On the sixth day of Christmas, take a gander at some exciting new adult fiction and non-fiction books coming out next year. It’s not five gold rings but it does have the same joy as the ‘characteristic two-bar’ composition. Some might see it as gaudy, but we think it’s always nice to highlight some of the excellent publishing on the horizon.
In the luckiest of cases we’ve had sneak previews of some of these books already, but for the most part please take the following enthusiasms as a working calendar of projected reading desires. Or… just look at the pretty covers.
Luke Turner OUT OF THE WOODS (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
A #deathsexnaturememoir, this is a lyrically written, complex reflection on relationships and Epping Forest, religion, sexuality and the fringes of the city. Praise from Olivia Laing and Amy Liptrot is definitely merited. I’m really enjoying Turner’s gift for unflinching autobiography and self-reflection.
Ella Risbridger, MIDNIGHT CHICKEN (Bloomsbury)
Part memoir, part exploration of depression and all hearty cooking, writer and poet Ella Risbridger’s book is unique. Beautifully illustrated by Elisa Cunningham, it’s a real companion-read, in and out of the kitchen.
John Lanchester, THE WALL (Faber)
Loved for his fiction and non-fiction alike, this new novel from Lanchester speaks to the contemporary moment. A page-turner and a response to our recent refocusing on borders…
Rebecca Kauffman, THE GUNNERS (Serpent’s Tail)
I don’t know a huge amount about this one, but, being a huge fan of Julie Buntin’s Marlena I sat up straight when I read Buntin’s comments on The Gunners…‘I recommend you read every single thing Rebecca Kauffman writes, start with this beautiful novel, and start now’.
Diane Setterfield, ONCE UPON A RIVER (Doubleday)
A favourite of Elaine (our beloved leader), and so much so that it snuck into her best reads of 2018, Once Upon a River is a gothic read about the power of storytelling, myths and legends set up and down the River Thames. *nb. If you’re in Cumbria, you can hear Setterfield talk at the New Bookshop in Cockermouth at the end of January.
Peter Morton ed. THE RARE OR UNREAD STORIES OF GRANT ALLEN: 1848-1899 (Vulpine Press)
Grant Allen was once well known. In recent memory, a collection of his stories existed in the Penguin Classics entitled The African Millionaire, which introduce his trickster villain and con-man Colonel Clay. Allen was a friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, and one of a number of Victorian writers whose work is now being re-evaluated. This eclectic collection is a welcome chance to sample Allen’s writing in diverse genres.
Yvonne Battle-Felton, REMEMBERED (Dialogue)
A hugely anticipated debut novel from Yvonne Battle-Felton. For full disclosure, I’ve worked alongside Yvonne before and I’m eager to see the fruits of her pen. An additional drive to read this is the firm recommendation of Jenn Ashworth, with the uncharacteristic prescription that ‘everyone needs to read this book’.
Marlon James, BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF (Hamish Hamilton)
The first book in a projected trilogy from Booker winner Marlon James. African history and mythology abound…
Tessa Hadley, LATE IN THE DAY (Jonathan Cape)
Worthy winner of numerous prizes, and deserves more. A writer I trust for compelling, involving drama and minute observations of human behaviour.
Georges Szirtes, THE PHOTOGRAPHER AT SIXTEEN (Maclehose Press)
A famed poet and translator, here Szirtes turns the lens on the life of his Mother delving into a personal and political past, from England to Hungary. Szirtes poetry is wonderful so I’m really looking forward to his first foray into non-fiction.
Karen Thompson Walker, THE DREAMERS (Simon and Schuster)
Presented with soaring endorsement from Emily St. John Mandel (author of the riveting Station Eleven), and with an opening that is lyric, eery and enticing I’m expecting big things for this novel. The sleep-mask that accompanies the proof copy I’ve nabbed is the must-have bookish sleep accessory of 2019.
Stacey Bartlett, THE FAMILIARS (Bonnier Zaffre)
A novel about Witches! The North-West! Bartlett takes us back to the 17th Century and in sight of Pendle Hill for some dramatic goings on. First impressions… pacy, great dialogue and some good attention to period detail in the language!
Kristen Roupenian, YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS (Jonathan Cape)
‘Cat Person’ proved that there are viral lives for short stories, and hopefully Roupenian’s new collection will join the increasing popularity of short story collections for our browsers in Grasmere. Anecdotally, ‘Cat Person’ did prove a problem to the humble bookseller when faced with certain buyers who thought it a lovely present for young nieces or nephews who they regarded as a ‘Cat Person’. Cue some awkward conversations all round… that said, you know you want this…
Eoghan Walls, PIGEON SONGS (Seren)
A small tick of mine, which the Grasmere book group know all too well, is the use of pigeons in literature. They tend to be deployed as knowing cameos, projections, stage-setting and time-filling, so those books which do something different with the feathered friends are well worth a look. Walls’ second poetry collection features ruminations on the pigeon-eyed view and much more besides, with a tempting promise of what Paul Farley describes as ‘liveliness’ and ‘exuberance’.
Mariam Khan, ed. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BURQA (Picador)
I’ve followed Mariam on twitter for some time and I’ve been glad to see posts on the evolution of It’s Not About the Burqa. A collection of essays which, though frustrated with the parameters of public discussion about Muslim women, responds by giving space to Muslim women to voice their perspectives on contemporary Western life. The opening essay by Mona Eltahawy, citing Chicana-feminist and border-dweller Gloria Anzaldua, is brilliant and I hope the book amplifies these voices significantly.
Max Porter, LANNY (Faber)
The follow-up to the compelling Grief is the Thing with Feathers, this is an acoustic dream of distorted rural life. It’s like the best bits of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem all wrapped up and twisted through a parallel universe trippy noir-Alan Bennett. An attention to speech and voice akin to Tim Pears’ Landed or Amy Arnold’s Slip of a Fish.
Helen Oyeyemi, GINGERBREAD (Picador)
Grasmere wouldn’t be Grasmere without keeping a lookout for connections to gingerbread. Oyeyemi’s writing is a joy and Gingerbread presents another great voice. Here we’re reeled in to the telling of a winding tale embedded in family, friendship and living with full knowledge of the dark fairytale-edges of modern British life.
Rebecca Tamás, WITCH (Penned in the Margins)
The first full poetry collection following a very well received pamphlet, Savage (Clinic), and the co-editing of a mesmerising book of poetry, Spells (Ignota) and promising poems by turns ‘lyrical, philosophical and obscene’. Penned in the Margins published two excellent books of poetry in the last two years, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s Swims and Kate Davis’s The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk, and they’re a press to watch in 2019 …
Siri Hustvedt, MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE (Hodder)
Hustvedt’s first novel since the magisterial essay collection A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women and the 2014 novel The Blazing World. Not seen a copy as yet but if the blurb is anything to go by we fully expect linguistic fireworks, generational reflections and Hustvedt’s own intriguing illustrations.
Rose Macaulay, WHAT NOT (Handheld Classics)
Much of the early spring of 2018 was spent reading and laughing aloud at the reissue of Macaulay’s Crewe Train (Virago). Now, following an excellent reprint of Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Kingdoms of Elfin, Handheld are reprinting a long-lost Macaulay… first published in 1918 ‘What Not was withdrawn due to potentially libellous pages. Now republished for the first time with the suppressed pages reinstated’.
Elizabeth Jane-Burnett, THE GRASSLING (Allen Lane)
A memoir from an accomplished poet, The Grassling is at once nature-writing, autobiography and lyric essay. I’ve already mentioned how much I enjoyed the poetry collection Swimsand I cannot wait to read this. Also, given the first glimpse of the cover, I cannot wait to be accompanied by it in the readerly wild.
Stefan Zweig, JOURNEYS (Pushkin)
A new edition of Zweig’s travel-writing, featuring observations of inter-war Europe, train travel and more. I’m increasingly drawn to Zweig’s writing and this is the latest in Pushkin’s enduring commitment to make his writing available to an English audience.
Sadie Jones, THE SNAKES (Chatto & Windus)
I’ve never read any of Sadie Jones work before and I’m hoping The Snakes is going to be a great place to start. This is her first novel set in the contemporary, and from the little I’ve dipped into it seems well-drawn.
Bruce Bennett, CYCLING AND CINEMA (Goldsmiths)
Reels and wheels… the bicycle has been present throughout cinematic history and Bennett’s book promises to unpack the meaning and power of depictions of this most everyday of technologies. One of my favourite Canadian films, Monkey Warfare, features some bizarre bicycle antics and I’m hoping this book puts it all in some context for me…
James Meek, DREAMS OF LEAVING AND REMAINING (Verso)
Your personal novelist-guide through Brexit Britain. Here, Orwell Prize winner Meek has been touring the country and exploring the social and political divides that shape our understanding of the issue that will be a staple of all news bulletins for the next few months/years/decades/until the inevitable red squirrel uprising.
Laila Lalami, THE OTHER AMERICANS (Bloomsbury)
A novel told in multiple voices, unravelling a crime and its perceptions grounded in contemporary American lives. Lalami’s novel seems a kaleidoscopic engagement with truth and morality, and on this basis I hope it will be as good as a book it reminds me of that I enjoyed in 2018… Tommy Orange’s There There.
Catherine Fisher, THE BRAMBLE KING (Seren)
We recently recommended the enchanting children’s book by Catherine Fisher, The Clockwork Crow, as a beautiful seasonal read in the Books Are My Bag Christmas advent calendar. Now a broad audience can see Fisher’s depths in her first poetry collection for 19 years. I am a tireless advocate for Fisher’s work having read everything she has written and being inspired to write and read by a very lucky childhood correspondence with her.
Dan Eatherley, INVASIVE ALIENS (William Collins)
Subtitled ‘Rabbits, Rhododendrons, and the Other Animals and Plants Taking Over the British Countryside’ Eatherley’s provocatively titled book seeks to expand our thinking about matter its appropriate places by way of a history of plants and animals deemed as invasive. Perhaps not one for our red squirrel friends but perhaps an apt time for opening up this conversation, and broadening the realms of contemporary nature writing.
Jim Crumley, THE NATURE OF SPRING (Saraband)
The third volume in Crumley’s seasonal nature writing journey, Spring! This series has drawn so many warm reviews from our customers in Grasmere and so we hope for more of Crumley’s signature authority on the outdoors and the widening perspective he offers.
Jen Campbell, THE GIRL AQUARIUM (Bloodaxe)
Close to the heart of many booksellers for her multiple reflections on the world of bookshops, her picture book endeavours with Franklin the flying dragon bookseller and the modern fairy tales of The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night. Campbell’s first full-length poetry collection comes with a huge level of expectation!
Ursula Buchan, BEYOND THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS (Bloomsbury)
A Life of John Buchan, esteemed writer of the Richard Hannay novels and one time governor-general of Canada, written by his granddaughter Ursula. The book has ‘drawn on recently discovered family documents’ so should shine a new light on a figure much read but little understood.
Hugh MacLennan, MAN SHOULD REJOICE (University of Ottawa Press)
MacLennan wrote many excellent, well-received novels in Canada in the mid-twentieth-century. His 1945 novel Two Solitudes has become an everyday phrase to describe the parallel existence of English and French culture within Canada. Five times he won a prize instituted by John Buchan, the governor general’s literary awards (still awarded today). However, this early novel, completed in 1937, was for reasons of the depression economy and editorial taste, never published, and left languishing in an archive when Colin Hill drew attention to it. Hill has continued to champion these modernist experiments of MacLennan and in 2019 we get to see what’s been written with the first official publication of Man Should Rejoice.
Elizabeth Day, HOW TO FAIL (Fourth Estate)
A witty and painfully insightful book from author and journalist Day. Subtitled ‘Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong’ this book builds on the success of Day’s podcast on exactly the same theme, highlighting the setbacks that have influenced many writers’ careers. This is such an important subject and we look forward to explaining our own failure to let it out of our sight…
Julia Armfield, SALT SLOW (Picador)
A debut collection of short stories from the winner of The White Review short story prize. Just caught a glimpse of these and I’m so excited to start them…
Kit De Waal, ed. COMMON PEOPLE (Unbound)
‘An Anthology of Working-Class Writers’ edited by the novelist Kit De Waal and crowdfunded by Unbound. We’re promised work by Cathy Rentzenbrink, Anita Sethi, Stuart Maconie, Dave O’ Brien and many more lovely and talented writers… cannot wait.
Karen Solie, THE CAIPLIE CAVES (Picador)
Solie was working on this fifth collection when she visited Grasmere, and read in 2015. We wholeheartedly love her work. A Canadian poet building a strong profile in the UK, with excellent features on her work in theLondon Review of Books, Solie’s new work focuses on caves on the Fife coast and a seventh-century Irish missionary, St Ethernan, but expect Solie’s pressurised use of language to be entirely contemporary.
Andrew Hodgson ed., DOSTOEVSKY WANNABE CITIES – PARIS (Dostoyevsky Wannabe)
Part of a series which focuses on writing from particular cities (or areas of cities), this volume on Paris has new writing from Lauren Elkin (writer of the brilliant Flâneuse: Women Walk the City…) which is worth the entry price alone.
Jessica Andrews, SALTWATER (Sceptre)
Another debut novel with a great narrative voice and vouched for by some excellent writers. The excerpt posted online marks a refreshing change … a new voice with some Northern affinities!
Kerry Hudson, LOWBORN (Chatto & Windus)
We were really privileged to hear Kerry Hudson talk about Lowborn at a regional bookselling gathering at Corbridge’s Forum Books in the autumn time. Subtitled ‘Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns’ the book sounds like an essential read. Part memoir, and part investigation of class and geography in contemporary Britain, Lowborn boldly tackles some difficult issues.
Katie Hale, MY NAME IS MONSTER (Canongate)
Shap’s finest, Katie Hale, has a debut novel coming out in the summer and we are VERY excited. We did once devise a scale for excitement like this, involving biscuits, in collaboration with @cloudatlaskid. Encompassing wafer-based products too, this scale position would involve a representation akin to a multipack of Volvo sized Tunnock’s chocolate wafers.
Lara Maiklem, MUDLARKING (Bloomsbury)
Another fascinating entry into the expansive field of nature writing, this book records a life searching in the silts of the River Thames to consider London’s past. Fully expecting this to kickstart a trend for a more active embrace of the riverine depths of our landscapes.
Mona Awad, BUNNY (Head of Zeus)
Awad’s previous book, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, a collection of interlinked short stories, is a real favourite so the discovery that she has a new book coming out in the summer is hugely exciting. To get a flavour of how good Awad is, I’d urge you to read ‘The von Furstenberg and I,’ a story from 13 Ways. Bunny is, according to Awad, ‘Carrie meets Heathers with some fairy tales mixed in’.
Olivia Potts, A HALF BAKED IDEA (Fig Tree)
Baking and memoir go together so well. Potts’ book is subtitled ‘How Love, Grief and Cake took me from the Courtroom to the Cordon Bleu’ which should give you some hints about the career transition that this book recounts. The context here promises captivating tales of personal life and emotional care that are frequent ingredients in the pursuit of cooking perfection.
Lara Williams, SUPPER CLUB (Hamish Hamilton)
Not to be mistaken for a memoir, Williams’ debut novel also circles the subject of food. Williams’ short story collection Treats (published by the late lamented Freight) was exceptional so I’m eager to see what her first novel looks like.
Edward Posnett, HARVEST (Bodley Head)
Tackling the niche worlds and economies of ‘eiderdown, vicuña wool, sea silk, vegetable ivory, civet coffee, guano and edible birds’ nests’ Posnett’s hybrid non-fiction book sounds fascinating! Unpacking the evolution of these unique microeconomies, and the common conditions that underpin them, I’m hoping it also opens up some new careers for excited readers. *nb. the cover above is a projected American one.
Colson Whitehead, THE NICKEL BOYS (Fleet)
Another Booker-winning author with a new book out in 2019. On the heels of the hugely successful The Underground Railroad, Whitehead promises another work engaging with American history, this time focusing on a segregated Florida reform school in the early Twentieth Century.
AN Devers, TRAIN (Bloomsbury)
Part of Bloomsbury’s excellent ‘Object Lessons’ series which sees writers respond to the complexity of everyday objects, I’ve been excited about this particular title for some time. Now the owner of London’s The Second Shelf bookshop, and editor of the crowdfunded companion journal, Devers’ book is an autobiographical reflection on train travel across North America interwoven with a consideration of the literary resonance of train travel.
Kathleen Jamie, SURFACING (Sort Of)
Poet and essayist, Jamie’s third non-fiction collection is a huge highlight in the bookish calendar ahead. Readers will be familiar with the eclectic and influential writings in Findings (2005) and Sightlines (2015). Both are massive bestsellers in our curious non-fiction offerings in Grasmere.
DJ Taylor, THE LOST GIRLS (Constable)
Literary criticism from novelist Taylor is always good value, highly readable and thoroughly researched. This volume is subtitled ‘Love, War and Literature 1939-1951’ and seems particularly timely. Particularly apt given the upsurge in interest in previously neglected mid-century female novelists, evident in the excellent work that publishers and podcasts from Persephone, Slightly Foxed and Virago to Backlisted undertake (we might also now mention Handheld and Dean Street Press) this book should meet a primed crowd.
Edward Parnell, GHOSTLAND (William Collins)
Domestic travel literature, but with a spirited twist. Subtitled ‘In Search of a Haunted Country’, novelist Parnell brings us a tour of the UK concerned with its supernatural literary dimensions. A good flavour of Parnell’s folkloric concerns via birds and the landscape can be read in a blog piece over at Folklore Thursday.
Stephen Chbosky, IMAGINARY FRIEND (Orion)
Chbosky’s followup to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, twenty years later. Much anticipated doesn’t get much more much anticipated than that.
Joanna Kavenna, TBC (Faber)
Finally… it was in last year’s much-anticipated blog post, and it failed to materialise in 2018. So, I’m hoping Joanna Kavenna’s Tomorrow, possibly now titled Zed (Faber) emerges in the summer of 2019!
There are so many others I could have mentioned here… what are you looking forward to reading in 2019?