Books to Look Out for in October 2019: Part One

This October sees a nicely varied selection of tempting new titles on offer including one by an author whose name I’ve been hoping to spot in the publishing schedules for some time. I loved Mary Costello’s quietly beautiful Academy Street, one of my books of 2014. Her new novel, The River Capture, is about a man whose solitary existence is interrupted when a young woman knocks at his door, presenting him and his family with a dilemma. ‘This is a novel about love, loyalty and the raging forces of nature. More than anything, it is a book about the life of the mind and the redemptive powers of art’ say the publishers promisingly.

Neil Hegarty’s The Jewel sounds as if it’s also about art, although possibly not its redemptive powers. The final work of a woman who committed suicide hangs in a Dublin gallery, a piece she’d intended as her shroud. A collector covets it so much he’s prepared to pay to have it stolen. Hegarty’s novel follows the thief he commissions, the curator who loves the piece and the man charged with recovering it. ‘The lives of these three damaged people, each evoked with a calm, moving sympathy reminiscent of Michael Cunningham or David Park, come together around the hauntingly strange Victorian painting’ say the publishers, whetting my appetite nicely. I enjoyed Hegarty’s debut, Inch Levels, very much.

There’s something of a theme emerging here. In Jon Fosse’s The Other Name a widowed ageing painter is looking back on his life. Asle lives on the west coast of Norway and has just two friends – his neighbour and his gallerist who lives in Bjorgvin as does another Asle who is also an ageing painter leading a very different life. ‘Written in hypnotic prose that shifts between the first and third person, The Other Name calls into question concrete notions around subjectivity and the self. What makes us who we are? And why do we lead one life and not Cover imageanother?’ It’s the doppelganger idea that intrigues me with this one which is the first in a trilogy, apparently.

There’s geographical link rather than an artistic one to Lars Saabye Christensen’s Echoes of the City which has been hailed a Norwegian masterpiece. It charts the changes in an Oslo neighbourhood through its inhabitants as the city emerges from wartime austerity. ‘The minutes of the local Red Cross meetings give an architecture to the narrative of so many lives and tell a story in themselves, bearing witness to the steady recovery of the community. Echoes of the City is a remarkably tender observation of the rhythms and passions of a city, and a particular salute to the resilience of its women’ according to the publishers which sounds very inviting.

Years ago, in the very early days of this blog, I reviewed Susan Fortes’ Waiting for Robert Capa which introduced me to Gerda Taro, an unsung hero of war photography. Helena Janeczek’s The Girl with the Leica is also about Taro, telling her story through several characters attending her funeral held on what would have been her twenty-seventh birthday and placing it firmly in the context of the time. ‘Gerda Taro is at the heart of this kaleidoscopic novel but another of its main characters is the era itself, the 1930s, with economic depression, the rise of Nazism, hostility towards refugees in France, the century’s ideological warfare, the cultural ferment, and the ascendency of photography as the age’s quintessential art form’ say the publishers. I’m very pleased to see such attention devoted to Taro who, I was annoyed to discover, is barely given a mention at the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Centre which we visited in Budapest.

Cover imageI’m sure Zadie Smith would have shared that annoyance. I’m rounding this first October batch off with Grand Union, her first published collection. Smith’s stories take us from the last day of an Antiguan immigrant’s life in 1959 to a meditation on the nature of desire to a policeman in disgrace, apparently. ‘Moving exhilaratingly across genres and perspectives, from the historic to the vividly current to the slyly dystopian, Grand Union is a sharply alert and prescient collection about time and place, identity and rebirth, the persistent legacies that haunt our present selves and the uncanny futures that rush up to meet us’ say the publishers which sounds good to me.

As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you be interested. Part two to follow soon.

That’s it from me until the end of the week. I’m off to see a friend who lives in Holmfirth in Yorkshire where I believe there’s a spanking new indie bookshop…

26 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in October 2019: Part One

  1. madamebibilophile

    How is it nearly October?! A really interesting selection of reads here Susan, as always! You’ve reminded me as well that I’ve still not read Academy Street and so many bloggers loved it, I really must dig it out of the TBR…

    Reply
  2. Rebecca Foster

    I’m excited about Mary Costello’s new one, and I’ll at least dip into Zadie Smith’s stories (on order from the library).

    Enjoy your trip to Yorkshire, and that bookshop 🙂

    Reply
  3. BookerTalk

    Some interesting new issues. I’ll give the Zadie Smith a miss and not just because it’s short stories which as you know I don’t much care for. I’m not that wowed by her generally.

    Reply
  4. JacquiWine

    Ah, a new Mary Costello – that’s definitely something to celebrate. I might see if I can get hold of a proof. The new Zadie Smith sounds enticing too. I really enjoyed her previous short, The Embassy of Cambodia, so hopefully this new collection will be in a similar vein.

    Enjoy your visit to Holmfirth, a truly beautiful part of the world. A couple of friends got married there some 25 years ago, and I still have very fond memories of the trip!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      We’ve arrived and it’s lovely if a little damp! I’ve not read any of Zadie Smith’s short fiction but it sounds as if I should seek out The Embassy of Cambodia.

      Reply
  5. Kath

    Some great books coming out in October, my birthday month, so I should be okay for book-shaped presents. I’m really interested in reading The Girl with the Leica.

    Have a lovely time in Holmfirth with your friend – and enjoy your visit to Read!

    Reply
  6. Naomi

    It seems as though Zadie Smith is on fire these days! I’ll be curious to see what readers think of her short stories. I’m also happy to see another Costello!
    Have a great trip! I hope you brought a second suitcase for the bookshop! 😉

    Reply

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