Books to Look Out for in October 2020

This October’s publishing schedules has fewer attention-grabbing novels than I’d hoped, given all the slipping and sliding earlier in the year but perhaps November’s Christmas sparklers will be brighter. I’ll begin with Bill Clegg’s The End of the Day. I read his first novel, Did You Ever Have a Family, back in 2015 when it was published here in the UK and enjoyed it very much although I’m not sure it met with universal acclaim despite his standing as a respected literary agent. Perhaps he’ll do better with his second which sees a widow unexpectedly visited by a friend she’s not seen for forty-nine years, a man finding his estranged father collapsed on the floor of the hotel in which he was to be introduced to his grandchild and a phone call to a cab-driver reminding her of her traumatic past. Clegg’s novel explores the connections between these three disparate characters in ‘a feat of storytelling, capturing sixty years within the framework of one fateful day’ according to the publishers, whetting my appetite nicely.

Unsurprisingly, three characters are the focus of William Boyd’s Trio, set in the summer of 1968, about the making of a movie in Brighton, a world away from the Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinations of that year. The titular trio comprises a producer, a novelist and an actress who become increasingly focused on each other until it all becomes too much, apparently. There was a time when a new Boyd on the horizon signalled a treat in store for me. Not so in recent years but that premise sounds very tempting.

I haven’t yet read Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend but I gather from many whose opinions I trust I’ve missed a treat. What Are you Going Through seems to explore similar themes of friendship and grief through a woman with terminal cancer who asks her friend to help her to die promising ‘to make it as fun as possible… …What follows is an extraordinary tale of a friendship put to the greatest test: to witness, unflinching, its end. It is also a portrait of the way we live now, in a world endlessly troubled by crises, and the dramatically changing nature of human relationships in our time’ say the publishers of a novel that sounds well worth investigating although maybe I should read The Friend first.

Clarissa Goenawan’s The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida has an intriguing premise. Set in contemporary Japan, it follows the eponymous Miwako’s closest friends and family as they try to piece together the jigsaw of her life after her death in a remote village. ‘Together, they realise that the young woman they thought they knew had more going on behind her seemingly perfect facade than they could ever have dreamed’ say the publishers. Only her best friend knows her true identity, apparently. I do like the sound of that.   Cover image for insignificance by James Clammer

James Clammer is already established as a children’s author although I have to admit his name is new to me. The lovely Galley Beggar Press are publishing, Insignificance, his first novel for adults in which Joseph is trying to concentrate on the plumbing job in hand but can’t keep his mind off his family, distracted by what he believes are his son’s murderous intentions. ‘Placing the reader right inside the head of its struggling narrator, it works double time, both as an act of empathy a taste of the uncertainty and awkwardness of one vulnerable man, and his relationship with the world and also as a tense, emotional and gripping drama’ according to the blurb which sounds both riveting and claustrophobic.

That’s it for October’s new novels. A mere handful but several of them sound very tempting to me. As ever a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis. Paperbacks soon…

23 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in October 2020”

  1. I feel very much the same way as you do about William Boyd; I haven’t really enjoyed one of his novels since Waiting for Sunrise. I think I’ll wait for the reviews before committing time which is at a premium at the moment. Definitely can’t read What Are You Going Through because I have recently found myself in this position and it is difficult enough without reading about it, I’m afraid.

  2. The Boyd does sound tempting but although I haven’t read much by him I know fans share your view. I’ll wait for some trusted bloggers to read it first and tell me if I should give it a try (hint, hint Susan!)

  3. Sigrid Nunez’s name seems to have cropped up a few times recently, so it’s interesting to hear she has a new one coming soon…

    Thanks as always for these round-ups, Susan. I do find them useful to browse with my ‘bookshop’ hat on, even though I might not read the books myself!

    1. I’ve noticed that, too, Jacqui, often mentioned by bloggers whose opinion I trust.

      You’re welcome. These are enjoyable posts to write. I hope you weren’t swamped last Thursday. Dealing with unpacking all those titles must have been taxing let alone finding space to display them.

  4. I had the same experience with Boyd, leaving him after Restless. I’m glad to read here that others had the same reaction. I always wondered if I should not have bailed out. I’m intrigued by Insignificance and also the Perfect World novel. Thank you! It’s so helpful to get the headlights here. Also, for what it’s worth, I support your inclination to read Nunez’s Friend first. I haven’t read the new one, but from what I’ve read about it, it feels like the first one would be the better entry point.

    1. You’re very welcome! I stuck doggedly with Boyd through several thrillers before giving up but thought Sweet Caress was back in Any Human Heart Territory. I think you’re right about the Nunez.

  5. Another interesting selection, I haven’t any experience of any of these writers but I have seen Boyd talked a lot about. It seems that you’re not that keen?

  6. Did You Ever Have a Family was good in part but I wasn’t completely sold on it. As for William Boyd, I’m afraid I’m done with him after the lacklustre last offering Love is Blind

  7. Ah, sadly I too no longer have the old feeling of excitement at the idea of a new Boyd. I decided not to go for this one immediately and see what the reviews say…

  8. I haven’t read any Nunez although own two… and want this latest. I’m absolutely confident I’ll like her writing (partly because she has impressed by most trusted bloggers).

    I’ll pass on the Clegg – I didn’t think much of Did You Ever Have a Family; will also pass on the Boyd, who I have found to be hit and miss.

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