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. Here are some recent lists.
Two new history books commend attention this month. Published in early August, 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.
We previously featured another major book by historian, journalist and broadcaster Gibson (carriegibson.co.uk) called Empire’s Crossroads, a history of the Caribbean from Columbus to now.
Similarly, El Norte 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 August, with availability in print this month or in early September. The Hotlist helps readers to plan and budget for book ordering.
The end of the month will see the publication of Peruvian-born Marie Arana’s Silver, Sword & Stone (l), 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 and wind up August’s Hotlist.
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. As she begins to study the faded photos, a letter falls to the ground. It is addressed to her.
Her Last Promise (p), the award-winning novel by Kathryn Hughes, is a powerful story of how hope can blossom in the ruins of tragedy, and of the redeeming power of love. It is, at times, heart-breaking but also captivating tale of a woman’s journey across the continent to unravel the secrets of a parent’s disappearance. Violet Skye regrets her decision to travel abroad while leaving her daughter behind, but she reminds herself she is doing this for their future. Tara Richards was just a girl when she lost her mother. Years later, she is left a key to a safe deposit box. Inside is something that will change everything Tara thought she had known. It will lead her to Spain on a quest for answers that have been haunting her for fully 40 years.
Knife (l), by Jo Nesbø, is a brand new detective Harry Hole thriller set in Norway. Harry is about to come face to face with an old, deadly foe just released from the jail where the detective put him. A man like Hole had better watch his back. Following the dramatic conclusion of the number one bestseller, The Thirst, Knife sees Harry waking up with a ferocious hangover following a forgotten night, his hands and clothes covered in someone else’s blood.
It 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 July, with availability in print to order this month or in early August. The Hotlist helps readers to plan and budget for book ordering.
Our other picks of the month are from the genuinely new fiction titles appearing across various genres.
One Good Deed (l), by David Baldacci, involves murder and family secrets, a touch of romance and revenge, and a very big twist. In 1949, handsome ex-soldier Aloysius Archer arrives in Poca City, Oklahoma, USA. On parole following a stint in prison back east for a crime he did not commit, he is looking for a fresh start and a peaceful life after his wartime experiences in Italy. However, he soon understands that there is a lot more going on in this town than he had bargained for.
In the thriller Hush Hush (l), by James Patterson, former detective Harriet Blue, now inmate 3329, is learning daily that prison is a dangerous place for a former cop. So, following a fight for her life, and a prison-wide lockdown, the last person she wants to see is Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Woods, the man who put her inside. But Woods is not there to gloat. His daughter Tonya and her two-year-old child have gone missing. He is ready to offer Harriet a deal: find his family to buy her freedom.
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.
Among Spain-interest titles moving into small paperback this month is The Spanish Promise (p), by Karen Swan. This novel of intrigue, romance and escapism is 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.
The romantics among you may recall the book and film One Day, and the novel Us. David Nicholls, the author of those bestsellers, now deliver Sweet Sorrow (l). One life-changing summer, Charlie, 16, meets Fran. What follows is a tragicomedy of ordinary lives, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, blinding explosion of first love that perhaps can only be looked at directly once it has burned out.
Live A Little (l), by Howard Jacobson, is a wickedly observed novel about falling in love at the end of your life. In her 90s, Beryl Dusinbery is forgetting everything, even her own children. She spends her days stitching morbid samplers and tormenting her two long-suffering carers, Nastya and Euphoria, with tangled stories of her husbands and love affairs. Shimi Carmelli can do up his own buttons, walks without aid and speaks without spitting. Among the widows of North London, UK, he is whispered about as the last of the eligible bachelors. Unlike Beryl, he forgets nothing, especially not the shame of a childhood incident that has hung over him like an oppressive cloud ever since.