Summary of November Reading

German Literature Month took up most of my reading time this month, with a pronounced leaning towards crime fiction:

  1. Julia Franck: West (transl. Anthea Bell)
  2. Friedrich Durrenmatt: Der Verdacht (Suspicion)
  3. Alexander Lernet-Holenia: I Was Jack Mortimer (transl. Ignat Avsey)
  4. Jutta Profijt: Morgue Drawer Four (transl. Erick Macki)
  5. Jakob Arjouni: Ein Mann, ein Mord (One Man, One Murder)
  6. Stefan Zweig: Meisternovellen

Of course, there were some other crime books which caught my eye:

  1. David Lagercrantz: Fall of Man in Wilmslow (transl. George Goulding)
  2. Nicci French: Friday on My Mind
  3. Helen Fitzgerald : Viral (to be reviewed on CFL)
  4. Gregoire Carbasse: L’Helvete Underground
  5. Jari Järvelä: The Girl and the Bomb
  6. Mary Kubica: Pretty Baby
  7. SJ Watson: Second Life

11 out of 13 so far have been crime/psychological thriller type novels, but I did also read some other ‘genres’, namely:

  1. Stanislaw Lam: Solaris (transl. Bill Johnston) – science-fiction
  2. Kim Thuy: Ru – Quebecois-Vietnamese poetic literature about immigration
  3. Finally, this childhood favourite off my son’s bookshelves: Jules Verne’s Voyage to the Centre of the Earth, which I read for the first time in French.

So, a lot of reading, far less reviewing, a mix of languages and 6 out of 16 books by women authors (I’m surprised, I expected it to a higher proportion). I travelled to Canada, Berlin, Bern, Vienna, Frankfurt and an ocean liner on the Atlantic; London, Chicago, Wilmslow, Magaluf, Geneva and Kotka in Finland; finally, Vietnam, space and the centre of the earth. What more could one ask for?

For December, I am still on track to blast a corridor through my virtual mounds, a special effort to clear the cobwebs off my Netgalley shelf in particular.

My Crime Fiction Pick of the Month is Jakob Arjouni. My favourite overall read: Julia Franck (sorry, Stefan Zweig, but you were a re-read anyway).

November Reads; Crime Fiction Pick of the Month

What a wonderful month of reads it has been: a promising mix of both quality and quantity, despite lots of business travel and a drop in reviewing capacity. Plus a good representation of women writers, which is not always the case every month!

I have had the pleasure of discovering some debut or nearly-debut authors. By ‘nearly-debut’, I mean authors who are perhaps on their third or fourth book but have yet to be picked up by a publisher or who have only just been translated into English. I have mentioned the first four of these in my feature on 5 Women to Watch Out For in 2014 on Crime Fiction Lover

cover12Helen Cadbury: To Catch a Rabbit   Gritty Northern crime, with a focus on immigrants and community policing – a really promising start. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

Celina Grace: Requiem   Self-published author with a solid police procedural and engaging characters.

Jonelle Patrick: Idolmaker   Celebrity cult and tsunami in Japan – just love the setting of this series.

Cover2Ioanna Bourazopoulou: What Lot’s Wife Saw   Most inventive, genre-bending work I’ve read in a long time. Left me aglow.

Helen Smith: Beyond Belief   Fun escapism (despite the body count), excellent use of humour and irony, gently mocking spiritualism, credulity and conferences everywhere.

Cover5Alex Marwood: The Killer Next Door   So well known by now, that she barely qualifies as a nearly-debut author! This is Alex Marwood’s second book, a psychological thriller with a sad twist about the unmissed and unwanted people of a large city . I’ll be reviewing it shortly in more detail for CFL, but it’s an intriguing story set in a seedy London boarding house (I’ve known a few of those during my student days). I will never feel the same again about blocked drains!

Other Crime Fiction

Georges Simenon: Pietr the Latvian    Going right back to the first Maigret novel in this wonderful initiative of reissuing one novel a month by Penguin Classics. Big, burly, solid and eminently reliable, Maigret is his wonderful laconic self, springing fully-formed from his creator’s mind.

Cover 3Helen Fitzgerald: The Cry    Thank you, Rebecca Bradley and the other Book Club members for inciting me to read this gripping and very emotional read about a couple losing their young baby, and the aftermath in the media, the courts and within the family home.

Marne Davis Kellogg: The Real Thing    Elegant crime caper set in Cary Grant/Grace Kelly territory on the French Riviera.

Non-Crime Reads

Cover9Hanna Krall: Chasing the King of Hearts    Achingly haunting, low-key emotions in a pared-down, but never simplistic language. Almost unbearably sad ending – yet so realistic. A beautiful book. just when you thought nothing more could be written about the Jewish experience during the Second World War.

Sam Riviere: 81 Austerities     A debut collection by a young poet, which I picked up on impulse at Foyle’s in London. By turns prosaic, witty, funny and sad, this is an eclectic collection of glass-clear observations and surprising combinations of words and insights. The pyrotechnics of youth, certainly, but also lots of substance and depth.

Cover1Fouad Laroui: Une année chez les Français   Witty and brave take on cultural differences, as a young Moroccan boy embarks upon a year of study at a French boarding-school in Casablanca. Perfect description of the innocence and cluelessness of the boy from a country village, absolutely charming yet with sharp (sometimes sad) observations about assumptions of cultural superiority. An anthropologist’s dream.

And my Crime Fiction pick of the month, a meme hosted by Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise? Very, very tough choice, as there were at least 4-5 of the above I could have picked. In the end, I opted for ‘The Cry’ by Helen Fitzgerald.