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A Taste of 2011…

Thursday, January 13th 2011

2010 is over, time to look forward to a new year – and what better way than to get a taste of what literary delights await us over the next few months. Here is just a small selection, in no particular order…

Fiction

One of the most anticipated highlights will no doubt be The Pale King (Hamish Hamilton), David Foster Wallace’s posthumously published story of o Illinois tax office trainee ‘David Foster Wallace’ entering a workplace so monotonous that employees get boredom-survival training.

Chuck Palahniuk returns with Damned (Jonathan Cape), all about eleven year-old Madeleine, who finds herself in hell and is unsure why – based on the structure of a Judy Blume novel, this is sure to be a treat for the fans.

Troubled Man (Harvill Secker) is a welcome return for Henning Mankell’s cynical and world-weary detective Kurt Wallander, after a decade’s absence.

1Q84 (Harvill Secker) by Haruki Murakami features a love affair at long distance between a would-be writer and a religious cult, and was a huge sensation on publication in Japan.

Cain by (Random House) is the last book José Saramago wrote before he died last year, and gives us his take on the first book of the Bible.

River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (John Murray) is the second, long-awaited volume in the Ibis trilogy (due in July for all those who are wchamping at the bit).

Booker Winner Aravind Adaga brings us Last Man in the Tower (Atlantic), a kaleidoscopic portrait of a changing Mumbai peopled by the residents of an old apartment block ripe for redevelopment.

A welcome return this year for the author of the wild and wonderful Gone Away World. Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker (Heinemann) promises mad monks, psychopaths, villainous potentates, scientific geniuses, giant submarines, girls in pink leather engine driver’s couture, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe – and you can’t ask more than that!

When the Killing’s Done (Bloomsbury) by TC Boyle focuses on the cataclysmic clash of two mighty wills (and two somewhat lesser ones) on opposite sides of a bitter ideological divide.

In A Man of Parts (Harvill Secker), based on the life of HG Wells, David Lodge depicts a man as contradictory as he was talented: a socialist who enjoyed his affluence, an acclaimed novelist who turned against the literary novel; a feminist womanise, irresistible and exasperating by turns, but always vitally human.

Other People’s Money (Bloomsbury) – In a world still uneasy after the financial turmoil of 2008, Justin Cartwright puts a human face on the dishonesties and misdeeds of the bankers who imperiled us in this both cautionary and uncomfortably familiar story.

Siri Hustvedt returns to fiction with The Summer Without Men by (Picador) which catalogues Mia Fredericksen’s attempts to deal with her husband’s request for a pause in their 30-year marriage so that he can indulge in his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman.

Following up his Booker Prize-nominated Northern Clemency, Philip Hensher dissects the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of a small English town in King of the Badgers (4th Estate).

The Forgotten Waltz by Ann Enright (Jonathan Cape) is a story of remembered love set in contemporary Dublin, her first novel since her Booker prize-winning The Gathering.

That stalwart of English eccentricity (or should that be normalcy), Alan Bennett, returns with the intriguingly titled Smut: Two Unseemly Stories (Faber/Profile).

Beryl Bainbridge’s last novel, The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress (Little, Brown), is a vintage Bainbridge tale of murder and retribution, set around the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, underpinned by Bainbridge’s trademark and uniquely dark comedy.

Short Stories

The stories in Julian Barnes’ long-awaited third collection Pulse (Jonathan Cape) are attuned to rhythms and currents: of the body, of love and sex, illness and death, connections and conversations.

White Collar, Blue Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work (Harper Perennial) by Richard Ford is a chronicle of how Americans are employed, how they find work and leave it, refuse it or scorn it, how it defines, fascinates, frustrates and ennobles us.

In Joyce Carol Oates new collection Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery & Suspense (Corvus) the need for love is obsessive, self-destructive and unpredictable, and it shows that the most deadly mysteries often begin at home.

Non-Fiction

In The Children of Lovers: A Memoir of William Golding by his Daughter (Faber) Judy Carver seeks to document warmth and fun of her father, but also the painful side to her upbringing. as her difficult, brilliant, conflicted father changed from a poor schoolteacher to a Nobel prize-winning novelist.

Claire Tomalin follows up her bestselling The Invisible Woman (a biography of Dickens’ mistress Nelly Ternan) with a full life of Dickens himself (Penguin), examining the paradoxes of his life: from how he deserted his wife yet wrote sentimentally about the family, to how he selflessly supported the poor, yet cut off some of his own relatives.

The ‘biographer of London’, Peter Ackroyd returns with London Under (Chatto & Windus) in which he explores the fascinating and surprising history of subterranean London.

Collected Essays by Hanif Kureishi (Faber) – a companion volume to 2010’s Collected Stories, which showcases Kureishi’s remarkable scope and his talent for capturing the modern spirit.

Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore turns his attention on the Middle East with Jerusalem: The Biography of a City (Weidenfeld), in which he explores how this small, remote town become the Holy City, the ‘centre of the world’ and now the key to peace in the region. This is sure to be a landmark book on the subject.

Paul Theroux celebrates fifty years of wandering the globe by collecting the best writing on travel from the books that shaped him, as a reader and a traveler in The Tao of Trave (Hamish Hamilton)l. Excerpts from Theroux’s own work sit alongside Vladimir Nabokov, Henry David Thoreau, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and others.

In How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism (Little, Brown), distinguished historian Eric Hobsbawm investigates its influences and analyses the spectacular reversal of Marxism’s fortunes over the past thirty years.

One of the most lyrical travel writers of today, Colin Thubron, returns to the far east, trekking through Nepal and into Tibet to Mount Kailas, the most sacred of the world’s mountains. In To A Mountain in Tibet (Chatto & Windus), Thubron joins the many pilgrims to this mountain, and shares their stories.

In Bird Cloud: A Memoir (4th Estate) Annie Proulx invites us to share her experience in the building of her new home on a rich plot of unspoilt prairie, and her pleasure in uncovering of the layers of American history locked beneath the topsoil of Bird Cloud – the name she gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie.

Highly acclaimed science writer James Gleick gives us an account of our journey from the invention of language and scripts to the internet and tweeting, as well as what it all might lead to  in The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (Fourth Estate).

Does one planet really matter among the immensity of the Cosmos? John Gribbin is here to persuade us that it does. In this ground-breaking and provocative new book The Reason Why: Snowball Earth and Intelligent Life Gribbin argues that we owe our existence to the impact of a ‘supercomet’ with Venus 600 million years ago.