September 2017 : New Titles
A personal selection from a plethora of titles …
Remember the pre-publication campaign Picador ran for A Little Life? It began with proofs emblazoned with advance praise from US booksellers and Picador has done the same thing for this dbut. Set during the Second American Civil War which begins in 2074 when the southern states rebel against the north for outlawing fossil fuel, this follows Sarat Chestnut from Louisiana who is forced with her family into a camp for displaced persons-and then plays her own violent part in the war. Dbut author El Akkad is an award-winning journalist who has reported from Afghanistan and on the Arab Spring.
Picador, £14.99, 7th September 2017, 9781509852192
At the very beginning of his career, Roddy Doyle’s debut novel The Commitments (1987) established him as a chronicler of working-class Dublin with a superb ear for dialogue and a gift for raw humour. This was followed by The Snapper and then The Van, and the three novels make up the Barrytown trilogy, named after the fictional working-class suburb of north Dublin which was also the setting for his Booker Prize-winning novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, following a year in the life of a 10-year-old boy in 1968.
Smile opens in the present day with Victor Forde, a middle-aged man who has recently moved into a new apartment, enjoying a quiet pint and a non-committal chat with the barman in his local. One evening his peace is disturbed by another middle-aged man, in a pink shirt and shorts, who seems to know Victor and claims they went to the same Christian Brothers school years ago. Victor cannot place the man, who says his name is Fitzpatrick, but their conversation triggers memories of school for Victor, and other more pleasant memories too. But Doyle isn’t taking the reader where you think you are going-and the final pages of the novel turn everything preceding it on its head. It’s deeply moving, and so very sad.
Jonathan Cape Ltd, £14.99, 7th September 2017, 9781911214755
January, 1947, the coldest winter in living memory and Joan Grice, the wardrobe mistress of the title, is grieving the unexpected death of her husband Charlie Grice, one of the great stage actors of the day. Then, quite by chance, she uncovers her husband’s secret-a badge pinned to the underside of his label reveals he was a fascist. The discovery is all the more shocking as Joan herself is Jewish, and so is their actress daughter Vera.
Hutchinson, £14.99, 7th September 2017, 9781786330574
Set in 1964, over three days of summer on the Maine island of Seven, a novel about class, family and manipulation.
Bloomsbury Academic USA, £20.00, 7th September 2017, 9781632868411
This account of the early adventures of a young natural history presenter is the first in a series of books first published in the 1950s and out of print for 30 years, which Two Roads is republishing to mark the 65th anniversary of Sir David joining the BBC. This first book, with a new intro by the man himself, charts his exploits in Indonesia and Paraguay: the second, scheduled for February 2018, will centre on Australasia.
Two Roads, £25.00, 21st September 2017, 9781473664401
Updated edition of Berry’s bestselling bible, first published in 1995 and now the biggest it has ever been, with over 650 crystal-clear recipes, each of which now has an accompanying photo.
DK, £30.00, 7th September 2017, 9780241286128
This new book of personal stories from Clinton’s life, up to and including the 2016 presidential campaign, has been inspired by the hundreds of quotations she has been collecting for decades. “I hope by sharing these words and my thoughts about them, the essays will be meaningful for readers,” she says.
Simon & Schuster Ltd, £20.00, 26th September 2017, 9781471166945
From Daniel Defoe to Philip Roth, a collection of essays on literary subjects by the Nobel laureate and twice Man Booker winner.
Harvill Secker, £17.99, 7th September 2017, 9781911215431
From the Mahabarata and Shakespeare’s First Folio to The Diary of Anne Frank, over 75 of the world’s most celebrated, rare and seminal books are examined and explained in this beautifully presented encyclopaedia which spans the history of the written word. Foreword by James Naughtie.
DK, £20.00, 7th September 2017, 9780241289334
Said to be the first comprehensive study of Jasper Johns’ later paintings, based on the author’s research and conversations with the artist himself. Accompanies a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in London (September-December 2017).
Thames & Hudson Ltd, £45.00, 14th September 2017, 9780500239711
Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, when a devastating experience on a ward caused him to hang up his stethoscope. Based on the diaries he kept throughout his training, this account of life as a junior doctor intersperses tales from the frontline of the NHS with reflections on the current health crisis. It is also a love letter to those who might, at any moment, be holding your life in their hands. Shot through with the kind of black humour that only doctors can muster, it is both genuinely hilarious and utterly shocking in revealing what we demand from our health professionals.
Picador, £16.99, 7th September 2017, 9781509858613
Authorised history of the Bank of England by the always entertaining social historian; from the founding of the bank in the midst of the English financial revolution, through wars and financial crises, and ending with the appointment of Mark Carney as governor in 2013.
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, £35.00, 7th September 2017, 9781408868560
“Life is complicated. Cooking doesn’t have to be.” Despite her much-publicised personal traumas and her much-parodied TV programmes, Nigella remains one of our best food writers. In her latest book, she underlines her belief in the importance of eating together by sharing everyday recipes (and the stories behind them) for the food she loves to cook for friends and family, from Hake with Bacon, Peas and Cider, to White Miso Hummus and Victoria Sponge with Cardamom, Marmalade and Creme Fraiche. Oh, and a recipe for Emergency Brownies “to be snaffled straight from the tin”. Accompanies a six-part BBC1 series.
Chatto & Windus, £26.00, 21st September 2017, 9781784741631
The illustrated story behind the now-ubiquitous Second World War poster, created to allay public panic in the event of a German invasion.
Imperial War Museum, £6.99, 26th October 2017, 9781904897347
Acclaimed historian of the Middle East covers 1,400 years of Muslim history as he provides an engrossing account of how the genesis, development and manipulation of the great schism in Islam gave rise to the sects of Sunnism and Shi’ism, and how the struggle between them has come to define the Muslim world.
Saqi Books, £20.00, 18th September 2017, 9780863561634
Quirky history of communication and cultural imperialism, and a modern history of written and typewritten Chinese, introducing the characters and companies who tried to mechanise both Chinese, and other non-alphabetic languages.
MIT Press, £27.95, 4th August 2017, 9780262036368
“Salt has a greater impact on flavour than any other ingredient. Learn to use it well, and your food will taste good.” By schooling us in the four elements of good cooking in this quirkily illustrated book, Nosrat aims to give us the confidence and instincts to unshackle ourselves from the tyranny of always following recipes, and make readers cooks for life.
Canongate Books Ltd, £28.00, 7th September 2017, 9781782112303
Jamie’s “easiest to use” book yet, and one he is particularly passionate about, I’m told. It is an inventive collection of over 130 recipes which use only five main ingredients (one of which is always a herb). From Roast Tikka Chicken to Crazy Simple Fish Pie, it’s all about getting a plate of food on the table in double-quick time. Suitable for people who never cook or who struggle to cook, it accompanies an eight-part Channel 4 series.
Michael Joseph Ltd, £26.00, 24th August 2017, 9780718187729
With a cast of characters which includes Haile Selassie, Anthony Burgess and General Sikorski, this is said to be a thrilling new history which reveals how the incredibly vulnerable Rock of Gibraltar fought off attacks by land, sea and air during the Second World War to help win the war for the Allies.
Faber & Faber, £20.00, 7th September 2017, 9780571307708
The women behind the Roux empire (daughter and wife of Michel Roux Jnr, respectively) celebrate contemporary French home cooking in over 100 recipes, revealing how it has evolved over the decades to suit a more modern lifestyle.
Mitchell Beazley, £25.00, 7th September 2017, 9781784722210
“Vibrant” portrait of the Bushmen of Southern Africa by an anthropologist who has spent most of the past 25 years documenting their encounter with modernity. “In rendering an intimate picture of a people coping with radical change, it asks profound questions about how we now think about matters such as work, wealth, equality, commitment and even time.”
Bloomsbury Academic USA, £18.99, 21st September 2017, 9781632865724
This “definitive” biography of the controversial former Russian president, who almost single-handedly changed his country-and the world-has been written with the co-operation of Gorbachev himself. Taubman is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, which will be repackaged in paperback alongside the new book and made available in e-book for the first time. UK author visit at publication.
WW Norton & Co, £23.99, 5th September 2017, 9780393647013
This ambitious and “radical” reappraisal of Charles Darwin, by the author of Victoria: A Life, is more than an account of a charming, shy, rich naturalist, I’m told. It is also a study of the intellectual life of the West over the past two centuries in the wake of Darwin’s mythmaking claims about who we, the human race, actually are. Wilson brings both a biographer’s and a Christian’s perspective to bear on the controversial question of whether Darwin is as great as we think he is.
John Murray Publishers Ltd, £25.00, 8th September 2016, 9781444794885
The Booker-longlisted novel from the Nobel Laureate tells an allegorical tale about a small boy, David, who is enrolled in the Academy of Dance. Follows The Childhood of Jesus, which Vintage says has sold more than 50,000 copies.
Vintage, £8.99, 21st September 2017, 9781784705336
A writer and her two sons move to London following the collapse of their family. A book of the year in the Guardian, New Statesman, Observer and Spectator; “stunningly bold, original and humane”, said the Telegraph.
Vintage, £8.99, 7th September 2017, 9781784702250
Shortlisted for the Baileys Prize, First Love tells of Neve, a writer in her 30s married to an older man, revealing what led her to the marriage. Riley’s laying out of Neve’s past relationships-with partners and with her difficult, controlling father-is brutal and fascinating, as is the analysis she gives about Neve’s toxic marriage to Edwyn. “Eviscerating, elegant, explosive,” said the FT, but the Telegraph puts it better: “Exquisite . . . searing . . . We are also left with the stinging sense of having been loved.”
Granta Books, £8.99, 7th September 2017, 9781783783243
Gorgeous David Hockney painting for the jacket of Smith’s Autumn, the first of four connected novels, this one set in autumn 2016 as the UK reels following a disastrous summer. Smith’s Winter is out two months later. Penguin says Autumn has already sold over 30,000 copies in hardback, trade paperback and e-book. “The novel of the year is obviously Ali Smith’s Autumn,” said the Observer, adding: “Expansive, shape-shifting, at once more stringent and more consoling than anything I’ve read this year.”
Penguin Books Ltd, £8.99, 7th September 2017, 9780241973318
An exploration of the molecule which has shaped human history, showing how it forms males.
Oxford University Press, £12.99, 28th September 2017, 9780198724988
A memoir of Maxine and Sheila Kohler’s childhood in 1950s South Africa, and of how Maxine was killed just before she was 40 when her surgeon husband drove their car off the road. Called “a compact little gem” by the Sunday Times.
Canongate Books Ltd, £8.99, 24th August 2017, 9781786890009
The host of hit US show “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” tells his story, starting with growing up during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa.
John Murray Publishers Ltd, £8.99, 21st September 2017, 9781473635302
A biography of Kenneth Clark, the great British art historian responsible for the 13-part TV series “Civilisation”.
William Collins, £10.99, 21st September 2017, 9780007493449
Two years ago it was Lars Mytting’s Norwegian Wood that set the Christmas charts on fire, an unlikely bestseller about the best way to chop and stack your wood. Could Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Treesfollow suit this year?
The exploration of the inner life of trees, in which the forester shares his love of the woods and explores research suggesting trees are capable of more than we know, sold more than 320,000 copies in the first six months of publication in Germany, says HarperCollins. It’s now licensed to more than 16 languages and territories, and it’s a fascinating read, as Wohlleben reveals how trees communicate, combat predators, feel pain and work together in astonishing ways. A beech forest, if undisturbed, synchronises its performance so each tree is equally successful, for example.
In this crazy world we suddenly find ourselves in, trees start to seem a much better option than people, and Wohlleben’s love for the arboreal world made me long to be deep in a forest. Both utterly compelling and deeply relaxing to read.
William Collins, £9.99, 24th August 2017, 9780008218430