Books to Look Out for in September 2018: Part One

Cover image My heart sings with joy at the prospect of several books in September’s publishing schedules. You’ve probably already heard of at least one of them: Kate Atkinson’s Transcription whose announcement made my literary year. Wartime spy, Juliet Armstrong, has moved on from MI5 to the BBC ten years after she was recruited in 1940 but finds herself confronted with her past. ‘A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence. Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy’ say the publishers and, having already read it, I’d say they’re right. Still mystified as to why Atkinson didn’t win all the prizes for A God in Ruins.

Hard to follow that, I know, but I’ve learned to prick up my ears when a new Sarah Moss is announced. In Ghost Wall, Sylvie is spending the summer with her parents in a Northumberland hut where her father is intent on re-enacting Iron Age life. ‘Haunting Silvie’s narrative is the story of a bog girl, a young woman sacrificed by those closest to her, and the landscape both keeps and reveals the secrets of past violence and ritual as the summer builds to its harrowing climax’ say the publishers which sounds a world away from Bodies of Light and The Tidal Zone.

Sally Rooney’s quietly addictive Conversations with Friends was a surprise inclusion on my 2017  books of the year list. The more I read it the more it grew on me. Her new novel, Normal People, follows Connell and Marianne, both from the same small town but from very different backgrounds, who win places at Trinity College Dublin. ‘This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel’ say the publishers promisingly.

Nihad Sirees’ States of Passion sees a Syrian bureaucrat seeking shelter in an old mansion where he hears stories of an all-female society, passions and subterfuge set against the backdrop of the golden age of Aleppo. ‘Sirees spins astonishing literary beauty out of this tangled web of family secrets, and he writes with great humour and warmth about the conflict between past and present in this surprising and unique novel about a lost world’ according to the publishers.

Catherine Lacey’s second novel, The Answers, came with Margaret Atwood’s seal of approval Cover image which must be both a blessing and a curse for an author, setting the bar a tad high. She’s followed it with Certain American States, a collection of twelve short stories which explore loss and longing, apparently. The Answers was stuffed full of smart writing so I’m hoping for the same with this collection although perhaps not the caustic humour given those themes.

That’s it for the first batch of September’s goodies. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis for any that have caught your eye. Part two also anticipates some stonkingly good titles although perhaps none to equal Transcription

16 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in September 2018: Part One”

  1. Well I have saved up the points on my Waterstones card and will be buying Kate Atkinson for sure. A rare hardback buy. And Sarah Moss might have to be added.

    1. I can vouch for both the Atkinson and Moss which are all that you’d hope for from both of them, Marina. I wasn’t taken with the Rooney to begin with but then found I couldn’t leave it alone. The synopsis for her new one reminds me a little of Brenda McKeon’s tender.

      1. Transcription is very good, but I think Ghost Wall is even better. And I totally agree that the synopsis of Normal People sounds like Tender – although Sally Rooney’s first book didn’t reeeeally do it for me, and McKeon definitely did.

        1. Both excellent and, I hope, will appear on a multitude of Christmas present lists. Conversations was a slow burner for me but I adored Tender from the start. A gorgeous book.

  2. What a bumper crop! Coincidentally, I have just started Life After Life – it was one of those reading gaps that was getting difficult to explain. I’m only a little way in but already love it.

    I’ll probably pass on the Moss – I didn’t like Tidal Zone much – found the tone a little detached.

    Very much looking forward to the Rooney and the Lacey (love the cover of that one!).

    1. It is, isn’t it, and there’s more to come. Ghost Wall is very different from The Tidal Zone. I’ll be posting a review nearer publication. Delighted to hear you’re enjoying Life After Life.

  3. A close friend had a very similar experience to you with Sally Rooney’s Conversation with Friends as it took her a while to get acquainted with the book’s style. She’s quite keen to read her new one, so I’ll be interested to see what you think of it.

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