Books to Look Out for in April 2018

Cover imageFewer new April titles have snagged my attention than I’d hoped, although there were so many at the beginning of the year that may not be such a bad thing. I’ll start with the Gun Love by Jennifer Clement, author of the impressive Prayers for the Stolen, published in the UK a few years ago. Fourteen-year-old Pearl lives in the front seat of a wrecked car in a Florida trailer park while her mother lives in the back. Under the driver’s seat sits a gun given to Margot by her boyfriend, a regular visitor to the back seat. ‘Gun Love is a hypnotic story of family, community and violence. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenager, it exposes America’s love affair with firearms and its painful consequences’ say the publishers. I remember circling Prayers for the Stolen for some time, expecting unremitting grimness given that it was about kidnapped girls but it surprised me, and I’m hoping for the same with this one.

Diana Evans’ Ordinary People is set in South London, far from Pearl and Margot’s trailer park. Melissa is sinking after the birth of her baby while Michael fails to remain faithful to her. Further out into the suburbs, Stephanie is happy with Damian and their children until the death of his father seems to pull the carpet from underneath him. ‘Set against the backdrop of Barack Obama’s historic election victory, Ordinary People is an intimate, immersive study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and aging, and the fragile architecture of love’ say the publishers enticingly.

Sarah Françoise’s Stories We Tell Ourselves is about another marriage in trouble, or perhaps a whole series of them. Joan and Frank have spent three decades in an unfinished house in the French Alps. Frank is involved in an epistolary affair with his German ex-girlfriend, and Joan is losing patience but it’s Christmas. They’re about to be visited by their three children, all wrestling with their own relationship difficulties. ‘Written with a rare precision and insight, the author explores the thorniness of familial love and its capacity to endure with warmth, wit and disarming honesty’ say the publishers, a promise which if it’s fulfilled could result in an Cover imageentertaining read.

No prizes for guessing the subject matter of Joanna Walsh’s Break.up but what’s interesting is the way in which Walsh approaches her subject, apparently blending fiction with essays on all manner of things according to the blurb. Walsh’s book is rooted in the idea that the internet has resulted in ex-partners becoming near inescapable. After an affair conducted mostly online, her narrator travels across Europe relying purely on chance to shape her journey. ‘From Rome to Budapest, Freud to Foucault, algorithms to nostalgia, this is a stimulating, original work which dismantles what we know of love, and how we make art from it, and finds a new form and language for the way we love now’ say the publishers. Walsh writes both fiction and non-fiction so may well be able to pull off what sounds like an ambitious piece of writing. She’s also the person behind #ReadWoman.

Lucy Wood’s lovely first novel, Weathering, was a 2015 favourite for me. I still haven’t got around to reading her much-praised collection Diving Belles and Other Stories but that hasn’t stopped me lusting after her new one, The Sing of the Shore, comprising stories set in Cornwall. ‘These astonishing, beguiling stories of ghosts and shifting sands, of static caravans and shipwrecked cargo, explore notions of landscape and belonging, permanence and impermanence, and the way places can take hold and never quite let go’ according to the publishers. Weathering was striking for its gorgeous, lyrical writing raising expectations for more of the same.

Cover image I’m ending with Roland Schimmelpfennig’s One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the 21st Century, one of the lengthiest titles I’ve come across in some time. The lure here is its Berlin backdrop and its translation by Jamie Bulloch whose work I’ve come to admire. A wolf crosses the border from Poland into Germany, making its way to Berlin. Schimmelpfennig’s novel traces the lives of the people whose path the wolf crosses, from the construction worker who photographs it to the woman who burns her mother’s diaries on a Berlin balcony. ‘Those who catch sight of the wolf see their own lives reflected, and find themselves searching for a different path in a cold time. This first novel of Germany’s most celebrated contemporary playwright is written in prose of tremendous power and precision’ say the publishers which sounds very promising.

That’s it for April’s new titles. A click on any title that takes your fancy will lead to a more detailed synopsis. Paperbacks soon…

29 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in April 2018”

  1. Diana Evans is a brilliant writer and her first two books, 26a and The Wonder, are amazing. I was totally engrossed in them and the writing is extraordinary. I am looking forward very much to Ordinary People!

  2. I didn’t know Lucy Wood had a new book out. I’ve read both of her previous ones, and especially loved Weathering. You always introduce me to at least one book that’s new to me in these posts — thank you!

    1. I suspect that title is going to be mangled beyond recognition in bookshops across the land! I missed Herr Schimmelpfennig’s play at my local theatre a few weeks ago, unfortunately.

  3. This month’s choices all seem to be somewhat downbeat … not sure I could read Gun Love without getting extremely irate with arguments in favour of gun ownership…….

    1. I hadn’t really noticed that as I was putting this post together but you’re right: not a very cheery selection. I don’t think there’ll be any arguements in favour of gun control if Clement’s pervious novel is anything to go by.

  4. I’ve a proof copy of Ordinary People and am very, very excited about it! Knew of most of the others, but am glad to be reminded of them (especially the Schimmelpfennig, the title of which I shall set myself to memorise, as a challenge.)

  5. Ooh! Weathering is one of those books which every now and again pops into my head in a way that makes me realise how much it affected me, yet it didn’t exactly feel like it at the time. Like it seeped into my bones like the ever-present water in the book. A lovely read. Good to hear Wood has another book coming out.

  6. I really enjoy Jennifer Clement’s writing, so Gun Love definitely appeals. As a south Londoner I’d be interested to read Ordinary People too – it wouldn’t usually appeal but as you say, the publisher;s blurb is very enticing!

  7. So much I’m looking forward to from this selection – Jennifer Clement, Diana Evans, Joanna Walsh – and I had no idea there was a new collection from Lucy Wood. I loved Diving Belles.

    1. Fewer titles for me to get excited about than the past few months but the ones that are there look well worth getting you teeth into. Diving Belles is slowly making it’s way up my pile.

    1. Actually, I’m not a bit suprised. I don’t speak German but I’m a fairly regular visitor to Germany and I’ve noticed a cerain predilection for concatenation.

  8. Gun Love sounds timely. And there seem to be a few here about marriage – mostly the breaking up of it – something I’ll be keeping my eye on!

    1. Sadly, I think it’ll be timely for a while although I have hopes. The young people of Parkland are both articulate and courageous. They deserve to keep their grip on the moral high ground. And you’re right – I hadn’t noticed but there is a little marriage motif!

  9. You say there’s not much happening in April, but…. have added all of these to the list! Particularly curious about Break.Up and will be keen to see how it’s written.

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