May 2017 : New Titles
A personal selection from a plethora of titles …
Debut novel about the lives of the residents of a single Parisian building, which aims to evoke the city as it really is.
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, £14.99, 4th May 2017, 9781473641532
Surely the most anticipated psychological thriller of 2017, this is the follow-up to the barnstorming The Girl on the Train (now the 10th-bestselling crime title of all time). In a small riverside town there have been two deaths in quick succession at a treacherous bend in the river. The first to die was a schoolgirl, Katie Whittaker, the second, Nel Abbott, had recently returned to the area with her teenage daughter Lena. Instead of a single unreliable narrator there are multiple viewpoints, each with a version of the truth. Is the “Drowning Pool” a suicide spot, or a place to get rid of troublesome women? Hawkins keeps you guessing until the very last page.
Doubleday, £20.00, 2nd May 2017, 9780857524423
A very exciting debut from a hugely talented young writer. I read this in a single sitting. Set in a near-future London in which a mysterious environmental catastrophe led to the city being submerged under water, the narrator gives birth to her first child and, shortly afterwards, the new family are forced to flee to safety on higher ground. But it seems everyone in England is now a refugee, moving from shelter to shelter. Within this nightmare scenario the narrator must care for her tiny, helpless infant as he grows. Hunter is also a poet and her beautiful prose is spare, yet able to conjure every emotion in the reader from terror to wonder. A stunning achievement.
Picador, £9.99, 18th May 2017, 9781509839100
The Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, 1944. An elderly woman walks into a police station claiming to know the truth about the human remains recently discovered nearby. A story of love, history, war, murder and revenge, says Hodder.
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, £16.99, 18th May 2017, 9781473639331
Segal won the Costa First Novel Award for her The Innocents and this, her second, is terrific. It’s the story of Julia and James, a British widow and an American divorcee respectively, who set up home together in north London, creating a blended family with her sensitive, needy 16-year-old daughter Gwen, and his charismatic son Nathan, who is a few years Gwen’s senior. The adults are determined to make it work, but the teenagers have other ideas. Segal’s writing is a joy- funny, wise and sharply observant-and she is particularly good on the push and pull of the relationship between mother and teenage daughter.
Chatto & Windus, £14.99, 4th May 2017, 9780701187002
Latest from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is a novel in stories linked to last year’s Booker-longlisted My Name is Lucy Barton. Through multiple viewpoints and with extraordinary insight, Strout reveals the inner lives, thoughts and desires of a cast of small-town characters living in and around Amgash, Illinois. Lucy Barton herself left long ago to live in New York City, although the locals still have cause to remember her as she was, a desperately poor child, and to think of her as she is now, a successful writer. This dazzling novel works as a standalone if you haven’t yet read My Name is Lucy Barton.
Viking, £12.99, 4th May 2017, 9780241287972
When I interviewed Colm Tóibín back in 2014, I asked him about the simplicity of his prose. The aim was, he explained, that the reader shouldn’t be aware of the style at all, let alone be dazzled by it. His theory was that “if you do the feeling before you write the sentence then the emotion will be in the sentence. And if you don’t, it won’t. So if you just write the sentences without anything going on within yourself, they will be flat and the reader will get nothing from them. The mystery is, if you feel the thing, and see it, and it’s absolutely clear to you and you write that down, then the emotion will come through in some way or other.”
Tóibín applies this non-showy technique to powerful effect in his latest novel. Readers with only the most fleeting knowledge of Greek myths will be familiar with the names of the principal characters in this tragedy: Agamemnon, who orders the sacrifice of his eldest daughter to ensure success in battle; his grief-stricken wife Clytemnestra who plots his death; their secretive daughter Electra; and son Orestes, sent into exile as boy, he will return a man. In Tóibín’s spare prose, the bloody violence this family inflicts upon itself as revenge begets revenge is devastating.
Viking, £18.99, 18th May 2017, 9780241257685
In 1983, Weldon published what would become her most famous novel, The Life and Loves of a She Devil, a revenge fantasy about a woman seizing power in a man’s world (“a tour de force” was the Times’ verdict). This is the sequel. Described as a “blackly comic satire of feminism and transgenderism” it features Lewis Patchett, a twentysomething man who won’t be satisfied until he can transition into the ultimate symbol of power and status: a woman.
Head of Zeus, £16.99, 6th April 2017, 9781784979591
In researching this sumptuous new cookbook, the authors – who are friends and passionate cooks both – talked to Syrian women in the Middle East and in Europe (many of them refugees) about their favourite recipes from their native cuisine. The result sounds delicious: from hot yoghurt soup with turmeric to cherry meatballs and it’s rich testament to the fact that even in the wake of war and devastating displacement, the taste of home survives. Profits from the book will go towards the Open Foundation, a charity funding artistic projects with Syrian women refugees.
Trapeze, £25.00, 4th May 2017, 9781474604505
Profile Books Ltd, £14.99, 4th May 2017, 9781781257753
Thames & Hudson Ltd, £35.00, 18th May 2017, 9780500519332
The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits
We are all vulnerable to addiction from binge eating and smoking, to constantly checking social media. The neuroscientist author has studied addictions for 20 years and here reveals how we can tap into the processes that encourage them in order to step away from them.
Yale University Press, £16.99, 7th March 2017, 9780300223248
Publishing consultant, co-founder of The Friday Project, and former Orion, Hodder and HarperCollins staffer offers clear and comprehensive advice on all aspects of self-publishing: how to do it, and how to do it well.
Red Door Publishing Ltd, £8.99, 25th May 2017, 9781910453117
William Collins, £20.00, 4th May 2017, 9780008126636
Preface Publishing, £20.00, 18th May 2017, 9781848094673
This New York Times bestseller is a critically acclaimed account of the history of the class system in America, which challenges popular myths about equality in the land of opportunity. Isenberg argues that the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been part of the American electoral picture, and upends notions that the US is a class-free society.
Atlantic Books, £20.00, 4th May 2017, 9781786492982
What really happens when we go to sleep? What’s the right amount? Why do we get jet lag? Is snoring normal? Everything you ever wanted to know about sleep but were too knackered to ask is in this authoritative but eminently accessible overview of slumber research and data by a world-leading sleep physician and Yale professor.
Yale University Press, £20.00, 2nd May 2017, 9780300224085
From finding an agent and the pros and cons of creative writing degrees, to handling bad reviews, the award-winning novelist and short story writer with a passionate and practical book of advice for budding writers, based on a weekly series of such nuggets that he ran on his blog for the 52 weeks of 2016.
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, £12.99, 4th May 2017, 9781408885031
Thames & Hudson Ltd, £45.00, 18th May 2017, 9780500544556
Moore’s first book, How to Drink is a favourite and indispensable reference of mine: I had it off the shelf only last weekend, finding out how to make Manhattans. This brilliant follow-up is a characteristically unpretentious (no Pinot Grigio bashing for her) but immensely knowledgeable guide to matching food and wine. Arranging dishes A-Z at one end, and wines A-Z at the other, Moore explains-in her trademark warm and witty style-not only which wine goes with which food, but why, and how each combination works. Macaroni cheese and Picpoul, anyone?
Granta Books, £20.00, 11th May 2017, 9781783782093
After going blind overnight, due to a unique condition that has no name, the author slowly recovered her sight over six months, and in the process, encountered a range of bizarre phenomena from synaesthesia, to discussions with inanimate objects as her brain tried to recover from the trauma of sensory loss. Potter tells the fascinating story of her own brain’s strange journey.
Featherstone Education, £16.99, 4th May 2017, 9781472936103
From wacky inventions and elusive secret agents to bizarre propaganda posters and a dummy acting as a decoy for a daring escape: a catalogue of weird wonderful and downright eccentric images and objects from the Second World War.
Imperial War Museum, £14.99, 18th May 2017, 9781904897439
“Full of quirky tales”, this unusual take on British social history focuses on our nation’s changing social order over the past 70 years, taking in such mundane matters as dog-fouling, swearing, drinking, smoking, nudity, public toilets and parking.
Robinson, £16.99, 24th August 2017, 9781472137968
Two lonely people go about their day in London in this typically Kennedian and utterly wonderful novel. Jon is a civil servant, 59, divorced. Meg is a recovering alcoholic, a bankrupt accountant, aged 45. Like many of Kennedy’s characters, they are isolated and damaged, moving through an unfriendly city as if with a layer of skin stripped away. But they find their way towards each other in an agonising love story that’s all about morality and decency in a careless world.
As well as being a Costa Book of the Year winner and a two-time Granta Best of Young British Novelists pick, Kennedy is a stand-up comedian, and observational comedy runs through this novel in interior monologues that are heartbreakingly familiar and laugh-out-loud sad. Her sentences are some of the best in modern fiction (there’s a springer spaniel called Hector with “black, bewildered ears… [that] made him look as if he’d recently heard dreadful news and still hadn’t adjusted”), and reading her prose is like eating those fizzy sweets that are both sweet and sour and make you wince at the back of your mouth-then go back for more.
Serious Sweet was longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, and praised by the likes of Ali Smith and Kate Saunders. It’s gorgeous.
Vintage, £8.99, 18th May 2017, 9780099587439
Modiano’s trilogy about moral compromises during the Nazi occupation of Paris is now in one book, with a preface by William Boyd.
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, £12.99, 18th May 2017, 9781408867884
A young woman’s adventures in New York in the 1930s. First published in 1947 and out of print since 1999, this is republished now with a new introduction, and was described by Angela Carter as “a fully-achieved comic novel of a most original kind”.
Head of Zeus, £14.00, 4th May 2017, 9781786691392
An award-winning 1964 novel about life in Poland behind the Iron Curtain. Out of print since 1966.
Head of Zeus, £10.00, 4th May 2017, 9781784978235
Set in 1980s New York, a beautiful young man, a tale of obsession in many forms. . . “Edmund White is one of the best writers of my generation,” said John Irving.
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, £8.99, 18th May 2017, 9781408858967
The irrepressible linguist explains “how eloquence works” with his usual, well, eloquence.
Yale University Press, £10.99, 2nd May 2017, 9780300226409
An unusual study of the importance of forgetting.
Yale University Press, £12.99, 2nd May 2017, 9780300226423
The first history for a general audience, apparently, of this increasingly popular tourist destination. “The finest single-volume history of Vietnam in English,” said the Guardian.
Penguin Books Ltd, £10.99, 25th May 2017, 9780141047010
The true story of Eric Liddell (truer than in “Chariots of Fire”, for example), by a two-time winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year.
Black Swan, £9.99, 4th May 2017, 9781784160043
Subtitled “The History of Espionage and the Secret World”, this updated version reveals far more bungling than you might expect.
Constable, £10.99, 16th February 2017, 9781472122070
A bestseller in Germany, this reveals the surprising extent of drug use from ground troops all the way up to Hitler and his cronies.
Penguin Books Ltd, £8.99, 4th May 2017, 9780141983165
“The Life of Britain’s Most Decorated Cold War Spy and Head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield”, says the subtitle. “I cannot think of a better biography of a spy chief,” wrote Richard Davenport-Hines.
Corgi Books, £8.99, 18th May 2017, 9780552171625
Ever wondered where the smiley face, the hashtag and the ankh came from? Now you’ll know.
Michael O’Mara Books Ltd, £7.99, 18th May 2017, 9781782437697
A typically diligent biography of this important figure, by the Independent journalist and author of The Lady and the Peacock.
Rider & Co, £9.99, 4th May 2017, 9781846043734
Subtitled “The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class”, this was described by Andrew Marr as “the biggest story in British politics since the Second World War . . . A fine book.” The hardback stopped at Theresa May’s arrival as prime minister, and included interviews with important figures from Downing Street, both Leave campaigns, the Labour Party, UKIP and Britain Stronger In Europe; the paperback adds new analysis of what has happened since, and anticipates what is yet to come . . .
William Collins, £9.99, 18th May 2017, 9780008215170