Books to Look Out For in November 2019: Part Two

Cover imageBack from Portugal – more of which next week – with part two of November’s preview which has its feet firmly placed in Europe with one novel set in Norway, two in Germany, one in France and two in the UK. Let’s work our way south, starting in a remote small town in northern Norway where a single mother has forgotten her young son’s birthday. Hanne Orstavik’s Love follows the separate journeys of Jon, as he sets off to sell lottery tickets for his sports club, and Vibeke, who heads off to the local library and a fairground, in what the publishers are calling ‘an acknowledged masterpiece of Norwegian literature’, and they’re quite right. Gorgeous jacket, too. Review to follow.

Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s  The God Child takes us to Germany where Taiye Selasi Maya grows up aware of her parents’ difference. One Christmas her cousin arrives, spinning stories about Ghana, colonialism and its fallout, awakening Maya to the reasons why her parents might be the way they are. When, as a young woman, Maya is reunited with her cousin in Ghana, she finds him troubled. ‘Her homecoming will set off an exorcism of their family and country’s strangest, darkest demons. It is in this destruction’s wake that Maya realises her own purpose: to tell the story of her mother, her cousin, their land and their loss, on her own terms, in her own voice’ say the publishers of what they’re calling ‘a brave reinvention of the immigrant narrative’ which sounds right up my alley.

We’re staying in Germany for Amanda Lee Koe’s Delayed Rays of a Star in which a photographer captures Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl in a single photograph at a Berlin party in 1928. Koe’s novel follows the three women through their careers and private lives. ‘In the murky world these women navigate, their choices will be held up to the test of time. And the real question is, how much has anything changed? This fierce and exquisite debut Cover imageabout womanhood, ambition, and art, played out against the shifting political tides of the twentieth century, introduces a mesmerizing new literary talent for our times’ according to the publishers which sounds very tempting to me.

Heading across the border to France for Marie NDiaye’s The Cheffe about the daughter of a  poor family in Sainte-Bazeille who displays a remarkable talent for cooking when she grows up, even dreaming in recipes. An acknowledged genius in the kitchen, the Cheffe is intensely private, refusing to reveal the name of her daughter’s father when she gives birth.  Despite the sucess of her restaurant, her relationship with her daughter becomes so fraught it threatens to destroy her career, apparently. I have a weakness for novels set in restaurants and about food hence the appeal of this one.

Off to London for Jane Rogers’ Body Tourists set in a small private clinic. The bodies of the teenage poor are being used to rejuvenate the old and rich willing to pay the price. ‘It’s an opportunity for wrongs to be righted, for fathers to meet grandsons, for scientists to see their work completed. Old wine in new bottles’ according to the publishers. Not entirely convinced about this one. I usually avoid dystopian fiction but Jane Rogers is a writer whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past, not least her last novel, Conrad and Eleanor back in 2016.

Cover imageI’m finishing this second part of November’s preview with Scarlett Thomas’ welcome return to adult fiction, Oligarchy, set in an English boarding school where the daughter of a Russian oligarch is finding it hard to fit in. Then her friend disappears plunging her into a dark world. It seems a very long time since The Seed Collectors so hopes are high for what the publishers are calling a ‘fierce new novel about power, privilege and peer pressure’.

That’s it for November’s new titles. A click on any that take your fancy will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with the first batch, it’s here. Paperbacks soon…

27 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in November 2019: Part Two

  1. MarinaSofia

    I know it was a very tough and emotional read, but I really liked Hanne Orstavik’s Love. This must be the UK edition of it – I read the US edition 18 months ago via the Asymptote Book Club.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I’ve no idea why I haven’t got around to reading The Blue Room given all the excellent reviews I’ve read, but Love has made me make sure that it’s on my next Waterstone’s order.

      Reply
  2. Elle

    I’ve got a copy of Oligarchy and can’t wait. The others also sound promising – I suspect we’ll do best with The Cheffe and Delayed Rays of a Star.

    Reply
  3. buriedinprint

    The first one appeals to me, not only for that lovely cover. I’m curious about where/how/if those two journeys taken by the characters align/intersect/diverge.

    Also, it’s been ages since I’ve read Scarlet Thomas, but I have always meant to return to her work (and even though it makes no sense, something about a boarding school story always piques my interest).

    Happy reading to you!

    Reply
  4. Kate W

    Yes to the Orstavik, Koe, NDiaye (I also have a weakness for culinary novels), and the Thomas (because I also have a weakness for novels set in boarding schools – blame Enid Blyton). I’ll pass on the Rogers because I still have her last novel sitting in the TBR stack and I think I’ve filled my dystopian quota (granted, it’s small) this year with Atwood and Awad.

    Reply
  5. BookerTalk

    Thats why it sounded familiar. I was struggling to think where I had heard the name before. I read an earlier work by her called The Blue Room (really good) but havent got to Love yet

    Reply
  6. Naomi

    It’s hard to ignore a book with “Love” as the title and that pretty blue cover. Can’t wait to hear more about ti!
    The Cheffe also appeals to me for the reasons you’ve already mentioned.

    Reply

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