Books to Look Out for February 2017: Part Two

Cover imageThe second part of February’s preview begins with its feet firmly planted in the US – New York to be precise – before nipping over to continental Europe for the last two titles. I’m not sure why but Tim Murphy’s Christodora has been on my radar for quite some time, probably something to do with Twitter but I don’t remember a huge amount of brouhaha about it. The Christodora of the title is an apartment building in Manhattan’s East Village whose inhabitants the novel follows from the 1980s to the 2020s: ‘Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself’ as the publishers put it which sounds right up my New York city loving alley. Of course it could be a sprawling mess but I’ll certainly be trying it out.

Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers is set in 2007, the year before the global financial crash. Recently arrived from Cameroon, Jende Jonga and his family have high hopes for their new life in America, all the more so when Jende becomes a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior partner at Lehman Brothers. The fates of the two men’s families become closely interlinked and the Jongas begin to believe that the American Dream might be within their grasp until it becomes clear that both the Edwards family and the world of finance have distinctly rocky foundations. ‘Faced with the loss of all they have worked for, each couple must decide how far they will go in pursuit of their dreams – and what they are prepared to sacrifice along the way’ say the publishers. The financial crash offers fertile ground for fiction just as 9/11 did, and this sounds like an interesting take on it.Cover image

Jaqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn takes us across the bridge to August’s old neighbourhood where she bumps into a long-lost friend triggering memories of the 1970s when ‘beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion’ says the publisher which sounds more than a little melodramatic but this one’s from Oneworld who have been coming up with some very fine titles over the past few years, not least the last two Man Booker winners.

Lutz Seiler’s award-winning Kruso takes us to Hiddensee – a Baltic island legendary as a destination for idealists and rebels against the East German state – where in 1989 a young student has fled a dreadful tragedy. Once there, he gets a job washing dishes at the island’s most popular restaurant and becomes friends with the eponymous Kruso to whom the seasonal workers seem to be in thrall. ‘As the wave of history washes over the German Democratic Republic, the friends’ grip on reality loosens and life on the island will never be the same’ say the publishers.

Cover imageFinally, we’re off to Copenhagen for Dorthe Nors’ Mirror, Shoulder, Signal. As you might infer from the title, Sonja is learning to drive. It’s all a bit of a struggle, something she should have done years ago when she was eighteen just like her sister whose life seems settled and perfect. ‘Dorthe Nors’ examines the absurdity of modern life, the complexity of human desire, and the ache of loneliness and disappointment in a novel shot through with flashes of humour’ according to the publishers which sounds very appealing to me and I do like Copenhagen.

That’s it for February’s new books. A click on a title will take you to a fuller synopsis for any that snag your attention and if you’d like to catch up with the first part of the preview it’s here. Paperbacks soon…

17 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for February 2017: Part Two

  1. naomifrisby

    Several of these are on my pile too. I’m interested in how you find Christodora. I haven’t come across it before but you know I’m also a sucker for a New York City setting.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      The feeling’s mutual, and I like the idea of the apartment block as a microcosm of the society in which it sits. It’s been done before, of course, and often very well.

      Reply
  2. MarinaSofia

    I like the sound of the East German book (I can never resist a book about the collapse of socialism) and also Behold the Dreamers – anything which shows the shallowness and impossibility of the American Dream attracts me automatically. But the others sound quite tempting too. Just as well I have a book-acquiring moratorium going on, then…

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I like the sound of Kruso, too. It’s a period that interests me and I’m sure would compare and contrast nicely with Behold the Dreamers.

      Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I do like that apartment building as microcosm of society device. It is, isn’t it. Plenty to console us for the wintry weather outside.

      Reply
  3. bookbii

    Another interesting selection Susan. For some reason Christodora is on my radar too but I have no idea why, there must have been something to make it seem familiar (either that or it sounds too much like Leonora and there seems to be a derth of stuff about Leonora Carrington coming out this year). Great blog. Still not tempted 😉 though Dorthe Nors is a writer I’d like to be more acquainted with.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      On mine, too. I think someone must have mentioned Christodora on Twitter, although not a publisher. Have you read anything by Nors? I’ve not come across her before but this one looks very appealing. I think it’s Carrington’s centenary. She looks like an interesting character.

      Reply
      1. bookbii

        I heard about a couple of Nors’s novellas: So Much For That Winter and Karate Chop & Minna Needs a Rehearsal Space and thought I’d like both, but have no memory of where I heard of them or when! Such is the ear-worm, or mind-worm perhaps, of Twitter. My library has Karate Chop, which has been on my to read list for a while.

        I agree Carrington looks like a very interesting character. I’m pretty sure Ali Smith mentions her in How to be Both.

        Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Welcome back, Margot! I’ve since read it – it’s a very slim novella – and it is beautifully written. I’ll have a review up in February.

      Reply

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