When I wrote a blog post last week about the books I had recently bought and how I got to hear about them, I thought this might be a fun series of blog posts to do every month or even every two months. I certainly did not expect to have another large pile of books to write about only a week later! But here we are, what’s done is done and cannot be undone, and here is the pile:
Admittedly, the one on the top is more of a necessity than an impulse buy – a brief compendium of Italian grammar, so that I can keep up with my Italian lessons, which I am enjoying tremendously.
Some of them I have been sent by publishers – although I should probably admit I begged for them. I am a huge fan of Finnish writer Antti Tuomainen, and his latest book The Rabbit Factor (transl. David Hackston) is not out until at least the end of October, so I may have cried a little on Orenda Mamma’s (aka Karen Sullivan) shoulder until she took pity on me. I think it will wreak havoc with my carefully laid plans for October reading. Maclehose Press sent me the ARC for Even the Darkest Night (transl. Anne McLean) which isn’t out until 22 February, 2022. I may not have read a lot of literature from Spain (as opposed to the South Americans), but from what I have read, Javier Cercas (‘the other Javier?’) is one of my favourite authors, and this is the first in a series of crime novels set in Barcelona (clearly a far more crime-riddled place than Madrid, according to authors at least). Finally, Kaya Days by Carl de Souza (transl. Jeffrey Zuckerman) is my first book from Mauritius, thanks to Two Line Press and the Asymptote Book Club.
Each of these books has a little story to them, which made them irresistible in my eyes. I had already heard of Singapore-based author Clarissa Goenawan whose novels are set in Japan and who won the Bath Novel Award in 2015, but when I heard that her debut novel Rainbirds was going to be adapted for a TV series, I thought it high time I actually got hold of it.
Publisher And Other Stories had a sale and I had always heard such good things about Mexican author Yuri Herrera and yet never read any of his works, so I couldn’t resist this three-novels-in-one edition (containing Signs Preceding the End of the World, Kingdom Cons, The Transmigration of Bodies, all translated by Lisa Dillman).
I have read and reviewed Swiss author Joseph Incardona before, and met him at a couple of literary festivals. The newest book, La Soustraction des Possibles, sounds very promising: a heist novel set at the end of the 1980s in Geneva, a tale of dodgy rich bankers, ladies who lunch, and two outsiders hungry for a piece of the action.
I read a review of A Forest on Many Stems, a collection of essays on the poet’s novel, in Full Stop Magazine, sounded extremely compelling, although I am none the clearer what a poet’s novel actually is. Clarifying that is not the intention of the editor Laynie Browne, the reviewer admits: ‘Instead of drawing straight lines and arranging everything in boxes, this collection traces the many-varied shapes of the works at hand, creating a map around the larger notion of what a “poet’s novel” can be.’
The last two books on my pile I got from Senate House Library. I happened to be at work in London on the day the Nobel Prize in Literature was announced. As you already know by now, it caught almost everyone by complete surprise, and unlike with Louise Glück last year or Patrick Modiano a few years back, I could not boast prior knowledge either. So I behaved as if I were booking tickets for a superstar concert, immediately checked if there were any books available at the library, and then ran upstairs to grab them before they were all gone. Needless to say, the stacks were not overflowing with queues of people eager to read him! I sometimes forget in quite what a bookish mental bubble I live. I borrowed only one book by Abdulrazak Gurnah: Admiring Silence, but they have 2-3 more so I will go back if I like his work. Right next to him, I also found Bessie Head, a South African writer whom I had heard of in the past (she had to go into exile for her militant attitude), so I borrowed The Cardinals, a collection of her early short stories, the only ones set in her country of birth, published posthumously.
Now, all that’s left to do is find enough time to read, read, read…