Books to Look Out for in April 2014

Bodies of LightSo the clocks have changed in looking forward land, but it’s probably raining in April in the UK anyway so no reason to leave that sofa and quite a few reasons to stay on it.

Earlier this year (that’s 2013) Sarah Moss took me on one of several visits to Iceland with her lovely memoir of her time there as a visiting academic, Names for the Sea. I’d already read and enjoyed her novel Cold Earth and am looking forward to her new one Bodies of Light which seems very different. Apparently it shares a character with her second novel Night Waking which I haven’t got around to yet. It’s set in the ‘world of Pre-Raphaelitism and the early suffrage movement’ according to the publishers and is the first of a two-part series. The third of my world war one novels – the first two of which are published in January – is Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone which begins in 1914 with Vivian Rose Spencer in Greece and Qayyum Gul fighting in the British Indian Army. They meet on a train to Peshawar in 1915 and fifteen years later are brought together again. I came late to Shamsie’s very fine Burnt Shadows so have a nice bit of back list catching up to do. Rachel Sieffert’s The Dark Room was one of those rare things – an excellent novel whose film adaptation, Lore, did justice to it. The Dark Room made quite an impression on me as did her short story collection Field Study so I have hopes for The Walk Home, about a Glasgow family who seem to have made a habit of running away. I’m a great admirer of Sebastian Barry’s elegant writing style so I’m looking forward to The Temporary Gentleman in which Jack McNulty, an Irishman whose second world war commission with the British Army has never been made permanent, tells his story from his lodgings in Accra  in 1957. Lisa Moore, whose understated novel February I much admired, publishes Caught, about an escaped con who sets up a dope-smuggling The Wives of Los Alamosracket, in the UK. Goodreads reviews seem a little mixed and it’s been described as ‘utterly unique’ which is enough to put anyone off but I’ll be adding it to my list. TaraShea Nesbit’s The Wives of Los Alamos about life on the edges of the Manhattan project looks promising and I’m a sucker for anything set in New Mexico even if it is in the soulless looking Los Alamos. Not so keen on this jacket, I’m afraid, but I’m not letting that put me off. And finally, you’ll be pleased to hear, Gabrielle Zevin’s The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry which may turn out to be a tad too whimsical for me but as it’s about a bookshop, a bookseller and a publisher’s rep I’m unable to resist. Can’t leave you without mentioning the promise of a new David Mitchell in September and a new Colm Tóibín in October.

That’s it from looking forward land. I’ve enjoyed writing these posts and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. Let me know what you’re looking forward to reading, or perhaps just adding to your list for 2014. It’s also my last post before Christmas – H and I are off to Amsterdam.  A very happy Christmas to all, particularly to booksellers and anyone else working in retail or the food and drink industry who might be reading this. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like.



6 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in April 2014”

  1. Having been brought up in a small corner shop I second your final thoughts. In theory we were closed on Christmas Day, but the fact that we lived on the premises meant that in practice we were truly ‘open all hours’.

    April looks like being a bumper month for me because I shall certainly want to read both the new Sieffert and the new Barry. I also like the sound of the Sarah Moss, a name I haven’t encountered before. I am off to look up her earlier work and see if the library has any I can get in for Christmas.

    Have a great time in Amsterdam.

    1. I loved Names for the Sea – she managed to capture her feelings of puzzlement and dislocation so well.

      It must have been hard living over the shop – much hammering on the door when you were closed, I imagine! I haven’t worked in a restaurant or pub but I’m sure it’s difficult at this time of the year – all that bad behaviour at office parties, sheer hard graft and, I suspect, poor tipping.

      Have a lovely Christmas, Alex. I suspect we’ll be spending a lot of our time in the Reichsmuseum although I gather there’s a very good American bookshop in the vicinity…

  2. So many great titles and new names and old favourites, I love to know what’s coming and equally to be spontaneous and influenced by what ever is still to come, the great unknown, which may well be due to an enticing review from you!

    However, I am already looking forward to reading Per Petterson’s Ashes in My Mouth Sand in My Shoes and I may even have to reread I Curse the River of Time, since I loved his writing in this one so much, in what is perhaps otherwise a bleak read, but one that I read pre-blog days.

    Also looking forward to The Expedition to the Baobab Tree by Wilma Stockenstrom, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a few Russian classics including Eugene Onegin and a few Tove Jansson titles, since it is her 100th anniversary in 2014, I haven’t actually read any of her children’s books, but her memoir The Sculptor’s Daughter sounds like a must read as does Art in Nature and The True Deceiver to add to those I read last year. It looks like a wonderful reading year to come!

    1. Well, I’m flattered, and can return that favour! It looks like another great reading year ahead.

      I loved the Per Petterson and plan to read more this year. Sometime last year I watched an excellent documentary on Tove Jansson which looked at her art, writing and her relationships – very interesting and beautifully shot. My partner’s 92-year-old aunt is a great fan and I’m hoping for some reissues for her. I think there are some short stories out this month.

      1. Last year I read her The Winter Book (a compilation of short stories/vignettes) and A Summer Book and really enjoyed them both, in their quiet, slightly eccentric way. I would love to see that documentary, I find her a fascinating character, the product of a liberal upbringing who seemed to live her life very much on her own terms. Your partner’s Aunt is going to be in for a treat, I am sure 2014 will offer some exquisite renditions of her work. There is a website Tove100 already dedicated to it.

        1. Thanks so much for the link. The documentary I mentioned is listed on the site – Momminland – so it may be on iPlayer. I think I’ll try and track down a DVD for Pen. I’m sure she’d love it.

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