Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Throw Your Mama’s Smelly Shoe Awards & Other Malaysiana Miscellany

IMAGINE editing an author who gets the spelling of his wife’s name wrong! “I will have to get back to you with regard to the spelling of my wife’s name. I will have to ask her if it is spelt with an ‘a’ or ‘e’. I may have to take a look at her birth certificate to ascertain. You just never know.” Yes, you got it right, you just never know.
***
ANOTHER prize-winning quote from the very people who gave us the ground-breaking QUOTE OF THE CENTURY (see below): “I don’t agree with all of your edits, but I am quite all right with them.” This is absolutely riveting, nail-biting stuff.
***
QUOTE OF THE CENTURY: “Edit, but please don’t change anything, because it is already perfect.” (It was far from perfect.) A classic case of imbecility or existential profundity, perhaps?
***
“I FINALLY learnt to say no. After all these years. And it felt really, really good. I have always been one of those people who had problem saying no. And because of that I have always ended up with more than I could chew. Now, the weight of the universe is lifted off my shoulders. I must continue using it more often.”
***
A SENIOR EDITOR at a Malaysian publishing house received the following e-mail the other day. The message, with typos amended (to avoid embarrassment, of course), reads: “I can’t write very well, but I thought I’d like to try writing a novel. I’ve decided to write one about pirates, but I know next to nothing about pirates. Could you please e-mail me information about pirates: their lifestyle, their eating habits, where they like to chill out in the evenings or during the weekends, what they like to do during the day when most of us are at work, what kinds of books they read, etc., so that I can start working on the novel immediately? With much appreciation and best wishes.”
***
MALAYSIA is not exactly the friendliest country in the world (despite what the paid commercials say): most of the time the people are bloody rude, downright discourteous, boorishly loudmouthed and deeply disrespectful, among other things. Asian values? What Asian values? There is no such thing as Asian values. Malaysia is truly NOT Asia. Give me Singapore any day.
***
SOME MANUSCRIPTS are so bloody horrendous that I literally get sick editing them! I feel feverish, headache-y and all-over-the-body-achy. Seriously, one of these days we must consider giving out a slew of THROW YOUR MAMA’S SMELLY SHOE AWARDS for the crappiest Malaysian books of the year—books we absolutely could not care less about, much less read. I know for sure there won’t be a dearth of contenders for these uniquely Malaysian awards where mediocrity is the only yardstick of greatness and celebrated with customary poop/pomp and ceremony! Perhaps I will start the ball rolling with that pathetic attempt at a book ... yes, that particular pseudo-book! It reminds me of the opening lines to Keir Alexander’s excellent novel, The Ruby Slippers: “She stinks. It has to be said. Stinks to high heaven.” She does, believe me, she does.
***
THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS is escalating all the time. Maintaining sales have always been a challenge, now more so than ever. There are not many good manuscripts to choose from in a lacklustre marketplace. There’s nothing much we can do about the decline of the English language or the quality of writing in Malaysia in the short term. We have to accept the fact that the only thing we can do as publishers is to enhance our production values: editing standards and marketing efforts will need to be stepped up. Producing a book is not going to get any easier; editors will have to break their backs editing and rewriting substandard manuscripts to a level deemed publishable in a short time. Not that there are many good editors to choose from in a nation that doesn’t care much for reading and writing in the first place.
***
AT A BOOK LAUNCH in a five-star hotel (nothing less that five stars will do, or an exclusive golf club) in Kuala Lumpur the other day, everyone invited to attend the event was treated to a sumptuous meal of sweet and savoury Malaysian delicacies (including the obligatory curry puffs and all-time favourite mee siam, among other things) and given a complimentary copy or two of the said book of the day. Suffice to say that the food tasted so much better than the book. This is quite understandable. Let’s not beat around the bush; no one in their right frame of mind would use their hard-earned cash to pay for it. The trick is not to take Malaysian publishing too seriously. If you do, you are in for an early grave.
***
WHEN will Malaysian education start focusing on understanding and critical thinking skills? Will it ever? There is a serious dearth of these basic skills: reading, writing, creative thinking, questioning, criticism, creativity and imagination; there is also an absolute lack of interest or intellectual curiosity or empathy about the world we live in. We desperately need graduates who can not only eat but spell chocolate! Education per se is irrelevant; one must have the right mindset to use the knowledge acquired and make one’s life useful and meaningful to society. The idea of education is to make every one of us into critical, empathetic, intelligent, logical and thinking beings. If not, what’s the point of existence? What’s really the point of education if we do not produce intelligent, efficient and productive nation builders? It is frightening when the education system keeps on churning out graduates who don’t read (and have no interest in reading) and can’t write.
***
SERIOUSLY, do we really have a publishing industry in Malaysia? I sometimes wonder, more often lately. A sad fact: Malaysian writers can’t write and don’t want to be edited at all. Those who can, the writing is bland, careless, dead, dispirited, hollow, illiterate, inert, insipid, lackadaisical, lazy, lethargic, lifeless, non-informative, puerile, self-indulgent, shallow, tepid, uninspiring and vague. Most of the time the manuscripts are so execrable, possibly written by someone who doesn’t speak or write the language at all, that editing them is next to impossible. (I don’t pray for much, seriously: just good health and happiness for all creatures big and small, being a better human being ... and good writing to land on my desk.)

Another sad fact: editors don’t know how to edit. (Editing is not just about punctuation, grammar and spelling.) Most of them lack basic editing skills (grammar, spelling and writing); if they can’t even handle basic editing, surely they are in the wrong profession, no? Editors are unwilling to learn and tend to miss more than they spot errors (and constantly introducing new ones at the same time). And many are averse to research, checking facts and figures, solving problems and consulting the dictionary. Punctuating dialogue and inconsistent tenses are major weaknesses. Most of them lack imagination and intellectual curiosity and have no idea why they are doing the things they are doing. Many are not (and will never be) aware of the important aspects of book production like bibliography, footnotes, endnotes, indexing, etc. They do not know what a personal or surname is when indexing, etc. Also, not many editors have a nose for business or finance. Publishing is not just about publishing bad books; it is also about selling the bad books you publish. Both are equally important to sustain the business in the long term.

Another sad fact: designers don’t know how to typeset books and design book covers. Most of them are not designers; when you think about it, they are really more incompetent typesetters than designers. Most, sadly, have no grasp of the aesthetics, whether in the design of covers or the typesetting of pages, are not open to constructive criticism and lack even the most basic of language skills (English and Malay). (“The kind of designs you don’t really need to go to design school to learn. The idea is to do it blindly. ... And hope someone likes it.”) There is absolutely no passion to push boundaries or to have higher expectations, no sense of accomplishment for a job well done. They do not seem to learn anything from experience. Experience makes no difference. They have no idea whether contents pages are required for the manuscripts they typeset; they have no idea what acknowledgements, forewords, prefaces, introductions, appendices, bibliographies, indexes, afterwords, footnotes, endnotes, figures, tables and charts are. They may have moved their mouse for centuries, but they have not gain any relevant experience at all. They have no idea what consistency is.

Another sad fact: translation standards are (atrociously) abysmal. Translation is not just about translating words (linguistics) to another language; it’s also about translating cultural and other creative nuances; the translated text must make sense and transport you to another world or dimension. “Translation,” in the words of Anthony Burgess, “is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.” A good translator must not only possess a solid grounding in both languages but a strong grasp of idioms and metaphors as well. Sadly, it’s rare to find translators who are strong in both English and Malay.

A vicious cycle. Definitely. So, do we really have a publishing industry in Malaysia? Of course not. I believe what we have here is more akin to some kind of stunted, constipated offshoot of public relations, rather than publishing as we know it. Publishing good books (and finding a readership for these books) is constantly a Sisyphean struggle. Books are never published for the right reasons. It never fails to amaze me how publishers always find stupid reasons to justify the publishing of substandard books as though producing as many such books as possible is some kind of noble calling or something!
***
EVIL, THEY SAY, NEVER DIES ... it claws its way back from the pits of hell to haunt the living. We are in the midst of editing perhaps the worst manuscript on the planet … rejected by all who had a chance to look at it but somehow foisted on us editors for the dumbest of reasons. And to think that the British once colonised us, you would expect a certain standard of English. After the last disaster of a book, we thought we had seen the last and worst of horrendous books. No-o-o-o … that’s too good to be true. Ladies and gentlemen, Evil is back in business and is here to haunt the living daylights out of us. Just goes to prove that there are some things money can’t buy … for instance, to write well and tell a wonderful story (fiction or otherwise). Some publishers claim they publish these rejected manuscripts under the pretext of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Seriously, you can call them anything you want; I prefer to pile them under POO and flush them down the LOO where they belong for all eternity. Of course, under normal circumstances these manuscripts would not see the light of day but the dark of the sewers. I always fail to understand what joy these author-wannabes derive from being published under such circumstances!
***
AND THEN there are those so-called Malaysian authors who insist that we do not comply with standards and conventions when editing their so-called manuscripts! As the Backstreet Boys would croon back in the late 1990s, Believe when I say I want it that way! You can have it any way you want, Sweetheart, as long as you pay the production costs and buy up all the stocks and keep them locked up in your bedroom! And maybe toss them in with the carrots, potatoes, onions and tomatoes when Mummy makes chicken soup for the whole family. (Don’t forget the salt and freshly ground black pepper.) The books will also come in handy if you have plans for house extensions. Books, after all, are not just books; they make hardy bricks, too.
***
REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS when we used to have meals and lovely conversations without interruptions? We used to eat and talk, and eat and talk, all the while enjoying ourselves. Those were the days when we used to really talk with one another and conversations were long, and there were jokes and laughter, and time just passed without us realising it. Those days are long gone. People nowadays are more interested in their smartphones, internet, text messaging, etc., and seem to prefer to communicate with people not dining at the table but elsewhere, reading news updates, taking photos of themselves in all manner of poses, etc. You may have the whole wide world at your fingertips, but you don’t seem to be aware of the immediate world around you. Once in a while, think about the person sitting opposite you.
***
POMPOUS LASS: Only native speakers can edit my manuscript! No Malaysian editors for me, please!
Publisher: You mean someone from Good Olde Mother England?
Pompous Lass: Of course—if English is their mother tongue!
Publisher: Why’s that?
Pompous Lass: Because my book is for the wonderful people of this planet. I want it to be perfectly edited for all my readers from around the world …
Publisher: Would you like to bear the cost of getting someone from England to edit it then?
Pompous Lass: Will that be cheap?
Publisher: What do you think? Everything is cheap except you?
Pompous Lass: I wouldn’t want to spend my money on that! If it’s too expensive, a local editor should be all right, I guess!
Publisher: Yes, cheap local editors are the best!
***
WATERLILY: I want to talk to the editor?
Receptionist: Who’s calling?
Waterlily: Lily!
Receptionist: Lily who?
Waterlily: Water “I-can’t-tell-you-my-real-name” Lily!
Receptionist: How can I help you?
Waterlily: I want to talk to the editor about my manuscript?
Receptionist: What’s your manuscript about?
Waterlily: I can’t tell you that! I don’t know who you are. You may just steal and profit from my hard work! I want to speak to the editor!
Editor: Could you send us samples of your work, Water?
Waterlily: I can’t do that either.
Editor: So what can you do, Watermelon?
Waterlily: My name is Waterlily, not Watermelon! Why do you need samples of my work?
Editor: Duh! So that we could assess your writing and decide whether we want to publish it or not!
Waterlily: Why do you want to review it? I am a famous writer and my work is quoted in all the leading journals all over the galaxy!
Editor: That’s nice and all and I’m happy for you. However, we would still like to assess it.
Waterlily: Will you be distributing my book in the U.S. and the U.K.?
Editor: No. We only sell foreign rights to those markets. And over the internet.
Waterlily: Looks like you are not the right publisher for me then. Goodbye!
Editor: Good riddance.
***
AUTHOR: Would you like to publish my manuscript?
Publisher: Well, it depends …
Author: Depends on what?
Publisher: Well, whether you have a written manuscript?
Author: I haven’t written one. Can you get it written for me?
Publisher: Why is that?
Author: I can’t write.
Publisher: But you have studied for a couple of foreign degrees … and you have lived overseas for many years. With your fake accent and all, I’m sure you could write English.
Author: I’m very bad at grammar. Could you get me a writer whom I could talk to, take down notes and put them all in a book for me? I can talk very well. I just can’t write.
Publisher: I can’t imagine how you manage to pass all your exams over the years!
***
AUTHOR: Could you label me a bestselling author on the cover of my new book?
Editor: No! You are not a bestselling author! And you’ve never have been one!
Author: It’s a way of MARKETING the book!
Editor: I don’t think that’s MARKETING; that’s shameless CONNING. Your first book sold less than a thousand copies in over five years. That, to me, is a disaster of epic proportions! Your book sounds more like the worst-selling book of the century. And with the way it is moving (or not moving), it looks set to be the worst-selling book in the history of humankind. I believe your book will still be around even after the Apocalypse!
***
AUTHOR: And on what grounds are you rejecting my manuscript?
Editor: Well, it sucks, for one!
Author: What! How dare you insult me! Everyone who has read it thinks it a magnificent piece of work!
Editor: Who, pray tell, read your magnum opus?
Author: My darling husband and children, friends and relatives! And my dearest mummy and daddy, too!
Editor: Of course!
Author: So can I take it that you are not interested in publishing my manuscript?
Editor: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da ... Duh!
***
AUTHOR: Yahoo! My book is a runaway bestseller!
Editor: How’s that possible?
Author: I got every one of my best friends to buy 500 copies of my book. Yahoo! Time for a reprint?
Editor: What do you expect them to do with all the copies of your book?
Author: Who cares what they do with them? Hide them under the stairs? Perhaps they can make beef or vegetable stew with them?
***
AUTHOR: I would like you to publish my book?
Editor: Your manuscript, you mean? Well, it all depends on the quality of your manuscript.
Author: What? I know your Financial Controller and the TOP HONCHO, you know!
Editor: Ooh, I’m shivering! Of course, we will publish your book—even though it sucks big-time!
Author: What?
Editor: Isn’t that what you want?
***
WISDOM, they say, comes with age. I once thought that wisdom was the exclusive province of the elderly. Now that I am all grown up, I have come to realise that that’s all balderdash. Wisdom is the province of those who possess it; age is simply immaterial. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to meet young people who are wise beyond their years, and I have also had the MISFORTUNE of meeting old people who have absolutely no wisdom at all.
***
AUTHOR: I don’t like my marriage photograph in the book. We look so bloody fat.
Editor: Of course, both of you are fat. So, what do you want me to do? Both of you should have gone on a diet before getting married. Well, you could always get married again. What’s stopping you?
***
AUTHOR: Make sure all numbers smaller than 10 are in figures, not words, okay?
Editor: Numbers from 1-9 will be in words, not numerals. Anything from 10 and above, I will use figures. That’s the standard editing rule.
Author: But I am your client and you do as I instruct.
Editor: So, what else do you want to go with that? Bad grammar? I can do that. What about factual errors? You want some of those? Weak characterization, perhaps? A plot full of holes? We can add a couple of those, if you like. Why don’t I also throw in as many misspellings as I can for you—on the house, of course?
Author: What?
Editor: For your information, you ain’t my client. You can keep your money and go ask your mummy to search and replace all your 1-9s with figures.
***
“ANYONE can be an author nowadays. You don’t really have to be a good writer or a whizz in grammar and all that nonsense,” so says the marketing consultant. You can’t write? No problem, we will get you a ghostwriter to write on your behalf for a fee, she says. And if you suck big-time at grammar and vocabulary, also no problem. We have the backroom boys (editors, copyeditors, proofreaders and designers) to clean up your writing (or lack thereof) and make all your dreams come true. After all, most people just like to see their names on the covers of their so-called books. And perhaps launching them at one of the hotels or golf clubs (or fast-food/burger joints or shopping-mall concourses). That’s about it.
***
PASSION is, of course, a wonderful thing to have. But let’s talk about ringgit and sense. There is simply no money in editing in Malaysia. I have been editing books for a living for well over 30 years now, and this saddens me a great deal. Perhaps it’s time for me to seriously consider giving it all up and do something else with the rest of my life?
***
ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, when all the stars in the heavens are somehow aligned, the perfect manuscript lands on your desk. All is well with the world; the elves and hobbits are having a whale of a time in the playing fields and the flowers are singing and dancing in the wind. There is joy and laughter all over the kingdom. With minimal editing, the manuscript is published to much acclaim and financial success. There are, of course, books that do not capture a readership no matter how good they are or how much they are pushed or promoted. Most of the time, though, bad books fall on your head with a loud thud. Some of these books go on to become successful books after much editing, rewriting, blood, sweat and tears, etc. Publishing is a difficult business; there is no guarantee that a good book will sell. Neither is there a guarantee that a bad book will not sell. Not all bad books sell; most of them end up in the cemetery of lost books.
***
ACCORDING to Andreï Makine, “Language is just grammar. The real language of literature is created in the heart, not a grammar book.” Makine—a Russian novelist who writes not in his mother tongue but in French—is not discounting the importance of grammar in writing. However, good writing is more than good grammar. Good grammar, in other words, is just not good enough when crafting sentences. In our reading, we have occasionally come across writing which is grammatically perfect in every aspect but somehow lacks heart, writing that lacks an emotional core: hollow, meretricious, staid, technical and wooden. Good writers know when and how to break rules for good original prose to emerge. The challenging task is to nudge boundaries and push narrative towards places it has not been before.
***
I WAS EDITING a piece of writing the other day. Writers and editors need to be logical when they write or edit. A baby girl is a baby girl. There is no need to be too specific by calling it a “young” baby girl. Is there such a thing as an “old” baby girl?
***
WE ARE IN THE MIDST of editing another crappy manuscript by a crappy Malaysian writer. It’s just another crappy day in the life of a Malaysian editor. Possibly another worthy contender for the THROW YOUR MAMA’S SMELLY SHOE AWARDS for the crappiest writing in the world? One that would put us to sleep for a thousand years. We can’t wait for the torture to be over ... until another one comes along (like they always do). Please, please forgive us for unleashing this horror upon humanity and the universe. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. ...
***
MOST OF THE TIME book editors reject more than they accept manuscripts simply because there are more bad than good writing floating around. With modern publishing the way it is, where quantity is more important than quality, decisions on whether to accept or reject manuscripts are no longer the sole preserve of editors but marketing consultants. Editors are no longer the literary gatekeepers of the universe like they once were. They are more of a stumbling block in the seemingly unrelenting contemporary marketing process. The role of editors is to edit good manuscripts and make bad ones look good enough for those who do not know better. As literary gatekeepers, marketing consultants think that they document history and human evolution, but most of the time they dress up trash to look like literature. This explains the glut of bad writing you see flooding the marketplace. That’s just what I think.
***
A: Can you read and write English?
B: No.
A: Can you read and write Malay?
B: No.
A: Can you read and write Chinese?
B: No.
A: So, what are you doing now?
B: Studying Korean.
A: You can’t even handle English, your mother tongue or the national language, why would you even want to take up a challenging language like Korean?
B: I just like the way the Koreans speak and sing-mah!
A: Wah, so clever!
***
AUTHOR: Could you put my husband’s name (and mine) on the cover?
Editor: No, I can’t do that. He is not the writer. You are the author. Your name will be on the cover.
Author: But he helped me with research, fact-checking and proofreading.
Editor: You may credit him in the acknowledgements page.
Author: But I want his name on the cover with me!
Editor: No!
Author: You know, you are not as nice as some people say you are.
Editor: You could always self-publish and put the names of whoever you like on the cover if that makes you happy!
***
ANOTHER turd of a manuscript landed in my lap with a loud thud this morning, turning my life upside down and upsetting the balance in this neck of the universe. Looks like it’s another long month of agony, damnation, sleepless nights, slogging and suffering. A manuscript that is far from stimulating. Somehow one’s opinion of prominent people tend to go down the clogged monsoon drain once you start reading their life stories. Their stories tend to put me to death. What have I done to deserve this? I take care of my family and love all my brothers and sisters (including all my Facebook friends) and buy my mother her 100% Massimo whole wheat bread every other day, yet I still get punished! What have I done to deserve this! What I have done is, I have just edited possibly the worst book of my career. And after countless hours editing within a tight time frame, it is still the worst book of my entire career.
***
WE were at a popular dining establishment in KLCC the other day. We were disappointed with the stuffed chicken breast we ordered. They were clearly below expectations. Not only were they hard, dry and leathery, they were bland, almost tasteless, more like something left over from the night before warmed up. If you enjoy paying First World prices for food that is below average or worse, then this is the perfect place to waste your hard-earned money.
***
I HAVE NO IDEA where Malaysians get their education from. Their spelling is the pits. They spell “Barisan Nasional” as “Barisan National”, a blend of English and Malay. Even my dear mother knows that it is spelt as either “Barisan Nasional” (Malay) or “National Front” (English). It is one or the other. It is either Malay or English. Be consistent when you write. First, decide which language you want to write in. I know, a tough decision. Malaysians also can’t tell the difference between “reign” and “rein”, “ferment” and “foment”, and when to use them correctly. They tend to use them interchangeably. Other weaknesses include hyphenation (“long term” vs “long-term”, “fairy tale” vs “fairy-tale”, etc.), italicization, prepositions and word order, punctuations, spelling of names, insufficient fact checking, among others.
***
MALAYSIAN authors have the bad habit of editing their books only after their books have been published and distributed all over the universe and beyond. They are never bothered with editing at the manuscript stage. (They submit their manuscripts raw without editing them.) Most of them are so bloody lazy to read their own works. There is nothing much we can do about this because Malaysian writers prefer eating to reading. Most of them can spent the whole day eating but not many can spend the whole day reading. Most of the time I wonder: Why do they even bother to write?
***
I get this a lot … from the moment I was born back in the early 1960s to now in 2016.

A: You are mixed, right?
B: Ah … yeah.
A: So what kind of food do you eat?
B: Grass and lalang … and banoffee pie!
A: Huh! I mean: do you eat Chinese food?
B: No!
A: Why not?
B: Duh! I don’t know! Perhaps I don’t like Chinese food?
A: How can you not like Chinese food when your mum’s Chinese!
B: Why not?
***
SELLING BOOKS in Malaysia is a tough business. For most people books are considered non-essential. Bread-and-butter issues take precedence over other matters. My ideal bookshop is one that challenges me intellectually in my reading journey. Not only do I want bookshops to stock the kinds of books I want to read, I also want them to surprise me by introducing me titles or authors I have not heard of before. I don’t buy books online at all, so the local bookshop is where I buy all my books. However, I think nowadays the role of educating the reading public has been taken over by the internet. After all, there are only so many titles a brick-and-mortar bookshop can stock at any one time.
***
HIS SATANIC MAJESTY (HSM) tells the editor that he should edit the manuscript only for grammar and spelling. “Just check the names and spelling, and make sure the grammar is perfect,” he reiterates. HSM goes on to tell the editor to keep his opinions to himself because nobody cares what he thinks about the manuscript. “It doesn’t really matter if the writing is good or bad. Your job is to edit—not to assess or judge the manuscript.” What the heck is he trying to say!
***
PUBLISHER: You have offended Big John with all your spot-on edits!
Editor: But his manuscript was full of errors and other inconsistencies!
Publisher: He isn’t happy because you edited too much of his manuscript. I can’t believe you spotted over a thousand errors! I did tell you specifically not to edit it.
Editor: Yes … not bad for a manuscript which is supposed to have been edited thoroughly and ready-to-print. Shouldn’t he be happy that I spotted so many errors in his book? I would if it’s my book.
Publisher: Yes … but, you know, you made him look real bad! And he is awfully hurt. He doesn’t want to work with you any more!
Editor: I did not make him look bad … he really is bad!
Publisher: You shouldn’t be too brutal with the edits.
Editor: Editorial brutality? That’s a new one. I wasn’t brutal at all. All I did what edit the grammar and corrected the spellings and factual errors. No rewriting whatsoever. A walk in the park, really.
Publisher: Where? What park? Whatever it is, he is offended!
Editor: Idiot that I was, I tried to edit the manuscript as best as I possibly could. If it will make him happy, I could easily restore or reinstate all the errors back into the manuscript. It’s no big deal to me. It’s your call; after all, you are the publisher.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

February 2017 Highlights

NOVELS
1. Ashland & Vine (Jonathan Cape, 2017) / John Burnside
2. The Dark Flood Rises (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017) / Margaret Drabble
3. The Doll Funeral (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Kate Hamer
4. The Good People (Picador, 2017) / Hannah Kent
5. A Piece of the World (William Morrow, 2017) / Christina Baker Kline
6. A Book of American Martyrs (Ecco, 2017) / Joyce Carol Oates
7. Three Daughters of Eve (Viking, 2017) / Elif Shafak
8. A Gentleman in Moscow (Hutchinson, 2017) / Amor Towles

FIRST NOVELS
1. Behold the Dreamers (Fourth Estate, 2016) / Imbolo Mbue
2. The Weight of Him (St Martin’s Press, 2016) / Ethel Rohan
3. Lincoln in the Bardo (Random House, 2017) / George Saunders

STORIES
1. The Refugees (Grove Press, 2017) / Viet Thanh Nguyen
2. The Lucky Ones (Faber & Faber, 2017) / Julianne Pachico

NONFICTION
1. The Rule of the Land: Walking the Irish Border (Faber & Faber, 2017) / Garrett Carr
2. Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905-1953 (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017) / Simon Ings
3. Age of Anger: A History of the Present (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017) / Pankaj Mishra
4. Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel (W.W. Norton, 2016) / John Stubbs

Sunday, January 01, 2017

January 2017 Highlights

NOVELS
1. Selection Day (Scribner, 2017) / Aravind Adiga
2. The Golden Legend (Faber & Faber, 2017) / Nadeem Aslam
3. Days Without End (Viking, 2017) / Sebastian Barry
4. Transit (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017) / Rachel Cusk
5. Swimming Lessons (Fig Tree, 2017) / Claire Fuller
6. Difficult Women (Grove Press, 2017) / Roxane Gay
7. Human Acts (trans. from the Korean by Deborah Smith) (Hogarth, 2016) / Han Kang
8. Who Killed Piet Barol? (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017) / Richard Mason
9. Welcome to Lagos (Faber & Faber, 2017) / Chibundu Onuzo
10. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St Martin’s Press, 2017) / Kathleen Rooney

11. Class (Little, Brown, 2017) / Lucinda Rosenfeld
12. No Mans Land (Nan A. Talese, 2017) / Simon Tolkien

FIRST NOVELS
1. Homegoing (Viking, 2017) / Yaa Gyasi
2. The Nix (Picador, 2017) / Nathan Hill
3. Savage Theories (trans. from the Spanish by Roy Kesey) (Soho, 2017) / Pola Oloixarac

STORIES
1. Always Happy Hour (Liveright, 2017) / Mary Miller
2. Homesick for Another World (The Penguin Press, 2017) / Ottessa Moshfegh
3. Heritage of Smoke (Dzanc Books, 2017) / Josip Novakovich

POETRY
1. Illuminate (Salmon Poetry, 2017) / Kerrie O’Brien

NONFICTION
1. Once Upon a Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up (Chatto & Windus, 2017) / Xiaolu Guo
2. The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis (Liveright, 2017) / Patrick Kingsley
3. Age of Anger: A History of the Present (Allen Lane, 2017) / Pankaj Mishra

100+ Literary Favourites of 2016

Here are my 100+ favourite books of 2016.

NOVELS
1. Enchanted Islands (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2016) / Allison Amend
2. Hag-Seed (Hogarth, 2016) / Margaret Atwood
3. Days Without End (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Sebastian Barry
4. The Muse (Picador/Ecco, 2016) / Jessie Burton
5. The Queen of the Night (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Michael Joseph, 2016) / Alexander Chee
6. Transit (Jonathan Cape, 2016) / Rachel Cusk
7. The Fortunes (Sceptre/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Peter Ho Davies
8. The Crime Writer (Sceptre, 2016) / Jill Dawson
9. The Dark Flood Rises (Canongate Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Margaret Drabble
10. Exposure (Hutchinson/Atlantic Monthly Press, 2016) / Helen Dunmore

11. Wedding Bush Road (Counterpoint Press/Brio, 2016) / David Francis
12. The Trespasser (Hodder & Stoughton/Viking, 2016) / Tana French
13. Wintering (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Peter Geye
14. Forty Rooms (Putnam, 2016) / Olga Grushin
15. Heat and Light (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2016) / Jennifer Haigh
16. The Good People (Picador/Panmacmillan Australia, 2016) / Hannah Kent
17. Hot Milk (Bloomsbury USA/Hamish Hamilton, 2016) / Deborah Levy
18. Mercury (Harper, 2016) / Margot Livesey
19. Nutshell (Jonathan Cape/Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2016) / Ian McEwan
20. The North Water (Scribner UK/Henry Holt, 2016) / Ian McGuire

21. The Sport of Kings (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Fourth Estate, 2016) / C.E. Morgan
22. The Essex Serpent (Serpent’s Tail, 2016) / Sarah Perry
23. Everybody’s Fool (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Richard Russo
24. They May Not Mean To, But They Do (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Cathleen Schine
25. Three Daughters of Eve (Viking, 2016) / Elif Shafak
26. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Allen & Unwin, 2016) / Dominic Smith
27. Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Knopf Canada/Granta Books/W.W. Norton, 2016) / Madeleine Thien
28. The Gustav Sonata (Chatto & Windus/W.W. Norton, 2016) / Rose Tremain
29. Miss Jane (W.W. Norton/Picador, 2016) / Brad Watson
30. The Underground Railroad (Doubleday/Fleet, 2016) / Colson Whitehead
30. Another Brooklyn (Amistad, 2016) / Jacqueline Woodson

Translated Novels
31. Human Acts (trans. from the Korean by Deborah Smith) (Portobello Books/Hogarth, 2016) / Han Kang
32. War & Turpentine (trans. from the Dutch by David McKay) (Harvill Secker/Pantheon, 2016) / Stefan Hertmans
33. Some Rain Must Fall: My Struggle: Book Five (trans. from the Norwegian by Donald Bartlett) (Harvill Secker/Archipelago Books, 2015) / Karl Ove Knausgaard
34. Thus Bad Begins (trans. from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa) (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Javier Marías
35. For Two Thousand Years (trans. from the Romanian by Philip Ó Ceallaigh) (Penguin Classics, 2016) / Mihail Sebastian

FIRST NOVELS
36. Grace (Counterpoint, 2016) / Natashia Deón
37. Over the Plain Houses (Hub City Press, 2016) / Julia Franks
38. What Belongs to You (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Picador, 2016) / Garth Greenwell
39. Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Yaa Gyasi
40. The Outside Lands (Picador, 2016) / Hannah Kohler
41. The Mirror Thief (Melville House Publishing, 2016) / Martin Seay
42. Golden Hill (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Francis Spufford
43. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko (St Martin’s Press, 2016) / Scott Stambach
44. A Quiet Life (The Borough Press, 2016) / Natasha Walter
44. Foxlowe (Fourth Estate, 2016) / Eleanor Wasserberg

Translated First Novels
45. Echoland (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) (Harvill Secker, 2016) / Per Petterson
45. The Evenings (trans. from the Dutch by Sam Garrett) (Pushkin Press, 2016) / Gerard Reve
45. The Gardens of Consolation (trans. from the French by Adriana Hunter) (Europa Editions, 2016) / Parisa Reza

STORIES
46. We Show What We have Learned and Other Stories (Lookout Books, 2016) / Clare Beams
47. Multitudes (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Lucy Caldwell
48. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? (Ecco Press, 2016) / Kathleen Collins
49. A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press, 2016) / Brian Evenson
50. Rotten Row (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Petina Gappah
51. The Pier Falls and Other Stories (Jonathan Cape/Doubleday, 2016) / Mark Haddon
52. Fen (Jonathan Cape, 2016) / Daisy Johnson
53. Heartbreaker (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Maryse Meijer
54. Light Box (Daunt Books, 2016) / K.J. Orr
54. You May See a Stranger (Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2016) / Paula Whyman
54. Legoland (Picador, 2016) / Gerard Woodward

Translated Stories
55. So Much for That Winter: Novellas (trans. from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra) (Graywolf Press, 2016) / Dorthe Nors

POETRY
56. Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet Press, 2016) / Vahni Capildeo
57. Nothing to Declare (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Henri Cole
58. Odes (Jonathan Cape/Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Sharon Olds
59. Falling Awake (Jonathan Cape/W.W. Norton, 2016) / Alice Oswald
60. The After Party (Jim Duggan Books/Crown Publishing, 2016) / Jana Prikryl
61. Collected Poems: 1950-2012 (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Adrienne Rich
62. Say Something Back (Picador, 2016) / Denise Riley
63. The Remedies (Picador, 2016) / Katharine Towers
64. Night Sky With Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, 2016) / Ocean Vuong

NONFICTION
66. Keeping On keeping On (Profile/Faber & Faber, 2016) / Alan Bennett
67. Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-49 (St Martin’s Press, 2016) / David Cesarani
68. Known and Strange Things: Essays (Random House/Faber & Faber, 2016) / Teju Cole
69. The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th-Century Bookseller’s Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece (Chatto & Windus/Scribner, 2016) / Laura Cumming
70. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown Publishing, 2016) / Matthew Desmond

71. The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria (Bloomsbury Publishing/Liveright, 2016) / Janine di Giovanni
72. The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976 (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016) / Frank Dikötter
73. White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World (Canongate/Pantheon, 2016) / Geoff Dyer
74. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright, 2016) / Ruth Franklin
75. The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography (Chatto & Windus, 2016) / Edmund Gordon
76. Vietnam: A New History (Basic Books, 2016) / Christopher Goscha
77. Against Everything: Essays (Pantheon/Verso, 2016) / Mark Greif
78. Travels with Henry James (Nation Books/Avalon Publishing Group, 2016) / Henry James
79. Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion (The Belnap Press/Harvard University Press, 2016) / Gareth Stedman Jones
80. Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means: A Biography (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2016) / Brendan King

81. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (Picador USA/Canongate Books, 2016) / Olivia Laing
82. The Hatred of Poetry (FSG Originals/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Ben Lerner
83. The Outrun (Canongate Books, 2016) / Amy Liptrot
84. Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World (Viking, 2016) / Thomas F. Madden
85. The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between (Viking/Random House, 2016) / Hisham Matar
86. Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill (published in the U.K. as Hero of the Empire: The Making of Winston Churchill) (Doubleday/Allen Lane, 2016) / Candice Millard
87. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Harvard University Press, 2016) / Viet Thanh Nguyen
88. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Spiegel & Grau, 2016) / Trevor Noah
89. Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds (Harper, 2016) / Pamela Rotner Nakamoto
90. The Romanovs: 1613-1918 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Simon Sebag Montefiore

91. Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Cynthia Ozick
92. Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live (Catapult, 2016) / Peter Orner
93. India’s War: World War II and the Making of Modern South India (Basic Books, 2016) / Srinath Raghavan
94. Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (The Bodley Head, 2016) / Lyndal Roper
95. Nobody’s Son: A Memoir (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Mark Slouka
96. Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan, 2016) / Douglas Smith
97. Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel (Viking, 2016) / John Stubbs
98. The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer (Bloomsbury Publishing/Penguin Press, 2016) / Kate Summerscale
99. Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey (Bloomsbury Publishing/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Frances Wilson
100. The Chaos of Empire: The British Raj and the Conquest of India (PublicAffairs/Perseus Books, 2016) / Jon Wilson

Translated Nonfiction
100. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets (trans. from the Russian by Bela Shayevich) (Random House/Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2016) / Svetlana Alexievich
100. Hitler: A Biography: Volume I: Ascent, 1889-1939 (trans. from the German by Jefferson Chase) (The Bodley Head/Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Volker Ullrich

Thursday, December 01, 2016

December 2016 Highlights

NOVELS
1. Margaret the First (Scribe UK, 2016) / Danielle Dutton
2. The Moravian Night (trans. from the German by Krishna Winston) (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Peter Handke
3. The Private Life of Mrs Sharma (Bloomsbury USA, 2016) / Ratika Kapur

FIRST NOVELS
1. The Gardens of Consolation (trans. from the French by Adriana Hunter) (Europa Editions, 2016) / Parisa Reza

STORIES
1. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? (Ecco Press, 2016) / Kathleen Collins

NONFICTION
1. Of All That Ends (trans. from the German by Breon Mitchell) (Harvill Secker/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Günter Grass

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

November 2016 Highlights

NOVELS
1. The Power (Viking, 2016) / Naomi Alderman
2. The Beautiful Dead (Bantam Press, 2016) / Belinda Bauer
3. Orphans of the Carnival (Doubleday, 2016) / Carol Birch
4. Moonglow (Harper, 2016) / Michael Chabon
5. The Dark Flood Rises (Canongate Books, 2016) / Margaret Drabble
6. The Shogun’s Queen (Bantam Press, 2016) / Leslie Downer
7. Wedding Bush Road (Counterpoint Press/Brio, 2016) / David Francis
8. The Liberation (Simon & Schuster U.K., 2016) / Kate Furnivall
9. Victoria (St Martin’s Press, 2016) / Daisy Goodwin
10. The Dark Circle (Virago, 2016) / Linda Grant

11. A Horse Walks into a Bar (trans. from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen) (Jonathan Cape, 2016) / David Grossman
12. Faithful (Simon & Schuster, 2016) / Alice Hoffman
13. Cove (Granta Books, 2016) / Cynan Jones
14. The Long Room (Tin House Books, 2016) / Francesca Kay
15. I’ll Take You There (Harper, 2016) / Wally Lamb
16. The Hidden People (Jo Fletcher, 2016) / Alison Littlewood
17. Mercury (Harper, 2016) / Margot Livesey
18. Thus Bad Begins (trans. from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa) (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Javier Marías
19. Valiant Gentlemen (Grove Press, 2016) / Sabina Murray
20. Under a Pole Star (Quercus, 2016) / Stef Penney

21. Small Great Things (Hodder & Stoughton, 2016) / Jodi Picoult
22. Rather Be the Devil (Orion, 2016) / Ian Rankin
23. The Girl from Venice (Simon & Schuster UK, 2016) / Martin Cruz Smith
24. Swing Time (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, 2016) / Zadie Smith
25. Miss Jane (Picador, 2016) / Brad Watson
26. The Underground Railroad (Fleet, 2016) / Colson Whitehead

FIRST NOVELS
1. Teethmarks on My Tongue (Dalkey Archive Press, 2016) / Eileen Battersby
2. Pull Me Under (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Kelly Luce
3. The Evenings (trans. from the Dutch by Sam Garrett) (Pushkin Press, 2016) / Gerard Reve
4. School of Velocity (One/Pushkin Press, 2016) / Eric Beck Rubin

STORIES
1. Virgin and Other Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / April Ayers Lawson
2. The Start of Something: The Selected Stories of Stuart Dybek (Jonathan Cape, 2016) / Stuart Dybek
3. Rotten Row (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Petina Gappah
4. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories (Fig Tree, 2016) / Penelope Lively
5. A Portable Shelter (Virago, 2016) / Kirsty Logan
6. Ferenji and Other Stories (Doire Press, 2016) / Helena Mulkerns
7. The Visiting Privilege (Tuskar Rock Press/Profile Books, 2016) / Joy Williams

POETRY
1. Commotion of the Birds: New Poems (Ecco, 2016) / John Ashbury
2. The Abridged History of Rainfall (McSweeney’s, 2016) / Jay Hopler
3. Bestiary (Graywolf Press, 2016) / Donika Kelly
4. The Last Shift (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Philip Levine
5. Selected Poems 1968-2014 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Paul Muldoon
6. Jackself (Picador, 2016) / Jacob Polley
7. The Remedies (Pan Macmillan, 2016) / Katharine Towers

NONFICTION
1. Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire (Random House, 2016) / Julia Baird
2. Kathmandu (The University of Chicago Press, 2016) / Thomas Bell
3. Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-49 (St Martin’s Press, 2016) / David Cesarani
4. Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey (trans. from the Italian by Ann Goldstein) (Europa Editions, 2016) / Elena Ferrante
5. The Kindness of Strangers: Fate and Tales of Fortune on the Road (Lonely Planet, 2016) / Don George (ed.)
6. By the Seat of My Pants: Humorous Tales of Travel and Misadventure (Lonely Planet, 2016) / Don George (ed.)
7. Tales from Nowhere: Unexpected Stories from Unexpected Places (Lonely Planet, 2016) / Don George (ed.)
8. A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World (Lonely Planet, 2016) / Don George (ed.)
9. Travels with Henry James (Avalon Publishing Group, 2016) / Henry James
10. Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016) / Lawrence James

11. Jane Austen: The Secret Radical (Icon Books, 2016) / Helena Kelly
12. The Triumph of Empire: The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine (published in the U.K. as Imperial Triumph: The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine) (Harvard University Press, 2016) / Michael Kulikowski
13. My Lost Poets: A Life in Poetry (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Philip Levine
14. Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016) / John Lewis-Stempel
15. Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World (Viking, 2016) / Thomas F. Madden
16. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Spiegel & Grau, 2016) / Trevor Noah
17. Soul at the White Heat: Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life (Ecco, 2016) / Joyce Carol Oates
18. Ancient Worlds: A Global History of Antiquity (published in the U.K. as Ancient Worlds: An Epic History of East and West) (Basic Books, 2016) / Michael Scott
19. Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan, 2016) / Douglas Smith
20. Kafka: The Early Years (trans. from the German by Shelley Frisch) (Princeton University Press, 2016) / Reiner Stach

21. Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilisation (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / James Stourton
22. Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel (Viking, 2016) / John Stubbs
23. Medieval Europe (Yale University Press, 2016) / Chris Wickham

Saturday, October 01, 2016

October 2016 Highlights

NOVELS
1. The Angel of History (Atlantic Monthly Press/Corsair, 2016) / Rabih Alameddine
2. The Power (Viking, 2016) / Naomi Alderman
3. Hag-Seed (Hogarth, 2016) / Margaret Atwood
4. Days Without End (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Sebastian Barry
5. The Terranauts (Bloomsbury Publishing/Ecco, 2016) / T.C. Boyle
6. The Memory Stones (Bloomsbury USA, 2016) / Caroline Brothers
7. The Devil’s Feast (Fig Tree, 2016) / M.J. Carter
8. The Loved Ones (Relegation Books, 2016) / Sonya Chung
9. The Life-Writer (Biblioasis, 2016) / David Constantine
10. The Motion of Puppets (Picador USA, 2016) / Keith Donohue

11. London Lies Beneath (Virago, 2016) / Stella Duffy
12. The Heavens May Fall (Seventh Street Press, 2016) / Allen Eskens
13. Nightmare in Berlin (trans. from the German by Allan Blunden) (Scribe UK, 2016) / Hans Fallada
14. The Trespasser (Viking, 2016) / Tana French
15. Victoria (Headline Review, 2016) / Daisy Goodwin
16. The Boat Rocker (Pantheon, 2016) / Ha Jin
17. News of the World (Harper, 2016) / Paulette Jiles
18. The Eastern Shore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Ward Just
19. Napoleon’s Last Stand (Atria Books, 2016) / Thomas Keneally
20. Serious Sweet (Little A, 2016) / A.L. Kennedy

21. The Good People (Picador Books, 2016) / Hannah Kent
22. The Fall Guy (W.W. Norton, 2016) / James Lasdun
23. Cruel Beautiful World (Algonquin Books, 2016) / Caroline Leavitt
24. A Gambler’s Anatomy (Doubleday, 2016) / Jonathan Lethem
25. Thin Air (Orion, 2016) / Michelle Paver
26. Echoland (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) (Harvill Secker, 2016) / Per Petterson
27. Small Great Things (Ballantine Books, 2016) / Jodi Picoult
28. By Gaslight (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Steven Price
29. Mister Monkey (Harper, 2016) / Francine Prose
30. Among the Living (Other Press, 2016) / Jonathan Rabb

31. The Tobacconist (trans. from the German by Charlotte Collins) (Picador, 2016) / Robert Seethaler
32. Today Will Be Different (Little, Brown, 2016) / Maria Semple
33. Three Daughters of Eve (Viking, 2016) / Elif Shafak
34. The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived: A True Story of My Family (Blue Rider Press, 2016) / Tom Shroder
35. Autumn (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, 2016) / Ali Smith
36. The Girl from Venice (Simon & Schuster US, 2016) / Martin Cruz Smith
37. All That Man Is (Graywolf Press, 2016) / David Szalay
38. Do Not Say We Have Nothing (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Madeleine Thien
39. The Explosion Chronicles (trans. from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas) (Grove Press, 2016) / Yan Lianke
40. Nicotine (Ecco, 2016) / Nell Zink

FIRST NOVELS
1. Echoland (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) (Harvill Secker, 2016) / Per Petterson
2. Pillow (Coach House Books, 2016) / Andrew Battershill
3. The Mothers (Riverhead, 2016) / Brit Bennett
4. Himself (Canongate Books, 2016) / Jess Kidd
5. Holding (Hodder & Stoughton, 2016) / Graham Norton
6. Agnes (trans. from the German by Michael Hofmann) (Other Press, 2016) / Peter Stamm
7. Goodwood (Allen & Unwin, 2016) / Holly Throsby

STORIES
1. We Show What We have Learned and Other Stories (Lookout Books, 2016) / Clare Beams
2. The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women Writers from the North of Ireland (New Island Press, 2016) / Sinèad Gleeson (ed.)
3. Of This New World (University of Iowa Press, 2016) / Allegra Hyde
4. The Best American Short Stories 2016 (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Heidi Pitlor & Junot Díaz (eds.)
5. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (Faber & Faber/Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / P.D. James
6. The Jungle Around Us (University of Georgia Press, 2016) / Anne Raeff

POETRY
1. Float (Alfred A. Knopf/Jonathan Cape, 2016) / Anne Carson
2. The Rain in Portugal (Random House, 2016) / Billy Collins
3. At the Foundling Hospital (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Robert Pinsky
4. Collected Early Poems (ed. Daniel Tobin) (Little Island Press, 2016) / Lola Ridge
5. My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016) / Mary Ruefle
6. Mapping the Delta (Bloodaxe Books, 2016) / George Szirtes

NONFICTION
1. Alfred Hitchcock (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2016) / Peter Ackroyd
2. Everyday Life: How the Ordinary Became Extraordinary (Reaktion Books/The University of Chicago Press, 2016) / Joseph A. Amato
3. Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir (photographs by Paul Joyce) (Hatchette Books Ireland, 2016) / John Banville
4. Keeping On keeping On (Profile/Faber & Faber, 2016) / Alan Bennett
5. The Best American Travel Writings 2016 (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Jason Wilson & Bill Bryson (eds.)
6. Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey (Granta Books, 2016) / Madeleine Bunting
7. The Clancys of Queens: A Memoir (Crown Publishing, 2016) / Tara Clancy
8. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life (Nan A. Tales/Doubleday, 2016) / Pat Conroy
9. ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’: The Life of Beatrix Potter (Head of Zeus, 2016) / Matthew Dennison
10. Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (Viking, 2016) / Colin Dickey

11. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright, 2016) / Ruth Franklin
12. The Best American Essays 2016 (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Robert Atwan & Jonathan Franzen (eds.)
13. Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn (Ecco Press, 2016) / Daniel Gordis
14. The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography (Chatto & Windus, 2016) / Edmund Gordon
15. A Brief History of Bali: Piracy, Slavery, Opium and Guns: The Story of an Island Paradise (Tuttle Publishing, 2016) / Willard A. Hanna
16. Browse: The World in Bookshops (Pushkin Press, 2016) / Henry Hitchings
17. Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905-1953 (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Simon Ings
18. Travels with Henry James (Nation Books, 2016) / Henry James
19. Ariel: A Literary Life of Jan Morris (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Derek Johns
20. American Philosophy: A Love Story (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / John Kaag

21. The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Adam Kirsch
22. Dashing for the Post: The Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor (ed. Adam Sisman) (John Murray, 2016) / Patrick Leigh Fermor
23. The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy (New York Review Books, 2016) / Michael McCarthy
24. Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner (Penguin Press, 2016) / Franny Moyle
25. Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer’s Awakening (The New Press, 2016) / Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
26. Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love & Landscape (Ice Cube Press, 2016) / Marc Nieson
27. Upstream: Selected Essays (Penguin Press, 2016) / Mary Oliver
28. Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live (Catapult, 2016) / Peter Orner
29. Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction (Graywolf Press, 2016) / Benjamin Percy
30. How to See: Looking, Talking and Thinking About Art (W.W. Norton, 2016) / David Salle

31. The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary (Basic Books, 2016) / John Simpson
32. Nobody’s Son: A Memoir (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Mark Slouka
33. Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion (The Belnap Press/Harvard University Press, 2016) / Gareth Stedman Jones
34. The New Book of Snobs (Constable, 2016) / D.J. Taylor
35. Caravaggio and the Creation of Modernity (Reaktion Books, 2016) / Troy Thomas
36. White Mountain: Real and Imagined Journeys in the Himalayas (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016) / Robert Twigger
37. Vanishing Streets: Journeys in London (Redwood Press, 2016) / J.M. Tyree
38. The Ghosts of Birds: Essays (New Directions, 2016) / Eliot Weinberger
39. Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2016) / Jennifer Weiner
40. Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Frances Wilson

41. Flaubert (trans. from the French by Nicholas Elliott) (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016) / Michel Winock
42. The Boy Behind the Curtain (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Books Australia, 2016) / Tim Winton
43. Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives (Nation Books, 2016) / Gary Younge

Thursday, September 01, 2016

September 2016 Highlights

NOVELS
1. Selection Day (Picador, 2016) / Aravind Adiga
2. The Hidden Keys (Coach House Books, 2016) / André Alexis
3. Nine Island (Catapult, 2016) / Jane Alison
4. Stranger (HarperCollins Canada, 2016) / David Bergen
5. Orphans of the Carnival (Canongate Books, 2016) / Carol Birch
6. The Cleanskin (The Author People, 2016) / Laura Bloom
7. Perfume River (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2016) / Robert Olen Butler
8. The Schooldays of Jesus (Harvill Secker, 2016) / J.M. Coetzee
9. Transit (Jonathan Cape, 2016) / Rachel Cusk
10. The Spawning Grounds (Knopf Canada, 2016) / Gail Anderson-Dargatz

11. The Fortunes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Peter Ho Davies
12. The Wonder (Little, Brown/Picador, 2016) / Emma Donoghue
13. Here I Am (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Hamish Hamilton, 2016) / Jonathan Safran Foer
14. A Column of Fire (Pan Macmillian, 2016) / Ken Follett
15. The Trespasser (Hodder & Stoughton, 2016) / Tana French
16. Closed Casket (HarperCollins, 2016) / Sophie Hannah
17. Conclave (Hutchinson, 2016) / Robert Harris
18. A House Without Windows (William Morrow, 2016) / Nadia Hashimi
19. Lord of the Darkwood: The Tale of Shikanoko (Picador, 2016) / Lian Hearn
20. The Tengu’s Game of Go: The Tale of Shikanoko (FSG Originals, 2016) / Lian Hearn

21. After James (McClelland & Stewart/Tin House Books, 2016) / Michael Helm
22. The Good People (Pan Macmillan Australia, 2016) / Hannah Kent
23. Viking Fire (Little, Brown, 2016) / Justin Hill
24. Dear Mr M (trans. from the Dutch by Sam Garrett) (Hogarth, 2016) / Herman Koch
25. Mercury (Harper, 2016) / Margot Livesey
26. Shelter in Place (Europa Editions, 2016) / Alexander Maksik
27. Who Killed Piet Barol? (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016) / Richard Mason
28. The Lesser Bohemians (Faber & Faber/Hogarth, 2016) / Eimear McBride
29. Nutshell (Jonathan Cape/Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2016) / Ian McEwan
30. The Black Notebook (trans. from the French by Mark Polizzotti) (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) / Patrick Modiano

31. Judas (trans. from the Hebrew by Nicholas De Lange) (Chatto & Windus, 2016) / Amos Oz
32. Commonwealth (Harper/Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016) / Ann Patchett
33. By Gaslight (Oneworld Publications, 2016) / Steven Price
34. The Risen (Ecco Press, 2016) / Ron Rash
35. As We Shall Know (Doubleday, 2016) / Donal Ryan
36. Little Nothing (Blue Rider Press, 2016) / Marisa Silver
37. A Gentleman in Moscow (Viking, 2016) / Amor Towles
38. The Gustav Sonata (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Rose Tremain
39. Nostalgia (Doubleday Canada, 2016) / M.G. Vassanji
40. Loner (Simon & Schuster, 2016) / Teddy Wayne

41. The Underground Railroad (Doubleday, 2016) / Colson Whitehead
42. Resolution (Allen & Unwin, 2016) / A.N. Wilson

FIRST NOVELS
1. The Story of a Brief Marriage (Flatiron Books, 2016) / Anuk Arudpragasam
2. Mischling (Lee Boudreaux Books/Little, Brown, 2016) / Affinity Konar
3. Wild Island (Allen & Unwin, 2016) / Jennifer Livett

STORIES
1. A Tree or a Person or a Wall (Soho Press, 2016) / Matt Bell
2. The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016 (Anchor Books/Penguin Random House, 2016) / Laura Furman (ed.)
3. Head Land: 10 Years of The Edge Hill Short Story Prize (Edge Hill University Press, 2016) / Rodge Glass (ed.)
4. The Fat Artist and Other Stories (Picador, 2016) / Benjamin Hale
5. The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories (Profile Books, 2016) / Susan Hill
6. Sex & Death (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Sarah Hall & Peter Hobbs (eds.)
7. Deceit and Other Possibilities (Willow Publishing, 2016) / Vanessa Hua
8. The Man Who Wouldn’t Get Up and Other Stories (Vintage, 2016) / David Lodge
9. John O’Hara: Stories (Library of America, 2016) / John O’Hara
10. Speak Gigantular (Jacaranda Books, 2016) / Irenosen Okojie

11. The Virginity of Famous Men (Bloomsbury USA, 2016) / Christine Sneed
12. Children of the New World (Picador USA, 2016) / Alexander Weinstein

POETRY
1. Slakki: New & Neglected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2016) / Roy Fisher 
2. George Washington (Liveright, 2016) / Adam Fitzgerald
3. Archeophonics (Wesleyan University Press, 2016) / Peter Gizzi
4. The Best American Poetry 2016 (Scribner/Simon & Schuster, 2016) / David Lehman & Edward Hirsch (eds.)
5. Sunshine (Penned in the Margins, 2016) / Melissa Lee-Houghton
6. World of Made and Unmade (Alice James Books, 2016) / Jean Mead
7. Garden Time (Copper Canyon Press/Bloodaxe Books, 2016) / W.S. Merwin
8. Selected Poems 1968-2014 (Faber & Faber, 2016) / Paul Muldoon
9. Odes (Jonathan Cape/Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Sharon Olds
10. High on Rust: Selected Poems (Tangent Books, 2016) / Ray Webber

11. Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016) / Monica Youn

NONFICTION
1. The History of England, Volume IV: Revolution (Macmillan, 2016) / Peter Ackroyd
2. Jean Cocteau: A Life (trans. from the French by Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell) (Yale University Press, 2016) / Claude Arnaud
3. The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood (Graywolf Press, 2016) / Belle Boggs
4. Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence (John Murray, 2016) / Artemis Cooper
5. Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (Allen lane, 2016) / Christopher de Hamel
6. Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman (Allen Lane, 2016) / Minoo Dinshaw
7. The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 (Allen Lane, 2016) / Richard J. Evans
8. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright, 2016) / Ruth Franklin
9. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (The University of Chicago Press, 2016) / Amitav Ghosh
10. Vietnam: A New History (Basic Books, 2016) / Christopher Goscha

11. Avid Reader: A Life (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Robert Gottlieb
12. Against Everything: Essays (Pantheon/Verso, 2016) / Mark Greif
13. Democrats and Dissenters (Penguin Random House India, 2016) / Ramachandra Guha
14. Istanbul: A Biography of a City (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016) / Bettany Hughes
15. The Glamour of Strangeness: Artists and the Last Age of the Exotic (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Jamie James
16. Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Robert Kanigel
17. Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (The University of Chicago Press, 2016) / Alice Kaplan
18. Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016) / Sunil Khilnani
19. Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means: A Biography (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2016) / Brendan King
20. Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies (Bloomsbury USA/Bloomsbury Circus, 2016) / Ross King

21. Imperial Triumph: The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine (published in the U.S. as The Triumph of Empire: The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine) (Profile Books, 2016) / Michael Kulikowski
22. The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (Viking, 2016) / John le Carré
23. Words Are My Matter: Writing About Life and Books, 2000-2016 (Small Beer Press, 2016) / Ursula K. Le Guin
24. Estuary: Out from London to the Sea (Hamish Hamilton, 2016) / Rachel Lichtenstein
25. All Things Made New: The Reformation and Its Legacy (Oxford University Press, 2016) / Diarmaid MacCulloch
26. Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis (The New Press, 2016) / Charlotte McDonald-Gibson
27. Words on the Move: Why English Won’t—and Can’t—Sit Still (Like, Literally) (Henry Holt, 2016) / John McWhorter
28. Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill (published in the U.K. as Hero of the Empire: The Making of Winston Churchill) (Doubleday/Allen Lane, 2016) / Candice Millard
29. Ciao, Carpaccio!: An Infatuation (Pallas Athene Arts, 2016) / Jan Morris
30. Soul at the White Heat: Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life (Ecco, 2016) / Joyce Carol Oates

31. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Patrick Phillips
32. The End of Imagination (Haymarket Books, 2016) / Arundhati Roy
33. John Aubrey, My Own Life (New York Review Books, 2016) / Ruth Scurr
34. The Good Immigrant (Unbound, 2016) / Nikesh Shukla (ed.)
35. Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilisation (William Collins, 2016) / James Stourton
36. American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 (W.W. Norton, 2016) / Alan Taylor
37. The Fortress: A Love Story (Dey Street Books/William Morrow, 2016) / Danielle Trussoni
38. Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 (trans. from the German by Jefferson Chase) (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) / Volker Ullrich