks the mysteries of the País Vasco’s culinary world by bringing together its intensely ingredient-driven recipes with stories of regional customs and the Basque kitchen, and vivid photographs of both food and place. It is not about exotic ingredients or flashy techniques. It is about starting with the right fish or cut of meat or peak-of-ripeness tomato, and then bringing forth its depth of flavour. It is the marriage of simplicity and refinement, and the joy of cooking.
Catalan Food (l), by Daniel Olivella and Caroline Wright, serves historical narratives alongside 80 carefully curated food recipes that are simple and fresh. These traditional dishes and inventive takes on classics are intended to be cooked leisurely and with heart.
The Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini burst upon the literary world in 2003 with The Kite Runner, a lyrical, bittersweet novel set largely in Afghanistan. It subsequently became a major movie. He followed up with two more acclaimed works, again featuring Afghanistan: One Thousand Splendid Suns; and, And The Mountains Echoed.
His latest, Sea Prayer (l), is another moving fiction, but based in a different conflict zone. A father holds his sleeping son as they await dawn and the arrival of a boat. He tells the boy of long summers in the father’s own childhood, remembering the tranquillity of his own father's home in Syria. Then he recalls life in the Syrian city of Homs before the bombs dropped and the family fled. At sunrise, the father, boy, and their fellow refugees will gather up their few possessions and embark on a potentially fatal voyage in search of a new home.
Sea Prayer is aimed at all ages and is beautifully illustrated. As with his previous books, this one is straight from the heart. Hosseini is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation not-for-profit organisation providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Hippie (l) is Paulo Coelho’s most autobiographical book. The international bestselling author embarks on a journey encouraging readers to revive the dreams of the hippie generation. As a young man who wants to be a writer, Paulo grows his hair long and travels the world searching for freedom and the deepest meaning of existence. The journey progresses from his 1970 arrest as a terrorist by the Brazilian military dictatorship until his encounter with Karla, with whom he decides to go to Nepal on the Magic Bus. Along the way, they are transformed and embrace new values.
Future Popes Of Ireland (l), by Darragh Martin, is a hilarious and sad novel about the messiness of belief, family, and love, and the futility of thinking things will go according to plan. In 1979, Bridget Doyle has one burning ambition. She wants her family to produce the very first Irish pope. Inspired by Pope John Paul II’s appearance in Phoenix Park, Dublin, she sprinkles Papal-blessed holy water on the marriage bed of her son and daughter-in-law and leaves the rest to nature. But when her daughter-in-law dies in childbirth, Granny Doyle must raise four grandchildren. Thirty years later, it is unlikely that any of them will fulfil her dreams; or is it?
The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred Year Old Man (p), is the darkly comedic sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared. This time, it all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views but are not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship. Neither could they have ever imagined that the captain of the ship would be transporting a suitcase full of contraband uranium on a nuclear weapons mission for Kim Jong-un.
Other general and historic fiction titles worth considering this month include: The Silence Of The Girls (l), by Pat Barker; The Impostor (p), by Javier Cercas; Washington Black (l), by Esi Edugyan; Rome’s Sacred Flame (p), a Vespasian novel by Robert Fabbri; A Column Of Fire (p), by Ken Follett; The Water Thief (l), by Claire Hajaj; Forest Dark (p), by Nicole Krauss; The Life To Come (p), by Michelle De Kretser; All Among The Barley (l), by Melissa Harrison; Last Of The Summer Moet (p), by Wendy Holden; In The Midnight Room (p), by Laura McBride; The Ninth Hour (p), by Alice McDermott; The Secret Keeper (l), by Susan Lewis; Johannesburg (p), by Fiona Melrose; Secret Books (p), by Marcel Theroux; Sunset Over The Cherry Orchard (p), by Jo Thomas; and, Anatomy Of A Scandal (p), by Sarah Vaughan.
Two standouts in the fantasy fiction list include The Story Of Kullervo (p) and The Fall Of Gondolin (l), both by the late JRR Tolkien of The Lord Of The Rings fame.
The first of these is a previously unknown work. It tells of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and swears revenge on the magician who killed his father. It is being published with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work.
In The Fall of Gondolin, two of the greatest powers in the world clash. Morgoth of the uttermost evil is unseen throughout but rules a vast military power from his fortress. His foe is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwe, chief of the Valar. This earliest tale from the First Age was published posthumously in the second volume of The History Of Middle-Earth series by Tolkien’s son, Christopher. In the words of JRR Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’. Together with his works Beren and Luthien and The Children of Hurin, he regarded it as one of the three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days.
Thrillers worth a look from this month’s extensive list for publication include: Fall Down Dead (l), by Stephen Booth; A Close Run Thing (l), by David Donachie; Y Is For Yesterday (p), by Sue Grafton; The Mystery Of Three Quarters (l), an Hercule Poirot story from Sophie Hannah; Earth Storm (p), by Mons Kallentoft; A Measure Of Darkness (l), by Jonathan Kellerman; Broken Ground (l), by Val McDermid; The Psychology Of Time Travel (l), by Kate Mascarenhas; The Way Of All Flesh (l), by Ambrose Parry; In Bloom (p), by CJ Skuse; Lullaby (p), by Leila Slimani; and, Fatal Sunset (p), a Valencia-based Max Camara mystery by Jason Webster.
Key: (l) hardback or large paperback (p) small paperback