Books to Look Out For in November 2015: Part 2

Cover image The second instalment of November goodies begins with a debut – Sloane Crosley’s The Clasp – although you may already know her from the delightfully named set of essays I Was Told There’d be Cake. Crosley’s novel follows a set of college friends as they make their way in the big wide world of jobs, romantic entanglements and friendships. This structure is catnip for me as regular visitors to this blog may have already noticed. Michael Chabon likes it too, apparently

Lorna Gibb’s A Ghost’s Story is just the sort of title publishers bring out for Christmas. Often they’re to be avoided like the plague but Gibb’s novel sounds intriguing. The Katie King spirit was famous in the 19th and 20th centuries for her appearances at séances and this is her fictionalised autobiography, ‘an examination of belief and a spectacular insight into what lies on the other side’, apparently. It’s also the story of a scholar who attempts to understand the Katie phenomenon. If Gibb manages to pull it off this could be a wonderfully original novel. We’ll see. Cover image

In Karine Tuil’s The Age of Reinvention successful Manhattan attorney Sam Tahar has built his life on a lie. The son of a Tunisian living in Paris, Tahar threw off his impoverished background making friends with a Jewish student at law school until they both conceived a passion for the same woman. When Nina chose Samuel, Tahar took off for America assuming Samuel’s identity. Many years later the three meet again with disastrous consequences. Tuil’s novel was a Prix Goncourt finalist and sounds well worth a look.

Set in Copenhagen just before the 2008 crash Martin Kongstad’s Am I Cold follows food critic Mikkel Vallin. Divorced, deserted by his girlfriend, sacked and unhappily middle-aged, he’s sworn off fidelity and his new girlfriend agrees. All seems fine and dandy until Vallin thinks he may be falling in love. Kongstad’s ‘debut turns the last, glorious, debauched days of pre-crash decadence into a wild satire of modern life’ Cover image say his publishers and if it lives up to that billing it could be very entertaining.

Having said so many times that I’m not a short story fan, here I am again including another set. This one’s from Shena Mackay many of whose novels I’ve enjoyed, particularly The Orchard on Fire which was shortlisted for the Booker way back in 1996. Her settings are often suburban, sometimes surreal and she has a fine line in dark humour all of which makes this collection something to look forward to.

That’s it for November hardbacks. As ever a click on a title will take you to a more substantial synopsis, and if you’d like to catch up with part one it’s here.

12 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in November 2015: Part 2”

  1. Very much looking forward to the Sloane Crosley. Lots here not on my radar at all. I’m interested to know what you think of A Ghost’s Story when you get to it.

    1. A Ghost’s Story didn’t initially appeal, I have to say, but it’s the examination of the nineteenth century obsession with spiritualism that hooked me. I’m with you on The Clasp.

  2. Make that me three… The Clasp I will definitely be looking out for – fancy The Age of Reinvention too and well – a short story collection with a fine line of dark humour? Obviously I MUST get Dancing on the Outskirts. I hadn’t spotted any of these three yet Susan so it’s great that you share 🙂

  3. I must get a copy of ‘I Was Told There’d Be Cake’ for The Bears. They would be most annoyed if they had been promised cake and none materialised.

    1. I know just how they feel, Alex. I find it impossible not to feel a touch of petulance just thinking about that title!

    1. I finished it last week, Catherine. It’s a sharp, funny satire. A little over long but I enjoyed it. Review coming soon…

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