Much Anticipated of 2018
One of the delights of working in a bookshop is getting a glimpse of exciting things as they are published. We’re so lucky that after 130 years of Sam Read’s selling books in Grasmere we’re still able to sell the latest titles. With this in mind, and the new year gathering just over the fell, I’ve put together some of our most anticipated books for 2018. Some of these we’ve seen, some we’ve heard whispers of, and I’ll try and make it clear if we’ve read any of these already (eek) but all are due in 2018. For my own benefit as well as yours (dear imaginary reader) I’ve loosely arranged the titles into a handy month-by-month guide. There’s a huge bias towards fiction here but there is also a peppering of essays, popular non-fiction and poetry.
Kerry Andrew SWANSONG (Jonathan Cape)
A debut novel set in the contemporary that presents a twist on the folk ballad of Polly Vaughan. Having a partner called Polly who may be fanatical about said myth and variant versions might explain part of why this is an initial entry.
Laura Shapiro WHAT SHE ATE (Fourth Estate)
A collective biography of what the subtitle describes as ‘remarkable women’. Not only is this beautifully written but it has a whole chapter on the culinary world of Dorothy Wordsworth! Massive Grasmere interest.
Louise Erdrich FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD (Corsair)
Erdrich is an excellent novelist and any new work from her is much anticipated. Add in that Erdrich is also a bookseller herself (https://birchbarkbooks.com) and that this new work is distinctly dystopian and you get a sense of my excitement.
Imogen Hermes Gowar THE MERMAID AND MRS HANCOCK (Harvill Secker)
Heavily praised by Elaine (our beloved leader) who also described it as a bit saucy, this novel transports the reader to a lavishly imagined version of Georgian London.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi KINTU (Oneworld)
A debut novel from a UK-based Ugandan novelist, this is a work grounded in Ugandan history but also in folklore and myth. Published to wide acclaim in America in 2017, Gabe Habash calls it a ‘a sprawling, striking epic’ which is good enough for us. For a recent interview with Makumbi see New Writing North.
Jess Kidd THE HOARDER (Canongate)
The second novel from Kidd, following the hugely enjoyable Himself this promises to be an eery read.
Abi Andrews THE WORD FOR WOMAN IS WILDERNESS (Serpent’s Tail)
Another debut novel, this time concerned with nature, exploration and nicely undercutting dominant narratives of the lone male picking up and setting off. What I’ve read of this so far has been tantalising and I can’t wait to get back into it…
Brian Carter A BLACK FOX RUNNING (Bloomsbury)
An early 1980s novel gets a reprint from Bloomsbury with a loving introduction from Melissa Harrison. This book reverberates with rural life from the point of view of animal life. Think Watership Down but with a bit more dirt, and nature that’s red in tooth and claw.
Miriam Darlington OWL SENSE (Guardian Faber)
We were big fans of Otter Country and here we’re promised a cultural history of owls alongside the author’s personal encounters with the bird. Particularly enchanting if the owl in the opening credits of The Snowman eternally haunts you.
Zadie Smith FEEL FREE (Penguin)
A new collection of essays from Zadie Smith bringing together previously unpublished work with her regular writings from the New York Review of Books. Having read some of these in their previous iterations I’d expect essential cultural commentary and measured insight.
Rose Macaulay CREWE TRAIN (Virago)
First published in 1926, Macaulay’s novel gets a new edition in 2018 along with the more well known The World My Wilderness. Her English class satire comes highly recommended (last year I read some E Arnot Robertson and so it’s put me onto this vein). I’ve inadvertently spent a number of train journeys waiting at Crewe in the past months which has also left this impending reissue at the front of my mind.
Julian Barnes THE ONLY STORY (Jonathan Cape)
A new Julian Barnes work is always exciting, as I’ve not known him to disappoint. His most recent novel, The Noise of Time was excellent and I expect a great deal from this.
Zoe Gilbert FOLK (Bloomsbury)
Billed as dark, folkloric and filled with the rural, this debut novel comes highly praised. It is also a beautiful object in its own right with some amazing cover art. Always keen to see what our favourite people are reading, Katherine Norbury’s early championing of this makes it one to watch out for…
Graham Robb THE DEBATABLE LAND (Picador)
Given that Grasmere was once in Scotland we have a vested interest in all discussions of the English-Scottish border. Unpicking the history of this region, Graham Robb’s new book details ‘the last part of the country to be brought under the control of the state’. Robb’s previous work on France and The Ancient Paths have been bestsellers for us…
David Chariandy BROTHER (Bloomsbury)
Chariandy hasn’t been published in the UK before but his previous novel Soucouyant was as good as Canadian writing can be. His new novel is told in a razor sharp, poetic voice and inhabits a compelling story of tragedy and family in contemporary Scarborough, one of the most diverse districts of the city of Toronto.
Fran Cooper TWO HOUSES (Hodder)
We loved Cooper’s first Paris-set novel, These Dividing Walls, and on the basis of that alone, can’t wait to start her new one. It’s coincidental that this is also set in rural England… either this is a trend or it’s something we have a vested interest in…
Thomas Maloney SACRED COMBE (Scribe UK)
Sneaking into my listing is a book that’s already been out in hardback and gets the joy of a paperback release in 2018. Maloney’s novel is part bibliophile’s mystery and part haunting imaginary of the English countryside so think what might happen if JL Carr, Robert Macfarlane and Richard Holmes had all co-authored a tall tale. I can’t wait to press this into some eager readers hands.
Naomi Kruger MAY (Seren)
I declare a bias here because I used to work with Naomi so I’m really excited to read her first novel. This promises a rumination on memory, loss and an exciting new voice.
Colin Herd, CLICK & COLLECT (Boiler House)
Advocating as we do for human and friendly customer service, we can’t help but be fascinated by the language contemporary consumerism deploys. Hopefully Herd’s new poetry collection exploits this to the full.
Clive Hutchby (and Alfred Wainwright), WAINWRIGHT’S ILLUSTRATED WALKING GUIDE TO THE LAKE DISTRICT BOOK 5: NORTHERN FELLS (Francis Lincoln)
The latest book in the revision of this odyssey, as Clive Hutchby updates Wainwright’s classic 1950s and 1960s series. Expect light-touch interventions to keep the guides as practical as possible for the current day walker. Should keep you from trespassing, unexpected stiles or the psychogeographic experience that using earlier editions might prove (although this is not guaranteed).
John Lewis-Stempel THE WOOD (DOUBLEDAY)
The Herefordshire farmer is a one-man industry of thoroughly enjoyable nature writing and we humbly suggest this will not falter in 2018. The Running Hare was subtle, enjoyable and immersive writing and we know some of our twitter followers love his work as much as we do. I met him once and he was a lovely man. It’s strange, and perhaps unfair, but this sort of thing does influence your reading…
Joanna Walsh BREAK.UP (Tuskar Rock)
A hybrid experimental essay that is equal parts memoir, travel essay and bibliophilic investigation into writings on love. What’s most dangerous about this book is that it will send you after all the books Walsh reads and reflects upon during the packed chapters.
Kirsty Logan THE GLOAMING (Harvill Secker)
A new novel from the Scottish author of the excellent drowned world fantasy The Gracekeepers. Yet to delve into its pages but we expect magic, complex reverberations of fairy tales and some watery northern worlds.
Lucy Wood SING OF THE SHORE (Fourth Estate)
Weathering was one of my favourite novels of recent years ghostly so the latest short fiction by Lucy Wood is really very exciting. First heard her praised by man of taste and all-round excellent writer Jon McGregor (although let it be recorded here that his football allegiances are questionable).
Carys Davies WEST (Granta)
A debut novel from Carys Davies, whose short fiction has been exceptional. Davies describes the process of research for this novel on ‘the settlement of the American West’ in an evocative piece for Granta here.
Emily Hasler THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT (Pavilion)
Hasler, once of this parish, has her debut poetry collection out in 2018. Expect unexpected angles on bird watching, history and the kinds of logic that would do well in Only Connect.
Sarah Corbett A PERFECT MIRROR (Pavilion)
More poetry to look forward to, and this time the latest collection from Corbett whose work partially stems from a project entitled ‘Dorothy’s Colour’ revisiting the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth with painter Zoe Benbow for the Wordsworth Trust in 2017.
Natasha Carthew ALL RIVERS RUN FREE (riverrun)
A novel of Cornish landscape, the wild sea and motherhood which comes highly praised by Wyl Menmuir.
Dorothy Hartley MADE IN ENGLAND (Little Toller)
A reprint of a 1939 study, this is a new title in Little Toller’s fulsome list of Nature Classics. Hartley might be known for her food writing, having elsewhere talked about the process of Grasmere gingerbread, but this is described as a social and cultural history of rural crafts and rural labour. One to feed our aspirations beyond reading…
John Boughton MUNICIPAL DREAMS (Verso) A wide ranging and timely history of social housing which should be of interest to many as housing becomes an ever more pressing issue in British life.
Joanna Kavenna TOMORROW (Faber)
Kavenna’s most recent novel A Field Guide to Reality was playful and complex. From her previous work, Come to the Edge had the extra local interest for us, in its Cumbrian setting. Details are fleeting but expect a short trip back in time to the fears of the dawn of a new millennium…
Sheila Heti MOTHERHOOD (Harvill Secker)
How Should a Person Be was another favourite of recent years. Blending autobiography and fiction, Heti’s recent work is frequently intimate and startling in the confidences the reader accepts.
Lorrie Moore SEE WHAT CAN BE DONE (Faber)
Moore’s short fiction is second to none and so a collection of her essays is tantalising. The book spans her career so hopefully some gems await.
Christine Schutt PURE HOLLYWOOD (And Other Stories)
And Other Stories produces excellent books. This is just one of their 2018 roster. It’s a UK debut for Schutt, who is already acclaimed in America as a novelist and short story writer. Pure Hollywood promises to be a powerful collection of stories. It’s also notable that this is part of a promise made to make 2018 a Year of Publishing Women, following a 2015 provocation by the novelist Kamila Shamsie.
Whitney Brown BETWEEN STONE AND SKY (Constable)
The memoir of a female dry-stone waller who was tempted away from the Smithsonian and a strictly academic life for the joys of rural mid-Wales. This sounds like another excellent addition to the nature writing genre, or what Unbound editor John Mitchinson recently called memoir ‘in the modern style’.
Meg Wolitzer THE FEMALE PERSUASION (Chatto & Windus)
The new novel from an American writer who brought us the mazy and involving The Interestings. Often described as zeitgeisty by people who use such words. We’re looking for a good novel and this one sounds solid.
Kate Davis THE GIRL WHO FORGETS HOW TO WALK (Penned in the Margins)
A debut narrative poetic work from Cumbrian writer Davies that should take on the often-overlooked intersections of disability and the landscape.
Michael Ondaatje WARLIGHT (Jonathan Cape)
A new novel from Canadian Ondaatje (of The English Patient and In The Skin of a Lion fame) is something to mark down in the diary. Well told stories and elaborate visual language have defined his writing and we look forward to what he comes up with next.
Emma Hooper OUR HOMESICK SONGS (Fig Tree)
Hooper’s 2015 debut Etta and Otto and Russell and James was a brilliant comic novel shot through with heartache and resonated with fans of Rachel Joyce. This time the setting shifts from the Canadian prairies to Newfoundland at the time of the Cod moratorium.
Melissa Harrison ALL AMONG THE BARLEY (Bloomsbury)
Harrison’s last novel At Hawthorn Time was excellent, as are Harrison’s non-fiction pieces published in The Times Country Diary and the recent book-length work Rain: Four Walks in English Weather. Harrison’s new novel is ‘set on a farm in Suffolk just before the Second World War’ so in my mind I’m already comparing it to Ronald Blythe and HW Freeman, or more recently Fiona Melrose, in tackling the less-fashionable ends of Suffolk (so many more novels are set on the Suffolk coast).
Sarah Perry MELMOTH (Serpent’s Tail)
Another East Anglian, Perry’s next work is highly awaited by a broad swathe of the British reading public. Influenced by the 1820 gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer, and according to Perry not the Romance fiction that A*az*n has it misfiled under, this is the most exciting thing we currently know to be happening in October 2018.
Kristina Olsson SHELL (Scribner)
A recent piece in the Guardian on walking these parts, on the Coast to Coast path, and on writing has us awaiting Olsson’s novel Shell. Granted it won’t have the excitement of a mule called Jethro that was party to Hugh Thomson’s own cross-country book in 2017 but it will be informed by these fell paths and for that we are always eager to open the pages.
Helen Jukes A HONEYBEE HEART HAS FIVE OPENINGS (Scribner)
A beekeeping memoir. What’s not to like?
Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park CORPSE ROADS OF CUMBRIA (CreateSpace)
Cleaver, Mr Lonnings of Cumbria, has a new book out on the haunting paths of corpse roads. Although mostly out of active service (?), Cumbria has a huge number of byways and routes which formerly served to take bodies to their final resting places. The coffin path between Grasmere and Rydal will be familiar to many visitors but there are many more to discover in Cleaver and Park’s new book.
Kerry Darbishire’s new poetry collection (Indigo Dreams)
2018 also sees a new poetry collection from local poet Darbishire. Her non-fiction work Kay’s Ark is one of our most popular local titles, recounting the life of Kay Callaghan of Skelwith Bridge.
Here endeth the anticipated titles. What reading are you looking forward to in 2018?