Coming to a shelf near you

Sat, Jan 3, 2009, 00:00

2009 is Charles Darwin's year and the book lists reflect this, but we can also look forward to new novels by Colm Tóibín, Claire Kilroy and William Trevor, writes Arminta Wallace

LITERARY FICTION

Let's start with some seriously good news: William Trevor's first novel since The Story of Lucy Gault, entitled Love and Summer, will be coming out from Viking in August. This year also sees the publication of Brooklyn, Colm Tóibín's first novel with his new publisher Viking in May. Its heroine, Eilis Lacey, faces some difficult choices after she leaves 1950s Enniscorthy for New York where, just as she falls in love, news comes from home that forces her back to Ireland.

With creative writing courses the big thing it was only a matter of time until writers began to write about them and Claire Kilroy's All Names Have Been Changed (Faber, May) features a group of students on such a course at Trinity College Dublin, Kilroy's old alumni. The book is set against the backdrop of a mid-1980s Dublin in the grip of a heroin epidemic. Patrick McCabe's The Holy City (Bloomsbury) comes out this month and is - what else? - "darkly funny and disturbing"; another offbeat outing is Nick Laird's Glover's Mistake (Fourth Estate, April).

In The House of Special Purpose (Doubleday, May) John Boyne focuses on a Russian émigré in London. The new book from Kildare-based short story writer John McKenna is called The Space Between Us (New Island, April); and a film adaptation of Black Rock, a coming-of-age story set in 1950s Trinidad and Tobago by Irish-Trinidadian Amanda Smyth (Serpent's Tail, March) is already in the pipeline. Hot Press author Peter Murphy makes his fictional debut with John the Revelator (Faber, Feb) while two kids get mixed up with a drug dealer in The Runners (New Island, April), from Fiachra Sheridan, son of playwright Peter and nephew of film-maker Jim.

Also joining the creative writing fray is journalist - and former Africa correspondent for The Irish Times - Ed O'Loughlin whose debut novel Not Untrue and Not Unkind (Penguin Ireland, April), begins with a suicide in a Dublin newspaper and ends up in war-torn Africa. Penguin Ireland also has Counting Down by Gerry Stembridge (this month) about a man who decides to live on his own - lethal - terms. And there's a new novel, the first in many years, from Kevin Casey called A State of Mind (Lilliput Press, March).

Following her Orange Prize long-listing with Tatty, Christine Dwyer Hickey is on the trail of a young Irish woman who goes to Italy as an au pair in the 1930s in Last Train from Liguria (Atlantic, June).

We can also expect two fictional retellings of slightly scurrilous historical stories. The life of an Irishwoman who shocked the world, Lola Montez, is told in Marion Urch's An Invitation To Dance (Brandon, March) while in A Bit of a Scandal (also Brandon, March) Mary Rose Callaghan moves the medieval tale of Heloise and Abelard to the Dublin of a generation ago, with its gas meters, broken pay phones, and lasagne.

Meanwhile American Douglas Kennedy's Leaving the World is out from Hutchinson in March . The Israeli writer Amos Oz traces eight hours in the life of an unnamed Israeli writer in Rhyming Life and Death (Harvill Secker, Feb) while Lebanese-born 2008 Impac winner Rawi Hage writes about the snowy northern wastes in Cockroach (Hamish Hamilton, May).

Asian fiction continues to make a big splash; Amit Chaudhuri's The Immortals (Picador, March) is a tale of three Indian musicians, while Tash Aw follows his highly successful The Harmony Silk Factory with Map of the Invisible World (Fourth Estate, April). And there are two novels from highly acclaimed Chinese women, Xiaolu Guo (In Her Eyes, Chatto Windus, Feb) and Yiyun Li (The Vagrants, Fourth Estate, Feb). .

Among the British pack all eyes will be on Martin Amis's The Pregnant Widow (Jonathan Cape, autumn ) from which he's said to have found inspiration in his own colourful life . History will loom large in Hilary Mantel's peek backstage during the reign of Henry VIII in Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate, May) as well as in a re-imagining of the Robin Hood story in Adam Thorpe's Hodd (Jonathan Cape, June). Monica Ali's new book is so new it doesn't have a title, but it's coming from Doubleday in April.

Marina Lewycka can be relied upon to produce a chuckle or two, and We Are All Made of Glue (Fig Tree, July) tells the story of an elderly Jewish woman and her seven somewhat smelly cats. TC Boyle - who lives in a Frank Lloyd Wright house in California - has written about the women in the great architect's life in The Women (Bloomsbury, March) while in Paul Torday's The Girl on the Landing (Weidenfeld Nicholson, Feb), a strange series of events begins at a friend's country house in Ireland.

And from the US new offereings from heavyweights to look forward to: The Humbling by Philip Roth ( Cape, Sept ) and Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon ( Cape, August )

MEMOIR

Here are two contenders for best title of the year. My own favourite is We Need To Talk About Ross (Penguin Ireland, June), the latest volume from Ross O'Carroll Kelly. Putting in a strong challenge, though, is Poppadum Preach (Simon Schuster, June), in which Almas Khan recreates her childhood in 1970s Bradford with a sister called Egg. Another sibling is recalled with affection in The Music Room (Picador, April), when the author of The Snow Geese, William Fiennes, writes about growing up in an extraordinary English castle along with his brother, who had epilepsy. Risteard Mulcahy writes about his father - a protagonist in the independence movement and minister for defence during the Civil War - in My Father, the General (Liberties Press, spring).

Trinity Tales: Trinity College Dublin in the Sixties edited by Sebastian Balfour (Lilliput, April) has 36 mini-portraits and shards of autobiography from the eccentric and unique institution that was TCD in the 1960s, a Protestant enclave in a Catholic city, caught between cultures North and South, British and Irish, in an era featuring among others Derek Mahon, Roy Foster, Jeremy Lewis, Brendan Kennelly and John Stephenson.

The South African writer André Brink relives his tumultuous life - from harassment by the secret police under apartheid to a friendship with Nelson Mandela - in A Fork in the Road (Harvill Secker, Feb), while the Canadian journalist Jan Wong returns to China to find the woman she betrayed to the authorities in 1973 in Chinese Whispers: Searching for Forgiveness in Beijing (Atlantic, Feb). Proof that not all memoirs are miserable comes from the director of Amnesty International in Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, who tells how he turned his life around after suffering clerical sexual abuse in Beyond Belief (Hodder Stoughton, June); similarly, former heroin addict Rachel Keogh manages to kick her addiction and embark on a course of study in psychotherapy and counselling in Dying to Survive (Gill and Macmillan, April).

There's another inspirational tale in Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (John Murray, Feb) by John O'Donoghue, born in north London to Irish parents and now a lecturer in creative writing. He tells of having been confined to mental institutions five times during his teenage years. The excitement of the teenage years of pirate radio is relived in Steve Conway's ShipRocked: Life on the Waves with Radio Caroline (Liberties, March), published to coincide with a major movie release - a Richard Curtis-scripted rom-com - on the same subject.

LITERARY CRITICISM

A book to watch out for next Bloomsday is Declan Kiberd's big new study Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living (Faber, June). It's designed to rescue the great modernist novel from the sweatshops of the Joyce industry and bring it to a wider audience, and it argues that in Leopold Bloom - a man who has learned to live with contradictions, anxiety and sexual jealousy - Joyce has given us, not a comic misfit, but a model for how to live well. Liam Harte is also seeking a wider audience for The Literature of the Irish in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, Feb) which has, he says, been neglected from the 18th century to the present day, while Fin de Siècle na Gaeilge by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Aug) examines how intellectual currents on the continent influenced and informed the Gaelic Revival of the late 19th century.

The colourful lives of a group of London-based poets before the first World War is the subject of Helen Carr's The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, HD and the Imagists (Cape, March), while a collection of essays by poets, critics and scholars from the UK and the US provides new insight into the work of poets who were active just after the second World War. Zachary Leader is the editor of The Movement Reconsidered: Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and their Contemporaries (Oxford University Press, May). Shakespeare never fails to provide new inspiration for critical scholarship, and in The Tainted Muse: Prejudice and Presumption in Shakespeare's Works and Times (Yale University Press, May) Robert Brustein examines misogyny, elitism and racism in the works of the Bard. Two hundred American women writers come under the scrutiny of the chair of last year's Man Booker prize jury, Elaine Showalter: In A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (Virago, May), Showalter makes the case for the unfairly overlooked - and puts the over-rated in their place.

SCIENCE/NATURAL WORLD

We can expect to hear a lot about Charles Darwin next year, for 2009 is not only the bicentenary of his birth but also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his ultra-influential On the Origin of Species. If you haven't actually read it there'll never be a better time; Penguin Classics is bringing out a beautiful new hardback edition in February, complete with a cover designed by the artist Damian Hirst. There'll also be a plethora of Darwin studies in just about every flavour imaginable.

In Darwin Slept Here (Duckworth, Feb) Eric Simons travels to South America to see the places the great scientist saw - and to find out what the locals think about Darwin nowadays. The authors of a biography, Adrian Desmond and James Moore, argue that his "utter detestation" of slavery played a formative role in his discovery of the theory of evolution in Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins (Penguin, this month), while Diana Donald and Jane Munro trace his influence on the visual arts, of all things, in Endless Forms (Yale, Feb).

Steve Jones concentrates on the scientific legacy in Darwin's Island: Britain and the Birth of Modern Science (Little Brown, this month) and Darwin's great-great granddaughter Ruth Padel offers Darwin: A Biography in Poems (Chatto, Feb).

Since his appointment as Charles Simonyl professor for the public understanding of science - the post recently vacated by Richard Dawkins - the Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy has been working hard to bring his subject to the widest possible audience. In The Num8er My5teries (Fourth Estate, May), he looks at five famous problems which have never been solved. And here's another number mystery. What are the most exciting numbers from one to 300? For the answer, consult Derrick Niederman's Number Freak (Duckworth, April), which says that if numbers were just that bit more exciting, we wouldn't all be innumerate. And the controversial biologist Lewis Wolpert turns to the world of the very tiny in How We Live and Why We Die: The Secret History of the Cell (Faber, April).

In The Iveragh Peninsula: A Cultural Atlas of the Ring of Kerry (Cork University Press, Feb), John Crowley and John Sheehan offer a broad range of perspectives on human interaction with one of Ireland's most dramatic and beautiful landscapes.

BUSINESS/ECONOMICS

In Economics 2.0 (Palgrave Macmillan, Feb) the economists Norbert Haring and Olaf Storbeck insist that the best minds in economics can teach you all you need to know about business and life. According to John Man, however, working in today's competitive business world is a little like rallying the Mongol hordes. He offers some helpful tips from a Mongol megalomaniac in The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan (Bantam, March), while Paul Collier's Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places (Bodley Head, March) promises a timely and provocative study of the tensions between democracy and violence, written by one of the world's top development economists. Another man gazing into a crystal ball is David Marsh, whose The Euro: The Politics of the New Global Currency (Yale, March) predicts a stormy future for the coin of our realm as it reaches the grand old age of 10.

The Indian software magnate - and one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people - Nandan Nilekani explains what's at stake in the world's largest democracy in Imagining India: Ideas for the New Century (Allen Lane, March).

One woman who saw the credit crunch coming was the Financial Times writer Gillian Tett, and in Fool's Gold: How an Ingenious Tribe of Bankers Rewrote the Rules of Finance, Made a Fortune and Unleashed a Catastrophe (Little Brown, March) she tells the unedifying tale from the inside.

ART/MUSIC

Do self-portraits catch your eye when you walk into a gallery? Yes, says Laura Cumming - and they do it on purpose. In A Face to the World (Harper Press, June) she looks into the stories behind self-portraits from Dürer to Picasso.

On the musical front, Barney Hoskyns offers a unique take on the 40-year career of that perennial musical chameleon Tom Waits in Lowside of the Road (Faber, March), while Kirk Lake presents the first biography of Rufus Wainwright (Orion, May), venturing into the worlds of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, opera, gay liberation, Canadian folk, drug addiction and Hollywood musicals in the process. Why do we love tenors, and what makes a good one, wonders John Potter in Tenor (Yale, May)?

A one-time warbler who has sung with the Hilliard Ensemble and the Swingle Singers, he wanders from the medieval period right up to contemporary superstars such as Andrea Bocelli and Roberto Alagna in a bid to compile the ultimate guide to tenor-spotting.

CRIME

Here we have Michael Connolly (The Scarecrow, Orion, May), Joseph Wambaugh (Hollywood Moon, Quercus, May), Elmore Leonard (Comfort to the Enemy, Weidenfeld, April), Reggie Nadelson (Londongrad, Atlantic, May), and Donna Leon, whose About Face (Hutchinson, April) is the 18th outing for the urbanely Italian Guido Brunetti. Should you want to track the commissario down in the real world - as lots of folk, apparently, do - you can also follow in his footsteps with a new walking guide, Brunetti's Venice (Hutchinson, April), by Toni Sepeda. And there are high hopes for Fred Vargas's The Chalk Circle (Harvill Secker, Feb).

It will be a bumper year for new Irish crime novels: John Connolly is back with The Lovers from Hodder and Staughton (June). Declan Hughes's Ed Loy has a nasty case in the new Ireland in All The Dead Voices (John Murray, April) while the Derry-based writer Brian McGilloway's new Inspector Devlin mystery is called Bleed a River Deep (Macmillan, April). Ken Bruen's American Skin (Brandon, May) ends up in Tucson, Arizona while Gene Kerrigan plunges into gang culture in Dublin in Dark Times in the City (Harvill, Secker, April). Paul Charles's likeable London-based DI Christy Kennedy is on his ninth case in The Beautiful Sound of Silence (Brandon, May) and Pauline McLynn has Missing You Already (Headline Review ) out this month. And there's northerner Stuart Neville, whose Belfast thriller The Twelve (Harvill Secker, April) has been earmarked - by John Connolly, no less - as the Next Big Thing and the start of a whole new genre, Norn Noir.

SOCIETY

He has sorted out travel, he has sorted out happiness, he has sorted out status anxiety. Now the philosopher Alain de Botton turns his attention to the office, the fish factory and the call centre in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (Hamish Hamilton, April). When we're not working nowadays, we tend to be online, and James Harkin explores the architecture of digital life in Cyburbia: The Dangerous Idea that's Changing How We Live and Who We Are (Little Brown, Feb). David Turner insists that we're all being needlessly frightened and depressed in The False Estate: How The Media Are Making You Ignorant (Constable, April); but Jeff Jarvis insists that if you don't think like Google, you're sunk (What Would Google Do? Collins, Feb). Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor argue in favour of a return to the affectionate life in On Kindness (Hamish Hamilton, this month) while Irma Kurtz rages against old age - or rather, against the way our society dismisses those of us who are no longer in the first flush - in About Time (John Murray, this month). Queen's University historian Richard English's Terrorism: How to Respond (OUP, July) is a reminder of the frightening times we live in.

The unadulterated madness that has been the Irish property scene in recent years is the subject of Ireland's House Party (Gill and Macmillan, March). The author, Derek Brawn, describes himself as a banker who is trying to sell you nothing - apart from this book. Journalist Sara Burke gets stuck into a hot topic in Irish Apartheid: Unequal Health and Health Care in Ireland ( New Island, spring), while American Bill Barich, now living in Dublin, examines an Irish sacred cow in A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Irish Pub. (Bloomsbury, April ). In Londongrad: From Russia With Cash (Fourth Estate, Feb) Mark Hollingsworth and Stewart Lansley tell the jaw-dropping tale of how London has become home to the super-rich. The changing fortunes of the landed elite in the North are examined in Olwen Purdue's The Big House in Northern Ireland (UCD Books, June).

Good news for stressed-out parents: leave those kids alone, says Tom Hodgkinson in The Idle Parent: Why Less Means More When Raising Kids (Hamish Hamilton, March). Psychotherapist and Irish Times columnist Adam Brophy offers advice on how to avoid the slide into Pringle sweaters and slacks in Bad Dad's Survival Guide (Gill and Macmillan, Feb). Dog whispering has become almost de rigueur for pet owners these days - and now a real cognitive psychologist has got in on the act. Alexandra Horowitz gives a fresh perspective on your pooch in Inside of a Dog: What Dogs Think And Know (Simon Schuster, April).

BIOGRAPHY

The good, the bad and the ugly? Not quite. But in The Artist, The Philosopher and The Warrior (Cape, Feb) Paul Strathern examines three of Europe's most brilliant contemporaries, Leonardo Da Vinci, Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia. The life and toy boys - at least 12 of them, each younger than the last - of the extraordinary Russian empress are the theme of Simon Dixon's Catherine the Great (Profile, March), while the dramatic death of another Russian icon, Leon Trotsky, is recreated in Bertrand Patenaude's The Lion and the Labyrinth (Faber, June).

Captain William Henry O'Shea - famous for having a wife called Kitty - seems to have been an obnoxious individual, and Myles Dungan makes no apologies for him in The Captain and the King (New Island, Feb).

It wasn't easy to be the sister of an emperor, but Pauline Bonaparte managed it with considerable flair, according to Flora Fraser in her book Venus of Empire (John Murray, May).

Modernism was the defining movement of the 20th century, and its brilliant leader is the subject of Laetitia Rutherford's We of the Future: Guillaume Apollinaire and the Makers of Modernism (Constable, April). The life of a Palestinian poet who runs a souvenir shop in Nazareth, Adina Hoffman's My Happiness Bears No Relation To Happiness (Yale, May) has been described by an Arabic scholar as "one of the five must-read books on the Middle East". The analytical abilities of one of Ireland's great intellectuals who died just before Christmas are themselves analysed in Diarmuid Whelan's Conor Cruise O'Brien: The Coldest Eye (Irish Academic Press, April). Shane Leslie, Sublime Failure: A Biography by Otto Rauchbauer (Lilliput May) tells the tale of a neglected figure from Ireland's literary renaissance.

Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives by Brian Dillon (Penguin Ireland, Sept) includes among its subjects Charlotte Bronte, Florence Nightingale and Marcel Proust. George Eliot wrote about doom and disaster, but her own life was a case of happy ever after with plenty of paper, pens and a wealthy husband: so says Brenda Maddox in her study George Eliot (Harper Press, May). By contrast, the Russian-born writer Irene Nemirovsky died in Auschwitz in 1942, her work only coming to light half a century later. Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt tell her story in The Life of Irene Nemirovsky 1903-1942 (Chatto, July).

The women in the life of the poet Byron provide material for Edna O'Brien's Byron in Love (Weidenfeld, Jan), while the relationship between Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe takes centre stage in The Genius and the Goddess (Hutchinson, April) by Jeffrey Meyers.

POPULAR FICTION

Fans of Niamh Greene will be delighted to hear she has a new novel on the way: Letters To A Love Rat will be publised in May by Penguin Ireland who also publish Sineád Moriarty's Keeping it in the Family (April). Patricia Scanlan's Happy Ever After (Transworld Ireland, March) is the sequel to the bestselling Forgive and Forget. Róisín McAuley writes about two young Belfast women trying to make a movie in England in Finding Home (Sphere, this month). Two writers who have debuts with Hachette Ireland are Clodagh Murphy with The Disengagement Ring ( March) and Robert Fannin with Shooting the Moon in a few days time. A guardian angel gets the chance to make life hell for an ex-boyfriend in Claudia Carroll's If this is Paradise, I Want My Money Back (Transworld Ireland, June).

Farahad Zama's The Marriage Bureau for Rich People (Abacus, March) takes a wry look at marital arrangements in India. In Christy Kenneally's third novel Tears of God (Hachette Ireland, Feb), a priest goes into hiding, but can't escape his past.

HISTORY

Antony Beevor follows his spectacular bestsellers Stalingrad and Berlin: The Downfall 1945 with D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Viking, May) which makes use of newly released and overlooked material from half a dozen countries. As always, there are a number of books devoted to uncovering unsuspected aspects of the Third Reich: Christopher Hale tells the story of the half-million non-Germans who signed up to fight for Hitler, including Russians, Scandinavians and even Bosnian Muslims, in Hitler's Foreign Executioners: Europe's Dirty Secret (Harper Press, April); and the diary of a perceptive Austrian teenager is being heralded as the new Anne Frank (Ruth Maier's Diary, Harvill Secker, March).

From the author of Nixon in China, Margaret Macmillan, comes The Uses and Abuses of History (Profile, April), while Juliet Gardiner's Sitting on a Jigsaw (HarperPress, April) purports to show how the economic slump of 1929 led directly to war. Too many conspiracy theories can be very bad for you, claims David Aaronovitch. In Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History (Cape, May) he explodes a dozen old favourites, including Pearl Harbour, 9/11 and the Apollo moon landings.

Knock is under scrutiny in Seasons of Devotion: Knock and the Making of a Modern Ireland by Ann Marie Hourihane (Penguin Ireland, May) while Daniel Leach's Refuge Ireland: European Minority Nationalists and Irish Asylum, 1937-1950 (Four Courts, May) asks some hard questions about Irish asylum policy during and after the second World War, while the experience of Irish immigrants in Argentina is the subject of Helen Kelly's Irish Ingleses (Irish Academic Press, May). Anyone who loves to walk in Ireland's wild places will enjoy Jason Bolton's Antiquities of the Ring of Kerry (Wordwell, March). And finally, watch out for a fierce polemic from Bruce Arnold on the role of the State in running - or rather, in failing to run - industrial schools. The Great Shame will be published by Gill and Macmillan in April.

LETTERS

A love affair in wartime London, written in the inimitable hand of Elizabeth Bowen, is what's on offer in Love's Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie (Hodder Stoughton, Feb), edited by Victoria Glendinning.

Another distinctive Anglo-Irish voice, that of JG Farrell, whose trilogy Troubles, The Singapore Grip and The Siege of Krishnapur is recognised as a 20th-century classic, and whose death at the age of 44 - he was swept out to sea in west Cork in 1979 - is as dramatic as anything from his fiction, comes under Lavinia Greacen's editorial spotlight in JG Farrell in his Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries (Cork University Press, May). Isaiah Berlin used to say that people were his landscape, and there are plenty of them in his Letters, edited by Henry Hardy and Jennifer Holmes (Chatto, June).

SPORT

Come June, we'll all be tuning in to Wimbledon in the hope of a repeat of last summer's thrilling men's singles final between Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal: in Holding Court (Century, June), the former chief executive at Wimbledon, Chris Gottinge, examines the multi-million pound business which revolves around the Centre Court. The Tarahumara tribe of Mexican Indians is reputed to contain the best distance runners in the world, and in Born to Run: The Rise of Ultra-running and the Super-athletic Tribe (Profile, May) Christopher McDougall travels to their homeland, as well as to labs at Harvard, Nike and elsewhere, in order to investigate this unnerving pastime. And if you thought it was all over for top-notch soccer memoirs, it just might be: the new book from Aston Villa and former US international goalkeeper Brad Friedel, Thinking Outside The Box (Orion, Feb) is being touted as the best insider expose of the Premiership this decade. This may not be the perfect category to slot it in, but we have to mention Coiscéim's book on how to learn to play chess in Irish, by Úna O'Boyle who recently represented Ireland in the World Chess Olympiad in Dresden. This book will add to the chess talents of children who play the game as an extra-curricular activity in many Irish schools.

POLITICS/CURRENT AFFAIRS

Martin Jacques gazes into the future to tell us what will happen to us ordinary folks in When China Rules The World (Allen Lane, June). It's a fair bet that migrant workers in Chinese factories will continue to have a pretty miserable time, and Leslie T Chang portrays their world in Factory Girls (Picador, Feb), while the hip-hop artist Emmanuel Jal recalls how at the age of seven he was sent to fight in Sudan's civil war, armed with an AK-47 taller than himself, in War Child: A Boy Soldier's Story (Abacus, March). South Africa's uncertain future under Jacob Zuma takes centre stage in RW Johnson's polemical history South Africa: A Brave New World (Allen Lane, April) while Alec Russell writes about the South Africa he knows in Drinking Too Deeply from Poisoned Wells (Hutchinson, June). Pulitzer prizewinner Thomas E Ricks focuses on changes in US policy in the Middle East in The Gamble: Adventure in Iraq 2006-2008 (Allen Lane, Feb), while on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Rushdie affair, Kenan Malik wonders about the link between fatwa and fundamentalism in From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy (Atlantic, April). Paranoid politics are the topic of choice for Francis Wheen, who examines the modus operandi of Richard Nixon and Harold Wilson in Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia (Fourth Estate, April).

SHORT STORIES

A quintet of new stories from Kazuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes (Faber, May) will address the issue of how to keep life's romance alive as one inevitably gets older. Fans of Alaa Al Aswany's bestelling novel The Yacoubian Building will be delighted to hear that Friendly Fire (Fourth Estate, June) sees the Egyptian writer continue to mine the fertile terrain of Cairo and its larger-than-life characters; and the new book of stories from Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is called The Thing Around Your Neck (Fourth Estate, April). Irish writer Philip Ó Ceallaigh, follows his quirky Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse with The Pleasant Light of Day (Penguin Ireland, March) while the Stinging Fly Press has a debut collection from Galway-based Michael J Farrell The Friendship Portfolio in March.

James Lasdun's third collection, It's Beginning to Hurt comes from Cape in April. And inspiringly Glyndebourne Opera celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2009 with a volume of opera-inspired stories from a truly stellar cast, including Andrew O'Hagan, Andrew Motion, Marina Warner, Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín, Ruth Rendell and Sebastian Barry. Midsummer Nights (Quercus, June) is edited by Jeanette Winterson. Orna Ní Choileáin's collection Canary Wharf (Cois Life, Jan), meanwhile, is set against a backdrop of high finance and technology and marks the debut of a new voice in Irish language literature.

GREEN ISSUES

Not much to celebrate here, alas. But Mary Mulvihill does her best to get us all off to a bright start with Drive Like a Woman, Shop Like A Man (New Island, Feb). She has assembled 101 tips for the not-so-green Irish, including advice on how to get free stuff, how to opt out and how to shop naked. Mandy Haggith's Paper Trails: A Journey from Forest to Photocopier (Virgin, March) traces the history of paper from its invention in China 2,000 years ago to the millions of tonnes we now waste our way through every year, while Nicholas Stern sets out his suggestions for how we can weather climate change in

A Blueprint for a Safer Planet (Bodley Head, April).

On a gloomier note Charlie Elder goes in search of the UK's 40 most endangered bird species in While Flocks Last (Bantam, April) and Michael McCarthy details the threat to the spring migration in Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo (John Murray, March).

According to Alanna Mitchell it's not the climate that's the problem - it's the oceans. She explains why in Seasick: The Hidden Ecological Crisis of the Global Ocean (Oneworld, April).

Why can't we agree on what to do to halt climate change? How do you tell what's truly green from what's simply greenwash? Brian Clegg offers some pointers in Ecologic: The Truth and Lies of Green Economics (Eden Project Books, Jan) Last, but definitely not least, the controversial ecologist James Lovelock will be 90 this year. Instead of just breaking open a new pipe and slippers like everybody else, he plans to go into space in the company of Richard Branson and Stephen Hawking.

In the meantime his latest volume The Vanishing Face of Gaia: Enjoy it While You Can (Allen Lane, Feb) will spell out some unpalatable truths about our heedless, ruthless way of life.

TRAVEL

That heedless way of life, of course, includes jetting around the planet at the drop of a hat. In the follow-up to his highly successful Ruinair, Paul Kilduff explores Ryanair's colonisation of eastern Europe in Ruinairski (Gill and Macmillan, March). In Ó Chósta go Cósta by Frank Reidy (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, June) the former Irish army commandant Reidy crisscrosses Africa, taking in Rwanda, where he was stationed just after the genocide; Uganda, where he drops in on Irish aid projects; and Kenya, where he meets the grandmother of one Barack Obama.

Maybe we'll have to take to the roads again, in which case we may need some hints from Joe Moran, who attempts to make sense of the 21st-century maze of roundabouts, flyovers and clogged-up intersections in On Roads (Profile, June); and Hugh Thomson, who recalls driving to Belize - illegally - in Tequila Oil: Getting Lost in Mexico (Weidenfeld, Feb). In The Forgotten Land (Bantam, June), John McCarthy tries to make sense of daily life in the Middle East when he returns to Palestine for the first time since his five-year incarceration in Beirut, and the award-winning South African journalist Jonny Steinberg travels through 30 Aids-ravaged villages in the eastern Cape in Three Letter Plague (Vintage, Jan).

A new book from Iain Sinclair is always good news, and in Hackney: That Rose-Red Empire (Hamish Hamilton, Feb) he turns his attention to the London suburb where he has lived for 40 years and which has been earmarked for "regeneration" ahead of the 2012 Olympics. Another Iain, Iain Fenlon, explores one of Europe's most iconic spaces in Piazza San Marco (Profile, May).

POETRY

One of the biggest events on the poetry calendar next year will be the publication, for the first time, of the Collected Poems of Michael Donaghy (Picador, March). He died in 2004 at the age of 50, and the volume consists of four published collections as well as some unpublished material. A selection of his prose writing and criticism, The Shape of the Dance, is also due out from Picador in March.A decade on from the major poetry anthology Watching the River Flow: A Century in Irish Poetry (Poetry Ireland, 1999), Flowing Still : Irish Poets on Irish Poetry (Dedalus Press, Feb) reissues the ten short introductory prose essays from that book by some of the best-known figures in Irish poetry (including Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland ) adding more recent essays to bring the book up to the present day. The Gallery Press has new poems from Ciarán Carson in On the Night Watch in April while Carson's 60th birthday will be celebrated by a book of critical essays edited by Elmer Kennedy-Andrews (Four Courts Press, Feb).

This year will also see the first collection from Andrew Motion since 2002. The Cinder Path, is coming from Faber.

RELIGION/PHILOSOPHY

Like the poor, the God debate seems to be always with us; Terry Eagelton takes a witty, polemical line on it all in Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (Yale, May). The medieval mystery plays were often both sociologically and theologically subversive, and Tony Corbett brings them to life in The Mystery Plays: The Laity and The Church (Four Courts, Jan), with a foreword written specially by Judi Dench, no less. The Muslim philosopher Tariq Ramadan has two new books coming out next year: A New Philosophy of Pluralism (Allen Lane, May) argues for a new effort at multicultural dialogue, while in Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation (OUP, Jan) Ramadan says that western Muslims must find a way of staying faithful to traditional scripturally-based ethics while living fully within their societies and their time.

Another radical voice in this area has been that of the Australian philosopher Peter Singer, who throws out a challenge to western arrogance and apathy in The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty (Picador, March).

Do we have the right to be repulsed by traditions such as female circumcision, or is our revulsion a form of moral imperialism? Steven Lukes takes both sides in Moral Relativism (Profile, Feb). The question of whether technology can solve all our problems, or is simply giving us more and more headaches, is discussed in W Brian Arthur's The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves (Allen Lane, April); meanwhile the space scientist Susan McKenna-Lawlor and the poet Seamus Heaney are among those who examine the nature of creativity in The Fire i' the Flint (Four Courts, March), edited by Mary Shine Thompson.