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Fall preview 2012: international nonfiction

The season of high-profile literary awards and author festivals is on its way, and there’s no shortage of new releases from marquee names. In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at some of the fall’s biggest books.


This fall, several big-name literary authors tell all. Chinua Achebe‘s long-awaited memoir, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra (Penguin, $29.50 cl., Oct.), about the author’s experiences during the Nigerian Civil War, is the product of 40 years of research and reflection.

¢ Salman Rushdie has also remained mostly silent about a key episode in his life “ the nine years he spent in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him. The title of Joseph Anton: A Memoir (Knopf Canada, $34.95 cl., Sept.) refers to the alias the author adopted after publishing The Satanic Verses, and is meant as an homage to his favourite authors: Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

An early work by prolific novelist Paul Auster was the memoir The Invention of Solitude, about the death of his father. Thirty years later, he follows it up with another family memoir, Winter Journal (McClelland & Stewart, $29.99 cl., Aug.), which takes the death of his mother as its jumping-off point.

Nobel laureate and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan reveals the inner workings of the international body in Interventions: A Life of War and Peace (Penguin, $38 cl., Sept.). Part memoir, part guide to geopolitics, the book uncovers the successes, missed opportunities, and challenges faced by the UN around the world. ¢ Composed of Vanity Fair columns in which he recorded his battle with esophageal cancer, Mortality (Signal/M&S, $24.99 cl., Sept.) is a reflection on illness, treatment, and accepting death, written during the late Christopher Hitchens‘ year-and-a-half battle with the disease.

London journalist Geordie Greig often had breakfast with painter Lucian Freud toward the end of the artist’s life. In Breakfast with Lucian (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/D&M Publishers, $31 cl., Oct.), Greig offers an inside look at this controversial and fascinating figure in a biography shaped by the author’s deeply felt appreciation for Freud’s work.

Peter Ames Carlin‘s new Bruce Springsteen biography gives fans access to the Boss through interviews with family, band members, childhood friends, and ex-girlfriends. Bruce (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, $32 cl.) appears in November. ¢ Pete Townshend‘s memoir Who I Am (Harper­Collins, $33.99 cl., Oct.) describes the rock icon’s hectic childhood, his high school years with Roger Daltrey, and the Who’s rise to fame.


Jerusalem-based NGO Breaking the Silence was established in 2004 to document the experiences of veterans of the Israel Defense Forces. Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000“2010 (Henry Holt and Company/Raincoast, $34.50 cl., Sept.) collects hundreds of testimonials about military activity in the region, revealing a story of Palestinian oppression and Israeli aggression. ¢ Linguist Noam Chomsky reconnects with broadcaster David Barsamian for another volume of interviews. Demand the Impossible: Conversations on the Decline of U.S. Empire and Global Democratic Uprisings (Henry Holt/Raincoast, $18.50 pa., Nov.) touches on topics from the European financial crisis to the Occupy movement.

Outspoken essayist, novelist, poet, and playwright Ishmael Reed received a lot of heat south of the border for his 2011 novel, Juice! His new book, Going Too Far: Essays on America’s Nervous Breakdown (Baraka Books, $19.95 pa., Sept.), which challenges the belief that racism is no longer a factor in American life, includes essays that have already raised the ire of critics at The New York Times and Salon.com.

Lion Sleeps TonightDuke University professor William H. Chafe has authored several books on politics. His latest, Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal (FSG/D&M, $31 cl., Sept.) delves into the Clintons’ co-presidency, arguing that their personal relationship has shaped their political lives. A long-awaited collection of essays from highly regarded journalist Rian Malan drops in November. The Lion Sleeps Tonight and Other Stories of Africa (Grove Press/PGC, $26.50 cl.) chronicles attempts to create an equal South Africa for blacks and whites.


Drawing on his own experiences growing up gay as the son of straight parents, Andrew Solomon explores how families accommodate children who are different. In Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (Scribner/S&S, $40 cl., Nov.), the National Book Award“winning author tells stories of acceptance and prejudice among real-life families of children who are deaf, have Down’s syndrome, or were conceived through rape.

In The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace (PublicAffairs/PGC, $29 cl., Sept.), Lynn Povich tells the story of a groundbreaking 1970s sexual discrimination lawsuit that helped change workplace politics for women. Povich knows her material intimately: she was among the 46 Newsweek staffers to bring the suit against the magazine. ¢ The result of 20 years of research into the causes of mass starvation in China, journalist Yang Jisheng‘s Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958“1962 (FSG/D&M, $38.50 cl., Nov.), translated by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian, memorializes the estimated 36 million who perished during China’s Great Leap Forward.

In The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture (Cambridge University Press, $25.95 pa., Sept.), Yoram Hazony argues that the Bible isn’t just meant to impart divine knowledge, but can be studied for its ideas about politics, reason, ethics, and faith.


Fashion history gets a new addition with Shoe Innovations: A Visual Celebration of 60 Styles (Firefly Books, $29.95 pa., Sept.) by Caroline Cox. The fashion expert traces the evolution of high-fashion shoes, providing photographs, designer sketches, and social, historical, and cultural commentary along the way.

One of the latest entries in Arsenal Pulp Press’s Queer Film Classics series is Jonathan Goldberg‘s Strangers on a Train ($14.95 pa., Nov.), which explores the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock thriller about two strangers who meet on a train and hatch a murder plot.

Special attention is paid to the erotically charged relationship between the two male protagonists. ¢ James Bond enthusiasts can look forward to Bond on Bond: Reflections on Fifty Years of James Bond Movies (Globe Pequot Press/Canadian Manda Group, $32.95 cl., Oct.). Sir Roger Moore, a former Bond actor, celebrates the internationally adored films by providing cultural history, witty personal accounts, and tons of photos from each movie in the franchise.

Music journalist Alan Light‘s The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah (Atria/S&S, $28.99 cl., Dec.) chronicles the origins, rise to fame, and cultural significance of Leonard Cohen’s most covered tune.

Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys (St. Martin’s Press/Raincoast, $34.50 cl., Nov.) gives readers an inside look at the iconic family throughout the Kennedy campaign and presidency. The book features more than 200 photographs taken by photojournalist Stanley Tretick, as well as an essay by Tretick’s friend (and Oprah biographer) Kitty Kelley. ¢ Award-winning photographer Tim Flach has spent years exploring the relationship between humans and animals. More than Human (Abrams/Manda, $75 cl., Oct.) showcases a plethora of creatures, from pandas to bullfrogs. The photos are accompanied by essays edited by Lewis Blackwell.


The sequel to international bestseller The Happiness Project hits stores in September. Gretchen Rubin‘s Happier at Home (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl.) offers readers an anecdotal guide to thinking positively and strengthening family bonds.

From Harvard-trained psychotherapist Katherine Crowley and management consultant Kathi Elster comes Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal (McGraw-Hill, $26.95 cl., Nov.). The duo provides field-tested methods for solving workplace rivalries. ¢ In the extensively researched Encyclopedia of Japanese Martial Arts (Quarry Press/Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $69.95 cl., Oct.), David A. Hall takes readers through the many forms of martial arts in Japan, from adauchi to zanshin.

Fans of the Emmy Award“winning series Downton Abbey will be able to eat like the Crawley family with Emily Ansara BainesThe Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook (Adams Media/Manda, $20.99 cl., Sept.), which includes recipes for an elegant afternoon tea and a lavish six-course dinner.

World-renowned chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller, author of The French Laundry Cookbook, combines his love of American and French baked goods in his latest book of recipes, Bouchon Bakery (Artisan/Thomas Allen, $60 cl., Sept.). Co-authored by Sebastien Rouxel, the book contains Keller’s whimsical takes on the junk food he grew up with (including Oreos and Ho-Hos) as well as French classics he fell in love with while apprenticing in Paris.


Oliver Sacks, the best-selling author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, gets trippy in his next book. Hallucinations (Knopf Canada, $29.95 cl., Nov.) investigates the biological sources and cultural significance of the titular multi­sensory experiences. ¢ Alexandrine Civard-Racinais teams up with photographer Patrice Héraud for Great White Shark: Myth and Reality (Firefly Books, $29.95 cl., Sept.), which follows a research team as it tracks great white sharks. The book attempts to dispel stereotypes and present the creature as a respectful predator.

Amanda Walter and Holly Berkley team up in The Social Media Advantage: An Essential Handbook for Small Business (Self-Counsel Press, $18.95 pa., Sept.), which shows entrepreneurs how to create and maintain successful social-media strategies in this age of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. ¢ The patience and aggression needed in poker, not to mention the steely nerves, can translate to good business qualities, according to Charley Swayne. In The Shark and the Fish (ECW Press, $19.95 pa., Sept.), the author teaches how to use winning poker strategies in the business world.

Q&Q‘s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2012. ¢ All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. ¢ Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.