Books to Look Out For in December 2022

Cover image for Devils and Saints by Jean-Baptiste AndreaaAs ever, there’s little to tempt me in December’s publishing schedules although there are a couple of potential out-of-the-way gems beginning with Jean Bapiste Andrea’s Devils and Saints. A pianist, schooled at a religious institution in the Pyrenees, wows travellers at airports and stations with his virtuoso piano performances, turning down many offers of work from his admirers, telling them that he’s waiting for someone. ‘Humorous even in its darkest moments, Devils and Saints tells a daring tale of camaraderie, love, and good triumphing over evil’ says the blurb promisingly. I enjoyed A Hundred Million Years and a Day, admiring its precise but lyrical prose and am hoping for more of the same. Cover image for A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe

My heart sinks when a dog appears in fiction. They rarely meet a happy end with the honourable exception of Maude in Claire Fuller’s Unsettled Ground. At least we know right from the start that a dog has died in Josephine Rowe’s A Loving, Faithful Animal, a loss which results in an Australian Vietnam vet disappearing yet again, leaving behind his family and a wife who decides to let him stay missing this time. ‘A Loving, Faithful Animal is an unforgettable interrogation of ruins, redemption and reasons why. This haunting and vivid novel excavates an Australia rarely seen in literature’ promise the publishers.

Cover image for The Bookseller's Notebooks by Jalal BarjasI can’t resist a book about a bookseller, the occupation of Ibrahim in Jalal Barjas’ The Bookseller’s Notebooks who decides to live amongst the homeless when he loses his job. Ibrahim is a voracious reader who takes on the identities of his favourite protagonists eventually succumbing to a breakdown. ‘As events unfold, Barjas opens up many surprises for his reader, illustrating through his flawed characters the ruined state and complete emptiness of the world. In intensely poetic language, he throws light on a totally schizophrenic reality in his country, and brilliantly uses all the tools of emotional stress and engagement and of psychological exploration of human behavior that narration necessitates.’ say the publishers which sounds intriguing if a little wordy.Cover image for Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol

Gina Apostol’s Bibliolepsy also has a bookish theme as you’d guess from that title. It follows a young woman who escapes the miseries of deep recession in the Philippines in the 1980s through books or rather their authors, attending poetry readings where revolution is in the air, hoping to find a writer with passion. ‘As the Marcos dictatorship stands poised to topple, Primi remains true to her fantasy: that she, “a vagabond from history, a runaway from time,” can be saved by sex, love, and books’ says the blurb promisingly.

Cover iumage for The Perfume Burned His Eyes by Michael ImperioliSet in 1976, Michael Imperioli’s The Perfume Burned His Eyes is about sixteen-year-old Matthew whose mother moves him from Queens to a smart Manhattan apartment building after the death of both his father and his grandfather, the same building in which Lou Reed lives. Reed becomes an unlikely father figure for Matthew who falls hard for a girl ‘wise beyond her years’ according to the blurb. Not sure about this one which could fall flat on its face but I can’t resist a novel featuring Lou Reed.

That’s it for December; slim pickings, indeed. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more. I’m sure January’s preview which will be much more exciting.

27 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in December 2022”

  1. As I used to live in the Pyrenees, I was immediately taken by the thought of reading Devils and Saints. But I’m not immediately taken by the promise of the other books on your list. Let’s see what actually browsing through them in the bookshop does for me.

  2. I can safely say the dog book is not going on my list. I can’t really handle animals hurt or worse in books even if I know. But books The Bookseller’s Notebooks and Bibliolepsy have piqued my interest. And what a coincidence that having hardly encountered any books set in the Philippines, yours is the third mention of one I’ve come across today.

  3. The Jalal Balaras novel is probably the one which appeals most out of those. You’re right about dogs in fiction, (why do they do that?) Glad to hear that isn’t the case in Unsettled Ground which I have tbr.

  4. Classical piano influences draw me, so Devils and Saints is now on my radar. And then, like most here, I’m hesitant about A Loving, Faithful Animal, for the dog, but I’m curious about the Vietnam veteran aspect.

    I’m late to this post, but I always enjoy your previews no matter when I get to them!

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