Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What to read in March & April 2015

Books to look forward to in March and April 2015
23 new books to read in March and April 2015

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik - 1 March
The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school. Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly - a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession - but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed...’

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro - 3 March
The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.’

The Well by Catherine Chanter - 5 March
‘When Ruth Ardingly and her family first drive up from London in their grime-encrusted car and view The Well, they are enchanted by a jewel of a place, a farm that appears to offer everything the family are searching for. But The Well's unique glory comes at a terrible price. The locals suspect foul play in its verdant fields and drooping fruit trees, and Ruth becomes increasingly isolated, less and less sure who she can trust...’

The Faithful Couple by A.D. Miller - 5 March
‘California, 1993: Neil Collins and Adam Tayler, two young British men on the cusp of adulthood, meet at a hostel in San Diego. They strike up a friendship that, while platonic, feels as intoxicating as a romance; they travel up the coast together, harmlessly competitive, innocently collusive, wrapped up in each other. On a camping trip to Yosemite they lead each other to behave in ways that, years later, they will desperately regret. The story of a friendship built on a shared guilt and a secret betrayal, The Faithful Couple follows Neil and Adam across two decades...’

The Raven's Head by Karen Maitland - 12 March
‘Vincent is an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. With the foolish arrogance of youth, he attempts blackmail but the attempt fails and Vincent finds himself on the run and in possession of an intricately carved silver raven's head. Any attempt to sell the head fails ... until Vincent tries to palm it off on the intimidating Lord Sylvain - unbeknown to Vincent, a powerful Alchemist with an all-consuming quest...’

The Librarian by Mikhail Elizarov - 12 March
‘As the introduction to this book will tell you, the books by Gromov, obscure and long forgotten propaganda author of the Soviet era, have such an effect on their readers that they suddenly enjoy supernatural powers. Understandably, their readers need to keep accessing these books at all cost and gather into groups around book-bearers, or, as they're called, librarians. Alexei, until now a loser, comes to collect an uncle's inheritance and unexpectedly becomes a librarian. He tells his extraordinary, unbelievable story...’

Ghosting by Jonathan Kemp - 12 March
‘When 64-year-old Grace Wellbeck thinks she sees the ghost of her first husband, she fears for her sanity and worries that she’s having another breakdown. Long-buried memories come back thick and fast: from the fairground thrills of 1950s Blackpool to the dark reality of a violent marriage. But the ghost turns out to be very real: a charismatic young man named Luke. And as Grace gets to know him, she is jolted into an emotional awakening that brings her to a momentous decision.’

Héloïse is Bald by Émilie de Turckheim - 12 March
‘This strange, uneasy love story follows Héloïse as she attempts to seduce the silver-tongued Doctor Lawrence Calvagh. A man forty years her senior, who may love her too. But Lawrence is not all he appears, and while Héloïse begins injuring herself so that he will stitch her back together, every other woman in her family also seems to be under his spell. Reaching from the elegant salons of Paris to the golden sands of Corsica, the mountains of Algeria to the art galleries of New York, this subversive novel examines love at its most shocking and violent.’

The Mirror World of Melody Black by Gavin Extence - 12 March
‘It all starts, as these things sometimes do, with a dead man. He was a neighbour, not someone Abby knew well, but still, finding a body when you only came over to borrow a tin of tomatoes, that comes as a bit of a shock. And now she can't shake the feeling that if she hadn't gone into Simon's flat, if she'd had her normal Wednesday night instead, then none of what happened next would have happened. And she would never have met Melody Black...’

Soil by Jamie Kornegay - 12 March
‘It begins as a simple dream: an idealistic environmental scientist moves his wife and young son off the grid, to a stretch of river bottom farmland in the Mississippi hills, hoping to position himself at the forefront of a revolution in agriculture. When a corpse appears on his family's property, the farmer is convinced he's being set up. And so begins a journey into a maze of misperceptions and personal obsessions, as the farmer, his now-estranged wife, a predatory deputy, and a backwoods wanderer, all try to uphold a personal sense of honour.’

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy - 12 March
‘Meet U. – a 'corporate anthropologist' employed to help decode and manipulate the world around them. Instead, U. spends his days procrastinating, meandering through endless buffer-zones of information and becoming obsessed by the images with which the world bombards him on a daily basis: oil spills, African traffic jams, roller-blade processions, zombie parades. Is there, U. wonders, a secret logic holding all these images together – a codex that, once cracked, will unlock the master-meaning of our age? Might it have something to do with South Pacific Cargo Cults, or the dead parachutists in the news?’

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov - 16 March
‘Using the myth of the Minotaur as its organizing image, the narrator of Gospodinov’s long-awaited novel constructs a labyrinth of stories about his family, jumping from era to era and viewpoint to viewpoint, exploring the mindset and trappings of Eastern Europeans. Incredibly moving and extraordinarily funny, The Physics of Sorrow traces connections and follows the narrator down various 'side passages', with the sorrowful, misunderstood Minotaur at the centre of it all.’

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell - 24 March
‘Meet the Alter sisters: Lady, Vee and Delph. These three mordantly witty, complex women share their family’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They love each other fiercely, but being an Alter isn’t easy. Bad luck is in their genes, passed down through the generations. In the waning days of 1999, the sisters decide it’s time to close the circle of the Alter curse. But first, as the world counts down to the dawn of a new millennium, Lady, Vee and Delph must write the final chapter of a saga generations in the making...’

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall - 24 March
‘For almost a decade Rachel Caine has turned her back on home, kept distant by family disputes and her work monitoring wolves on an Idaho reservation. But now, summoned by the eccentric Earl of Annerdale and his controversial scheme to reintroduce the Grey Wolf to the English countryside, she is back in the peat and wet light of the Lake District. The return of the Grey after hundreds of years coincides with her own regeneration: impending motherhood, and reconciliation with her estranged family...’

Raw Concrete by Barnabas Calder - 24 March
Raw Concrete provides a groundbreaking history of the heavy-concrete architecture of post-war Britain, as well as a personal and illuminating guide to eight pivotal Brutalist buildings. Beginning in a tiny concrete hermitage on the remote north Scottish coast, and ending up backstage at the National Theatre, Raw Concrete takes us on a wide-ranging journey through Britain over the past sixty years, stopping to examine how these buildings were made – from commission to construction – why they have been so hated, and why they should be loved.’

The Shore by Sara Taylor - 26 March
‘The Shore: a collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean that has been home to generations of fierce and resilient women. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it’s a place they’ve inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. Their interconnecting stories form a deeply affecting legacy of two island families, illuminating the small miracles and miseries of a community of outsiders, and the bonds of blood and fate that connect them all.’

The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann - 26 March
‘On a hot July day, three elderly people are found dead in a dilapidated house in Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakable feeling that she is somehow to blame. How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, and in the secret world of the ladies of the house...’

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum - 26 March
‘Anna Benz lives in comfort and affluence with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich, but inside she is falling apart. Feeling adrift and unable to connect, she attempts to assert her agency in the only way that makes sense to her: by engaging in short-lived but intense sexual affairs. But adultery, too, has its own morality, and when Anna finds herself crossing a line, she will set off a terrible chain of events that ends in unspeakable tragedy...’

Creative Truths in Provincial Policing by Paula Lichtarowicz - 26 March
‘It doesn’t take much to tip the world into chaos. You don’t even have to mean to do it. You might be an honest family man; a police chief in a small town in Central Vietnam, say, with no desire whatsoever to unleash catastrophe. A man such as Chief Duong, with simple dreams of domestic happiness and future immortality by means of a small statue on a roundabout. But the problem with dreams is it’s often hard to look ahead...’

Disclaimer by Renee Knight - 9 April
‘When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read. But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret. A secret she thought no one else knew...’

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy - 9 April
‘Sanctuary: a citadel in the heart of the former United States of America. Hundreds of miles in every direction beyond its walls lies nothing but death and devastation. Everyone who lives in the safety Sanctuary provides knows that. Until the day a stranger appears. He has come to lead the survivors away from Sanctuary, to the promise of a new life without walls. But those who follow him will discover that not everything he says is true...’

All This Has Nothing To Do With Me by Monica Sabolo - 9 April
‘When journalist 'MS' interviews the mysterious 'XX' for a job at her magazine, she hires him straight away - because he's gorgeous. As one date leads to another, her obsession spirals. MS finds herself writing letters to Facebook, her phone company, even XX's favourite author (who is dead), all whilst the object of her affection remains aloof. All This Has Nothing To Do With Me is an exposé of a broken heart, documenting MS and XX's relationship from jubilant start to painful finish, and laying out her life - and past - for our scrutiny.’

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann - 23 April
‘Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Cole and Linda Porter, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos - all are summer guests of Gerald and Sara Murphy, who met and married young, and set forth to create a beautiful world. They alight on Villa America: their coastal oasis of artistic genius, debauched parties, impeccable style and flamboyant imagination. But before long, a stranger enters into their relationship, and their marriage must accommodate an intensity that neither had forseen...’

With so many books on this list, there's almost no point in me adding much more, but some words about some of the above. The Well is absolutely brilliant - I might have mentioned that a few times before. Dark Rooms, which I finished a couple of days ago, was unfortunately a bit disappointing, and I actually gave up on The Raven's Head - not because it was bad, just because it seemed too similar to Maitland's other books. I'm reading A Reunion of Ghosts right now (great so far) and am looking forward to reading The Shore after that. As for what's on my wishlist... I've actually included some books I'm not interested in on this list for the sake of balance, but even so, there's loads here I'm excited about. I've seen The Mirror World of Melody Black compared to Scarlett Thomas, and although I didn't like A.D. Miller's Snowdrops, The Faithful Couple sounds totally different and pretty intriguing.

What are you looking forward to reading in the next couple of months? Have I missed out anything essential?

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  1. I've got really into Karen Maitland recently, and have binge-read a few of her others all in quick succession over the course of a few months - but from reading the blurb of The Raven's Head I can see why you put it down. It does sound a bit samey, like it's missing some unique angle to set it apart from the others. Will probably still buy it, mind, but not for a while yet!

  2. If I say that I just scrolled through the names of the book, it would be true. I know nothing about new releases or books from UK and countries in the west. I have been too much into reading books by Indian authors. But I have been looking for a change. I had wanted to read some new books but by the authors of some other country. Your list would act as a useful resource for me. Thanks for sharing.