Books to Look Out for in November 2014

Cover image Much to my surprise there are more enticing books published this November than in October. It’s usually a rather dull month – all the finest jewels in the box put out on display for Christmas already – but some treats have been held back perhaps the most surprising of which is Jane Smiley’s Some Luck, the first in a trilogy that promises to follow an American family over a century. It opens in 1920 with Walter and Rosanna Langdon beginning their lives together on an isolated Iowan farm. There’s a chapter for each year, apparently, with the next two parts due to be published in 2015. From a writer of Smiley’s calibre this could be a very enjoyable way of exploring the American twentieth century.

Mary Costello’s first novel, Academy Street, also looks at twentieth century American history this time through the eyes of Tess Logan, a shy young woman with a passionate heart. Over four decades, Costello follows Tess from her early years in the west of Ireland to the razzle-dazzle of New York where she makes her home. Costello’s short story collection, The China Factory, was much praised and the quote from the novel on Canongate’s press release looks very promising indeed.

I enjoyed Amanda Coe’s What They Do in the Dark very much. It’s one of those taut, domestic thrillers – very dark indeed, and she certainly knows how to ratchet up the tension. In Getting Colder Sara, who deserted her children to be with her lover – once a much-lauded playwright now whiskey-soaked and blocked – has died. Thirty-five years after she left them, her children have sought Patrick out wanting answers. A little less sinister than What They Do in the Dark, apparently, although it sounds pretty unsettling to me

I know very little about my fourth choice, Favel Parrett’s When the Night Comes, but somehow the juxtaposition of its settings alone – Tasmania and Antarctica – makes it worth checking out. In it a young girl and a crewman on an Antarctic supply ship cross paths, each learning something from the other. Not much, I know, but it’s enough to pique my interest.

This one may seem completely out of character to regular readers of this blog – it’s William Gibson’s The Peripheral – but if there’s one SF writer non-genre readers make an exception for it’s Gibson. The prescience of his near-future set novels – Virtual Light and Pattern Recognition, for instance – is uncanny and his writing is excellent. I’m hoping for more of the same in this ‘tale of drones, murder and time-travelling crime’ set in 2020 where a young woman in a video game witnesses a drone strike kill a young child in the Deep South. At the same moment – but one hundred years into the future – a boy is remotely killed in London. Intriguing!

My final choice is Georges Perec’s Portrait of a Man. Years ago I read and loved what is Cover image probably Perec’s best known novel, Life: A User’s Manual, about the inhabitants of an apartment block in Paris. It’s quite some time since I’ve read anything else by him but this one caught my eye. Written in the 1950s, it’s the story of a forger and a killer. It’s only recently been discovered – it’s his first novel – which may well mean that it was tucked away in a drawer somewhere, rejected by a long list of publishers but I think it’s worth a try.

That’s it for November. A click on the title will take you to Waterstones website if you want to know more about a book – and if you’d like to see what I’m looking forward to in October click here for the hardbacks and here for the paperbacks.

11 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in November 2014”

  1. Are you going to read the Queenie Hennessey sequel to Rachel Joyce’s Harold Fry pilgrimage? I see that’s out in October and it feels like a good month for catching up on the other half of that story. Well for me anyway 🙂

    I am a long way from realising what’s coming out in Nov, I’ve been reading from the past though I am about to read a 2014 published memoir/non-fiction book, H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald which sounds promising.

    Thanks for the update, love hearing what’s coming up!

    1. Have to confess that I haven’t got around to Harold yet so I suspect not. I’ve seen such great reports of H is for Hawk from many bloggers whose opinion I trust, Claire. I think you’re in for a treat – it’s on my list. Glad you like the little roundups. They’re fun to do!

  2. An advanced copy of the Jane Smiley arrived at the back end of last week and I can’t wait to have a couple of days spare to simply wrap myself round it.

  3. As well as the new – thanks for reminding me of the earlier Perec, which I never got round to reading. Another one for the to-buy list. Talking of which do you know any good-guy online bookshops I can buy from rather than the devil that is Amazon. I’m not sure if I can wait for another trip to the UK to buy some new books – I’m getting twitchy!

    1. Hmm.. when I buy online I still use the Waterstones site (stupidly loyal, perhaps, but there is the loyalty card) and H uses W H Smith, surprisingly. Apparently, they’re prices are competitive with the devil’s. There’s an organisation called Hive which sells books for independents although I doubt they ship abroad. Hope you enjoy the Perec, Kerry!

  4. I’m definitely going to try to get hold of the Jane Smiley – I like her very much, usually. And it’s good to see more Perec coming into print – he doesn’t get read often enough, though he is very clever and can be very bleakly funny. The other names are all mostly new to me, but that’s good! I love checking them out.

    1. Yes, I think Jane Smiley is the jewel in the crown, particularly with two more instalments following on next year. Fingers crossed for the Perec – I’m always a little worried about those long lost novels but will certainly be giving this one a try. I hope you find a few more to take your fancy, Victoria!

  5. Pingback: When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett: The story of a sailor, a girl and the Nella Dan | A life in books

Leave a comment ...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: