After months of cancelled or delayed launches, there are signs that the publishing industry is ramping up for a mega season of new titles.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is on the theme of “Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020” which gives me a chance to talk about some of the books that have caught my attention. I suspect there will be many more temptations coming my way when publication dates get firmed up but for now, here are the books I’m keen to buy and read.
The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott
Arnott’s latest novel is described as “A gorgeous, playful and casually brutal novel about war and ecological precarity, about the endurance of legends and the dark magic to be found in our natural world.” Here we have a tale of two women: one who has chosen to live a secluded life among the mountains of a country turned upside down in a coup. The other is a soldier who comes in search of a legendary creature. Their lives entwine, pushing them both to consider what they love and what they fear.
Publication date: July 2 from Atlantic Books
The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin
This debut novel created a buzz when it was published in hardback in the US last year. I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about it once the paperback is issued. Chia-Chia Lin has written a tragic tale of a Taiwanese immigrant family struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. Their 10-year-old son contracts meningitis but survives. When he recovers from his near fatal coma, he learns his younger sister died from the same condition. Chia-Chia Lin explores the anguish and repercussions of this and the way that the American dream is undermined by reality.
Publication date: July 2 from LittleBrown
The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams
Lexicographical intrigues form the basis of this debut novel that swings from the nineteenth century compiler of a new Encyclopaedic Dictionary to a present day digital editor. The novel touches on questions of intellectual integrity and the fragility and absurdity of language. I have a feeling this book is going to expand my vocabulary. It’s already introduced me to mountweazel which apparently is a fake entry deliberately inserted into a dictionary or work of reference.
Publication date: July 16 by Cornerstone
A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
Inspired by a real life story, A Room Made of Leaves takes us to a penal colony in eighteenth century New South Wales. It’s a shock to the system for 21-year old Elizabeth, the newly-arrived wife of the colony’s new Lieutenant. Accustomed to the greenery and peace of her native Devon, she finds Sydney Town a brutal, dusty, hungry place of makeshift shelters, failing crops, plots and rumours. To survive both the place and her reckless husband she has to draw on strengths she never imagined she possessed. The sense of place created in Grenville’s earlier novel The Secret River , was one of the reasons I enjoyed that book so much. I’m hoping the new novel will prove equally atmospheric.
Publication date: August 6 , 2020 from Canongate
The Mission House by Carys Davies
If you haven’t yet sampled the work of this young award-winning Welsh author, I hope you’ll be tempted by The Mission House. It’s set at a British hill station in South India where a man takes refuge in the local mission. He is befriended by the Padre in the adjacent presbytery and begins to form close bonds with the Padre’s adopted daughter. As the relationship develops religious tensions threaten to escalate, putting the mission in danger.
Publication date: August 6 , 2020 by Granta
The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel
It’s six years since Mandel’s last novel Station Eleven, a book which helped me overcome an aversion to dystopian fiction. Now she’s back with a novel that weaves together the stories of a bartender at a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island; the New York financier who owns the hotel and a shipping agent who is shaken by a message he sees at the hotel. The publishers describe the novel as a story of “greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.” I’m counting the days until this comes out…..
Publication date: August 6 from Pan Macmillan
Summer by Ali Smith
This is the fourth and final book in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet which began with Autumn in 2017. I’ve been buying each book as it was published but wanted to wait for the quartet to be complete before I started to read them. Summer, like its predecessors, uses an interplay between the recent past and modern day society to examine love, time, art, politics/
Publication date: August 6 by Penguin Books
English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks
The only non-fiction title in my list, this is a chronicle of the life of three generations of farmers on a small farm in England’s Lake District. Rebanks, best known as the author of The Shepherd’s Life, uses the book to reflect on the decline of traditional agriculture and the changing nature of rural landscapes around the world.
It’s a topic very close to my heart because of plans to evict a farmer on the edge of our village, rip up all the fields and build yet another business park.
Publication date: September 3 from Penguin
Those Who Know by Alis Hawkins
Originally scheduled for a May launch, this third book in the Teifi Valley Coroner’s series will now be released in September. Those Who Know sees the coroner and squire Harry Probert-Lloyd and his under steward John Davies once more set out on the path of justice when they are called upon to examine the body of a radical and pioneering schoolteacher. I read the first book in this series – None So Blind – a few years ago and loved the chemistry between the two main characters.
Publication date: September 24 by Dome Press
Snow by John Banville
I’ve enjoyed John Banville’s literary fiction, including his Booker Prize winning The Sea, but I’ve never read any of the crime fiction published under his pen name Benjamin Black.
The Snow is his first crime novel to be published under his own name. Until now he has kept his crime and literary output completely separate, evento the extent of writing the former with a pen and typing the latter. I wonder why he’s decided to change course?
The publishers describe The Snow as a “chilling, 1950s-set, murder mystery”. It begins with the discovery of the body of a parish priest in the Library at Ballyglass House, the County Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. Detective Inspector St John Strafford arrives from Dublin to investigate he is met with a conspiracy of silence as the snow continues to fall.
Publication date: October 6 from Faber
Do any of these take your fancy? Or are there some other titles you are eagerly awaiting later this year?