Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July 2015 Highlights

1. Early One Morning (Virago, 2015) / Virginia Baily
2. A Cure for Suicide (Pantheon, 2015) / Jesse Ball
3. The Incarnations (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2014) / Susan Barker
4. The Dust that Falls from Dreams (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Louis de Bernières
5. The Last Lover (trans. from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen) (Yale University Press, 2014) / Can Xue
6. Archipelago of Souls (Picador Australia, 2015) / Gregory Day
7. The Captive Condition (Pantheon, 2015) / Kevin P. Keating
8. Go Set a Watchman (Harper/William Heinemann, 2015) / Harper Lee
9. Good Hope Road (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Sarita Mandanna
10. You Don’t Have to Live Like This (Harper, 2015) / Benjamin Markovits

11. Circling the Sun (Ballantine Books, 2015) / Paula McLain
12. The Kindness (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Polly Samson
13. The Way Things Were (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Aatish Taseer
14. Lovers on All Saints’ Day (Riverhead Books, 2015) / Juan Gabriel Vásquez
15. The Dying Grass (Viking, 2015) / William T. Vollmann
16. Secessia (Grove Press, 2015) / Kent Wascom

First Novels
1. Among the Ten Thousand Things (Random House, 2015) / Julia Pierpont
2. The Small Backs of Children (Harper, 2105) / Lidia Yuknavitch

1. New American Stories (Vintage, 2015) / Ben Marcus (ed.)
2. Daydreams of Angels (Quercus, 2015) / Heather O’Neill

1. Physical (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Andrew McMillan

Monday, June 01, 2015

June 2015 Highlights

1. The Blue Between Sky and Water (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) / Susan Abulhawa
2. Saint Mazie (Serpent’s Tail, 2015) / Jami Attenberg
3. June (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Gerbrand Bakker
4. Summerlong (Ecco, 2015) / Dean Bakopoulos
5. Devotion (Oneworld Publications, 2015) / Ros Barber
6. In the Unlikely Event (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Judy Blume
7. The Westhampton Leisure Hour and Supper Club (2015) / Samantha Bruce-Benjamin
8. The Barefoot Queen (Black Swan, 2015) / Idelfonso Falcones
9. The Italian Wife (Sphere, 2015) / Kate Furnivall
10. Our Souls at Night (Picador, 2015) / Kent Haruf

11. The Stories We Tell (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Patty Callahan Henry
12. The Loved Ones (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015) / Mary-Beth Hughes
13. Language Arts (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Stephanie Kallos
14. The Festival of Insignificance (trans. from the French by Linda Asher) (Harper/Faber & Faber, 2015) / Milan Kundera
15. The Mountain Story (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Lori Lansens
16. Tightrope (Little, Brown, 2015) / Simon Mawer
17. Tender (Picador, 2015) / Belinda McKeon
18. As Night Falls (Ballantine Books, 2015) / Jenny Milchman
19. I Saw a Man (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Owen Sheers
20. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty (Ecco, 2015) / Vendela Vida

21. The Sunken Cathedral (Scribner, 2015) / Kate Walbert

First Novels
1. The Versions of Us (Widenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Laura Barnett
2. The Sunlit Night (Bloomsbury Circus/Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Rebecca Dinerstein
3. Muse (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jonathan Galassi
4. In the Language of Miracles (Viking, 2015) / Rajia Hassib
5. Safekeeping (Fig Tree, 2015) / Jessamyn Hope
6. Death and Mr Pickwick (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Stephen Jarvis
7. The Unfortunates (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Sophie McManus
8. A Fortunate Age (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Joanna Rakoff
9. The Cherry Harvest (William Morrow, 2015) / Lucy Sanna
10. The Book of Speculation (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Erika Swyler

11. In a Dark, Dark Wood (Scout Press/Gallery Books, 2015) / Ruth Wave

1. In the Country (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Mia Alvar
2. The Not-Dead and The Saved and Other Stories (Picador, 2015) / Kate Clanchy
3. Music for Wartime (Viking, 2015) / Rebecca Makkai

1. Heaven (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Rowan Ricardo Phillips

1. Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World (Counterpoint, 2015) / James Boyce

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Frustrations of a Book Editor in Malaysia

I HAVE YET TO FULLY RECOVER from producing a spate of horrendous books these couple of months. Yes, months of slow, mind-numbing torture. All right, let me be honest here, these are really bad books I am talking about. And I am not joking. Seriously. I am calling them “books” for lack of a better word. On second thought, “trash” would probably be a more appropriate word to use! (Regardless of what we think, any self-indulgent crap slap between two covers with an ISBN is technically a book.) Worst of all is being literally forced to produce books from manuscripts that have been rejected, but somehow clawed their way back from the depths of Hell to scare the bloody living daylights of Humankind. (These nightmarish books to end all nightmares are lethal enough to kill you instantly!) Publishing in Malaysia is like running on a treadmill; you just go nowhere even after much painstaking exertion. Here are some of my not-so-favourite things about being a book editor in Malaysia!

ONE, authors who are willing to (and actually do) pay others to write about them for them (in biographies or autobiographies) and praise them to high heaven. (In this age of self-absorption, self-aggrandisement and shameless self-promotion, there are indeed people who are so obsessed about seeing their names in print that they are willing to pay others to write their books for them!) Most enjoy praising themselves in their badly self-penned autobiographies!

TWO, authors who are ungrateful to their editors and waste their time when their so-called books fail to make a dent in the local (and global) marketplace. Somehow the possibility that their books are just not good enough never crosses their minds.

THREE, authors who plan their all-important book launches (and the food, of course!) without having completed writing their manuscripts or going through their final proofs. Book launches (at opulent five-star hotels and exclusive golf clubs, no less!) are planned even before the ink on the pages has dried—sometimes even before the book is written! (These are a dime a dozen.) It is so easy to get published in Malaysia; there is only one qualification you need: just write badly! Too many authors fall in this category. (I have edited some of the worst autobiographies not only on this planet but the whole galaxy.) And they are such a waste of precious life and prime retail space.

FOUR, psychotic authors who “hijack” the whole publishing process and behave like prima donnas and divas. (There are many of these prancing and strutting around like peacocks and peahens.)

FIVE, authors who think the publishing house belongs to their dearest daddies or granddaddies. Believe it or not, money does buy you everything nowadays—despite what they teach you in philosophy school!

SIX, authors who are under the delusion that they write better than V.S. Naipaul, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand and R.K. Narayan all put together! (An indepth study definitely needs to be done to delve into this very strange Malaysian malaise.) This state of cockiness and overconfidence is frightening.

SEVEN, authors who are supposedly graduates of some of the finest universities on the planet, and yet are unable to string proper sentences together or organise their (unintelligible) prose into paragraphs. (Who was it who said that education makes one a well-rounded person? He obviously haven’t had the misfortune of meeting such a creature as a Malaysian. (“If you can’t do such simple things, you might as well flush your degree down the you-know-where,” a schoolmaster once told me in the late 1960s.)

EIGHT, authors who demand advances even though they have no manuscripts to show. (Go figure this one out!) For some reason or other, they also want to know their sales figures before sitting down to write the book they say they were put on this beautiful earth to write. And (this is a good one) they always want to know when their books will be available in the bookshops (when they have yet to write anything)! (Mama told me that this sort of behaviour is rooted in one or a combination of these: traumatic childhood experiences, psychological trauma or defective upbringing!)

NINE, authors who do not allow editors to edit their books (and who, for one reason or other, do not edit their own books themselves, usually due to pure laziness, pomposity or other human flaws which should make the Devil so proud of them). They also demand an assurance from the editor that as editor he will be personally responsible for reading every line or word of the atrocious manuscript to ensure that the book is perfect! They just love contradicting themselves, don’t they? (“Don’t you dare edit my work; you are solely responsible for every mistake that occurs in my book and make sure my author photograph is in colour; I want the graphs and tables to be in colour, too. What do you think? Ain’t it pretty?”) It’s no surprise to find more than one preface and/or five or six forewords in these books! This group of authors also loves launching their masterpieces and making a public spectacle of themselves! (On the other hand, there are authors who keep amending their work, even after their books have been on bookstore shelves for months!) Or how about this evergreen: “All my friends and relatives have read my manuscript and they all think it’s perfect; there’s no need for more editing to be done.” Or this chestnut: “Why so many rounds of editing-huh?” Or this: “I need the comma there. I dont feel comfortable without it.”

TEN, most potential authors just want to get published; it doesn’t really matter whether their writing is good enough. But it does matter in more ways than one as we all very well know.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, authors who cry and wail over the phone and who won’t take no for an answer because they have already invested so little time on the manuscript. (Somehow, they don’t seem to understand why I have rejected their yet-to be-written manuscripts. “I’ll only write it if you want it,” they lament!)

Ironically, authors who write well tend to give editors less problems than those who can’t write!

Rare though they are, I have had the privilege of working with authors (not many) who have become great friends over the years. Editing can be a very traumatic experience (for the editor), but when both writer and editor work well together, the end product is something to behold. I always look forward to working with writers who believe in and are not afraid of rewriting and revising their work; such writers are a joy to work with because they are really passionate about their work and are not afraid of pushing themselves beyond the boundaries.

Do you belong to any or a combination of these stereotypes? I hope not, because these are not exactly role models worth aspiring to!

Friday, May 01, 2015

May 2015 Highlights

1. A God in Ruins (Doubleday, 2015) / Kate Atkinson
2. Tanglewood (New Island Press, 2015) / Dermot Bolger
3. Orient (Harper, 2015) / Christopher Bollen
4. The Anchoress (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Robyn Cadwallader
5. The Far End of Happy (Sourcebooks, 2015) / Kathryn Craft
6. Paradise City (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) / Elizabeth Day
7. Girl in the Moonlight (William Morrow, 2015) / Charles Dubow
8. Close to Hugh (Doubleday Canada, 2015) / Marina Endicott
9. The Green Road (Jonathan Cape/W.W. Norton, 2015) / Anne Enright
10. The Italian Wife (Little, Brown, 2015) / Kate Furnivall

11. Flood of Fire (John Murray, 2015) / Amitav Ghosh
12. The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay (Other Press, 2015) / Andrea Gillies
13. Our Souls at Night (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Kent Haruf
14. The Making of Zombie Wars (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Aleksandar Hemon
15. You Are Dead (Macmillan, 2015) / Peter James
16. The Mountain Story (Gallery Books, 2015) / Lori Lansens
17. The Black Snow (Little, Brown, 2014) / Paul Lynch
18. Tightrope (Little, Brown, 2015) / Simon Mawer
19. The Life and Death of Sophie Stark (Blue Rider Press, 2015) / Anna North
20. When the Doves Disappeared (trans. from the Finnish by Lola M. Rogers) (Atlantic Books, 2015) / Sofi Oksanen

21. Hunters in the Dark (Hogarth, 2015) / Lawrence Osborne
22. The Daylight Marriage (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015) / Heidi Pitlor
23. The Book of Aron (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jim Shepard
24. Early Warning (Alfred A. Knopf/Mantle, 2015) / Jane Smiley
25. Out of Place (Penguin U.K.) / Zadie Smith
26. Paris, He Said (Bloomsbury Publishing/Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Christine Sneed
27. Quicksand (Sceptre, 2015) / Steve Toltz
28. The Cellar (Hammer, 2015) / Minette Walters
29. Vanishing (Pegasus, 20156) / Gerard Woodward

First Novels
1. The Normal State of Mind (Parthian Books, 2015) / Susmita Bhattacharya
2. Burning Down George Orwell’s House (Soho Press, 2015) / Andrew Ervin
3. Death and Mr Pickwick (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Stephen Jarvis
4. The Paper Man (The Unnamed Press, 2015) / Gallagher Lawson
5. The Rocks (Riverbed, 2015) / Peter Nichols
6. Girl at War (Random House, 2015) / Sara Nović
7. This House Is Not For Sale (Granta Books, 2015) / E.C. Osondu
8. The Book of Stone (Fig Tree, 2015) / Jonathan Papernick
9. Church of Marvels (Ecco, 2015) / Lesley Parry
10. The Improbability of Love (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Hannah Rothschild

11. The Shore (Hogarth, 2015) / Sara Taylor
12. Look Who’s Back (trans. from the German by Jamie Bulloch) (MacLehose Press, 2015) / Timur Vermes

1. The Wonder Garden (Grove Press, 2015) / Lauren Acampora
2. Beneath the Bonfire (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015) / Nickolas Butler
3. Twelve Women in a Country Called America (Press 53, 2015) / Kelly Cherry
4. Your Father Sends His Love (Picador, 2015) / Stuart Evers
5. A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me: Stories and a Novella (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / David Gates
6. All Over Ireland: New Irish Short Stories (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Deirdre Madden
7. The Love Object: Selected Stories (Little, Brown, 2015) / Edna O’Brien
8. England and Other Stories (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Graham Swift

1. Breezeway (Ecco, 2015) / John Ashbery
2. The News (Copper Canyon Press, 2015) / Jeffrey Brown
3. Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook (City Lights Books, 2015) / David Meltzer
4. Dark Energy (Penguin Books, 2015) / Robert Morgan

1. Station to Station: Searching for Stories on the Great Western Line (Guardian Books, 2015) / James Attlee
2. Keeping An Eye Open: Essays on Art (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Julian Barnes
3. Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble (Viking 2015) / Antony Beevor
4. The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime (Spiegel & Grau, 2015) / Harold Bloom
5. Joan of Arc: A History (Harper, 2015) / Helen Castor
6. It Starts with Trouble: William Goyen and the Life of Writing (University of Texas Press, 2015) / Clark Davis
7. The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Vivian Gornick
8. Return: A Palestinian Memoir (Verso Books, 2015) / Ghada Karmi
9. Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in the World (Duke University Press, 2015) / Amitava Kumar
10. The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (Harvill Secker, 2015) / J.M. Coetzee & Arabella Kurtz

11. The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Zachary Leader
12. The Wright Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / David McCullough
13. The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Maggie Nelson
14. Sicily: A Short History from the Ancient Greeks to Cosa Nostra (John Murray, 2015) / John Julius Norwich
15. Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books (New York Review Books, 2015) / Tim Parks
16. A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write (Bellevue Literary Press, 2015) / Melissa Pritchard
17. Nobody Grew But the Business: On the Life and Work of William Gaddis (Northwestern University Press, 2015) / Joseph Tabbi
18. Siena: City of Secrets (The University of Chicago Press, 2015) / Jane Tylus
19. The Ocean, the Bird and the Scholar: Essays on Poets & Poetry (Harvard University Press, 2015) / Helen Vendler
20. The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways (Preface Publishing, 2015) / Michael Williams

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April 2015 Highlights

1. The Dream Lover (Random House, 2015) / Elizabeth Berg
2. Orient (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Christopher Bollen
3. The Infidel Stain (Fig Tree, 2015) / M.J. Carter
4. Odysseus Abroad (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Amit Chaudhuri
5. We That Are Left (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Clare Clark
6. Sophie and the Sibyl: A Victorian Romance (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Patricia Duncker
7. My Father’s Dreams (trans. from the Slovenian by Evald Flisar & Alan McConnell-Duff) (Istros Books, 2015) / Evald Flisar
8. The Lives of Women (Atlantic Books, 2015) / Christine Dwyer Hickey
9. The Librarian (trans. from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield) (Pushkin Press, 2015) / Mikhail Elizarov
10. The Buddha’s Return (trans. from the Russian by Bryan Karetnyk) (Pushkin Press, 2015) / Gaito Gazdanov

11. Inside the O’Briens (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Lisa Genova
12. The Wolf Border (Faber & Faber/Harper Press, 2015) / Sarah Hall
13. At Hawthorn Time (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) / Melissa Harrison
14. The Invention of Fire (William Morrow, 2015) / Bruce Holsinger
15. The Dig (Coffee House Press, 2015) / Cynan Jones
16. The Folded Clock: A Diary (Doubleday, 2015) / Heidi Julavits
17. The Heat of Betrayal (Hutchinson, 2015) / Douglas Kennedy
18. Villa America (Picador, 2015) / Liza Klaussmann
19. Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle: Book Four (trans. from the Norwegian by Donald Bartlett) (Archipelago, 2014) / Karl Ove Knausgaard
20. The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Larry Kramer

21. A Slant of Light (Bloomsbury Publishing/Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Jeffrey Lent
22. Pleasantville (Harper/Serpent’s Tail, 2015) / Attica Locke
23. Adult Onset (Tin House Books, 2015) / Ann-Marie MacDonald
24. Last Night on Earth (Little, Brown, 2015) / Kevin Maher
25. Memphis Movie (Soft Skull Press, 2015) / Corey Mesler
26. The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies (Piatkus, 2015) / Martin Millar
27. The Field of the Cloth of Gold (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Magnus Mills
28. Blood, Salt, Water (Orion, 2015) / Denise Mina
29. The Jazz Palace (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2015) / Mary Morris
30. God Help the Child (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Toni Morrison

31. Blood on Snow (Harvill Secker/Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jo Nesbo
32. The Children’s Crusade (Scribner, 2015) / Ann Packer
33. The Last Bookaneer (Penguin Press, 2015) / Matthew Pearl
34. The Dead Lands (Grand Central Publishing, 2015) / Benjamin Percy
35. I Refuse (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Per Petterson
36. The Lost Child (Oneworld Publications, 2015) / Caryl Phillips
37. Sleeping On Jupiter (MacLehose Press, 2015) / Anuradha Roy
38. Time Ages in a Hurry (trans. from the Italian by Martha Cooley & Antonio Romani) (Archipelago Books, 2015) / Antonio Tabucchi
39. The Last Pier (Hesperus Nova/Hesperus Press, 2015) / Roma Tearne
40. The Night Stages (McClelland & Stewart, 2015) / Jane Urquhart

41. The Discreet Hero (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Mario Vargas Llosa
42. The Boy Who Could Sea Death (Viking, 2015) / Sally Vickers
43. Where Women Are Kings (Other Press, 2015) / Christie Watson

First Novels
1. The Bamboo Stalk (trans. from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright) (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation, 2015) / Saud Alsanousi
2. Pond (Stinging Fly Press, 2015) / Claire-Louise Bennett
3. Her Name is Rose (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Christine Breen
4. Out in the Open (trans. from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa) (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Jesús Carrasco
5. Academy Street (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Mary Costello
6. The Sweetheart Deal (Little, Brown, 2015) / Polly Dugan
7. The Turner House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Angela Flournoy
8. The Fair Fight (Riverbed Books, 2015) / Anna Freeman
9. Jakob’s Colours (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015) / Lindsay Hawdon
10. Preparation for the Next Life (Oneworld Publications, 2015) / Atticus Lish

11. The Gracekeepers (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Kirsty Logan
12. Oh! You Pretty Thing (Dutton, 2015) / Shanna Mahin
13. The Glorious Heresies (John Murray, 2015) / Lisa McInerney
14. What Becomes of Us (Hachette Books Ireland, 2015) / Henrietta McKervey
15. The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015) / Viet Thanh Nguyen
16. The Fishermen (Little, Brown, 2015) / Chigozie Obioma
17. Orhan’s Inheritance (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015) / Aline Ohanesian
18. The Given World (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Marian Palaia
19. Nothing Like Love (Doubleday Canada, 2015) / Sabrina Ramnanan
20. Tiger Milk (trans. from the German by Tim Mohr) (Head of Zeus, 2015) / Stefanie de Velasco

21. Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf (Virago/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Norah Vincent

1. Pond (Stinging Fly Press, 2015) / Claire-Louise Bennett
2. What You Need (Invisible Publishing, 2015) / Andrew Forbes
3. Gutshot (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Amelia Gray
4. Voices in the Night (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Steven Millhauser
5. Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Per Petterson
6. The Boy Who Could See Death (Viking, 2015) / Sally Vickers
7. The Water Museum (Little, Brown, 2015) / Luis Alberto Urrea
8. My Documents (trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell) (McSweeney’s, 2015) / Alejandro Zambra

1. Deep Lane (W.W. Norton/Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Mark Doty
2. Collected Poems (The Figures, 2015) / Michael Gizzi
3. Bone Song (Briery Creek Press, 2015) / Bunny Goodjohn
4. Collected Poems (Penguin, 2015) / Tony Harrison
5. The Travels of Sorrow (The Gallery Press, 2015) / Dermot Healy
6. Sentenced to Life (Picador, 2015) / Clive James
7. Waiting for the Past (Black Inc., 2015) / Les Murray
8. The Lunatic (Ecco, 2015) / Charles Simic
9. What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford (ed. Michael Wiegers) (Copper Canyon Press, 2015) / Frank Stanford
10. Map: Collected and Last Poems (trans. from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Wislawa Szymborska
11. Junction City: Selected Poems 1990-2015 (Salmon Poetry, 2015) / Eamonn Wall

12. Alive: New and Selected Poems (NYRB Poets, 2015) / Elizabeth Willis

1. Alfred Hitchcock (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Peter Ackroyd
2. After the Tall Timber: Collected Nonfiction (New York Review Books, 2015) / Renata Adler
3. The Light of the World: A Memoir (Grand Central Publishing, 2015) / Elizabeth Alexander
4. Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will (Granta Books, 2015) / Julian Baggini
5. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore (Granta Books, 2015) / Patrick Barkham
6. Fracture: Life & Culture in the West, 1918-1938 (Basic Books, 2015) / Philipp Blom
7. The Road to Character (Allen Lane, 2015) / David Brooks
8. Life Is Short—Art Is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity (Hawthorne Books, 2015) / David Shields & Elizabeth Cooperman
9. The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab, and An Epic Journey (Yale University Press, 2015) / Deborah Cramer
10. The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and The Secret History of Wonderland (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

11. The Enlightenment: History of an Idea (trans. from the Italian by Elisabetta Tarantino) (Princeton University Press, 2015) / Vincenzo Ferrone
12. All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West (W.W. Norton, 2015) / David Gessner
13. Einstein: His Space and Times (Yale University Press, 2015) / Steven Gimbel
14. Words Without Music: A Memoir (Liveright, 2015) / Philip Glass
15. The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch (Penguin Press, 2015) / Jonathan Gottschall
16. Bonaparte (trans. from the French by Steven Rendell) (Belknap Press, 2015) / Patrice Gueniffey
17. Introducing the Ancient Greeks (Bodley Head, 2015) / Edith Hall
18. James Merrill: Life and Art (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Langdon Hammer
19. Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker (Random House, 2015) / Thomas Kunkel
20. Saladin: The Life, the Legend and the Islamic Empire (Bantam Press, 2015) / John Man

21. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Mary Norris
22. The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District (Allen Lane, 2015) / James Rebanks
23. On the Move: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Oliver Sacks
24. The Life of Images: Selected Prose (Ecco, 2015) / Charles Simic
25. The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath (Yale University Press, 2015) / Dan Stone
26. The Nearest Thing to Life (Jonathan Cape/Brandeis University Press, 2015) / James Wood

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rotten Durian Awards & Other Malaysiana Miscellany

A SENIOR EDITOR of a publishing house in Kuala Lumpur received the following email. The message, with typos amended, reads: “I can’t write very well, but I thought I’d like to try writing a novel. I’ve decided to write a novel about pirates, but I don’t know anything about pirates. Could you please email me information about pirates: their lifestyle, their eating habits, where they like to chill out during the weekends, what they like to do during the day, what kinds of books they read, etc., so that I can start working on the novel? With much appreciation.”
SOME MANUSCRIPTS are so bloody horrendous that I literally get sick editing them! I feel feverish, headachy and all-over-the-body-achy. Seriously, one of these days we must consider giving out a slew of ROTTEN DURIAN AWARDS for the crappiest Malaysian books of the year—books we absolutely could not care less about, much less read. I know for sure there won’t be a dearth of contenders for these uniquely Malaysian awards where MEDIOCRITY is the ONLY yardstick of greatness and celebrated with customary poop (pomp) and ceremony! Perhaps I will start the ball rolling with that pathetic attempt at a book ... yes, that particular pseudo-book! It reminds me of the opening lines to Keir Alexander’s excellent novel, The Ruby Slippers: “She stinks. It has to be said. Stinks to high heaven.” She does, believe me.
WHEN WILL Malaysian education start focusing on understanding and critical thinking skills? Will it ever? There is a serious dearth of these basic skills: reading, writing, creative thinking, questioning, criticism, creativity and imagination; there is also an absolute lack of interest or intellectual curiosity or empathy about the world we live in. We desperately need graduates who can not only eat but spell chocolate! Education per se is quite irrelevant; one must have the right mindset to use the knowledge acquired and make one’s life useful and meaningful to society. The idea of education is to make every one of us into critical, empathetic, intelligent, logical and thinking beings. If not, what’s the point of existence? What’s really the point of education if we do not produce intelligent, efficient and productive nation builders?
SERIOUSLY, do we really have a publishing industry in Malaysia? I sometimes wonder, more often lately. A SAD FACT: Malaysian writers can’t write and don’t want to be edited at all. Those who can, the writing is hollow, bland, shallow, lifeless, insipid, puerile, dispirited, uninspiring and lackadaisical.

ANOTHER SAD FACT: Editors don’t know how to edit. (Editing is not just about punctuation, grammar and spelling.) Most of them lack the most basic of editing skills (grammar and spelling); if they can’t even handle basic editing, surely they are in the wrong profession, no? Editors are unwilling to learn and tend to miss more than they spot errors (and constantly introducing new ones at the same time). And many are averse to research, checking facts and solving problems. Punctuating dialogue is another major weakness. Most of them lack intellectual curiosity and have no idea why they are doing the things they are doing. Many are not (and will never be) aware of the important aspects of book production like bibliography, footnotes, endnotes, indexing, etc. Also, not many editors have a nose for business or finance. Publishing is not just about PUBLISHING bad books; it is also about SELLING the bad books you publish. Both are equally important to sustain the business.

ANOTHER SAD FACT: Designers don’t know how to typeset books and design covers. Most of them are not designers; when you think about it, they are really more typesetters than designers. Most, sadly, have no grasp of the aesthetics, whether in the design of covers or typesetting of pages, are not open to constructive criticism and lack basic language skills (English and Malay). (“The kind of designs you don’t exactly need to go to design school to learn. The idea is to do it blindly.”) There is absolutely no passion to push boundaries or to have higher expectations.

ANOTHER SAD FACT: Translation standards are abysmal. (Translation is not just about translating words to another language; it’s also about translating cultural and other creative nuances; the translated text must make sense and transport you to another world. A good translator must not only possess a solid grounding in both languages but a strong grasp of idioms as well.)

A vicious cycle. Definitely. So, do we really have a publishing industry in Malaysia? I believe what we have here is more akin to some kind of stunted, constipated offshoot of public relations, rather than publishing as we know it. It never fails to amaze me how publishers always find reasons to justify the publishing of substandard books as though producing as many such books as possible is some kind of noble calling or something!
EVIL, THEY SAY, NEVER DIES ... it claws its way back from the pits of hell to haunt the living. We are in the midst of editing the worst manuscript on the planet … rejected by all who had a chance to look at it but somehow foisted on us editors for the stupidest of reasons. And to think that the British once colonised us, you would expect a certain standard of English. After the last disaster of a book, we thought we had seen the last and worst of horrendous books. No-o-o-o … that’s too good to be true. Ladies and gentlemen, Evil is back in business and is here to haunt the living daylights out of us. Just goes to prove that there are some things money can’t buy … for instance, to write well and tell a wonderful story (fiction or otherwise). Some publishers claim they publish these rejected manuscripts under the pretext of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Seriously, you can call them anything you want; I prefer to pile them under POO and flush them down the LOO where they belong for all eternity. Of course, under normal circumstances these manuscripts would not see the light of day but the dark of the sewers. I fail to understand what joy these author-wannabes derive from being published under such circumstances!
AND THEN there are those so-called Malaysian authors who insist that we do not comply with standards and conventions when editing their so-called manuscripts! As the Backstreet Boys would croon back in the late 1990s, They want it that way! You can have it any way you want, Sweetheart, as long as you pay the production costs and buy up all the stocks and keep them locked up in your room! And maybe toss them in with the carrots, potatoes, onions and tomatoes when Mummy makes chicken soup for the whole family. The books will also come in handy if you have plans for house extensions. Books, after all, are not just books; they make hardy bricks, too.
REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS when we used to have meals and lovely conversations without interruptions? We used to eat and talk, and eat and talk, all the while enjoying ourselves. Those were the days when we used to really talk with one another and conversations were long, and there were jokes and laughter, and time just passed without us realising it. Those days are long gone. People nowadays are more interested in their smartphones, internet, text messaging, etc., and seem to prefer to communicate with people not dining at the table but elsewhere, reading news updates, taking photos of themselves in all manner of poses, etc. You may have the whole wide world at your fingertips, but you don’t seem to be aware of the immediate world around you. Once in a while, think about the person sitting opposite you.
POMPOUS LASS: Only native speakers can edit my manuscript! No Malaysian editors for me, please!
Publisher: You mean someone from Good Olde Mother England?
Pompous Lass: Of course—if English is their mother tongue!
Publisher: Why’s that?
Pompous Lass: Because my book is for the wonderful people of this planet. I want it to be perfectly edited for all my readers from around the world …
Publisher: Would you like to bear the cost of getting someone from England to edit it then?
Pompous Lass: Will that be cheap?
Publisher: What do you think? Everything is cheap except you?
Pompous Lass: I wouldn’t want to spend my money on that! If it’s too expensive, a local editor should be all right, I guess!
WATERLILY: I want to talk to the editor?
Receptionist: Who’s calling?
Waterlily: Lily!
Receptionist: Lily who?
Waterlily: Water “I-can’t-tell-you-my-real-name” Lily!
Receptionist: How can I help you?
Waterlily: I want to talk to the editor about my manuscript?
Receptionist: What’s your manuscript about?
Waterlily: I can’t tell you that! I don’t know who you are. You may just steal and profit from my hard work! I want to speak to the editor!
Editor: Could you send us samples of your work, Water?
Waterlily: I can’t do that either.
Editor: So what can you do, Water?
Waterlily: Why do you need samples of my work?
Editor: Duh! So that we could assess your writing and decide whether we want to publish it or not!
Waterlily: Why do you want to review it? I am a famous writer and my work is quoted in all the leading journals all over the galaxy!
Editor: That’s nice and all and I’m happy for you. However, we would still like to assess it.
Waterlily: Will you be distributing my book in the U.S. and the U.K.?
Editor: No. We only sell foreign rights to those markets. And over the internet.
Waterlily: Looks like you are not the right publisher for me then. Goodbye!
Editor: Good riddance.
AUTHOR: Would you like to publish my manuscript?
Publisher: Well, it depends …
Author: Depends on what?
Publisher: Well, whether you have a written manuscript?
Author: I haven’t written one. Can you get it written for me?
Publisher: Why is that?
Author: I can’t write.
Publisher: But you have studied for a couple of foreign degrees … and you have lived overseas for many years. With your fake accent and all, I’m sure you could write English.
Author: I’m very bad at grammar. Could you get me a writer whom I could talk to, take down notes and put them all in a book for me? I can talk very well. I just can’t write.
Publisher: I can’t imagine how you manage to pass all your exams over the years!
AUTHOR: Can you label me a bestselling author on the cover of my new book?
Editor: No! You are not a bestselling author. And you’ve never have been one.
Author: It’s a way of MARKETING the book!
Editor: I don’t think that’s MARKETING; that’s CONNING. Your first book sold less than a thousand copies in over five years. That, to me, is a disaster of epic proportions!
AUTHOR: And on what grounds are you rejecting my manuscript?
Editor: Well, it sucks, for one!
Author: What! How dare you insult me! Everyone who has read it thinks it a magnificent piece of work!
Editor: Who, pray tell, read your magnum opus?
Author: My darling husband and children, friends and relatives! And my dearest mummy and daddy, too!
Editor: Of course!
Author: So can I take it that you are not interested in publishing my manuscript?
Editor: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da ... Duh!
AUTHOR: Yahoo! My book is a runaway bestseller!
Editor: How’s that possible?
Author: I got every one of my best friends to buy 500 copies of my book. Yahoo! Time for a reprint?
Editor: What do you expect them to do with all the copies of your book?
Author: Who cares what they do with them? Hide them under the stairs? Perhaps they can make beef or vegetable stew with them?
AUTHOR: I would like you to publish my book?
Editor: Your manuscript, you mean? Well, it all depends on the quality of your manuscript.
Author: What? I know your Financial Controller and the Top Guy, you know!
Editor: Ooh, I’m shivering! Of course, we will publish your book—even though it sucks big time!
Author: What?
Editor: Isn’t that what you want?
WISDOM, they say, comes with age. I once thought that wisdom was the exclusive province of the elderly. Now that I am all grown up, I have come to realise that that’s all balderdash. Wisdom is the province of those who possess it; age is simply immaterial. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to meet young people who are wise beyond their years, and I have also had the MISFORTUNE of meeting old people who have absolutely no wisdom at all.
AUTHOR: I don’t like my marriage photo in the book. We look so bloody fat.
Editor: Of course, both of you look well fed. So, what do you want me to do? Both of you should have gone on a diet before getting married. Well, you could always get married again.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

March 2015 Highlights

1. The Shut Eye (Bantam Press, 2015) / Belinda Bauer
2. The Sellout (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Paul Beatty
3. The Harder They Come (Ecco/Harper, 2015) / T.C. Boyle
4. Before the Fire (Picador, 2015) / Sarah Butler
5. The Dream of My Return (trans. from the Spanish by Katherine Silver) (New Directions, 2015) / Horacio Castellanos Moya
6. Notes From a Dead House (trans. from the Russian by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky) (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Fyodor Dostoevsky
7. A Place Called Winter (Tinder Press, 2015) / Patrick Gale
8. At the Water’s Edge (Spiegel & Grau, 2015) / Sara Gruen
9. The Wolf Border (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Sarah Hall
10. The Other Joseph (Ecco, 2015) / Skip Horack

11. The World Before Us (Hamish Hamilton/Hogarth, 2015) / Aislinn Hunter
12. The Buried Giant (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Kazuo Ishiguro
13. The Tusk That Did the Damage (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Tania James
14. She Will Build Him a City (Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Raj Kamal Jha
15. Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle: Book Four (trans. from the Norwegian by Donald Bartlett) (Harvill Secker, 2014) / Karl Ove Knausgaard
16. The Last Word (Scribner, 2015) / Hanif Kureishi
17. The Unloved (Bloomsbury Press, 2015) / Deborah Levy
18. Satin Island (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Tom McCarthy
19. The Faithful Couple (Little, Brown, 2015) / A.D. Miller
20. The Dirty Dust (trans. from Irish by Alan Titley) (Yale University Press, 2015) / Máirtín Ó Cadhain

21. The Illuminations (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Andrew O’Hagan
22. Will & Tom (The Borough Press, 2015) / Matthew Plampin
23. The Lost Child (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Caryl Phillips
24. The Kindness (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) / Polly Samson
25. Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral (Ecco, 2015) / Mary Doria Russell
26. A Time for Friends (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Patricia Scanlan
27. The Architect’s Apprentice (Viking, 2015) / Elif Shafak
28. Aquarium (Atlantic Monthly Press/William Heinemann, 2015) / David Vann
29. A Little Life (Doubleday, 2015) / Hanya Yanagihara
30. The Wisdom of Perversity (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015) / Rafael Yglesias

First Novels
1. The Boatmaker (Tin House Books, 2015) / John Benditt
2. Whisper Hollow (Other Press, 2015) / Chris Cander
3. The Strangler Vine (G.P. Putnam’s, 2015) / M.J. Carter
4. The Well (Canongate Books, 2015) / Catherine Chanter
5. The Only Ones (Two Dollar Radio, 2015) / Carola Dibbell
6. Hausfrau (Random House, 2015) / Jill Alexander Essbaum
7. Our Endless Numbered Days (Tin House/House of Anansi Press, 2015) / Claire Fuller
8. The Girl in the Red Coat (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Kate Hamer
9. The A-Z of You and Me (Doubleday, 2015) / James Hannah
10. Signs Preceding the End of the World (trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman) (And Other Stories, 2015) / Yuri Herrera

11. Small Mercies (Viking, 2015) / Eddie Joyce
12. Where All Light Tends to Go (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015) / David Joy
13. Soil (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Jamie Kornegay
14. Call Me Home (Hawthorne Books, 2015) / Megan Kruse
15. The Poser (Viking, 2015) / Jacob Rubin
16. The Shore (William Heinemann, 2015) / Sara Taylor
17. The Last Flight of Poxl West (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Daniel Torday
18. The Cunning House (Sandstone Press, 2015) / Richard Maggraf Turley

1. The Musical Brain (trans. From the Spanish by Chris Andrews) (New Directions, 2015) / César Aira
2. Young Skins (Black Cat/Grove Press, 2015) / Colin Barrett
3. Crow Fair (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Thomas McGuane
4. Daydreams of Angels (HarperCollins Canada, 2015) / Heather O’Neill
5. The Four Books (trans. from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas) (Chatto & Windus/Grove Atlantic, 2015) / Yan Lianke

1. The Last Two Seconds (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Mary Jo Bang
2. Like the New Moon, I Will Live My Life (White Pine Press, 2015) / Robert Bly
3. The Days of Surprise (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Paul Durcan
4. The Opposite House (Louisiana State University Press, 2015) / Claudia Emerson
5. Snake Train: Poems 1984-2013 (Shearsman Books, 2015) / Edwin Frank
6. From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 (Ecco, 2015) / Jorie Graham
7. Shakespeare’s Horse (Waywiser Press, 2015) / Joseph Harrison
8. How to be Drawn (Penguin Books, 2015) / Terrance Hayes
9. The Beauty (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jane Hirshfield
10. The Invisible Gift: Selected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2015) / David Morley

11. The Beautiful Librarians (Picador, 2015) / Sean O’Brien
12. Made in Detroit (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Marge Piercy
13. Elegy for a Broken Machine (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Patrick Phillips
14. Couldn’t Prove, Had to Promise (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015) / Wyatt Prunty
15. Night at the Fiestas (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Kirstin Valdez Quade
16. Blood Work (University of Wisconsin Press, 2015) / Matthew Siegel
17. The Tijuana Door of the Dead (Soft Skull Press, 2015) / Luis Albert Urrea

1. Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now (Harper, 2015) / Ayaan Hirsi Ali
2. Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London (Verso Books, 2015) / Matthew Beaumont
3. There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction (ed. Benjamin Taylor) (Viking, 2015) / Saul Bellow
4. On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion (Oxford University Press USA, 2015) / Berit Brogaard
5. Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel (Yale University Press, 2015) / Annie Cohen-Solal
6. The World Beyond Your Head: How to Flourish in an Age of Distraction (Viking, 2015) / Matthew B. Crawford
7. Young Eliot: A Biography (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Robert Crawford
8. Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (William Collins, 2015) / Richard Davenport-Hines
9. The Impossible Craft: Literary Biography (Penn State University Press, 2015) / Scott Donaldson
10. The Third Reich in History and Memory (Oxford University Press, 2015) / Richard J. Evans

11. Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People (Hill and Wang, 2015) / Elizabeth A. Fenn
12. Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrieff: Soldier, Spy, and Translator (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, SG, 2015) / Jean Findlay
13. The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom (Allen Lane, 2015) / John Gray
14. Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / James Grissom
15. Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jane Hirshfield
16. Bettyville: A Memoir (Viking, 2015) / George Hodgman
17. Those Who Write for Immortality: Romantic Reputations and the Dream of Lasting Fame (Yale University Press, 2015) / H.J. Jackson
18. Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language (Liveright, 2015) / Clive James
19. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Doubleday, 2015) / Erik Larson
20. H is for Hawk (Grove Press, 2015) / Helen Macdonald

21. Landmarks (Hamish Hamilton, 2015) / Robert Macfarlane
22. Curiosity (Yale University Press, 2015) / Alberto Manguel
23. Moral Agents: Eight Twentieth-Century American Writers (New York Review Books, 2015) / Edward Mendelson
24. The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India, 1805-1905 (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Ferdinand Mount
25. American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest (Harper, 2015) / Hannah Nordhaus
26. The Best Travel Writing Volume 10: True Stories from Around the World (Travelers’ Tales, 2015) / James O’Reilly, Larry Habegger & Sean O’Reilly (eds.)
27. The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East (Basic Books, 2015) / Eugene Rogan
28. Confucius: And the World He Created (Basic Books, 2015) / Michael Schuman
29. Madness in Civilization: From the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine (Thames & Hudson, 2015) / Andrew Scull
30. John Aubrey: My Own Life (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Ruth Scurr

31. Seeing Things as They Are: A Theory of Perception (Oxford University Press, 2015) / John R. Searle
32. Communion (Dock Street Press, 2015) / Curtis Smith
33. Ordinary Light: A Memoir (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Tracy K. Smith
34. Judas: The Troubling History of the Renegade Apostle (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015) / Peter Stanford
35. A Curious Friendship: The Story of a Bluestocking and Bright Young Thing (Macmillan, 2015) / Anna Thomasson
36. Why Acting Matters (Yale University Press, 2015) / David Thomson
37. On Elizabeth Bishop (Princeton University Press, 2015) / Colm Tóibín
38. Seneca: A Life (Allen Lane, 2015) / Emily Wilson
39. Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much (New Harvest, 2015) / Michael Wood
40. Boswell’s Enlightenment (Belknap Press, 2015) / Robert Zaretsky

41. The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me: An Aristocratic Family, a High-Society Scandal and an Extraordinary Legacy (Harper, 2015) / Sofka Zinovieff

Sunday, February 01, 2015

February 2015 Highlights

1. After Birth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Elisa Albert
2. Widows and Orphans (Arcadia, 2015) / Michael Arditti
3. A History of Loneliness (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / John Boyne
4. Half a Lifelong Romance (trans. from the Chinese by Karen S. Kingsbury) (Vintage Books, 2015) / Eileen Chang
5. Odysseus Abroad (Oneworld Publications, 2015) / Amit Chaudhuri
6. The Librarian (trans. from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield) (Pushkin Press, 2015) / Mikhail Elizarov
7. The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Amanda Filipacchi
8. The Exit (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Helen FitzGerald
9. I Regret Everything (Europa Editions, 2015) / Seth Greenland
10. The Nightingale (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Kristin Hannah

11. Lies, First Person (trans. from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu) (Open Letter, 2015) / Gail Hareven
12. Funny Girl (Riverhead, 2015) / Nick Hornby
13. The Evening Chorus (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Helen Humphreys
14. Neverhome (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Laird Hunt
15. The Laughing Monsters (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Denis Johnson
16. Welcome to Braggsville (William Morrow, 2015) / T. Geronimo Johnson
17. The African Equation (trans. from the French by Howard Curtis) (Gallic Books, 2015) / Yasmina Khadra
18. I Am Radar (Penguin Press, 2015) / Reif Larsen
19. The Half Brother (Doubleday, 2015) / Holly LeCraw
20. The Hunger of the Wolf (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Stephen Marche

21. Satin Island (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Tom McCarthy
22. Tender (Picador, 2015) / Belinda McKeon
23. Dorothy Parker Drank Here (Putnam, 2015) / Ellen Meister
24. The Country of Ice Ceam Star (Ecco, 2015) / Sandra Newman
25. The Lovers of Amherst (published as Amherst in the U.S.) (Quercus/Simon & Schuster, 2015) / William Nicholson
26. Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League (Maiden Lane Press, 2015) / Jonathan Odell
27. The Illuminations (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Andrew O’Hagan
28. Vanessa and Her Sister (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) / Priya Parmar
29. The Whites (Henry Holt, 2015) / Richard Price (writing as Harry Brandt)
30. The Damned (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Andrew Pyper

31. Lamentation (Mulholland Books, 2015) / C.J. Sansom
32. The Last Good Paradise (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Tatjana Soli
33. The Kind Worth Killing (William Morrow, 2015) / Peter Swanson
34. Canary (Mulholland Books, 2015) / Duane Swierczynski
35. The Way Things Were(Picador, 2015) / Aatish Taseer
36. Anna Karenina (trans. from the Russian by Marian Schwartz) (Yale University Press, 2015) / Leo Tolstoy
37. Prudence (Riverhead, 2015) / David Treuer
38. The Tongues of Men or Angels (Corsair, 2015) / Jonathan Trigell
39. A Spool of Blue Thread (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Anne Tyler
40. Second Life (Doubleday, 2015) / S.J. Watson

41. The Four Books (trans. from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas) (Grove Press, 2015) / Yan Lianke

First Novels
1. Green on Blue (Scribner, 2015) / Elliot Ackerman
2. Jam on the Vine (Grove Press, 2015) / LaShonda Katrice Barnett
3. She Weeps Each Time You’re Born (Pantheon, 2015) / Quan Barry
4. Spill Simmer Falter Wither (Tramp Press, 2015) / Sara Baume
5. Find Me (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Laura van den Berg
6. Glass (Serpent’s Tail, 2015) / Alex Christofi
7. Some Other Town (Harper Perennial, 2015) / Elizabeth Collison
8. Wolf Winter (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015) / Cecilia Ekbäck
9. Our Endless Numbered Days (Fig Tree, 2015) / Claire Fuller
10. The Ship (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Antonia Honeywell

11. The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / William Klaber
12. Fate Moreland’s Widow (University of South Carolina Press, 2015) / John Lane
13. Arab Jazz (trans. from the French by Sam Gordon) (MacLehose Press, 2015) / Karim Miské
14. The Fishermen (One/Pushkin Press, 2015) / Chigozie Obioma
15. The Chimes (Sceptre, 2015) / Anna Smaill
16. Mainlander (Fourth Estate, 2015) / Will Smith
17. Disgruntled (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015)Z / Asali Solomon
18. Ismael and His Sisters (Granta Books, 2015) / Louise Stern
19. The Anchoress (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Robyn Cadwallader
20. My Sunshine Away (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015) / M.O. Walsh

1. Five Selves (trans. from the Hebrew by Emanuela Barasch-Rubinstein) (Holland House, 2015) / Emanuela Barasch-Rubinstein
2. There’s Something I Want You to Do (Pantheon, 2015) / Charles Baxter
3. Over Our Heads (Penguin, 2015) / Andrew Fox
4. A Fistful of Earth and Other Stories (Rupa Publications, 2015) / Siddhartha Gigoo
5. Single, Carefree, Mellow (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Katherine Heiny
6. Sweet Nothing (Mulholland Books, 2015) / Richard Lange
7. Lucky Alan and Other Stories (Doubleday, 2015) / Jonathan Lethem
8. Get in Trouble (Random House, 2015) / Kelly Link
9. Making Nice (Henry Holt, 2015) / Matt Sumell
10. The American Lover (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Rose Tremain

11. Mischief (Head of Zeus, 2015) / Fay Weldon

1. Ask the Moon: Collected Poems, 1948-2015 (Hutchinson, 2015) / Dannie Abse
2. SOS: Poems 1961-2013 (ed. Paul Vangelisti) (Grove Press, 2015) / Amiri Baraka
3. Barely Composed (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Alice Fulton
4. Empty Pockets: New and Selected Stories (Coffee House Press, 2015) / Dale Herd
5. Disinformation (Picador, 2015) / Frances Leviston
6. Poems (Little, Brown, 2015) / Iain Banks & Ken MacLeod
7. We Mammals in Hospitable Times (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2015) / Jynne Dilling Martin
8. Shingle Street (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Blake Morrison
9. The Do-Over (Sarabande Books, 2015) / Kathleen Ossip
10. Summer Requiem: A Book of Poems (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Vikram Seth

11. Complete Poems (eds. John Glover & Kathryn Jenner) (Northern House/Carcanet Press, 2015) / Jon Silkin

1. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War (Penguin Press, 2015) / Lynsey Addario
2. Machiavelli: A Portrait (Harvard University Press, 2015) / Christopher S. Celenza
3. Young Eliot: From St Louis to The Waste Land (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Robert Crawford
4. Why Not Say What Happened: A Sentimental Education (Liveright, 2015) / Morris Dickstein
5. Leaving Before the Rains Come (Harvill Secker/The Penguin Press, 2015) / Alexandra Fuller
6. Love Songs: The Hidden History (Oxford University Press, 2015) / Ted Gioia
7. Discontent and its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London (Riverhead, 2015) / Mohsin Hamid
8. Kaufman’s Hill: A Memoir (Bancroft Press, 2015) / John C. Hampsey
9. Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Daisy Hay
10. Where Have You Been?: Selected Essays (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Michael Hofmann

11. Eleanor Marx: A Life (Bloomsbury Press, 2015) / Rachel Holmes
12. Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Oliver Kamm
13. Screening Room: Family Pictures (Pantheon, 2015) / Alan Lightman
14. Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Clancy Martin
15. In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation or Rural China (Bloombury, 2015) / Michael Meyer
16. The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) / Katharine Norbury
17. The Authumn Balloon (Grand Central Publishing, 2015) / Kenny Porpora
18. Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World It Made (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Richard Rhodes
19. The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920 (Allen Lane, 2015) / Eugene Rogan
20. This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War (Atlantic Books, 2015) / Samanth Subramanian

21. The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution (Belknap Press, 2015) / Timothy Tackett
22. European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche (Yale University Press, 2015) / Frank M. Turner
23. Edward Thomas: From Adlestrop to Arras: A Biography (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2015) / Jean Moorcroft Wilson
24. Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Kathleen Winter
25. Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy (Basic Books, 2015) / Irvin D. Yalom