Books to watch out for in 2016
The Easter Rising centenary is about to unleash a volley of history titles, but there are some blistering stories from fiction’s big beasts on the way too
Hennessy Hall of Fame poet Paula Meehan. Photograph:Dave Meehan
Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2009
Short story writer Helen Oyeyemi
Snooker player turned crime writer Ronnie O’Sullivan
Poet and rapper Kate Tempest
Writer Colm McCann. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
It’s a case of back to the future for Glenn Patterson’s Gull (Head of Zeus, January), which zooms in on the DeLorean luxury car factory in Belfast, while the former journalist and Bangor native Colin Bateman is in the newsroom of the fictional Bangor Express with Paper Cuts (Head of Zeus, February).
Neil Jordan’s first novel since 2011, The Drowned Detective (Bloomsbury, February), features a PI searching in a decaying eastern European city for a child who has been missing for 20 years. Dermot Bolger’s Lonely Sea and Sky (New Island, April) is based on a real-life incident from 1943, in which the crew of an Irish vessel risked their lives to rescue 168 shipwrecked German sailors. Patrick McGinley’s Bishop’s Delight (New Island, February) opens when a taoiseach vanishes while fishing off the Connemara coast. Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones (Tramp Press, May) is a ghost story set against the looming financial crisis, while Mary Telford’s Sins (Lilliput Press, February) is a graphic novel with illustrations by Louise Verity.
Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Rebel Sisters (Transworld Ireland, February) finds two privileged Irish women kicking against the conventions of their Anglo-Irish background. An Irish doctor struggles with questions of life and love in Austin Duffy’s This Living and Immortal Thing (Granta, February). Paraic O’Donnell’s The Maker of Swans (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, February) is set on a sprawling country estate, with a strange guardian and a mysterious young ward.
Catherine Dunne’s The Years That Followed (Macmillan, March), Fionnuala Kearney’s The Day I Lost You (HarperCollins February) and Henrietta McKervey’s The Heart of Everything (Hachette Ireland, March) all explore the myriad misunderstandings of family life. But murder and marriage definitely don’t make happy bedfellows in Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place (Headline, May). Newry-based Peter Hollywood’s Drowning the Gowns (New Island, March) is a historical novel about Henry James and his role in a mysterious death in Venice. Finally, a heads-up for autumn: Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder (Picador, September) is a psychological thriller set in 1850s rural Ireland.
The 1916 centenary celebrations will be a big talking point throughout next year’s cultural calendar. One of the biggest books in the field of history will likely be Cork University Press’s mammoth Atlas of the Irish Revolution (May), edited by John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy, which aims to do for the revolutionary period what the award-winning Atlas of the Great Irish Famine did for the second half of the 19th century. It will combine cutting-edge “big issue” research with stories of people, provinces and parishes.
Bríona Nic Dhiarmada’s The 1916 Irish Rebellion (Cork University Press, February) is a companion book to RTÉ’s three-part documentary series on 1916, narrated by Liam Neeson, while Micheál Ó hAodha & Ruán O’Donnell address the lack of female voices in many current histories of the period with Eyewitness to the Easter Rising (Merrion Press, April). Ruth Dudley Edwards re-examines many of our assumptions about the period in The Seven: The Lives and Legacies of the Founding Fathers of the Irish Republic (Oneworld, March). Terry Moylan sets the revolution to music with The Indignant Muse: Poetry and Songs of the Irish Revolution (Lilliput, February), while David Kenny’s The Splendid Years (New Island, March) is a first-hand account of the Rising from a founder-actress at the Abbey Theatre, Máire Nic Shuibhlaigh – the author’s great-aunt.
Two books that focus on the years after 1916 are John Reynolds’s 46 Men Dead: The Royal Irish Constabulary in County Tipperary 1919-22 (Collins Press, April), and Sean Enright’s After the Rising: Soldiers, Lawyers and Trials of the Long Revolution (Merrion Press, March).
Perhaps surprisingly, 2016 will also see books about other areas of Irish history. Martin Browne and Colmán Ó Clabaigh explore the labyrinthine legacy of the medieval military orders in Soldiers of Christ: The Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar in Medieval Ireland (Four Courts Press, January), while Eoghan Moore conjures a cauldron of kings, queens, scribes and battles in Ireland Before the Normans (Collins Press, March), the first volume of a new popular history of Ireland.
The first World War still attracts much commentary, and next year we’ll get two more books on the Somme: Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Somme: Into the Breach (Viking, May) and Taylor Downing’s Breakdown: Shellshock on the Somme (Little Brown, February). Ronan McGreevy of The Irish Times traces the involvement of the Irish on the Western Front in Wherever the Firing Line Extends (The History Press, April).
Adam Hochschild tracks down American volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War in Spain in Our Hearts (Macmillan, April), and Pete Ayrton’s No Pasaran (Serpent’s Tail, April) is an anthology of commentary from that same conflict. And here’s a man who’s getting in early: in Historically Inevitable? (Profile Books, June), Tony Brenton assembles analyses from a range of historians of events leading up to the 1917 revolution in Russia.
Ever since Montaigne, the essay has been the art form of the unexpected, and next year’s offerings are full of surprise and diversity.
In Slow Burn City (Picador, March), Rowan Moore takes a provocative look at 21st-century London, and the ecology guru George Monbiot asks How Did We Get Into This Mess? (Verso, March). The Simplest Words (Allen & Unwin, March) is a volume of short pieces from one of Australia’s greatest novelists, Alex Miller.
In the third volume of The Poet’s Chair series, Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees in Them (UCD Press, May), Ireland Professor of Poetry Paula Meehan meditates on bees and bears, memory and personal history. Marian Keyes’s Making It Up As I Go Along (Michael Joseph, February) takes a light look at, among other things, eyelash extension horrors and domestic goddess disasters.
Finally, watch out for two new names from across the Atlantic. How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America (Bloomsbury, February) finds Kiese Laymon examining issues of race, family and what is tearing America apart. David Search is a Texan who began writing essays in his late 60s, and in Shame and Wonder (William Heinemann, January) he forges connections which, his publishers say, “make the everyday seem almost extraterrestrial”.
There are blistering stories on the way from some of the biggest names in world literature. A man is haunted by his childhood on the blue-rimmed shores of Mauritius in Nobel laureate JMG Le Clézio’s The Prospector (Atlantic Books, April), while a Colombian cartoonist is at the centre of Reputations, from the 2014 Impac Prize winner Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Bloomsbury, May).
The 2009 Nobel Prize winner, Herta Müller, follows a teacher stalked by the Romanian Securitate in her early novel, The Fox Was Ever the Hunter (Portobello, May).
Will this be the year when Ismail Kadare finally gets his Nobel? Maybe A Girl in Exile (Harvill Secker, March), his study of Albanian women, will help.
Bad behaviour off-screen in the film world is on Javier Marias’s mind in Thus Bad Begins (Penguin, February), while Edmund White’s Our Young Man (Bloomsbury, May) is set in the bitchy, bravura world of New York supermodels. A sheriff looks back on his life in Ron Rash’s Above the Waterfall (Canongate, May).
A 14-year-old cricketer is at the centre of Aravind Adiga’s Selection Day (Picador, May). Jo Baker’s A Country Road, a Tree (Doubleday, May) is a reimagining of Samuel Beckett’s Resistance years in Paris – something the great writer rarely spoke about.
To coincide with the Rio Olympics, Lola Lafon has reimagined the life of the gymnast Nadia Comaneci in The Little Communist Who Never Smiled (Serpent’s Tail, June). Anthony Cartwright’s study of a young footballer, Iron Towns (Serpent’s Tail, May) is being compared to the work of David Peace. Nicola Barker’s The Cauliflower (Heinemann, April) is not about vegetables but the tale of a guru in 19th-century Calcutta. Deborah Levy takes what we can only assume will be a disturbing and funny look at hypochondria in Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton, March). Life of Pi author Yann Martel is on the trail of a lost relic in The High Mountains of Portugal (Canongate, February).
Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata (Chatto & Windus, May) is a coming-of-age story that begins in Switzerland in the 1930s. Tracy Chevalier’s At the Edge of the Orchard (The Borough Press, March) is set in a swamp in Ohio 1828; and AL Kennedy’s Serious Sweet (Jonathan Cape, May) is a topical London love story.
Graham Swift looks at another kind of love in Mothering Sunday: A Romance (Scribner, February), while Tim Parks’s Thomas and Mary: A Love Story (Harvill Secker February) is a blackly comic study of a 30-year-old marriage. A Scottish caravan park during a fierce winter is the setting for Jenni Fagan’s The Sunlight Pilgrims (William Heinemann, March). A history professor in New York develops paranoia in the era of mass surveillance in Patrick Flanery’s I Am No One (Atlantic Books, February). Jim Powell’s Trading Futures (Picador, March) is a darkly comic novel about financial traders. Anna North’s tale of an enigmatic film director, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, February), has taken the US by storm. And if you loved Olive Kitteridge, don’t miss Elizabeth Strout’s tiny new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton (Viking, February).
Trainspotting fans, take note: Begbie is back with his own book, Irvine Welsh’s The Blade Artist (Jonathan Cape, March). Suzanne Joinson follows A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar with a historical novel set in Jerusalem, The Photographer’s Wife (Bloomsbury, May), while the follow-up to Wolf, Wolf from South-African born Eben Venter is Trencherman (Scribe, March), a modern retelling of Heart of Darkness. Michael Honig’s medical satire, Goldblatt’s Descent, was hilarious; his new book, The Senility of Vladimir P (Atlantic, March), finds his elderly protagonist in a Russian dacha, being skimmed by his colleagues.
There has been a massive buzz from Australia about Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things (Allen & Unwin, June), in which two women wake to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert. Finally, if you dream of an escape to the country, Ali Shaw’s The Trees (Bloomsbury, May) does for trees what Hitchcock did for birds. You have been warned.
What, exactly, is a memoir? We may have to adjust those definitions that include the word “life”, because next year will see the publication of a fistful of memoirs from authors who are, to be blunt, deceased. The crime novelist and creator of Wallander, Henning Mankell, writes about art, jealousy, the future of the planet – oh, and his cancer diagnosis – in Quicksand (Harvill Secker, February).
A diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer is also the starting-point for When Breath Becomes Air (The Bodley Head, February), reflections on what it means to live a good life by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi. Poet and prose stylist extraordinaire Charles Bukowski offers some thoughts On Love (Canongate, February).
The relationship between fathers and sons provides a quartet of contrasting life stories. The Hurley-Maker’s Son, teacher and poet Patrick Deeley’s recollections of his childhood in rural east Galway, (Doubleday Ireland, March), is being billed as reminiscent of John McGahern. Rosa Hoskins recalls the talents of her father Bob in It’s All Going Wonderfully Well (Imprint Hutchinson, April).
Libyan novelist Hisham Matar muses on Fathers Sons and the Land in Between (Viking, June). And from Israeli Etgar Keret comes Seven Good Years (Granta, February), a tragicomic tale about losing a father but raising a son in New York.
Nature writer Olivia Laing finds herself in New York in The Lonely City (Canongate, March), while style icon Alice Carey moves From the West Village to West Cork: Alice’s Adventures in Ireland (Collins Press, April). Caitriona Palmer’s An Affair with My Mother (Penguin Ireland, March) chronicles a woman’s search for her mother, and how the ongoing shame and guilt impacts on present-day family relationships. John Waters updates his now-classic Jiving at the Crossroads in Crossing the Road (Lilliput, May).
Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words (Bloomsbury, February) is a provocative exploration of language, exile and belonging. Australian novelist Tim Winton celebrates his native landscape in Island Home (Penguin, May). In Lab Girl (Virago, May), paleobiologist Hope Jahren writes about her struggle to succeed in an overwhelmingly male world (one field trip took her to Ireland). Music writer Sylvia Patterson’s compendium of her interviews with pop’s biggest names, I’m Not With the Band (Sphere, June), includes Bono chasing her around the table in mock outrage.
Finally, Karl Ove Knausgård has reached volume five of his apparently interminable autobiography, My Struggle. Some Rain Must Fall (Harvill Secker, March) takes him to the writing academy in Bergen. Just one more to go, folks, just one more to go.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Shakespeare – and more, forsooth – can be found in Andrew Dixon’s The Globe Guide to Shakespeare (Profile Books, February). Published to celebrate the Bard’s 400th anniversary, this is a guide to the plays, sonnets and narrative poems as well as films and audio recordings.
If Ulysses is more your bag, you’ll need Vivian Igoe’s The Characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses (UCD Press, April), which, as well as being a biographical dictionary, looks at the real personalities who inspired the novel. Stanley van der Ziel examines the influence of the classics on great Irish novelist John McGahern and The Imagination of Tradition (Cork University Press, April), while Christopher Fauske explores a great poet’s responses to Ireland’s wartime neutrality in Louis MacNeice (IAP, February).
New York Times film critic AO Scott suggests new ways of thinking about art, pleasure, beauty and truth in Better Living Through Criticism (Jonathan Cape, March), while Franz Hessel, who inspired the male bit of François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, brings Weimar-era Germany to life in Walking in Berlin (Scribe, February). Finally, we’re all guilty: Rebecca Gowers raps us over the knuckles for the misuse of English in Horrible Words (Particular Books, March).
Graeme Thomson’s book on the life and music of Kate Bush was described by The Irish Times as “the best music biography in perhaps the last decade”.
Now Thomson has turned his attention to Phil Lynott for the authorised Cowboy Song (Constable, February). The 100th anniversary of the birth of a great children’s writer will be marked by Donald Sturrock’s Roald Dahl: A Life in Letters (John Murray, June), and the 50th of the death of a great comic novelist in Philip Eade’s Evelyn Waugh (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, March). Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy, who died last year, is remembered by his longtime friend and co-star William Shatner in Leonard: A Life (Sidgwick and Jackson, February).
Husband-and-wife graphic novelists Bryan and Mary Talbot follow their Costa-winning study of Lucia Joyce (Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes) with the equally offbeat The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia (Jonathan Cape, May). The subject is Louise Michel, an anarchist-feminist who fought on the barricades in 1871. What was it like to have coffee with Simone de Beauvoir? Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails (Chatto & Windus, March) tells all; another philosopher, Miles Hollingworth, excavates the extraordinary life of Ludwig Wittgenstein (Bloomsbury, April).
One of Victorian Ireland’s most dazzling and enlightened couples, Oscar Wilde’s parents, are at the heart of Emer O’Sullivan’s action-packed study, The Fall of the House of Wilde (Bloomsbury, June), while TE Lawrence’s Irish heritage – including many previously unpublished photographs – is the subject of Dick Benson-Gyles’s The Boy in the Mask: The Hidden World of Lawrence of Arabia (Lilliput, March). Secrets and lies are the stuff of Roger Casement’s final days, and Angus Mitchell lays it all out in One Bold Deed of Open Treason: Sir Roger Casement’s Berlin Diaries, 1914-1916 (Merrion Press, February).
And the inter-war years and the rise of Nazism and fascism are the backdrop to Tom Garvin’s The Lives of Daniel Binchy: Irish Scholar, Diplomat, Public Intellectual (Irish Academic Press, February)
The most mysterious member of Wordsworth’s circle is the subject of Frances Wilson’s Guilty: A Life of Thomas de Quincy (Bloomsbury, April), while Franny Moyle takes us through the momentous life and times of the painter JMW Turner (Viking, July). Another painter, Diego Velásquez, and a bookseller who was obsessed with him, gives Laura Cumming the material for The Vanishing Man (Chatto & Windus, January).
And finally, 400 years after his death, the marvellous Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is celebrated in William Eglinton’s The Man Who Invented Fiction (Bloomsbury, June). Not only did Cervantes write Don Quixote, he was captured by pirates too. Now that’s what I call a life.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS
Will 2016 be the year of Hillary Clinton? With the US election approaching fast, expect a slew of books on every aspect of the woman, her life, the contents of her make-up bag – and her politics. James D Boyd’s Hillary Rising (Biteback, January) promises a “clear-sighted, non-partisan analysis”, while the New York Times’s longtime White House correspondent, Mark Landler, takes an unusual angle with Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Their Secret Rivalry and the Shift in America’s Role in the World (WH Allen, June). Clinton herself may well be studying the new book from a former aide, Alec Ross.
The Industries of the Future (Scribner, February) is a timely survey of the fields which will impact on all our economies over the next decade, including robotics, genomics, cybercrime and artificial intelligence. She’d also do well to pay attention to economics guru Thomas Piketty, who advises where we should go from here in Chronicles: On Our Troubled Times (Viking, April).
This side of the pond, we will be obsessed with our own general election. Noel Whelan’s The Tallyman’s Campaign Handbook (Liffey Press, Jan) will put us in the right frame of mind, while Kevin Cardiff’s inside account of the banking crisis, Recap: Inside Ireland’s Financial Crisis (Liffey Press, February), might make suitable background reading for those about to vote. Good journalism is something we value highly hereabouts, and Mark Bowden’s The Three Battles of War (Grove Press, May) is a collection of articles from the author of Black Hawk Down and The Finish. The battery-acid attack on a director at the Moscow ballet is the starting point for Chris Salewicz’s Bolshoi Confidential (Fourth Estate, June).
The Middle East continues to dominate the news for all the wrong reasons. In The Morning They Came for Us (Bloomsbury, February) Janine di Giovanni goes behind the headlines to focus on the deeper story of Syria, while in City of Thorns (Portobello, February), Ben Rawlence spends time with the nine and a half million people who live in the world’s largest refugee camp: at Dadaab in Somalia. Next year is the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian “revolution”.
In The Egyptians (Allen Lane, January) Jack Shenker offers an account of Egypt’s radical politics, while Rachel Aspen’s Generation Revolution (Harvill Secker, June) focuses on the front line between tradition and change in the region.
Expect a fuss to be made about Shiv Malik’s The Messenger (Faber & Faber, March), about the unlikely friendship between the author and a jihadist in the tough suburbs of Manchester. Also likely to cause a stir is Laura Bates’s Girl Up (Scribner, April) a manifesto from the founder of the Everyday Sexism project. In the interests of impartiality, we note that Rebecca Asher’s Man Up (Harvill, May) asks why equality should just be for girls.
And speaking of equality, look out for Charlie Bird’s A Day in May (Merrion Press, May), which will celebrate the first anniversary of the Yes vote for marriage equality with more than 50 real-life testimonies and personal accounts from the referendum campaign.
We’re used to regular helpings of first-rate short fiction in Ireland, and the trend continues next year with Rob Doyle’s new collection, This Is the Ritual (Bloomsbury/ Lilliput, January); Mary Morrissy’s Prosperity Drive (Jonathan Cape, February), a series of linked stories that radiate outwards from a Dublin street; Carlo Gébler’s The Wing Orderly’s Tale (New Island, March), another set of linked stories set inside a prison in the North; and Joanna Walsh’s Vertigo (Tramp Press, March), an assemblage of personal sketches both otherworldly and familiar, funny and strange.
New work from Julia O’Faolain is always welcome, and Under the Rose (Faber & Faber, March) finds her tackling the male bastions of church and politics. In her debut story collection, Multitudes (Faber & Faber, May), Belfast novelist Lucy Caldwell explores coming-of-age themes, while David Park looks at masculinity, isolation and longing in Gods and Angels (Bloomsbury, May). Roisín O’Donnell is a Sheffield-based writer with Derry roots; her debut collection is Wild Quiet (New Island, April)
In the wider world, novelist (and international poker player!) Helen Ellis visits the darker side of domesticity in her wickedly funny collection, American Housewife (Scribner, January). Callan Wink, a fishing guide on the Yellowstone River, reconfigures the landscape of the American West in Dog Run Moon (Granta, March).
David Szalay’s All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape, April), features nine men in nine settings, – from the suburbs of Prague to an over-developed Alpine village via a rubbish Cypriot hotel. And for sheer weirdness, try Greg Jackson’s eerie tales of the privileged in contemporary America, Prodigals (Granta, April), or Helen Oyeyemi’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (Picador, April), which explores a world of marshlands where the drowned dead live and a city where all the clocks have stopped.
There are always guides for the perpetually perplexed. Ben Ratliff offers 20 ways to listen to music in Every Song Ever (Allen Lane, February), Pierre Bayard provides a panoply of world travel in How To Talk About Places You’ve Never Been (Bloomsbury, March) and Alain de Botton has some emotional advice in The Course of Love (Hamish Hamilton, April). Ruth Whippman is unimpressed by The Pursuit of Happiness (Hutchinson, March), while in The Way We Die Now (Head of Zeus, May), the Cork-based gastroenterologist Seamus O’Mahon reckons we’ve lost the ability to deal with death.
What does it really mean to “like” things online, wonders Tom Vanderbilt in You May Also Like (Scribner, June), while in Digital vs Human (Scribe, April), the What’s Next website founder Richard Watson wonders whether the next 50 years of technology will merely bring us more status updates and cat videos. In a world of looming scarcity, the most dangerous scarcity of all is likely to be that of human attention, according to Abby Smith Rumsey’s When We Are No More (Bloomsbury, May).
Another Olympics-in-Rio tie-in, Alex Cuadros’s Brazillionaires (Profile Books, June), ventures into the murky world of Brazil’s richest men, while Kate Moore tells the terrible tale of the women who worked with radium paint in the US after the first World War – first they glowed in the dark, then their jaws started to rot – in The Radium Girls (Scribner, June). Geoff Dyer displays his sassy, cantankerous wit in Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (Canongate, May), an exploration in 10 journeys of why we travel.
Mike Gibney explores the causes of human obesity in Ever Seen a Fat Fox? (UCD Press, April) and Josh Axe insists that a daily dose of good soil can fix all your health woes in Eat Dirt (Bluebird, April). Finally, in The Idiot Brain (Faber & Faber, February), neuroscientist Dean Burnett explains why tall people are more intelligent and how a glass of wine can help to refresh your memory. I’ll drink to that.
The amount of crime fiction being published each year is, arguably, a crime in itself: we love it, but it’s impossible to keep track of it all. John Connolly’s 14th Charlie Parker novel is A Time of Torment (Hodder & Stoughton, April); Adrian McKinty’s Belfast detective Sean Duffy returns in Rain Dogs (Serpent’s Tail, January); Alan Glynn’s Paradime (Faber & Faber, June) is a conspiracy thriller set in New York; and Martin Malone is on the trail of a cold case in the Curragh in Black Rose Days (New Island, April).
Interestingly, Irish crime writers seem to eschew the traditional police procedural form in favour of psychological thrillers. Liz Nugent hit the sinister sweet spot with her debut novel, Unravelling Oliver, and she’s back with Lying in Wait (Penguin Ireland, July). So is Karen Perry, aka the duo Karen Gillece and Paul Perry, with Girl Unknown (Michael Joseph, June).
There are also suspense stories coming from the Mr Selfridge scriptwriter Kate O’Riordan (Penance, Constable, March), Catherine Ryan Howard (Distress Signals, Corvus, June) and Annemarie Neary (Siren, Hutchinson, March). The north Longford writer Bernice Barrington makes her debut with Sisters and Lies (Penguin Ireland, March), while Vanessa Ronan’s The Last Days of Summer (Penguin Ireland June) has a dark, small-town Texas setting.
Ian Sansom’s 1930s County Guides murder series continues with Westmoreland Alone (4th Estate, February), Michael Russell’s The City in Darkness (Constable, May) is set in Laragh in 1939, Claire McGowan’s A Savage Hunter (Headline, March) has a fourth case for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, and DS Katie Maguire finds bodies in the bog in Graham Masterson’s Buried (Head of Zeus, February).
One thing we don’t really do is spy novels; happily, though, our neighbours keep us well supplied. Elizabeth Wilson’s She Died Young (Serpent’s Tail, March) is set in a cold-war London full of Hungarian emigres, while John Lawton’s The Unfortunate Englishman (Grove Press, May) is a tale of Khrushchev, Kennedy and 10,080 bottles of fine Bordeaux.
Mick Herron has reached the final instalment in his CWA award-winning Slough House series, Real Tigers (John Murray, February) and the doyen of BBC Radio Four, James Naughtie, follows his thriller debut, The Madness of July, with a prequel, Paris Spring (Head of Zeus, March). Joanne “Chocolat” Harris has a new book in her creepy suspense series based at a boys’ school in Yorkshire, Different Class, and the snooker star turned writer Ronnie O’Sullivan is in 1980s gangland London in Framed (Orion, June).
From the US, check out Joe R Lansdale’s Honky Tonk Samurai (Mulholland Books, February) for the most offbeat pair of PIs you’ll ever meet. Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun (Scribe, March) is based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. One of the world’s most productive writers, Joyce Carol Oates, collects six scary stories in The Doll Master (Head of Zeus, May); Faulkner and Scott Fitzgerald put in appearances in RJ Ellory’s Kings of America (Orion, May); and in Ray Celestine’s Dead Man’s Blues (Mantle, May), cracks are showing in Al Capone’s Chicago.
Andrea Camilleri is 90 next year, a good excuse for a story collection, Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories (Mantle, February). Gillian Slovo’s Ten Days (Canongate, March) is billed as House of Cards meets Homeland. On the Nordic front, Erik Axl Sund’s The Crow Girl (Harvill Secker April) was a bestseller in Europe, Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer is back in Hell Fire (Harvill Secker, June) and there are outings from Cecilia Ekback (In the Month of the Midnight Sun, Hodder & Stoughton, June), Mons Kallentoft (Souls of Air, Hodder & Stoughton, May) and Camilla Lackberg (The Ice Child, HarperCollins, March).
If you were to write a novel, what would you write about? Well, how about a car crash in which five lives also collide: that’s the starting premise of Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain (Doubleday, April) from playwright Barney Norris. Lili Wright’s Dancing with the Tiger (Harvill Secker, June) is an offbeat adventure involving Mexican art treasures and meths addicts.
Megan Bradbury opts to look at New York through the eyes of some famous inhabitants, including Robert Mapplethorpe and Walt Whitman, in Everyone is Watching (Picador, June). Tom Bullough’s Addlands (Granta, June) is the story of a rural family on the Welsh border.
Bestselling YA author Robin Wasserman moves into the adult market with a tale of obsessive female friendship, Girls on Fire (Little Brown, May), while the English poet and rapper Kate Tempest’s first novel is The Bricks That Built The Houses (Bloomsbury, April). Antonia Hayes’s Relativity (Corsair, April), about a 12-year-old boy genius in Sydney, is billed as “the new Slap”. And Colum McCann, who knows a potent book when he sees one, describes Sunil Yapa’s Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Little Brown, February) as “a literary Molotov cocktail”.
There will be a mammoth fuss – and rightly so – over Seamus Heaney’s translation of Book VI of Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid (Faber & Faber, March). It was a book that preoccupied the Nobel laureate for years, and this translation – begun after the death of Heaney’s own father in 1986 – is the result of work carried out from then until August 2013.
Faber will also, with Ireland’s Gallery Press, co-publish the first volumes of the Collected Plays of Brian Friel, who died in October. Gallery begins its poetry year with Selected Poems from Derek Mahon and Vona Groarke, followed by new poems by Tom French and Peter Sirr.
Other volumes to watch out for include a Collected Poems from Clive James (Picador, April), his own selection from 50 years of work; a new book from the Scottish poet JO Morgan, Interference Pattern (Jonathan Cape, February); The Catch, a series of “slices of life and states of mind” from Fiona Sampson (Chatto & Windus, February); and, from Australia, a clarion call to eco action in John Kinsella’s Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems (Picador, January).
Helen Mort’s No Map Could Show Them (Chatto & Windus, June) is inspired by mountaineering and running. Denise Riley’s Say Something Back (Picador, May) reproduces her long poem A Part Song, a moving document of grieving and loss, and the Liverpool poet Jamie McKendrick’s Selected Poems (Faber, May) covers topics from ink stones in Chinese riverbeds to a 10th-century physicist from Basra.
Who are we Irish nowadays, and what has become of the ideals that led to independence? Such are the questions posed by the award-winning photojournalist Seamus Murphy in his photographic study The Republic (Allen Lane, March).
The Liffey’s bridges have a thousand-year history in themselves, and it’s explored in Annette Black and Michael B Barry’s Bridges of Dublin: the Remarkable Story of Dublin’s Liffey Bridges (Four Courts Press, January). Gregory and Audrey Bracken offer a series of bespoke walks through the city in Dublin Strolls: An Illustrated Architectural Guide (Collins Press, March) while Lisa Marie Griffith and Ciarán Wallace scrutinise capital attitudes to death – and life – in Grave Matters: Death and Dying in Dublin, 1500-2000 (Four Courts Press, April).
In Wandering the Wild Atlantic Way: From Banba’s Crown to World’s End, Paul Clements drives the length of what’s fast becoming known as the Wawa, mingling travel writing, social history and nature (Collins Press, March). Neil Jackman heads the other way in Ireland’s Ancient East (Collins Press, April), a journey through the heritage, archaeology and folklore of 100 sites.
Myles Dungan crosses the Atlantic to tell the story of Irish immigrants to the US – from cannibals and prostitutes to soldiers and frontiersmen – in How the Irish Won the West (New Island, March). Last but definitely not least, an extraordinary gallery of portraits since the 17th century is showcased in The Dublin Civic Portrait Collection (Four Courts Press, April).