Turning the page: the year ahead in books

Irish writers, including a plethora of debut novelists, feature prominently in 2014’s literary line-up

British troops blinded by tear gas wait outside an advance dressing station, near Bethune, France, in April 1918. Photograph:  Getty Images)

British troops blinded by tear gas wait outside an advance dressing station, near Bethune, France, in April 1918. Photograph: Getty Images)

Sat, Dec 28, 2013, 01:00

Literary Fiction
There are some real goodies in the Irish literary basket this spring. Sebastian Barry’s follow-up to The Secret Scripture is The Temporary Gentleman (Faber and Faber, April), the story of Jack McNulty’s career in the British army. Colm Tóibín goes back to the 1960s for his new novel, Nora Webster (Viking, May), while Joseph O’Connor’s The Thrill of It All (Harvill Secker, May) tracks the formation – and reformation – of a 1980s band. Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music (Picador, March) is inspired by true events in San Francisco in 1876, and the death of a contemporary Irish poet is the starting point for David Park’s The Poets’ Wives (Bloomsbury, February).

Greg Baxter’s Munich Airport (Penguin Ireland, July) is about the families we improvise when our “real” families fall apart; and following the worldwide success of his movie screenplay, Good Vibrations, Glenn Patterson’s new novel is called The Rest Just Follows (Faber and Faber, February). Paul Lynch’s debut, Red Sky in Morning, was a big hit last year: The Black Snow (Quercus, March) is a tale of farming folk set in 1945. Niall Williams offers a History of the Rain (Bloomsbury, April), Liam Ó Muirthile’s An Colm Bán (Cois Life, February) is set at the Folies Bergère in Paris, and a visiting US president is assassinated in Dublin in John Kelly’s From Out of the City (Dalkey Archive Press, May). Among next year’s most ambitious debuts are Darragh McKeon’s All That Is Solid Melts into Air (Viking, March), set in an apartment block in Moscow after Chernobyl, and Léan Cullinan’s The Living (Atlantic Books, June), in which a choral singer and publisher gets mixed up with shadowy republicans.

In fact there’s a plethora of debuts from Irish writers next year, among them Audrey Magee’s The Undertaking (Atlantic Books, February), Mark Mulholland’s A Mad and Wonderful Thing (Scribe, March), Stephen Burke’s The Good Italian (Hodder & Stoughton, May), Jan Carson’s Malcolm Orange Disappears (Liberties Press, June), Patrick O’Keeffe’s The Visitors (Bloomsbury, June), Daniel Seery’s A Model Partner (Liberties Press, February), Mick Scully’s The Norway Room (Tindal Street Press, March) and Rob Doyle’s Here Be the Young Men (Lilliput Press, April).

From UK writers comes a quartet of war novels: Andrew O’Hagan’s The Illuminations (Faber and Faber, May), in which a soldier returns to Scotland from Afghanistan, Adam Foulds’s In the Wolf’s Mouth (Jonathan Cape, February), set in North Africa and Sicily in 1945, Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone (Bloomsbury, April), set in the summer of 1915, and Tim Pears’s second World War love story, In the Light of Morning (Heinemann, February). Hanif Kureishi’s The Last Word (Faber and Faber, February) is a bleak comedy about a young biographer, while Naomi Wood delves into the married life of Ernest Hemingway in Mrs Hemingway (Picador, February). Tabish Khair tells us How to Fight Islamic Terrorism from the Missionary Position (Corsair, February).

Gary Shteyngart recasts his childhood in Little Failure (Random House, January). A 70-year-old composer is accused of being a bioterrorist Bach in Richard Powers’s Orfeo (Atlantic Books, April), and Ayelet Waldman, aka Mrs Michael Chabon, travels through 100 years of European history in Love and Treasure (John Murray, April).

David Grossmann explores parental grief in Falling Out of Time (Jonathan Cape, February); Damon Galgut uses the life of EM Forster as a springboard for Arctic Summer (Atlantic Books, March); and Javier Cercas follows three charismatic teenagers in Outlaws (Bloomsbury, June). Enrique Vila-Matas is in Hemingway’s Paris in Never Any End to Paris (Harvill Secker, June). Finally, two big Chinese novels to watch out for are Mai Jia’s bestselling spy novel Decoded (Allen Lane, February) and Xiaolu Guo’s love story I Am China (Chatto & Windus, June).

Current affairs
Alain de Botton deconstructs the peculiar role that “the news” plays in our lives in The News: A User’s Manual (Hamish Hamilton, February). One of last year’s most feted journalists, the former Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, revisits his Edward Snowden spying story – with a few new revelations – in No Place to Hide (Hamish Hamilton, March). There’s a rerun of the Murdoch newspaper debacle in Nick Davies’s Hard Attack (Chatto & Windus, April). The Mafia’s bete noir and author of Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano, takes on the international cocaine trade in Zero Zero Zero (Allen Lane, June), Ken Silverstein exposes The Secret World of Oil (Verso, May) and Harris Irfan ventures into another secret world, that of Islamic finance, in Heaven’s Bankers (Oxford University Press, March).

Evan Osnos shows China as you’ve never seen it before in Age of Ambition (Bodley Head, June). Simon Denyer looks at where India is heading in Rogue Elephant (Bloomsbury, March). The human species is heading for obliteration if the climate-change stats are to be believed. But we mustn’t give up: we must evolve, writes Naomi Klein in The Message (Allen Lane, September).

Sheri Fink brings readers inside a hospital fighting for its life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Five Days at Memorial (Atlantic Books, February). Helen Collins’s The Short Guide to Divorce Law in Ireland (Cork University Press, February) is a practical handbook for those going through the misery of divorce. The Irish Examiner journalist Conall Ó Fátharta reviews key moments in the campaign for Justice for Magdalenes (Liberties Press, February), and Pat Devitt and Derek Beattie offer a wide-ranging study of Suicide: A Modern Obsession (Liberties Press, March).

The great Czech writer Ivan Klima recalls his life under both Nazi and communist regimes in My Crazy Century (Grove Press, March). The 2011 earthquake in Christchurch is the starting point for Lloyd Jones’s study of his family, A History of Silence (John Murray, March). A coruscating read is promised from Brian Turner, whose poetry inspired the movie The Hurt Locker, in My Life as a Foreign Country (Jonathan Cape, May). There’s drama aplenty as Matt Lewis recounts his time as a marine biologist in Antarctica, in Last Man Off (Viking, June). Henry Marsh offers an insight into brain surgery in Do No Harm (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, March); and John Carey, the biographer of William Golding, reflects on a life lived through books and reading in The Unexpected Professor (Faber and Faber, March).

The first person in Ireland to legally challenge the State ban on assisted suicide, Marie Fleming, who died last week, tells her remarkable life story in An Act of Love (Hachette Ireland, February), and Gearóid Cheaist Ó Catháin remembers being the only child on the Great Blasket in The Loneliest Boy in the World (Collins Press, May).

The chief economic adviser to the mayor of London, Gerard Lyons, predicts that the next 20 years will be one of the strongest-ever periods of growth in The Consolations of Economics (Faber and Faber, April). In I Spend, Therefore I Am (Viking, February), Philip Roscoe argues that economics is not a science but a way of thinking, while Robert J Mayhew says it’s time to rethink our views on population and demography in Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet (Harvard University Press, April). Danny Dorling is convinced that housing is at the heart of our financial woes in All That Is Solid (Allen Lane, February), and Diane Coyle offers a brief but affectionate history of GDP (Princeton University Press, March).

The authors of the publishing phenomenon that was Freakonomics, Stephen J Dubner and Steven D Levitt, offer a mental toolkit for entrepreneurs in Think Like a Freak (Allen Lane, May). Paul Roberts explains why we can’t get everything we want in The Impulse Society (Bloomsbury, June). Eddie Hobbs insists that Ireland should be harvesting our natural resources in Own Our Oil (Liberties Press, February). And in Plan B: How Leaving the Euro Can Save Ireland (Gill & Macmillan, March), Cormac Lucey says we should renege on our debt and abandon the single currency.

July marks the centenary of the outbreak of the first World War, and so do many, many books. Gordon Martel reconstructs the build-up moment by moment in July 1914: The Month That Changed the World (Oxford University Press, June). In The Deluge (Allen Lane, March) Adam Tooze analyses the war’s legacy across Europe and beyond, while its effect on the city of London is examined in Jerry White’s Zeppelin Nights (Bodley Head, May). In Blackpool to the Front: A Cork Suburb and the Great War (Collins Press, April) Mark Cronin recalls the involvement of Blackpool men, including his own grandfather, and their families in the war effort. The conflict marked the end of tsarist Russia, writes Dominic Lieven in Towards the Flames (Allen Lane, May). Orlando Figes also focuses on the Russian revolution in A People’s Tragedy (Bodley Head, February).

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