I am not feeling particularly optimistic about the year 2017 (read my previous post if you wonder why I) but luckily there are some good things coming my way, to keep me from sinking into gloom.
Out of the large number of promising books being published this year, four got me particularly excited. All four are by writers whose books I like to read slowly, savouring the language and the atmosphere. So, if you are in the mood for the next Girl on the Train just scroll to the end of the post and click on some of the links, it is in there somewhere (because Paula Hawkins’ next book is coming in May!). If you think you might like to spend some time savouring, check out my most anticipated books of the year. I have provided quotes from previous work to show why these writers are masters of the written word.
The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam
12 January 2017
Nadeem Aslam writes breathtakingly beautiful novels that tackle difficult subjects such intolerance and terrorism. His latest novel is set in Pakistan and deals with a Muslim widow and her Christian neighbours, as their community is being torn apart by religious intolerance.
If I take dust in my hand and ask you if that is all the dust there is, you will answer that dust is everywhere on earth. More specks than can ever be numbered. So I can give you a handful of truth only. Besides this there are other truths. More than can ever be numbered.”
― Nadeem Aslam, The Blind Man’s Garden
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
6 April 2017
Jon McGregor is a master at turning everyday things into poetry. It has been seven years since his last novel (although he wrote a book of short stories meanwhile) and I am very excited to read another novel by him. Reservoir 13 deals with the disappearance of a young girl and how it affects the village from where she disappears.
“If you listen, you can hear it.
The city, it sings.
If you stand quietly, at the foot of a garden, in the middle of the street, on the roof of a house.
It’s clearest at night, when the sound cuts more sharply across the surface of things, when the song reaches out to a place inside you.
It’s a wordless song, for the most, but it’s a song all the same, and nobody hearing it could doubt what it sings. And the song sings the loudest when you pick out each note.”
― Jon McGregor, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
1 June 2017
If I thought Jon McGregor left me waiting too long, it is nothing compared to Arundhati Roy. Her new novel will be published 20 years after her Booker Prize winning debut The God of Small Things. Her first novel made me fall in love with the written word all over again. But both Arundhati and I have aged 20 years in the meanwhile, so lets see if we still click or if we have grown apart.
“Perhaps it’s true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house—the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture—must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstituted. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
15 August 2017
Kamila Shamsie is another writer whose books I always look forward to. Her evocative writing brings characters and history to life. Home Fire is a story about love and loyalty, centering on two Muslim families in contemporary London.
“How to explain to the earth that it was more functional as a vegetable patch than a flower garden, just as factories were more functional than schools and boys were more functional as weapons than as humans.”
― Kamila Shamsie, Burnt Shadows
Finally I want to give all of you the chance to discover your most anticipated books of 2017. Here are some links to help you:
The Guardian: Books in 2017: a literary calendar
The Millions: Most Anticipated: The Great 2017 Book Preview
New York Times: What You’ll Be Reading in 2017
The Telegraph: The best new books in 2017
Bookriot: Anticipated Books of 2017 (Podcast but includes a list in the description)