Books to Look Out For in July 2016: Part 1

Cover imageBack from a week in the wilds of Herefordshire with a look at what’s ahead in the July publishing schedules. No contest as to which book should begin this post for me. Sarah Moss has left the nineteenth-century setting of Bodies of Light and its sequel Signs for Lost Children, leap-frogging the twentieth century to land in the present day with The Tidal Zone. Shockingly, Adam is contacted by his fifteen-year-old daughter’s school to be told that she has collapsed for no apparent reason and has stopped breathing. ‘The Tidal Zone explores parental love, overwhelming fear, illness and recovery. It is about clever teenagers and the challenges of marriage. It is about the NHS, academia, sex and gender in the twenty-first century, the work-life juggle, and the politics of packing lunches and loading dishwashers’ say the publishers which sounds a world away from Moss’s last two novels, both shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize, but I’ve no doubt she’ll match their excellence with this one.

Carrying on the family theme, Mary Gaitskill’s Mare – her first novel for some time – sees Ginger, a forty-seven-year-old recovering alcoholic, trying to persuade her reluctant new husband to adopt a child. They compromise, joining an organisation that sends poor city kids to the country for a few weeks but soon Ginger has become entranced by eleven-year-old Velveteen Vargas who they have welcomed into their comfortable upstate New York home, inviting her to visit whenever she likes. ‘Mary Gaitskill has created a devastating portrait of the unbridgeable gaps between people, and the way we long for fairytale endings’ say the publishers. I haven’t had much luck with Gaitskill’s work in the past but this sounds an interesting premise

Pamela Erens’ Eleven Hours also explores bonds that can form in highly emotive circumstances. Set in New York, the novel reveals the lives of two women – one in labour, the other her Haitian midwife. It’s the ‘taut sensitive prose’ of the publisher’s blurb that attracts me to this one together with the interweaving of the stories of two women from very different backgrounds. The ‘sometimes harrowing’ description is a little off-putting but at least we’ve been warned.

This first batch of July goodies ends with a writer whose novels – rather like Mary Gaitskill’s – I’veCover image failed to get on with in the past but the synopsis is wacky enough to make this one worth investigating. In Joanna Kavenna’s A Field Guide to Reality, Professor Solete has bequeathed his Theory of Everything to Eliade Jenks, a scruffy waitress who the rest of his circle look down their sniffy Oxford noses at. Unfortunately, the manuscript can’t be found so Eliade sets out to track it down. Now comes the interesting bit as, according to the blurb, she ‘falls down a rabbit-hole of metaphysical possibility. From a psychotropic tea party to the Priests of the Quantum Realm, she trips her way through Solete’s wonderland reality and, without quite meaning to, bursts open the boundaries of her own’ which suggests to me that it could either be fascinating or backfire horribly. The novel comes illustrated by Oly Ralfe.

As ever, a click on any title that catches your eye will take you to a fuller synopsis. More to follow but not before a ‘what I did on my holidays’ post later this week…

18 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in July 2016: Part 1

  1. naomifrisby

    I always love these posts although the thought of July being so close did give me a start! The top three are on my pile, I like the sound of them all. I didn’t know Joanna Kavenna had a new one coming out – yay! Off to investigate.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I know, and looking out to the window doesn’t help to place yourself in the year, either. The Kavenna sounds completely wacky. Perhaps I’ll see how you get on with it.

      Reply
  2. Poppy Peacock

    Again, I do like these posts as you’ve an eye for the premises that attract my attention. I’m especially intrigued by the Gaitskell having just purchased her collection of shorts Because They Wanted To & novel Two Girls, Fat and Thin … and Eleven Hours sounds fascinating if not intense!

    Some great choices as ever Susan

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thanks, Poppy. I know what you mean about Eleven Hours although it’s a mere 176 pages so short although not necessarily sweet.

      Reply
  3. Naomi

    A book about packing lunches and loading dishwashers sounds very relevant to me right now, and oddly makes me want to read it. I will have to investigate that one further…
    I also like the premise of both Mare and Eleven Hours. I guess I’m hoping you’ll read them all (as usual), so I can hear more about them!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I’m a huge fan of Sarah Moss so you can be sure that I’ll be reading that one, Naomi!

      Reply
  4. Gemma

    I’ve heard good things about The Tidal Zone and I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it 🙂

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Pleased to hear that, Gemma. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Sarah Moss so expectations are high for this one.

      Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      That’s a shame on both counts! I hope you’ll be relieved from dishwasher duty soon.

      Reply

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