Forthcoming and recent releases
(p) paperback (l) hardback/large paperback depending on availability
Each month, we provide our Hotlist of titles. Some are entirely new, others are moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after a long time out of print. All are due for publication on various dates that month, or early in the next one. The Hotlist helps local readers to plan and budget for book ordering.
German-born Gerta Pohorylle (1910–1937), whose professional name was Gerda Taro, was the first woman photojournalist to report from, and die on, the battlefield. She learned from the celebrated Hungarian lensman who went under the name Robert Capa. He was her partner in life as well as the camera. The couple went to Spain to support and report on the Republican war effort in the civil war. She died in an accident during the Battle of Brunete in 1937. Robert Capa was originally an alias under which Taro and Capa, real name Endre Friedmann, promoted their work jointly. A substantial proportion of their work in 1936–37 was actually by Taro. Calle de Gerda Taro, a street in Madrid, is named after her.
Taro is the central character in The Girl With The Leica (p), a novel by Helena Janeczek, an Italian author. It explores Taro’s story within the context of 1930s’ economic depression, the ascent of Nazism, anti-refugee sentiment in France, ideological warfare, and the rising status of photography. Under its Italian name, La Ragazza Con La Leica, the book won Italy’s premier literary award, the Strega Prize, in 2018. It is now available in English translation in paperback.
The Girl With The Leica leads off this month’s Hotlist of titles, some entirely new, others moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after years out of print. All are due for publication on dates in October, with availability in print this month or in early November. The Hotlist helps readers to plan and budget for book ordering.
The Giver Of Stars (l), by JoJo Moyes, is also inspired by a true story. It centres on a quintet of inspiring women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky, USA, and onwards. In the face of many dangers, they are determined to bring books to people, to share the gift of learning to change lives. The consequences for them and their partners create a drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. This is a funny and, at times, heart-breaking novel of friendship, love, and reaching for the stars.
Former military policeman Jack Reacher is back investigating in Blue Moon (l), by Lee Child. Sitting on a Greyhound bus, Reacher sees an elderly man asleep with an envelope of cash hanging out of his pocket. As a mugger on the bus moves in on the tempting target, Reacher prevents a theft. While the intended victim is grateful, he rejects Reacher’s offer to help him home and seems scared and in trouble. Local gangs appear to have some hold on the old man, and Reacher must decide whether and how to resolve the situation.
Akin (l) is Emma Donoghue’ first contemporary novel since Room, her breakout bestseller. In the latest tale of love, loss and family, Noah Selvaggio, a retired New York professor’s orderly life becomes chaotic when he takes his great-nephew to the French Riviera. The French-born professor hopes to discover his mother’s wartime secrets. It is a humorous and heart-wrenching novel of an old man and a boy who unpick their painful stories and begin to create a new one.
The End Of The Ocean (l), by Norway’s Maja Lunde, author of the international bestseller, The History Of Bees, is an engaging novel about the very real threat of a worldwide water shortage. It is seen through points of view of a father and daughter. In 2019, Signe, 70, embarks on a perilous voyage to cross an ocean in a sailing boat. In 2041, David flees with his young daughter, Lou, from a war in Southern Europe, which by then is plagued by drought. David and Lou are desperately searching for the rest of their family. Then they find Signe’s abandoned yacht in a desiccated French garden miles inland.
As they look through the reminders of Signe’s travels, their journey of survival and hope combines with hers in a heart-tugging, inspiring story about the power of nature and the human spirit.
Echoes Of The City (l), by Lars Saabye Christensen, is acclaimed as one the great novels of modern Norwegian literature. Most of Christensen’s works are set in his birth city, Oslo. Echoes Of The City, finds Norway’s capital emerging from a crippling economic crisis, as the author explores how small, barely perceptible acts of kindness and compassion, and tiny shifts in fortune, can change many lives. The central characters are Maj and Ewald Kristoffersen and their son Jesper, whose lives are closely entwined with those of their neighbours. When butcher’s son Jostein is hit by a vehicle and becomes deaf as a result, Jesper promises to be his ears in the world.
So Lucky (l), by Dawn O’Porter, is tipped to be one of the most discussed novels of the year. Its themes range through body image and motherhood to female shame and solidarity. It is infused with the spirit of our times, but is also engaging and accessible.
Two collections of short stories from big names in the literary world catch our attention this month as well.
Grand Union (l), by Zadie Smith, includes 10 new stories and some of her most-loved pieces from the New Yorker magazine and elsewhere. It is a collection about time, place, identity and rebirth, the ghosts of our past that haunt our present, and the futures that hurtle towards us.
The 23 stories in Prayer For The Living (l), by Ben Okri, blur distinctions between illusion and reality to have readers pondering, laughing at loud, and shuddering. The tales are set in London (UK), in historic Byzantium, in the ghetto, in the Andes, and in a printer’s shop in Spain. The characters include a murderer, a writer, a detective, a man in a cave, a man in a mirror, two little boys, a prison door, and Okri himself.
Is it really that long? Fifteen years; really? Well it is high time then for the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s story of a dystopian future under a fundamentalist religious dictatorship of the state of Gilead. The Testaments (l), we are promised, answers the questions that have bugged readers for decades. Unanswered, these queries have only nagged away more since the recent television adaptation with Elisabeth Moss in the lead role. In the sequel novel, the story continues 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
The Testaments leads off this month’s Hotlist of titles, some entirely new, others moving into small paperback format for the first time or being reissued, sometimes after years out of print. All are due for publication on dates in September, with availability in print this month or in early October. The Hotlist helps readers to plan and budget for book ordering.
The scandal of Spain’s stolen babies has inspired a few novels, and not just in Spanish. Blood Song (p), by French-born Johana Gustawsson, is the latest. It begins in Spain, 1938, as Valencia falls to Franco’s forces. There, Republican supporter Thérèse witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison in Madrid, Thérèse gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her. The story fast forwards to Falkenberg, south-west Sweden, in 2016, where a rich family is savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Investigators Emily Roy and Alexis Castells unravel a case that takes them from Franco’s Spain to corrupt fertility clinics in Sweden, as the pair hunt for a prolific killer.
This is the third (after Block 46, and Keeper) in the Roy & Castells series, which has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards. The series is now published in 19 countries. A television adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production led by Banijay Studios with award-winning French actress Alexandra Lamy lined up to adapt the books for screen and to play Emily Roy.
We recently came across Standing In The Shadows (p), by John Hatfield, and loved its darkly humorous noir feeling. Set it the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in the lead up to, and aftermath of, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the tale finds Udo Dirkmeyer offered an ‘official’ chance to capitalise on his fading reputation as ‘the Mick Jagger of East Germany’. But with good reason to be paranoid in a state where the Stasi has created a vast network of informants, he becomes increasingly obsessed with outing a suspected ‘traitor’ in his rock band and its entourage.
Violencia (l) is billed as ‘a new history of Spain: past, present and the future of the west’ from best-selling Hispanophile and controversialist Jason Webster. As Catalans struggle for independence, new political parties move to the extremes, and the dead call out to the living, Webster asks if the country will follow the example of its history by resolving its problems once again through violence.
Two sumptuous cookery books showcasing the art and skills of Spanish chefs become available this month. One is Arzak + Arzak (l), in which Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak tell the story of a family and a cuisine. It looks at Juan Mari’s role as a cutting-edge chef and restaurateur, and as an inspiration for generations of young cooks. It commemorates the 40th anniversary of the birth of the so-called New Basque cuisine, of which Juan Mari was the leader. This movement was the kernel of the ongoing Spanish gastronomic revolution. It also details the most emblematic recipes of the last 10 years of his work, and of his career. See the restaurant’s great website at arzak.es to see what all the fuss is about.
Casa Cacao (l) is by Jordi Roca, one of three brothers behind the celebrated Michelin 3-starred El Celler de Can Roca (see cellercanroca.com), a free-style restaurant that serves up avant-garde gastronomy in Girona, Cataluña, Spain. It was named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine. Jordi, one of the most advanced chocolatiers, was proclaimed best pastry chef in the world in the 2014 Fifty Best Awards. This book shows his search for the origins of cocoa and his journey to discover how to master chocolate for the creation of new, totally revolutionary desserts. Who knows, with studies reportedly planned to see if cocoa could be cultivated in the Axarquía, his trips could end up being closer to home sometime in the future!
In Suddenly A Footballer (l), soccer midfielder Juan Mata from Burgos in Spain tells the inside story of life at Manchester United and recalls his childhood and his stardust years with Chelsea and his national team. This thoughtful footballer gives his views on the experiences and personalities that have helped to shape his career.
If the imminent arrival of blessedly (mildly) cooler weather has you thinking of an autumn city-break in Spain, Insight Pocket Guides have just updated these handy and highly affordable little books (p) for Barcelona and Madrid.
Plan your trips, perfect days, and discover how to get around with these quick-reference companions to finding fun and interesting things to do and see in Barcelona (La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia, Museu Picasso, Casa Batlló, the waterfront, Barri Gotic etc.; and, in Madrid (Plaza Mayor, Museo del Prado, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Santa Ana, Parque del Buen Retiro etc.). The second editions of the print versions of these guides also come with free eBooks.
Two new history books commend attention this month. Carrie Gibson’s El Norte (l) is a sweeping saga of the Spanish history and influence in North America over five centuries. For reasons of language and history, the United States of America has prized its Anglo heritage above all others. However, and as Gibson explains with great depth and clarity, America has much older Spanish roots that have long been unacknowledged or marginalised. The Hispanic past of the USA predates the arrival of the Pilgrims from England by a century, and has been every bit as important in shaping the nation as it exists today. Ponce de Leon’s first landing in Florida was in 1513, Spain would later control the huge Louisiana territory and establish settlements up the California coast. Other notable events in this history include the Mexican-American War (1846), the recent tragedy of post-hurricane Puerto Rico, and the ongoing bitter US-Mexico dispute over cross-border immigration to the US. Interwoven in this stirring narrative of events and people are cultural issues that have been there from the start and remain unresolved: language, belonging, community, race and nationality. Seeing them play out over centuries provides vital perspective at a time when it is urgently needed.
Peruvian-born Marie Arana’s Silver's Sword & Stone (l) is a dramatic portrait of a continent, packed with colourful stories from 1,000 years of history and real lives. The silver was an obsession that burned brightly in pre-Columbian times, consumed Spain in its relentless conquest, drove a system of exploitation, and has transmogrified into Latin America’s hope for the future. The history of mining is illustrated through the life of Leonor González, a widowed mother-of-five living in La Rinconada, the highest human settlement in the world. The sword in the title evokes the culture of violence: from the Aztec and Inca empires through the bloody nineteenth-century wars of independence to state terrorism and today’s drug wars. The lens through which this is viewed in the life of Carlos Buergos, a Cuban drug dealer who sharpened up his skill with a knife in the Angolan wars, imported his saviness to America, then became a police informant. The third strand of the title – embodied in temples, elaborate cathedrals, or simple piles of rock – is the fervent adherence to religious institutions built in stone. Father Xavier Albo, a Jesuit priest living in La Paz, Bolivia, who has worked for 40 years to keep Roman Catholicism alive among the Quechua and Aymara peoples of the Andes, who would rather believe, preserve and revive what their ancestors believed and did. Marie Arana (www.mariearana.net) is a former literary editor of the Washington Post newspaper and the author of five books including the novel Lima Nights, which we featured previously.
Four novels moving into small paperback format cover the limited field of Spain-interest books this month.
Michelle Davies’ thriller Dead Guilty (p) harks back to the murder of teenager Katy Pope while on a family holiday in Majorca. Despite her mother’s high rank in the Metropolitan Police (London, UK), and a joint major investigation between the UK and Spanish police, Katy’s killer was never caught. Ten years later, her family return to the island to launch a fresh appeal for information. They bring with them the rump of the UK investigating team, and newly seconded Maggie as the family liaison officer. But Maggie’s first international investigation rapidly escalates from being just a press conference as another UK holidaymaker goes missing.
From Murcian author and screenwriter Agustín Martínez comes Village Of The Lost Girls (p). Five years after the disappearance of two friends who left school one afternoon and were never seen again, the village of Monteperdido still mourns the loss of Ana and Lucia. When Ana reappears unexpectedly inside a crashed car, wounded but alive, the case reopens and a race against time begins to discover who was behind the kidnapping. Where is Lucía, and is she still alive? Five years ago, fatal mistakes were made in the investigation and this must not happen again.
The Irish author Patricia Scanlan’s novel With All My Love (p) launches on a crystal-clear day beside the Mediterranean. Briony McAllister is playing with her four-year-old daughter, Katie, while she waits for her mother, Valerie, to join them. Valerie has recently moved to a picturesque town in southern Spain to finally leave behind her turbulent past and find a peace that has always eluded her. Briony has no idea that in a few moments’ time her relationship with her mother will change irrevocably. As Katie plays, Briony pulls from her bag an old photo album, found in a box in her mother’s new home.A As she begins to study the faded photos, a letter falls to the ground. It is addressed to her.
The Bird King (l), by G Willow Wilson, tells the tale of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last kingdom of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret: he can draw maps of places he has never seen, and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate Granada’ surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realising that the Spaniard will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?
Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth Of The Faun (l) made for an unforgettable film written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, but was not based on a pre-existing book. Now though, Del Toro and Cornelia Funke, the German author best known for the Inkheart Trilogy, have written a novel inspired by that captivating 2006 film. Beautiful, haunting, visceral, gutsy, the book is a vastly inventive, grown-up modern fairy tale, pulsing with the power of stories to shape lives, hearts and minds. Ofelia has been sent to stay with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. For him, the dark and eerie forest in which they live is a cage, serving only to hide resistance fighters in the drawn-out and bloody civil war.
The Spanish Promise (p), by Karen Swan, is a novel of intrigue, romance and escapism set in the cobbled streets of Madrid and Andalucía. One of Spain’s richest men is dying. But as he prepares his estate, his family is shocked to discover he is making plans to give away his wealth to a young woman they have never even heard of. Who is she and what hold does she have over him? Charlotte Fairfax is asked to travel to the troubled family’s home in Spain to get to the bottom of the mysterious bequest. Looking for clues, she digs into the family’s history and unearths a dark and shocking past.