And when I say ‘few’, I don’t really mean it!
Let’s take it from left to right, shall we?
As you know, I am always susceptible to book recommendations on Twitter (even though I am rapidly falling out of love with Twitter because of recent changes and furore). I saw Lauren Alwan wax lyrical about Emma Thompson’s diary of the filming of Sense and Sensibility, and I love that film and script, so I thought it would be a good investment.
The following five are all acquisitions from Newcastle Noir. Tony Mott is the author I am currently translating for Corylus (Deadly Autumn Harvest), and she kindly brought other books in her Gigi Alexa series, also featuring seasons in the title (Poisoned Summer and One Last Spring – provisional titles in English). I got talking with author Tom Benjamin who lives in Bologna and has written a series of crime novels set there, featuring an English private investigator, so that he could comment on cultural differences (my cup of tea, as you can imagine!). Passionate about social issues as I am, especially in my crime fiction, I instantly picked up the first in Trevor Wood‘s trilogy featuring a homeless man solving murders almost in order to protect himself. I’ve already read it and it is gritty, moving and quite unlike the run-of-the-mill police procedurals or psychological thrillers that seem to be a dime a dozen. Last but not least, although action thrillers are not my staple reading matter, after hearing author Amen Alonge talk about his book, life choices, stereotyping and the emptiness of vengeance, I had to get his first book in the Pretty Boy series, A Good Day to Die. Experts are saying that literary festivals don’t sell a lot of books anymore, but clearly they have never seen me in action! The only reason I stopped buying was because I had a rather heavy suitcase and a dodgy elbow to contend with on the way back from Newcastle.
I am not immune to book buzz, and I’ve been hearing about the next two books all year, so finally caved in and got them: Stu Hennigan‘s Ghost Signs is an examination of poverty in Britain today, made worse by austerity and the pandemic. And of course everyone has heard of Percival Everett‘s The Trees, shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year.
I have received the first in the 2023 Peirene subscription, History. A Mess. by Icelandic author Sigrun Palsdottir, translated by Lytton Smith, and it sounds intriguing, about an academic who makes a mistake and then is prepared to go to any lengths to hide that.
The next few books are all in German and took quite a while to be shipped over from Germany (and some were quite expensive). I’ve been fascinated with Hilde Spiel since I read her wonderful memoir of returning to post-war Vienna, so I ordered a whole bunch of her fiction in German (she also wrote in English), some of which has not arrived yet, as I hope to pitch her work to various publishers. Same applies to Ödön von Horváth, who is still mostly unknown outside Austria. Meanwhile, the book by Ingrid Noll was once again recommended by someone on Twitter – I’m afraid I can’t even remember by whom!
I’ve read a fair amount of Balzac over the years, but I think I only partially read Lost Illusions (or an abridged version). This is the long winter read for our London Reads the World Book Club, and I hope to find a way to see the latest French adaptation of it as well, because it looks very good (and evergreen topic, don’t you think?).
In addition to the above, there are a few that are still on their way and which might even make it here before 2023: Euphoria by Elin Cullhed, because I can never resist a book about Sylvia Plath; The Mermaid’s Tale by Lee Wei-Jing, because I’ve always been on the hunt for a worthy ballroom dancing partner; and a self-help book, believe it or not: The Little ACT Workbook by Sinclair & Bedman, as I’ve been looking for an alternative to CBT, which may be effective therapy for most people but doesn’t work for everyone.
Disclosure: I have set up my stall on Bookshop.org and if you go there, you will find not only find all the Corylus books available on that site, but also other lists with translated crime fiction that I particularly enjoy or books that I have recently bought myself or would heartily recommend. If you buy via those links, I get a very small commission myself, at no extra cost to you, and all the pennies will be ploughed back into producing better books for you at our tiny, very part-time publishing venture.