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Spring preview 2014: international books


Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, offers a portrait of gender and race relations in 19th-century America in The Invention of Wings (Viking, $29.50 cl., Jan.), which tells the intertwined stories of two women: Sarah Grimke, a wealthy Southerner struggling to discover her place in the world, and Hetty Grimke, Sarah’s “urban slave.” The novel, based on historical figures, has been chosen as an Oprah Book Club selection for 2014.

A lost classic of the beat generation is set for publication in March following the rediscovery of a Jack Kerouac manuscript from 1944. The novella-length work, set in a fictionalized version of Kerouac’s Massachusetts hometown, appears in the collection The Haunted Life: And Other Writings (Da Capo Press/Perseus Book Group, $27.50 cl., March). “¢ Ethiopian expatriate Dinaw Mengestu, whose writing and ethos has been compared to Kerouac’s, tells the story of a young man who leaves Africa in the midst of revolution to come to America, only to be haunted by the loose ends of his past. All Our Names (Bond Street Books, $17.95 pa., Jan.) harkens to Mengestu’s own immigrant story.

Recently named to Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists list, Helen Oyeyemi follows up 2011’s Mr. Fox with Boy, Snow, Bird (Hamish Hamilton Canada, $22 pa., March), a story of identity, introspection, and marriage from the perspective of an apparently white family in 1950s Massachusetts forced to confront its African-American roots. “¢ London-born, Istanbul-based author Ned Beauman, another of Granta‘s best young writers, introduces readers to a new synthetic drug, the object of a corporate conspiracy, in Glow (Hodder/Hachette, $34.99 cl., $22.99 pa., June), a follow-up to the author’s 2012 Man Booker Prize”“longlisted novel The Teleportation Accident. “¢ Eve Harris‘s well-received debut novel, which tells the story of a 19-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl coming of age in North West London, was longlisted for the 2013 Booker. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman ($19.95 pa., March) appears for the first time in Canada from House of Anansi Press. “¢ In his first work since 2011’s Pulitzer Prize”“nominated novel The Surrendered, Princeton writing professor Chang-rae Lee tells the story of a woman risking her life to find the man she loves in a dystopian future governed by strict class distinctions. On Such a Full Sea ($29.50 cl., Jan.) appears under the Penguin imprint Riverhead.

Ruth Reichl, the renowned food writer and former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, is set to release her debut novel with Appetite by Random House, an imprint that normally focuses on cookbooks. Delicious! ($27 cl., May), about a New York editor assigned to man the PR hotline for her shuttered magazine, tells a story with uncanny similarities to Reichl’s own. “¢ In a candid, discerning look at existence and identity in a social media”“driven society, The Unnamed author Joshua Ferris‘s latest novel is the story of a man who finds himself impersonated online. Mortification turns to existential crisis in To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Little, Brown/Hachette, $29 cl., May). “¢ From Herman Koch, best-selling Dutch author of The Dinner, comes Summer House with Swimming Pool (Hogarth/Random House, $27 cl., June), about a doctor involved in the death of a famous actor whom he suspects has abused his daughter.

Crime and mystery

Anansi’s crime-fiction imprint, Spiderline, is set to release the first book in an already internationally acclaimed series by Danish author Jakob Melander. The House that Jack Built ($19.95 pa., June), translated by Paul Russell Garrett, introduces detective Lars Winkler, a drug-­addicted social outcast and father. “¢ In a nod to Raymond Chandler, Booker winner John Banville (here employing his genre pen name, Benjamin Black) exhumes the hardboiled novelist’s private detective Philip Marlowe for a new crime thriller, The Black-Eyed Blonde (Henry Holt/Raincoast, $31 cl., March), set on the mean streets of 1950s Bay City, California. “¢ The first book in Jeff VanderMeer‘s Southern Reach trilogy ““ about the mysterious and deadly Area X, where nature has been allowed to develop unchecked ““ is already slated to become a feature film. Annihilation (HarperCollins Canada, $14.99 pa.) appears in February. “¢ Also from HarperCollins Canada, Isabel Allende‘s new novel, Ripper ($22.99 pa., Jan.), is being billed as a gripping murder mystery about a serial killer on the loose in San Francisco.

Poetry National Book Award finalist and Iraq War veteran Kevin Powers‘ debut collection depicts some of the more elusive and affecting aspects of a soldier’s life. Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting (Little, Brown/Hachette, $25 cl., April) follows the success of his debut novel, The Yellow Birds. “¢ Anansi has published a justifiably lauded group of poets that includes Dennis Lee, Ken Babstock, and Tomas Tranströmer. In March, it can add a genuine celebrity to its roster with the publication of actor James Franco‘s poetry debut, Directing Herbert White ($19.95 pa.).


Cartoonist and writer Mimi Pond, perhaps best known for scripting the first full-length episode of The Simpsons, tells the presumably semi-autobiographical story of Margaret Pond, who attempts to establish her identity as an artist while working at an eccentric café in 1970s California. Over Easy ($24.95 cl.), due from Drawn & Quarterly in April, is being dubbed “a brilliant portrayal of a familiar coming-of-age story.” “¢ Following his humorous comic book Cats Are Weird, graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown revels in the joys of parenthood and the frank honesty (and hilarity) of children in Kids Are Weird (Chronicle/Raincoast, $17.95 cl., March) by illustrating his toddler son’s observations about the world.

Science and nature

Continuing in the vein of 2007’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe, The New Yorker‘s Elizabeth Kolbert draws on natural history, geology, and other research to show how the Earth’s diminishing biodiversity rivals other mass extinctions in history. However, in The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Henry Holt/Raincoast, $32 cl., March), Kolbert argues that humankind is uniquely to blame for the latest catastrophe. “¢ A researcher at London’s Natural History Museum, Adrian Lister provides a glimpse of the planet’s prehistory and the museum’s world-famous collections in Mammoths and Mastodons of the Ice Age (Firefly Books, $29.95 cl., Feb.), which includes many photographs of skeletons, casts, and tusks. “¢ Journalist and photographer Nick Jans tells the remarkable true story of the unexpected friendship between a feral black wolf and the residents of Juneau, Alaska, in A Wolf Called Romeo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Thomas Allen & Son, $31.95 cl., June).

Biography and memoir

In the first volume of an exhaustive biography, historian Ramachandra Guha looks at one of modern history’s most influential figures. Ghandi Before India (Random House Canada, $34.95 cl., April) takes readers from Ghandi’s birth in 1869 through his education as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa. “¢ In A Long Way Home (Viking Canada, $30 cl., June), Saroo Brierley tells the unlikely story of rediscovering his family in an Indian village 25 years after he got lost on a train to Calcutta and was adopted by an Australian couple living in Hobart.

In her sophomore book, New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead revisits George Eliot’s Middlemarch, a favourite during her time as a student at Oxford University, to investigate the text’s meaning from a personal and cultural perspective. My Life in Middlemarch (Bond Street Books, $24.95 cl., Jan.) speaks to the power of literature in shaping the lives of readers. “¢ Veteran journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, offers a fresh but astute midlife perspective on her rediscovered adolescent journals. Living with a Wild God (Grand Central/Hachette, $29 cl.), set to appear in April, is the author’s 15th book.


University of St. Andrews management professor Philip Roscoe pens a powerful critique of consumerism in I Spend Therefore I Am: How Economics Has Changed the Way We Think and Feel (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., Feb.), which looks at how short-term economic thinking may not be in the best interest of society. “¢ Five-time presidential candidate and activist Ralph Nader entreats American liberals and conservatives to join forces to abolish corporate control over politics and the economy in Unstoppable: The Emerging Right-Left Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State (Nation/Perseus, $29 cl., April).


If Biz Stone isn’t a familiar name, try thinking back to 2009, when he was named GQ‘s Nerd of the Year and one of Time‘s most influential people, or to 2006, when he co-founded Twitter and various social media offshoots. Stone shares his Silicon Valley experiences in Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind (Grand Central/Hachette, $29 cl., April). “¢ Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull teams up with writer Amy Wallace to tell the story of his corporation ““ and himself ““ in Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the way of True Inspiration (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., April).


When Mariano Rivera retired from Major League Baseball in 2013 after 19 seasons as a New York Yankee, he was widely considered the greatest relief pitcher the game had ever seen. The obligatory sports memoir appears to be his next step. The five-time World Series champion recounts his career, his struggle to maintain religious faith, and his experience as a Latino in professional sports in The Closer (Little, Brown/Hachette, $31 cl., May).

Q&Q‘s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014. “¢ 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.

This feature appeared in the January/February 2o14 issue of Q&Q.