In alphabetical order:
Rabih Alameddine: An Unnecessary Woman
Another favourite with an old protagonist ( like ‘Who is Martha’). Aaliya is 72 but has been a battler all her life. Living in Beirut life is rather tough and sometimes she needs to get hold of a Kalashnikov to protect herself. A great treat to read about Aaliya with her blue hair and her work of translation that no one ever reads. Author Rabih Alamedinne is a man!
Anthony Doerr: Memory Wall
Long short stories set in South Africa, Lithuania, Germany, China and the US, about how memory shapes and guides us in the midst of incessant change and movement through time. An extraordinarily gifted and important writer.
Ceridwen Dovey: Only The Animals
Wonderful follow-up from the author of Blood Kin. Rationally, lovingly, the ten animal narrators observe and forgive human folly. Coetzee’s support of Dovey is well-earned. She’s a real original in these trite times.
Penelope Fitzgerald: The Beginning of Spring
An utterly authentic picture of life in 1913 Moscow from someone who’d never even been there. How does she do it? Beautifully, elegantly understated in character and theme, the metaphor of Spring burgeoning through the narrative – our favourite Fitzgerald.
Richard Flanagan: The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize winner. A very Australian story of soldiers held captive by the Japanese in WW 2. Seen mainly through the eyes of Dorrigo Evans (modelled on Weary Dunlop, we hear) the story weaves back and forth in time. A complex structure and an absorbing read even if for some tastes the love story at the heart of the book doesn’t quite ring true. But a must-read for those interested in the big events that have made our world.
Marjana Gaponenko: Who is Martha
We loved this book about the last days of Professor Luca Levadski. When he gets bad news from his doctor, the 96 year-old professor decides to go out in style. From gags about lost dentures to poignant reflections on the nature of birds, the author, a very young Marjana Gaponenko, brings off a tour-de-force. A translation from German by New Vessel Press. Look out for more on their books in the New Year.
Aleksandar Hemon: The Book of My Lives
Hemon’s life in Sarajevo before the war, his life in Chicago as a political refugee after it, and the death of his daughter. An unusually clear-eyed and involving account of finding a new home even when you never wanted to leave your first home.
Ismail Kadare: Chronicle in Stone
A funny, touching and tragic book about a child in an Albanian village during the second world war, beautifully-constructed and with a completely pure child’s voice.
Karl Ove Knausgaard: Boyhood Island
Karl Ove Knausgaard’s growing up in ’70’s Norway. Endlessly fascinating story of the inner world of a young boy with his passions and insecurities, running wild and free on a small island. Against this the constriction and fear caused by the ever unpredictable ‘dad’. Do we really have to wait until March 2015 for Book 4?
Geoff Nicholson: Bleeding London
Dark and funny tale of three characters obsessed in various ways with London. Mick sets off from the North to sort out a few things (or people). But first he has to find his way around. We already have our next Geoff Nicholson lined up, The City under the Skin.