Settings across time: Our selection of newly acquired fiction

Image of Damien Hirst Sculpture at the Venice Biennale (via Pixabay) 

I’m a terrible cook, but if I could cook, I would see that as art as well, it’s how much creative energy you put into something.

Tracey Emin

As always when writing these posts, we are  on the look out for something a little bit different to talk about — and one of the books that caught our eye in this month’s recently acquired fiction was Tiepolo Blue. This debut novel from James Cahill is set partially in the British art world of the nineties, a time when British art was in the midst of revolutionary change.

Art and the art scene in Britain at the start of the eighties was staid affair until  a group of young artists from  Goldsmiths’ College, ably assisted by influential art collector, taste maker and investor Charles Saatchi, decided to shake things up. This group of art revolutionaries — subsequently called The Young British Artists — decided the time was ripe for change and unleashed a maelstrom of reinvention upon the art scene. They employed ‘shock tactics’ and became known for their use of disposable throwaway everyday objects, wild living, irreverence to the  establishment and both their entrepreneurial and oppositional approach to their art. They borrowed techniques and ideas from the Dadaists, the Surrealists and the sixties’ Pop Art movement, amongst many art movements, to power their ideas.

Their movement would launch the careers of some of the biggest artists of our time — artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, to name but a few. Although many have now entered the mainstream art world, becoming members of such institutions as the Royal Academy and winning major institutional art prizes such as the Tate Prize, the legacy of their revolutionary approach lingers on in the Art world internationally to this day. We hope you enjoy James Cahill’s debut novel and its setting!

Below are the links to Tiepolo Blue and our other selected titles this month:

Tiepolo blue / Cahill, James
“Cambridge, 1994. Professor Don Lamb is a revered art historian at the height of his powers, consumed by the book he is writing about the skies of the Venetian master Tiepolo. However, his academic brilliance belies a deep inexperience of life and love. When an explosive piece of contemporary art is installed on the lawn of his college, it sets in motion Don’s abrupt departure from Cambridge to take up a role at a south London museum. There he befriends Ben, a young artist who draws him into the anarchic 1990s British art scene and the nightlife of Soho. Over the course of one long, hot summer, Don glimpses a liberating new existence. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bitter orange tree : a novel / Alharthi, Jokha
” Zuhour, an Omani student at a British university, is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she can’t help but ruminate on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her strong emotional bond with Bint Amir, a woman she always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just after Zuhour left the Arabian Peninsula. As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhour’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips and dreams mingle with memories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bookseller’s notebooks / Barjas, Jalāl
“Winner of the 2021 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. After losing his job and house, a bookseller and voracious reader decides to live with the homeless people in his city and assuming identities of the heroes of the novels he has read.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bournville : a novel in seven occasions / Coe, Jonathan
“In Bournville, a placid suburb of Birmingham, sits a famous chocolate factory. For eleven-year-old Mary and her family in 1945, it’s the centre of the world. The reason their streets smell faintly of chocolate, the place where most of their friends and neighbours have worked for decades. Mary will go on to live through the Coronation and the World Cup final, royal weddings and royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. She’ll have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, as modern life and the city crowd in on their peaceful enclave. As we travel through seventy-five years of social change.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The chosen / Lowry, Elizabeth
” One Wednesday morning in November 1912 the ageing Thomas Hardy, entombed by paper and books and increasingly estranged from his wife Emma, finds her dying in her bedroom. Between his speaking to her and taking her in his arms, she has gone. The day before, he and Emma had exchanged bitter words – leading Hardy to wonder whether all husbands and wives end up as enemies to each other. His family and Florence Dugdale, the much younger woman with whom he has been in a relationship, assume that he will be happy and relieved to be set free. But he is left shattered by the loss. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ghost Lover : stories / Taddeo, Lisa
“Behind anonymous screens, an army of cool and beautiful girls manage the dating service Ghost Lover, a forwarding system for text messages that promises to spare you the anguish of trying to stay composed while communicating with your crush. At a star-studded political fundraiser in a Los Angeles mansion, a trio of women compete to win the heart of the slick guest of honor. On a quest to lose her virginity, a daughter tracks down her deceased mother’s old flame, the rugged, comically named Jon Deere. In these twelve riveting stories, two of which have been awarded the Pushcart Prize, Lisa Taddeo brings to life the fever of obsession, the blindness of love, and the mania of grief.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Green Man of Eshwood Hall : a tale of Northalbion / Kerr, Jacob
“Eshwood Hall is a great English house surrounded by sprawling woods. In 1960, Izzy is thirteen, lives in the servants quarters and doesn’t go to school. Neglected by her parents, she spends her moments of freedom exploring the forest and the village beyond. The more she comes to understand the history of the place and her own situation, the stranger are the things she hears and sees. The most tantalising of these is the Green Man who inhabits the woods, and seems to know all about her, even those desires she has buried deep inside.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Roses, in the mouth of a lion / Rehman, Bushra
“Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. But when a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s idyllic childhood is shattered forever. In middle school, Razia befriends a new girl, Taslima, and they begin to chafe at the restrictions imposed on them in their tight-knit Pakistani Muslim community. Together, they embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous American music, wearing mini skirts, and cutting school to explore the city…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

‘Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries Presents’: our podcast channel

We have very exciting news! Wellington City Libraries has launched its own podcast channel called

Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries Presents 

In the very first episode of our new monthly series called Books from the Vault, we explore some of the treasures in our various collections. Our intrepid Library Specialists have dug deep into the vaults of our storage facility, Te Pātaka, and brought out a catalogue item that’s meaningful to them and then discussed it with our Fiction Specialist, Neil Johnstone.

In episode one, our Māori Specialist Ann Reweti discusses Rachael Selby’s Still Being Punished and the ongoing trauma of Māori speaking their own language. Children’s Specialist Joseph Robinson looks at the romanticised paintings of Peter McIntyre’s collection and how these works reflect a particular view of Aotearoa at the time of their creation.  Finally, Music Specialist Reece Davies has yet to prove he can read, and instead pulls an antique CD from the stacks, to elaborate on the influence and atmosphere of the post-metal band Isis‘s watery magnum opus, ‘Oceanic’.

Intrigued? You can listen to the full episode one here – or for a wee taster, press play on the embedded player below.

To subscribe, you can find all our podcasts on your favourite podcast player, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

Here are the titles mentioned from our collections, to reserve and borrow:

Still being punished / Selby, Rachael
“The stories collected here are told by Māori men and women who were physically disciplined at school for speaking the Māori language. A hugely important book about the ongoing trauma of Māori for speaking in their own language” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Kakahi New Zealand / McIntyre, Peter
“Peter McIntyre’s romanticised paintings of Aotearoa reflect a particular artistic vision and view of Aotearoa  that reflects particular aspects of the time of their creation.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Oceanic / Isis
“Post-metal band Isis’s watery magnum opus, ‘Oceanic’ met with a muted response on its release but went on to influence a whole generation of bands .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Love and Other Rituals : Our interview with author Monica Macansantos

Monica Macansantos’s debut short story collection Love & Other Rituals has already received glowing acclaim and marked her as an author to keep a close eye on. The stories in the collection revolve around Filipinos at home and in the wider diaspora. There are stories set in New Zealand, America, and the Philippines itself.

It’s the delicately relayed emotional journeys her characters undertake that really sets the stories apart. There is longing and beauty, hope and duty, all woven into the stories which are ultimately explorations about what it means to be human. Expect to be surprised and drawn into each tale.

Monica was a James A. Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned an MFA in Writing, and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Her work has appeared many publications such as in The Hopkins Review and the Pantograph Punch to name but a few,  and she has been named Notable in the Best American Essays in both 2016 and 2022.

So, when we got the opportunity to interview the Monica about her work, we jumped at it!

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Monica Macansantos for taking the time to answer our questions about Love & Other Rituals and her writing practice, and for providing such an illuminating insight into her world and work.

You can watch this fascinating and insightful interview below or by visiting our YouTube channel by clicking here.

Love and other rituals / Macansantos, Monica
“A man imprisoned by taboo learns the price of love. A child visits the grave of a cousin she’s never met; another absorbs the fallout of her parents’ divorce. Friendships rupture beyond repair, and family members collide when it comes to caring for their ageing father. These vivid stories of yearning, loneliness and resilience navigate the naivety of childhood, the complications of young adulthood and the politics of marriage. Monica Macansantos is a powerful new voice bringing us the raw and darkly beautiful perspectives of characters lost both in and out of their homeland, the Philippines.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Parallel universes: Recently acquired science fiction and fantasy

I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.
― Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes in Amber

Welcome to our first selection of newly acquired science fiction and fantasy titles for 2023. We have a rich diversity of voices, themes and approaches in this month’s selection. From Aotearoa, we have Melanie Harding Shaw’s enemies to lover’s, romantic, paranormal, urban fantasy set in a post-apocalyptic, decaying Wellington called City of souls. We also have a collection of short stories from the legend that is Alan Moore, and a fabulous new novel from Hugo and Nebular winner Mary Robinette Kowal called The Spare Man.

Also in this months selection we have a very welcome reissue of Science fiction titan Roger Zelazny’s The chronicles of Amber. Roger Zelazny was both a poet and science fiction writer who won both the Hugo and Nebula awards on numerous occasions. Born in Ohio in 1937, his later work had several recurring themes such as portraying characters from myth, having mortals turned into gods and gods turned into mortals, and the subsequent ramifications of these transformations. He would often include mythical characters from the likes of Norse Mythology, Arthurian mythos, and Egyptian mythology to name but a few in his works. He was also an early proponent of the multiple parallel universe idea. This multiple universe concept plays a key part in The chronicles of Amber series .

He stated that his writing style was often influenced by hardboiled crime authors like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler which accounts for his sharp quick fire and highly readable dialogue. Neil Gaiman described him as the author who influenced him the most, both in the topics he writes about and his writing style.

The SF masterworks omnibus of The chronicles of Amber featured in this blog covers the first five works. The concluding omnibus is due shortly  and you can access further information on that title here.

The chronicles of Amber / Zelazny, Roger
“Amber is the one real world, casting infinite reflections of itself – Shadow worlds, that can be manipulated by those of royal Amberite blood. But the royal family is torn apart by jealousies and suspicion; the disappearance of the Patriarch Oberon has intensified the internal conflict by leaving the throne apparently up for grabs. In a hospital on the Shadow Earth, a young man is recovering from a freak car accident; amnesia has robbed him of all his memory, even the fact that he is Corwin, Crown Prince of Amber, rightful heir to the throne – and he is in deadly peril.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

City of souls / Harding-Shaw, Melanie
“Bounty hunter Hel’s life depends on staying below the radar and passing as human. But when the infuriating Lord of the City of Souls discovers her hidden power is the key to solving his problems, he reclaims her bond-debt and drags her into the spotlight. He’ll protect her secrets on one condition: that she does everything he asks. Winged necromancer Bastion would do anything to save the city he rules from the strange magic menacing their world. Even blackmail the angry, intriguing bounty hunter who despises him. As the rulers of the elemental courts converge to face the threat, he’s not sure who hates him more–them or Hel. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Illuminations : stories / Moore, Alan
“In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work, Alan Moore presents a series of wildly different and equally unforgettable characters who discover–and in some cases even make and unmake–the various uncharted parts of existence. In “Illuminations,” a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella “What We Can Know About Thunderman,” which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry’s major players over the last seventy-five years, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Archangel’s resurrection / Singh, Nalini
“For thousands of years, the passion between Alexander, Archangel of Persia, and Zanaya, Queen of the Nile, burned furious and bright, seemingly without end. But to be an archangel is to be bound to power violent and demanding. Driven by its primal energy, Alexander and Zanaya fought as fiercely as they loved. Locked in an endless cycle of devotion and heartbreak, it is only Zanaya’s decision to Sleep that ends their love story. Eons later, it is the Cascade of Death that wakens them both. The passion between them a flame that yet burns, Alexander and Zanaya stand together in one last battle against the ultimate darkness…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Singer distance / Chatagnier, Ethan
“In December 1960, Rick Hayworth drives his genius girlfriend, Crystal, and three other MIT grad students across the country to paint a message in the desert. Mars has been silent for thirty years, since the last time Earth solved one of the mathematical proofs the Martian civilization carved onto its surface. The latest proof, which seems to assert contradictory truths about distance, has resisted human understanding for decades. Crystal thinks she’s solved it, and Rick is intent on putting her answer to the test–if he can keep her from cracking under the pressure on the way…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The spare man / Kowal, Mary Robinette
“Hugo and Nebula Award Winner Mary Robinette Kowal blends her no-nonsense, hard-SF approach to life in space with her talent for creating glittering high society in this stylish SF mystery. Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, is on her honeymoon via an interplanetary space liner. Cruising between the Moon and Mars, she’s traveling incognito and reveling in her anonymity. Then someone is murdered and the festering chowderheads who run security have the audacity to arrest her spouse. Armed with banter, martinis, and her small service dog, Tesla is determined to solve the crime so that the newlyweds can get back to canoodling –And keep the real killer from striking again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Will do magic for small change : a novel of what might have been / Hairston, Andrea
” Cinnamon Jones dreams of stepping on stage and acting her heart out like her famous grandparents, Redwood and Wildfire. But she’s always been theatrically challenged.  But her family life is a tangle of mysteries and secrets, and nobody is telling her the whole truth. Before her brother died, he gave Cinnamon The Chronicles of the Great Wanderer–a tale of a Dahomean warrior woman and an alien from another dimension who perform at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. They are a story of magic or alien science, but the connection to Cinnamon’s past is unmistakable. When an act of violence wounds her family, Cinnamon and her theatre squad determine to solve the mysteries and bring her worlds crashing together.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Neom / Tidhar, Lavie
“The city known as Neom is many things to many beings, human or otherwise. It is a tech wonderland for the rich and beautiful; an urban sprawl along the Red Sea; and a port of call between Earth and the stars. In the desert, young orphan Elias has joined a caravan, hoping to earn his passage off-world. But the desert is full of mechanical artefacts, some unexplained and some unexploded. Recently, a wry, unnamed robot has unearthed one of the region’s biggest mysteries: the vestiges of a golden man. In Neom, childhood affection is rekindling between loyal shurta-officer Nasir and hardworking flower-seller Mariam. But Nasu, a deadly terrorists, has come to the city with missing memories and unfinished business…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our glimpse into fiction titles scheduled for 2023: Part two

fortune teller gypsy GIF

So we kick off the second part of what to keep an eye out for in 2023, starting with July. Part One covers January to June, and you can read it here.

July’s scheduled novels start off with the sequel to Colson Whitehead’s acclaimed heist novel Harlem Shuffle that’s going to be titled Crook Manifesto; also in July we have a collection of short stories from 2022’s Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka called The Birth Lottery & Other Surprises.

In August Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series finds a new author to take over the mantle, in the shape of Karin Smirnoff. The new book is going to be called The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons. Also, in August H is for Hawk’s author Helen Macdonald is bringing out a science fiction tome about the weaponisation of nostalgia, called Prophet. And to round off August we have Nicola Upson’s Shot With Crimson; a cosy crime novel set around the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

In September the fabulous Zadie Smith brings out The Fraud, a historical novel set in London and Jamaica during Victorian times. And previous Booker Prize winner Anne Enright is bringing out a novel called The Wren, featuring three generations of an Irish family. There is also a new stand alone novel from Mick Herron called The Secret Hours and, to round off September, we have a tale of thwarted love by Rose Tremain called Absolutely and Forever.

October will see the release of a feminist retelling of 1984 called Julia by author Sandra Newman. Jeanette Winterson is releasing a series of haunting short stories especially for Halloween called The Night-Side of the River and finally, in October, we have Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford, set in the speakeasies of 1920’s America.

And to round off our advanced peek into what’s coming up in the fiction world of 2023 we are going to have a very special look at what is in store fiction wise from our own fair shores.

In September we  have Becky Manawatu’s much anticipated sequel to the fabulous Auē  that’s going to be called Kataraina. There are already  a lot of very excited readers desperate to get their hands on that title.  Also, in September we have  The Bone Tree by Airana Ngarewa; a novel about two brothers losing their parents.

There is also a wonderful batch of New Aotearoa New Zealand fiction titles in the pipeline that we don’t yet have any fixed release dates for, but are due in 2023. These titles include Monty Soutar‘s historical novel called Tree of Nourishment which is set in pre-European Aotearoa in the 1700s.  Also, without a release date is the debut novel from Josie Shapiro called Everything Is Beautiful and Everything Hurts, about a woman athlete’s attempt to hit the big time. There’s also no set release dates for Sue McCauley’s novel Landed, which was shortlisted for the 2021 Michael Gifkins Prize, or for How to Get Fired by Evena Belich, but they both look fabulous.

Below we have a few previous titles from some of the authors mentioned, just to whet your appetite.

Harlem shuffle / Whitehead, Colson
“”Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The seven moons of Maali Almeida / Karunatilaka, Shehan
“Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet queen, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. At a time when scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts who cluster around him can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The autograph man / Smith, Zadie
” Alex-Li Tandem sells autographs. A small blip in a huge worldwide network of desire, it is his business to hunt for names on paper, collect them, sell them, occasionally fake them, and all to give the people what they want: a little piece of Fame. THE AUTOGRAPH MAN is a deeply funny, existential tour around the hollow things of modernity – celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience. Pushing against the tide of his generation, Alex-Li is on his way to finding enlightenment, otherwise known as some part of himself that cannot be signed, celebrated or sold.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Actress / Enright, Anne
“This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings. But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime. Actress is about a daughter’s search for the truth – the dark secret in the bright star, and what drove Katherine finally mad.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Slow horses / Herron, Mick
“You don’t stop being a spook just because you’re no longer in the game. Banished to Slough House from the ranks of achievers at Regent’s Park for various crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal, Jackson Lamb’s misfit crew of highly trained joes don’t run ops, they push paper. But not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a ‘slow horse’. A boy is kidnapped and held hostage. His beheading is scheduled for live broadcast on the net. And whatever the instructions of the Service, the slow horses aren’t going to just sit quiet and watch…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Colour / Tremain, Rose
” Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand, along with Joseph’s mother Lilian, in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in a creek bed, he hides the discovery from both his wife and mother, and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new goldfields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of the colour, rush to their destinies and doom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The heavens / Newman, Sandra
“A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate — and they begin to fall in love. From their first meeting, Ben knows Kate is unworldly and fanciful, so at first he isn’t that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she’s had since childhood. In the dream, she’s transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real and compelling until it threatens to overwhelm her life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Oranges are not the only fruit / Winterson, Jeanette
“Winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-out novel from Winterson, the acclaimed author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. The narrator, Jeanette, cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age, and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Light perpetual / Spufford, Francis
“Lunchtime, a Saturday, 1944: the Woolworths on Bexford High Street in southeast London has a new delivery of aluminum saucepans. A crowd gathers to see the first new metal in ages – after all, everything’s been melted down for the war effort. An instant later, the crowd is gone; incinerated. In it were five little children. Atomised. Who were they? What future did they lose? Running another reel, another version of time, Perpetual Light is the rest of the twentieth century as the five children’s destinies were extended…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Dear little corpses / Upson, Nicola
September 1st, 1939. As the mass evacuation takes place across Britain, thousands of children leave London for the countryside, but when a little girl vanishes without a trace, the reality of separation becomes more urgent and more deadly for those who love her.In the chaos and uncertainty of war, Josephine struggles with the prospect of change. As a cloud of suspicion falls across the small Suffolk village she has come to love, the conflict becomes personal, and events take a dark and sinister turn.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Auē / Manawatu, Becky
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
: for such a time as this : a saga from the uttermost end of the earth – Aotearoa New Zealand / Soutar, Monty
” A young Māori man, compelled to learn the stories of his ancestors, returns to his family marae on the east coast of the North Island to speak to his elderly grand-uncle, the keeper of the stories. What follows is the enthralling account of the young man’s tipuna, the legendary warrior Kaitanga, after whom his marae’s whare puni has been named. Tracing the author’s own ancestral line, Kāwai: for such a time as this, reveals a picture of an indigenous Aotearoa in the mid-18th century, through to the first encounters between Māori and Europeans. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
A fancy man / McCauley, Sue
“Frank and Jess had seeped into each other. Severance would leave both of them maimed. Frank is in his forties, a hard-bitten, laconic Australian stockman, left with a baby son and a stepdaughter when his partner decides it’s time to move on. Jess is only fifteen, the daughter of the local schoolteacher, certain she wants a life beyond the tight little New Zealand rural town where she has grown up. This absorbing novel, wry, funny and moving, never sentimental, is about a love that transcends ‘accepted’ boundaries – and about others’ reactions to a relationship they fail to understand. It’s about unexpected criteria for happieness, about refusing to be bullied by convention.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Publishing is a very mysterious business: our glimpse into fiction titles scheduled for 2023

Acting Crystal Ball GIF by American Masters on PBS

“Publishing is a very mysterious business. It is hard to predict what kind of sale or reception a book will have, and advertising seems to do very little good.”
– Thomas Wolfe

Now that 2023 has well and truly begun, we thought what a perfect time to look into the future and survey the fiction treats that have already been scheduled and announced for 2023. Though, of course, many of the books that will feature on the ‘Best of 2023’ lists aren’t yet listed, or even scheduled. Indeed, one of the great delights and joys of the literary world are the surprise novels that seemingly come out of nowhere to become one of the shining stars of that year.

Having said that, there are so many interesting fiction titles already scheduled that we’ve had to split our overview into two parts! So, let’s start off with our first segment of what to look out for in fiction in 2023.

In January we have The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis; theAmerican Psycho author’s first book in 13 years is about a group of Los Angeles students at risk from a serial killer. Child 44 author Tom Rob Smith’s new novel, called Cold People, is a high-concept novel about an alien invasion that has led to an apocalypse, with the human race forced to shelter in Antarctica. Also, in January we have Deepti Kapoor’s latest novel about crime and corruption in India, which revolves around a wealthy family, and that novel’s title is Age of Vice.

In February Salman Rushdie’s Victory City will be published. The novel explores the rise and decline of a magical Indian city, and the other title that caught our eye in February was Owlish by Dorothy Tse – a fairy-tale set in an alternative Hong Kong which suffers under a series of oppressive regimes.

In March, Sebastian Barry returns to Ireland with a new work called Old God’s Time and finally, in March, we have Percival Everett’s Dr No, about a maths professor and an aspiring Bond villain.

April brings us Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov.  The author of the wonderful Death and the Penguin brings us a pitch dark but affectionate comedy set in a Ukrainian city. Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Rodham, brings us a social comedy based around the question, why do average looking men date beautiful women, but the reverse is never true? That book’s called Romantic Comedy.

In May, Hollywood super star Tom Hanks releases his first novel called The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece. Deborah Levy’s August Blue finds a woman chasing her double across Europe. And Somerset Maugham’s visit to Penang is the inspiration behind Tan Twan Eng’s The House of Doors. In May we are also excited by The Ferryman by Justin Cronin, about a paradise where all is not as it seems.

In June we have Richard Ford‘s Be Mine, the final novel in the Frank Bascombe series and Lorrie Moore’s I am Homeless if this is not my Home, a tragicomic American road trip  novel about past and present.

The first half of the year also has a fabulous crop of titles from Aotearoa to look out for too. March brings New Zealand Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton’s long-awaited Birnam Wood, about a group of New Zealand environmental activists fighting an American billionaire’s plans; we can’t wait to get our hands on that. Also in March is One of Those Mothers, the debut novel by Megan Nicol Reed. As the title suggests, the book is about a mother’s nightmare discovery and its impact on a community.

In April we have a short story collection from  Emma Hislop called Ruin and other stories about “Women and girls walking  a perilously thin line between ruin and redemption”, also due in April is  Kind  by the wickedly funny  Stephanie Johnson a sharply observed satire on liberals.

In May comes The Deck by Fiona Farrell  set in a future lockdown during a future plague. And finally due  in July in the first part of our 2023 overview we have Lioness by Emily Perkins described as a book in which “a woman begins to look at her privileged and insular world with new eyes”.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part Two coming soon and below is a selection of previous works from some of the authors mentioned, just to get you in the mood for their new works.

The rules of attraction / Ellis, Bret Easton
“A startlingly funny, kaleidoscopic novel about three students with no plans for the future – or even the present – who become entangled in a curious romantic triangle.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Child 44 / Smith, Tom Rob
“An  amazingly assured and exciting debut, set in Soviet Russia in l953, with a wonderfully realised sense of all-pervading fear and the desperateness of a chilling race against time. How do you solve an impossible crime?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

A bad character / Kapoor, Deepti
” This is the story of Idha, a young woman who finds escape from the arranged marriage and security that her middle-class world has to offer through a chance encounter with a charismatic, dangerous young man. She is quickly exposed to the thrilling, often illicit pleasures that both the city, Delhi, and her body can hold. But as the affair continues, and her double life deepens, her lover’s increasingly unstable behaviour carries them past the point of no return, where grief, love and violence threaten to transform his madness into her own. A novel about female desire, A Bad Character shows us a Delhi we have not seen in fiction before: a city awash with violence, rage and corruption.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Midnight’s children / Rushdie, Salman
“‘ Books Saleem Sinai, the hero of Midnight’s Children, is one of the thousand and one children born in India at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the dawn of its independence from British rule–the moment, in the words of its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, when India had her “tryst with destiny.” The twists and turns of this destiny form the springboard from which Salman Rushdie launches into his celebrated fantasia of our modernity. At once a fairy tale, a furious political satire, and a meditation on the ways in which time and change both shape and are shaped by the life of a single individual.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The luminaries / Catton, Eleanor
” It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand’s booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Days without end : a novel / Barry, Sebastian
“Thomas McNulty, barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s. With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas fights in the Indian Wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The trees : a novel / Everett, Percival
“After a series of brutal murders in a rural Mississippi town, investigators arrive and discover a large number of similar cases that all have roots in the past.When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive to investigate a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Death and the penguin / Kurkov, Andreĭ
“Aspiring writer Viktor Zolotaryov leads a down-and-out life in poverty-and-violence-wracked Kiev–he’s out of work and his only friend is a penguin, Misha, that he rescued when the local zoo started getting rid of animals. Even more nerve-wracking: a local mobster has taken a shine to Misha and wants to keep borrowing him for events. But Viktor thinks he’s finally caught a break when he lands a well-paying job at the Kiev newspaper writing “living obituaries” of local dignitaries–articles to be filed for use when the time comes. The only thing is, it seems the time always comes as soon as Viktor writes the article. Slowly understanding that his own life may be in jeopardy, Viktor also realizes that the only thing that might be keeping him alive is his penguin.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rodham : a novel / Sittenfeld, Curtis
” Listening to her doubts about the prospective marriage, she endures a devastating break-up and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail–one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that crosses paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the trade-offs all of us must make to build a life. Brilliantly weaving actual historical events into a riveting fictional tale, Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute story for our times. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Hot milk : a novel / Levy, Deborah
“I have been sleuthing my mother’s symptoms for as long as I can remember. If I see myself as an unwilling detective with a desire for justice, is her illness an unsolved crime? If so, who is the villain and who is the victim? Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant–their very last chance–in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The garden of evening mists : a novel / Tan, Twan Eng
“Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice “until the monsoon comes.” Then she can design a garden for herself…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The twelve / Cronin, Justin
“As a man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos, desperate to find others, to survive. Lila, a doctor and expectant mother, plans for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known as “Last Stand in Denver,” has fled his stronghold and is on the road, armed but alone. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little b? Other safely through a minefield of death and ruin. These three will learn that in connection lies hope..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The sportswriter / Ford, Richard
“As a sportswriter, Frank Bascombe makes his living studying people–men, mostly–who live entirely within themselves. This is a condition that Frank himself aspires to. But at thirty-eight, he suffers from incurable dreaminess, occasional pounding of the heart, and the not-too-distant losses of a career, a son, and a marriage. In the course of the Easter week in which Ford’s moving novel transpires, Bascombe will end up losing the remnants of his familiar life, though with his spirits soaring..” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

A gate at the stairs : a novel / Moore, Lorrie
“…As the United States begins gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the Midwestern daughter of a gentleman hill farmer–his ‘Keltjin potatoes’ are justifiably famous–has come to a university town as a college student, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir. Between semesters, she takes a job as a part-time nanny. The family she works for seems both mysterious and glamorous to her, and although Tassie had once found children boring, she comes to care for, and to protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
John Tomb’s head / Johnson, Stephanie
” John Tomb saw more of the world than most Englishmen of the early nineteenth century. From England to Australia to New Zealand, he led a life of adventure and romance. Two hundred years after his death, his tattooed head is discovered in an American museum. His spirit reawakened, John Tomb wryly observes those who would lay claim to his relic. Among others, there’s the New Zealand delegation headed by the Prime Minister and including Tomb’s Maori descendants, a leading historian, a prominent carver, the Diplomatic Protection Squad and the Prime Minister’s fifteen-year-old daughter. From England come Tomb’s English descendants and supporters, eager to take the head back to the land of his birth and their family museum. There is also a wealthy private collector and his clever wife.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Limestone / Farrell, Fiona
” Clare Lacey is on a quest. In Ireland to attend an art history conference, she sets out to find her father who walked out one day to buy a packet of cigarettes when she was a child, and disappeared. She is urged on her way by chance encounters- with a woman in a high tower, a blind man at a crossroads, a singer whose song she does not understand . . . Clues lie all around on a labyrinth of walls – but the final clue lies deep within. With Irish roots and a nod to the Irish classic, The Year of the Hiker by John B. Keane, this is a contemporary novel about inheritance, belief, art, love . . . and limestone.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Forrests / Perkins, Emily
“Dorothy Forrest is immersed in the sensory world around her; she lives in the flickering moment. From the age of seven, when her odd, disenfranchised family moves from New York City to the wide skies of Auckland, to the very end of her life, this is her great gift and possible misfortune. Through the wilderness of a commune, to falling in love, to early marriage and motherhood, from the glorious anguish of parenting to the loss of everything worked for and the unexpected return of love, Dorothy is swept along by time. Her family looms and recedes; revelations come to light; death changes everything, but somehow life remains as potent as it ever was, and the joy in just being won’t let her go. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)