Still looking for some excitement

Usually at this time of the year I’m frantically adding upcoming newly-published titles to my reading wishlist. Maybe I’m in a peculiar mood but this year I’m struggling to find much to excite me among the forthcoming books. It isn’t as if there is a dirth of new stuff coming out but nothing so far that has really lit the fire.

maggie o'farrellOne bright spot on the horizon is news that Maggie O’Farrell will publish her seventh novel in May. Just wish I didn’t have to wait so long. According to the blurb “This Must Be The Place crosses continents and time zones, giving voice to a diverse and complex cast of characters. At its heart, it is an extraordinary portrait of a marriage, the forces that hold it together and the pressures that drive it apart.” With O’Farrell I am certain this will be enjoyable but I’m rather perplexed by the marketing puff on the front cover. How can this be described by the publisher as a “Sunday Times best seller ” if it hasn’t been published yet?? I just checked this weekend’s copy of the newspaper and there’s no mention of it and certainly no appearance in their best seller listing… Supreme confidence in their author or blatant hype??

 

So far I just have five other 2016 titles on my wishlist.

Olduvaireads pointed me to French Concession: A Novel  by the renowned Chinese author Xiao Bai.This is the first of his works to be available in English and is a story of espionage set in 1930s Shanghai.

From The Millions List of Most anticipated books  I have taken a shine to
coverThe Happy Marriage by Tahar Ben Jelloun which is about the dissolution of a marriage between a renowned painter and his wife. That synopsis on its own wouldn’t be enough to get my attention but the setting and historical context make it more appealing – its set against the backdrop of Casablanca in the midst of an awakening women’s rights movement.

Am I the only person in the world who hasn’t read Elizabeth Strout’s Burgess Boys or her Pulitzer Prize winning Olive Kitteridge? Ok so maybe there are a few people who missed out on both of these and I was going to complete the hat trick by giving her latest novel,  My Name Is Lucy Barton a miss. But then I read this description from a blogger whose opinion I value. “… a book that is so close to perfection,” is how Thinking in Fragments described My Name is Lucy Barton. Now it would be utterly foolish of me to ignore perfection wouldn’t it??  Onto the list it’s gone.

I’m not absolutely sure about this next choice. It’s The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel. Like his Booker Prize winning Life of Pi this is described as an allegory, told in the form of three intersecting stories and three different points of time – 1904, 1939 and 1989. Has Mantel produced something as magically bizarre as Life of Pi?  One disappointment before I even open the first page   “there are no tigers in this fabulous new book” announced the publishers Canongate. I call that mean….

And finally, a debut novel Shelter by Jung Yun, a young author originally from South Korea. I’ve been looking for an author from that part of the world and when I saw that Yun names J.M Coetzee as one of her influences, my interest level shot up. Shelter is about a husband, father and college professor who gets into such deep  financial trouble he can no longer afford his home. His parents, whom he hates because they never showed him warmth, move in with him. Tension mounts, anger comes to the surface, deep seated resentment boils over..

So that’s it. Fairly lean pickings unfortunately.

What am I missing? Do tell me if you’ve spotted a gem.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on January 20, 2016, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Maggie O’Farrell is always worth checking out and despite not reading the Burgess Boys or Olive Kitteridge, I’ve just read My Name is Lucy Barton and think you’ll be pleased you put it on your list.

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  2. I didn’t like My Name Is Lucy Barton as much as I liked either Olive Kitteridge or The Burgess Boys. Have to get my review written still. Maybe I’ll come to like it more as I think about it more.
    I have Purity by Jonathan Franzen out from the library staring at me from a bookshelf across the room right now, which I haven’t started, but for upcoming titles, I went a little crazy on NetGalley and requested a whole bunch. Along with The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian (which I wasn’t crazy about and have already posted about), I’ve got Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber, In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri, and a few more. Yikes! The one I might be the most excited about, I haven’t gotten (yet)…Ann Leary’s upcoming book, The Children.

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  3. I’m following your lead and taking it slow this year. You’ve listed some interesting titles here, but I think I’ll wait for your reivews before I commit myself to anything!

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  4. You do source a wonderfully eclectic range of books. I’m “off” Chinese novels at the moment; ditto O’Farrell. I’d like to read the Yann Martel. Let’s hope it doesn’t fall into the dreaded category of Second Novel Syndrome. Time will tell.

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    • Alison, that word eclectic is exactly right about me as well as the books I read. I see myself as this little butterfly who keeps hopping from one bush to another because the other bush always looks so much more delectable than the one I’m on. Hence why I can never stick to a reading plan!

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  5. I’m still trying to catch up with all the big books from last year so I haven’t even had a chance to think about this year yet!

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  6. I’m waiting for the Maggie O’Farrell as well. I think she is a great writer. And do read ‘Lucy Barton’. It is superb.

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  7. I think the “New York times bestseller” puff refers to O’Farrell, rather than This Must Be the Place–they’re allowed to say it about her if her previous books have been on the bestseller list! (I suspect this is the case, since the puff is below her name and above the title.)

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  8. I made the mistake of writing Maggie O’Farrell’s books off as chick-lit years ago but was finally persuaded to read them and am now an ardent fan. All but French Concession are already on my list and I can vouch for Lucy Barton.

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  9. It’s probably a good thing that you don’t have too many new books on your list. It would be for me, at least. 🙂
    I just finished reading Olive Kitteridge and loved it, so Lucy Barton is definitely on my list. Maggie O’Farrell is also there – any Maggie O’Farrell. I’m not sure yet about the Yann Martel. I will wait and see how others find it. I, too, would love for there to be another tiger.

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  10. It is perfectly clear from the placement of the words on the cover that it is Maggie O’Farrell, the author herself, who is claimed to be the Sunday Times best seller, not this particular book. In other words, one or more of her previous books have been Sunday Times best sellers, so Maggie is legitimately claimed to be a Sunday Times best selling author. I don’t see how you could misinterpret this the way you have!

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  11. I’m also excited for the new Maggie O’Farrell, and I can recommend Elizabeth Strout’s latest. I’ve been thinking about trying Shelter, and The Happy Marriage was on my radar but forgotten about — so thanks for bringing them both back to mind. Other 2016 titles I’m looking forward to are The North Water by Ian McGuire and Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye.

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