The new year began with the usual free newspapers onmy way to work in London, and both Metro and Evening standards have published a similar list of the most anticipated new books of 2012 – Evening Standards last week.
Drawing from the source of the article, here are the new books published this year:
Pop philosopher Alain de Botton introduces Religion for Atheists, arguing that even non-believers can take much that is good from the practices of faith
Another non-fiction I look forward is Cairo: My Country, My Revolution by Ahdaf Soueif (Bloomsbury). One year on from the start of the Arab spring, Soueif interweaves recent events with episodes from her long relationship with the city of her birth.
Waiting for Sunrise, on the other hand, William Boyd has gone all-out for adventure, constructing a spy thriller that takes his hero from psychoanalysis in 1913 Vienna to espionage in the First World War, both leading him back into the mysteries of his own family: a novel planned to entertain.
Capital by John Lanchester is a book that locates itself in one south London street where the properties have risen to more than £1million in value. It describes what it is to be a Londoner now, on a broad canvas that takes in a greedy banker with a greedier wife, a young African footballer, an edgy young artist, an illegal immigrant parking warden and a family of Muslim shopkeepers. The ambition is nothing less than Dickensian.
Rachel Cusk, whose 2001 account of motherhood, A Life’s Work, remains incendiary, turns to a later stage of married life in Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation.
No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer (Bloomsbury).A state-of-the-nation novel about the new South Africa from the Nobel laureate.
The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey is publishing a fascinating dual narrative, set in London in 2010, and in Germany in 1854. An alcoholic female curator at a fictional London museum attempts to deal with her grief over the sudden death of her lover, a married colleague, by throwing herself into the reconstruction of a mysterious automaton commissioned back in the 19th century by an Englishman trying to divert his young son from consumption, a quest recorded in his diaries It is fascinating to see this great novelist’s take on London now (which includes, naturally, a glancing reference to the London Evening Standard).
Skagboys by Irvine Welsh has written a prequel to his 1993 debut, Trainspotting, showing how Mark Renton et al first descended into heroin addiction in the Eighties. Even more keenly awaited will be Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s sequel to her Tudor masterpiece, Wolf Hall, due in the autumn. It continues the story of Thomas Cromwell, focusing this time on the fall of Anne Boleyn.
But many readers will look forward just as eagerly to the new novel from Anne Tyler, The Beginner’s Goodbye, in which a recently bereaved husband finds that his wife returns from the dead – and all the humdrum problems in their marriage come back too
The Red House by Mark Haddon (author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the undervalued A Spot of Bother) brings together the families of an estranged brother and sister, trying to build bridges after their mother’s death over a week in a rented house in Wales. Haddon is expert in how pained ordinary lives can be.
Kate Summerscale is following up her Victorian true-crime hit The Suspicions of Mr Whicher with Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace, about a scandalous Victorian divorce, drawing on Isabella Robinson’s diaries
Home by Toni Morrison (Chatto & Windus). It’s now a quarter of a century since the publication of Morrison’s masterpiece, Beloved. Her new novel explores the bitter homecoming of a black Korean vet, who must take on the racism of 50s America and his own self-loathing in order to rescue his sister and redeem his Georgia roots.
And Hilary Mantel is publishing a sequel to Wolf Hall!!
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate). Mantel’s grand reimagining of Thomas Cromwell and his times has grown into a trilogy. This follow-up to the mighty 2009 Booker-winner Wolf Hall takes a detour into the brutal downfall of Anne Boleyn. Mantel promises a “shorter, more concentrated” book this time, though it will be no less gruelling: “By the time Anne was dead I felt I had passed through a moral ordeal.”
In One Person by John Irving (Doubleday). In typically tragicomic style, Irving sets out to explore sexual identity – difference and desire, togetherness and solitude – through a half-century in the life of his bisexual narrator Billy and a cast of friends and lovers.
The New Republic by Lionel Shriver, Lionel Shriver’s work in progress, said to be an assault on the culture of obesity in the States, is much anticipated, following the movie of We Need to Talk About Kevin. However, The New Republic, about terrorism in an imaginary part of Portugal, perhaps drawing on her experience of Northern Ireland, is a 1998 novel previously rejected by her publisher.
the big novel this year looks to be Canada by Richard Ford, which is narrated by a 66-year-old literature professor, who, back in 1960, as a 15-year-old boy, took to the road after his parents’ arrest for bank robbery and escaped from Montana into Saskatchewan It may just be his best since The Sportswriter.
The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa (Faber). The Celt of the title is Roger Casement, the Irish poet-patriot who was executed in 1916 for seeking German support for a revolt against British rule. The South American connection is provided by his role as British consul, when he campaigned against the abuse of rubber workers in Peru.
Vagina by Naomi Wolf (Virago). The Beauty Myth author writes a cultural history of female sexuality and how it has been perceived.
For fan of The Passage, The Twelve by Justin Cronin (Orion). The Passage, in which humanity breeds its own destruction when vampiric “virals” are created for the military, was a monstrous success: an absorbing, gruelling 1,000-page epic – that ended on a cliffhanger. In part two, the small group of survivors fight back; but with a third volume in the pipeline, resolution is some way off yet.
The State of England : Lionel Asbo, Lotto Lout by Martin Amis is a satire on the scummy state of Britain. His anti-hero is a skinhead crim who wins £90million on the lottery while in prison, and spends it grossly. Other characters include a Katie Price lookalike called Threnody.
John Banville publishes Ancient Light, in which an actor, now in his sixties, recalls his affair as a teenage boy with the mother of a schoolfriend in the Ireland of the Fifties – and his own daughter’s suicide. In September, Howard Jacobson presents Zoo Time, which depicts London litterateurs in conflict with the internet, as it happens
Jeanette Winterson’s as yet untitled horror story (Hammer). The film company Hammer is moving into publishing with what Winterson describes as her “very scary novella about the Lancashire witches”, the nine women and two men who were tried for murder by witchcraft in 1612.
Toby’s Room by Pat Barker (Hamish Hamilton). Set among a group of students at the Slade School of Art in London and France before and during the first world war, Barker’s new novel explores the intersection of art and medicine, through the pioneering science of facial reconstruction.
Zadie Smith publishes her first fiction for seven years. NW it is, as the postcode title suggests, set in her old patch of Brent. All she has disclosed about it so far is that it is about class, as it affects “a few people in north-west London” and that it’s a “very, very small book”.
Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie (Jonathan Cape). His memoir of the fatwa. Not sure if Joseph Anton should be the title of the book, or rather “Salman Rushdie” written by Joseph Anton.. we’ll wait and see.
New short story collection from Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury).
I look forward to Martin Amis, Lionel Shriver, Mark Haddon and Sade Smith’s new books. I enjoyed Kate Summerscale The Suspicions of Mr Whicher in 2009 and I look forward to her new true crime non-fiction this year as well.
The bane of reading such list is that it will ruin my chances of reducing my TBR list. Also with such stellar cast of writers publishing new books this year, who needs a reading plan?!! Grit my teeth, I’m going to stick to my reading plan this year but it won’t hurt if I read one or two from this list, would it?
What about you? Is there any book(s) that caught your eyes?