Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rotten Durian Awards & Other Malaysiana Miscellany

A SENIOR EDITOR of a Malaysian publishing house received the following email the other day. 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 and best wishes.”
***
SOME MANUSCRIPTS are so bloody horrendous that I literally get sick editing them! I feel feverish, headache-y 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 of 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.
***
THE COST of doing business is escalating all the time. Maintaining sales have always been a challenge, now more so than ever. There are not many good manuscripts to choose from in a lacklustre marketplace. There’s nothing much we can do about the decline of the English language or the quality of writing in Malaysia in the short term. We have to accept the fact that the only thing we can do as publishers is to enhance our production values: editing standards and marketing efforts will need to be stepped up. Producing a book is not going to get any easier; editors will have to break their backs editing and rewriting substandard manuscripts to a level deemed publishable in a short time. Not that there are many good editors to choose from in a nation that doesn’t care much for reading and writing in the first place.
***
AT A BOOK LAUNCH in a five-star hotel (nothing less that five stars will do, or an exclusive golf club) in Kuala Lumpur the other day, everyone invited to attend the event was treated to a sumptuous meal of sweet and savory Malaysian delicacies and given a complimentary copy or two of the said book of the day. Suffice to say that the food tasted so much better than the book. This is quite understandable. Let’s not beat around the bush; no one in their right frame of mind would use their hard-earned cash to pay for it. The trick is not to take Malaysian publishing too seriously. If you do, you are in for an early grave.
***
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 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? It is frightening when the education system keeps on churning out graduates who don’t read (and have no interest in reading) and can’t write.
***
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, illiterate, dispirited, uninspiring, self-indulgent, lazy and lackadaisical. Sometimes the manuscripts are so execrable, possibly written by someone who doesn’t speak English, that editing them is next to impossible. (I don’t pray for much, just good health and happiness for all creatures big and small, being a better human being ... and good writing to land on my desk.)

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 imagination, 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, no sense of accomplishment for a job well done. They do not seem to learn anything from experience. They have no idea whether contents pages are required for the manuscripts they typeset; they have no idea what acknowledgements, forewords, prefaces, introductions and afterwords are for and who writes them. They may have moved their MOUSE for years, but they have not gain any relevant experience at all.

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. “Translation,” in the words of Anthony Burgess, “is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.” A good translator must not only possess a solid grounding in both languages but a strong grasp of idioms and metaphors as well. Sadly, it’s rare to find translators who are strong in both languages.

A vicious cycle. Definitely. So, do we really have a publishing industry in Malaysia? No. 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. Books are never published for the right reasons. 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 photograph in the book. We look so bloody fat.
Editor: Of course, both of you are fat. 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.
***
AUTHOR: Make sure all numbers smaller than 10 are in figures, not words, okay?
Editor: Numbers from 1-9 will be in words, not numerals. Anything from 10 and above, I will use figures. That’s the standard editing rule.
Author: But I am your client and you do as I instruct.
Editor: So, what else do you want to go with that? Bad grammar? I can do that. What about factual errors? You want some of those? Weak characterization, perhaps? A plot full of holes? We can add a couple of those, if you like. Why don’t I also throw in as many misspellings as I can for you on the house?
Author: What?
Editor: For your information, you ain’t my client. You can keep your money and go ask your mummy to search and replace all your 1-9s to figures.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

October 2015 Highlights

Novels
1. Beatlebone (Canongate Books, 2015) / Kevin Barry
2. The Secret Chord (Viking, 2015) / Geraldine Brooks
3. A Banquet of Consequences (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015) / Elizabeth George
4. Submission (trans. from the French by Lorin Stein) (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Michele Houellebecq
5. Two Gun & Sun (Caitlin Press, 2015) / June Hutton
6. High Dive (William Heinemann, 2015) / Jonathan Lee
7. Mrs Roosevelt’s Confidante (Bantam, 2015) / Susan Elia MacNeal
8. Slade House (Sceptre/Random House, 2015) / David Mitchell
9. A Place Called Sorry (Caitlin Press, 2015) / Donna Milner
10. The Lake House (Macmillan, 2015) / Kate Morton

11. A Strangeness in My Mind (trans. from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap) (Alfred A. Knopf/Faber & Faber, 2015) / Orhan Pamuk
12. Dreams of the Red Phoenix (Unbridled Books, 2015) / Virginia Pye
13. Dark Corners (Hutchinson, 2015) / Ruth Rendell
14. Golden Age (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jane Smiley

First Novels
1. Juventud (Curbside Splendor Publishing, 2015) / Vanessa Blakeslee
2. City on Fire (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Garth Risk Hallberg
3. Landfalls (Little, Brown, 2015) / Naomi Williams

Stories
1. Mothers, Tell Your Daughters (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Bonnie Jo Campbell
2. The Early Stories of Truman Capote (Random House, 2015) / Truman Capote
3. The Tsar of Love and Techno (Hogarth, 2015) / Anthony Marra
4. Thirteen Ways of Looking (Random House, 2015) / Colum McCann
5. 100 Years of the Best American Stories (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Lorrie Moore & Heidi Pitlor (eds.)
6. The Best American Short Stories 2015 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / T.C. Boyle & Heidi Pitlor (eds.)

Poetry
1. Felicity (Penguin Press, 2015) / Mary Oliver

Nonfiction
1. Changing the Subject: Essays on the Mediated Self (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Sven Birkerts
2. The Road to Little Dribbling (Doubleday, 2015) / Bill Bryson
3. Hemingway in Love: His Own Story: A Memoir (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / A.E. Hotchner
4. Between Gods: A Memoir (Harper Perennial, 2015) / Alison Pick
5. The Givenness of Things: Essays (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Marilynne Robinson
6. My Father’s Guitar and Other Imaginary Things (Algonquin Books, 2015) / Josphn Skibell

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

September 2015 Highlights

Novels
1. The Blue Between Sky and Water (Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Susan Abulhawa
2. The Heart Goes Last (Bloomsbury Publishing/Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2015) / Margaret Atwood
3. The Blue Guitar (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / John Banville
4. Sweet Caress (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / William Boyd
5. This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! (Algonquin Books, 2015) / Jonathan Evison
6. Where My Heart Used to Beat (Hutchinson, 2015) / Sebastian Faulks
7. The Story of the Lost Child (trans. from the Italian by Ann Goldstein) (Europa Editions, 2015) / Elena Ferrante
8. Purity (Fourth Estate/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Jonathan Franzen
9. Fates and Furies (Riverhead Books, 2015) / Lauren Groff
10. The Past (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Tessa Hadley

11. After the Parade (Scribner, 2015) / Lori Ostlund
12. Above the Waterfall (Ecco, 2015) / Ron Rash
13. Sleep (Doubleday Canada, 2015) / Nino Ricci
14. Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (Jonathan Cape/Random House, 2015) / Salman Rushdie

First Novels
1. Did You Ever Have a Family (Scout Press/Gallery Books, 2015) / Bill Clegg
2. Under the Udala Trees (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Chinelo Okparanta
3. Gold Fame Citrus (Riverhead Books, 2015) / Claire Vaye Watkins

Stories
1. Half An Inch of Water (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Percival Everett
2. The O. Henry Prize Stories 2015 (Anchor, 2014) / Laura Furman (ed.)
3. The Tsar of Love and Techno (Hogarth, 2015) / Anthony Marra
4. The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Joy Williams

Poetry
1. Impossible Bottle (Louisiana State University Press, 2015) / Claudia Emerson

Nonfiction
1. Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will (University of Chicago Press, 2015) / Julian Baggini
2. South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Margaret Eby
3. The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George (Travelers’ Tales, 2015) / Don George
4. The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age (Ecco, 2015) / Joyce Carol Oates
5. John le Carre (Harper, 2015) / Adam Sisman
6. Island Home: A Landscape Memoir (Hamish Hamilton/ Penguin Books Australia, 2015) / Tim Winton

Saturday, August 01, 2015

August 2015 Highlights

Novels
1. The Automobile Club of Egypt (trans. from the Arabic by Russell Harris) (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Alaa Al Aswany
2. The Dove’s Necklace (Overlook, 2015) / Raja Alem
3. Noonday (Hamish Hamilton, 2015) / Pat Barker
4. Devotion (Oneworld Publications, 2015) / Ros Barber
5. The Incarnations (Touchstone, 2015) / Susan Barker
6. Last Bus to Wisdom (Riverhead Books, 2015) / Ivan Doig
7. The Fall of Princes (Algonquin Books, 2015) / Robert Goolrick
8. The Taming of the Queen (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Philippa Gregory
9. A Game for All the Family (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015) / Sophie Hannah
10. The Marriage of Opposites (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Alice Hoffman

11. The Crossing (Sceptre, 2015) / Andrew Miller
12. Songs of Love and Montefiore (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Santa Montefiore
13. Sistering (Linda Leith Publishing, 2015) / Jennifer Quist
14. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Genevieve Valentine

First Novels
1. The Girl Who Slept with God (Viking Adult, 2015) / Val Brelinski
2. Nelly Dean (The Borough Press, 2015) / Alison Case
3. The Daughters (Liveright, 2015) / Adrienne Celt
4. Everybody Rise (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Stephanie Clifford
5. Make Your Home Among Strangers (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Jennine Capó Crucet
6. The Girl from the Garden (Ecco, 2015) / Parnaz Forouton
7. The Loney (John Murray, 2015) / Andrew Michael Hurley
8. Bright Lines (Penguin Books, 2015) / Tanwi Nandini Islam
9. Mrs Bennet has Her Say (Berkley, 2015) / Jane Juska
10. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine (Harper, 2015) / Alexandra Kleeman

11. Eileen (Penguin Press, 2015) / Otessa Moshfeg
12. The Beautiful Bureaucrat (Henry Holt, 2015) / Helen Phillips
13. Landfalls (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Naomi J. Williams

Stories
1. The State We’re In: Maine Stories (Scribner, 2015) / Ann Beattie
2. Beneath the Earth: Dark and Surprising Stories (Doubleday, 2015) / John Boyne
3. Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings (Random House, 2015) / Shirley Jackson
4. Fortune Smiles (Random House, 2015) / Adam Johnson
5. The Complete Stories (trans. from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson) (New Directions, 2015) / Clarice Lispector
6. We Don’t Know What We’re Doing (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Thomas Morris

Nonfiction
1. Yanks and Limeys: Alliance Warfare in the Second World War (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Niall Barr
2. Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938 (Atlantic Books, 2015) / Philipp Blom
3. The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Tracy Daugherty
4. Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books (Pegasus, 2015) / Michael Dirda
5. Latest Readings (Yale University Press, 2015) / Clive James
6. Pedigree: A Memoir (trans. from the French by Mark Polizzotti) (Yale University Press, 2015) / Patrick Modiano

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July 2015 Highlights

Novels
1. Early One Morning (Virago, 2015) / Virginia Baily
2. June (trans. from the Dutch by David Colmer) (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Gerbrand Bakker
3. A Cure for Suicide (Pantheon, 2015) / Jesse Ball
4. The Incarnations (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2014) / Susan Barker
5. The Truth According to Us (Doubleday, 2015) / Annie Barrows
6. The Dust that Falls from Dreams (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Louis de Bernières
7. The Love She Left Behind (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Amanda Coe
8. Archipelago of Souls (Picador Australia, 2015) / Gregory Day
9. The Ends of the Earth (Bantam Press, 2015) / Robert Goddard
10. Devastation Road (Scribner UK, 2015) / Jason Hewitt

11. The Captive Condition (Pantheon, 2015) / Kevin P. Keating
12. Go Set a Watchman (Harper/William Heinemann, 2015) / Harper Lee
13. The Quality of Silence (Little, Brown, 2015) / Rosamund Lupton
14. Good Hope Road (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Sarita Mandanna
15. You Don’t Have to Live Like This (Harper, 2015) / Benjamin Markovits
16. Circling the Sun (Ballantine Books, 2015) / Paula McLain
17. Something to Hide (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Deborah Moggach
18. Signs for Lost Children (Granta Books, 2015) / Sarah Moss
19. A Master Plan for Rescue (Riverhead Books, 2015) / Janis Cooke Newman
20. The Rocks (Heron Books, 2015) / Peter Nichols

21. The Gods of Tango (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Carolina de Robertis
22. The Kindness (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Polly Samson
23. The Tale of Genji (trans. from the Japanese by Dennis Washburn) (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Murasaki Shikibu
24. The Parrots (Fig Tree, 2015) / Alexandra Shulman
25. The Song Collector (Sceptre, 2015) / Natasha Solomons
26. The First of July (published as At Break of Day in the U.K. in 2013) (Pegasus, 2015) / Elizabeth Speller
27. The Way Things Were (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Aatish Taseer
28. The Seed Collectors (Canongate Books, 2015) / Scarlett Thomas
29. Without the Moon (Serpent’s Tail, 2015) / Cathi Unsworth
30. The Night Stages (Oneworld Publications/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Jane Urquhart

31. Lovers on All Saints’ Day (Riverhead Books, 2015) / Juan Gabriel Vásquez
32. The Dying Grass (Viking, 2015) / William T. Vollmann
33. The Invaders (Regan Arts, 2015) / Karolina Waclawiak
34. Secessia (Grove Press, 2015) / Kent Wascom
35. The Ecliptic (Scribner UK, 2015) / Benjamin Wood

First Novels
1. Neverwhere (William Morrow, 2015) / Neil Gaiman
2. Us Conductors (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Sean Michaels
3. Among the Ten Thousand Things (Random House, 2015) / Julia Pierpont
4. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Bloomsbury Circus/Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Natasha Pulley
5. The Looking Glass House (Corvus, 2015) / Vanessa Tait
6. My Sunshine Away (Viking, 2015) / M.O. Walsh
7. The Small Backs of Children (Harper, 2105) / Lidia Yuknavitch

Stories
1. The Dog (Picador, 2015) / Jack Livings
2. New American Stories (Vintage, 2015) / Ben Marcus (ed.)
3. Daydreams of Angels (Quercus, 2015) / Heather O’Neill
4. Among The Wild Mulattos & Other Tales (Texas Review Press, 2015) / Tom Williams

Poetry
1. Black Cat Bone (Graywolf Press, 2015) / John Burnside
2. Physical (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Andrew McMillan
3. Happiness (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Jack Underwood 

Nonfiction
1. Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, 2015) / Ta-Nehisi Coates
2. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (Penguin Press, 2015) / William Finnegan
3. The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War (Bodley Head, 2015) / Yasmin Khan
4. Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History (Bloomsbury, 2015) / Francis O’Gorman
5. Between Gods (Tinder Press, 2015) / Alison Pick
6. The Last Act of Love (Picador, 2015) / Cathy Rentzenbrink

Monday, June 01, 2015

June 2015 Highlights

Novels
1. The Blue Between Sky and Water (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) / Susan Abulhawa
2. Saint Mazie (Serpent’s Tail, 2015) / Jami Attenberg
3. June (trans. from the Dutch by David Colmer) (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Gerbrand Bakker
4. Summerlong (Ecco, 2015) / Dean Bakopoulos
5. Devotion (Oneworld Publications, 2015) / Ros Barber
6. The Truth According to Us (The Dial Press, 2015) / Annie Barrows
7. Invisible Threads (Quartet Books, 2015) / Lucy Beresford
8. In the Unlikely Event (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Judy Blume
9. The Westhampton Leisure Hour and Supper Club (2015) / Samantha Bruce-Benjamin
10. Nothing But Grass (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Will Cohu

11. The Barefoot Queen (Black Swan, 2015) / Idelfonso Falcones
12. The Italian Wife (Sphere, 2015) / Kate Furnivall
13. Our Souls at Night (Picador, 2015) / Kent Haruf
14. The Stories We Tell (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Patty Callahan Henry
15. The Loved Ones (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015) / Mary-Beth Hughes
16. Language Arts (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Stephanie Kallos
17. The Festival of Insignificance (trans. from the French by Linda Asher) (Harper/Faber & Faber, 2015) / Milan Kundera
18. The Mountain Story (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Lori Lansens
19. The Last Summer of the Water Strider (Scribner, 2015) / Tim Lott
20. Tightrope (Little, Brown, 2015) / Simon Mawer

21. Tender (Picador, 2015) / Belinda McKeon
22. As Night Falls (Ballantine Books, 2015) / Jenny Milchman
23. Red Lightning (Counterpoint, 2015) / Laura Pritchett
24. The Year of the Runaways (Picador, 2015) / Sunjeev Sahota
25. Hearts of Stone (Headline, 2015) / Simon Scarrow
26. Into the Fire (Bantam Press, 2015) / Manda Scott
27. I Saw a Man (Faber & Faber/Doubleday, 2015) / Owen Sheers
28. The Pinch (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Steve Stern
29. Valley Fever (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Katherine Taylor
30. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (Atria Books, 2015) / Genevieve Valentine

31. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty (Ecco, 2015) / Vendela Vida
32. The Sunken Cathedral (Scribner, 2015) / Kate Walbert
33. Death is a Welcome Guest (John Murray, 2015) / Louise Welsh
34. A Year of Marvellous Ways (Tinder Press, 2015) / Sarah Winman
35. Haints Stay (Two Dollar Radio, 2015) / Colin Winnette
36. The Cartel (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Don Winslow
37. The Household Spirit (Pantheon, 2015) / Tod Wodicka

First Novels
1. Weightless (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Sarah Bannan
2. The Versions of Us (Widenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Laura Barnett
3. Nothing But Grass (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Will Cohu
4. The Meursault Investigation (trans. from the French by John Cullen) (Other Press, 2015) / Kamel Daoud
5. The Sunlit Night (Bloomsbury Circus/Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Rebecca Dinerstein
6. Muse (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jonathan Galassi
7. I’d Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Jesse Goolsby
8. In the Language of Miracles (Viking, 2015) / Rajia Hassib
9. The Way Back to Florence (Cheyne Walk, 2015) / Glenn Haybittle
10. Safekeeping (Fig Tree, 2015) / Jessamyn Hope

11. The Star Side of Bird Hill (Penguin Press, 2015) / Naomi Jackson
12. Death and Mr Pickwick (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Stephen Jarvis
13. Left of the Bang (Fourth Estate, 2015) / Claire Lowdon
14. The Unfortunates (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Sophie McManus
15. Butterfly Fish (Jacaranda Books, 2015) / Irenosen Okojie
16. The Hopeful (Ig Publishing, 2015) / Tracy O’Neill
17. Land Where I Flee (Quercus, 2015) / Prajwal Parajuly
18. A Fortunate Age (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Joanna Rakoff
19. The House at the Edge of the World (Viking, 2015) / Julia Rochester
20. The Cherry Harvest (William Morrow, 2015) / Lucy Sanna

21. The Heart of the Order (Little A, 2015) / Theo Schell-Lambert
22. The Book of Speculation (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Erika Swyler
23. The Lodger (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015) / Louisa Treger
24. In a Dark, Dark Wood (Scout Press/Gallery Books, 2015) / Ruth Wave

Stories
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. In Another Country: Selected Stories (Biblioasis, 2015) / David Constantine
4. Jellyfish (Freight Books, 2015) / Janice Galloway
5. Love + Hate: Stories and Essays (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Hanif Kureishi
6. Music for Wartime (Viking, 2015) / Rebecca Makkai
7. The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us This Far (Coffee House Press, 2015) / Quintan Ana Wikswo

Poetry
1. My Feelings (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Nick Flynn
2. Heaven (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Rowan Ricardo Phillips
3. Blood Work (CB Editions, 2015) / Matthew Siegel
4. Alive: New and Selected Poems (The New York Review of Books, 2015) / Elizabeth Willis
5. Benediction for a Black Swan (She Writes Press, 2015) / Mimi Zollars

Nonfiction
1. The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm (ed. Phillip Lopate) (NYRB Classics, 2015) / Max Beerbohm
2. Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World (Counterpoint, 2015) / James Boyce
3. The Street of Wonderful Possibilities: Whistler, Wilde & Sargent in Title Street (Frances Lincoln, 2015) / Devon Cox
4. Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition (Amberley Publishing/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Nisid Hajari
5. How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Allen Lane, 2015) / Sudhir Hazareesingh
6. Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War (William Collins, 2015) / Raghu Karnad
7. The Seven Good Years: A Memoir (Riverhead Books, 2015) / Etgar Keret
8. The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Deborah Lutz
9. In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love (HarperWave, 2015) Joseph Luzzi
10. Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita (Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Robert Roper

11. Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015) / Jonathan Sacks
12. My Generation: Collected Nonfiction (ed. James L.W. West III) (Random House, 2015) / William Styron
13. Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva (Harper, 2015) / Rosemary Sullivan

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

Novels
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 Day Before the Fire (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Miranda France

11. The Italian Wife (Little, Brown, 2015) / Kate Furnivall
12. All Involved (Picador, 2015) / Ryan Gattis
13. Flood of Fire (John Murray, 2015) / Amitav Ghosh
14. The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay (Other Press, 2015) / Andrea Gillies
15. Our Souls at Night (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Kent Haruf
16. The Making of Zombie Wars (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Aleksandar Hemon
17. You Are Dead (Macmillan, 2015) / Peter James
18. Loving Day (Spiegel & Grau, 2015) / Mat Johnson
19. The Mountain Story (Gallery Books, 2015) / Lori Lansens
20. The Black Snow (Little, Brown, 2014) / Paul Lynch

21. Tightrope (Little, Brown, 2015) / Simon Mawer
22. The Rocks (Riverbed, 2015) / Peter Nichols
23. The Life and Death of Sophie Stark (Blue Rider Press, 2015) / Anna North
24. When the Doves Disappeared (trans. from the Finnish by Lola M. Rogers) (Atlantic Books, 2015) / Sofi Oksanen
25. Hunters in the Dark (Hogarth, 2015) / Lawrence Osborne
26. Things You Won’t Say (Washington Square Press, 2015) / Sarah Pekkanen
27. The Daylight Marriage (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015) / Heidi Pitlor
28. I Saw a Man (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Owen Sheers
29. The Book of Aron (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Jim Shepard
30. Early Warning (Alfred A. Knopf/Mantle, 2015) / Jane Smiley

31. Out of Place (Penguin U.K.) / Zadie Smith
32. Paris, He Said (Bloomsbury Publishing/Bloomsbury USA, 2015) / Christine Sneed
33. Seveneves (William Morrow/The Borough Press, 2015) / Neal Stephenson
34. Quicksand (Sceptre, 2015) / Steve Toltz
35. The Followers (Picador, 2015) / Rebecca Wait
36. The Cellar (Hammer, 2015) / Minette Walters
37. Vanishing (Pegasus, 20156) / Gerard Woodward

First Novels
1. The Versions of Us (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Laura Barnett
2. The Normal State of Mind (Parthian Books, 2015) / Susmita Bhattacharya
3. The Killing Lessons (Orion, 2015) / Saul Black
4. Burning Down George Orwell’s House (Soho Press, 2015) / Andrew Ervin
5. In My House (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Alex Hourston
6. Death and Mr Pickwick (Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Stephen Jarvis
7. Things We Have in Common (Canongate Books, 2015) / Tasha Kavanagh
8. The Paper Man (The Unnamed Press, 2015) / Gallagher Lawson
9. The Letters of Ivor Punch (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) / Colin MacIntyre
10. Family Trees (Kensington, 2015) / Kerstin March

11. Mrs Engels (Scribe Publications, 2015) / Gavin McCrea
12. Girl at War (Random House, 2015) / Sara Nović
13. This House Is Not For Sale (Granta Books, 2015) / E.C. Osondu
14. The Book of Stone (Fig Tree, 2015) / Jonathan Papernick
15. Church of Marvels (Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, 2015) / Lesley Parry
16. The Improbability of Love (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Hannah Rothschild
17. The Shore (Hogarth, 2015) / Sara Taylor
18. Look Who’s Back (trans. from the German by Jamie Bulloch) (MacLehose Press, 2015) / Timur Vermes

Stories
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. The Girl Missing From the Window (Doire Press, 2015) / Paul O’Reilly
9. England and Other Stories (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Graham Swift
10. The All Saints’ Day Lovers (trans. from the Spanish by Anne McLean) (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Poetry
1. Breezeway (Ecco, 2015) / John Ashbery
2. The News (Copper Canyon Press, 2015) / Jeffrey Brown
3. Scattered at Sea (Penguin Books, 2015) / Amy Gerstler
3. Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015) / Sarah Howe
4. Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook (City Lights Books, 2015) / David Meltzer
5. Dark Energy (Penguin Books, 2015) / Robert Morgan
6. Alone and Not Alone (Coffee House Press, 2015) / Ron Padgett
7. The Curiosities (Faber & Faber, 2015) / Christopher Reid

Nonfiction
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/HarperCollins Publishers, 2015) / Helen Castor
6. Common Ground (Hutchinson, 2015) / Rob Cowen
7. It Starts with Trouble: William Goyen and the Life of Writing (University of Texas Press, 2015) / Clark Davis
8. The Golden Age of Murder (HarperCollins, 2015) / Martin Edwards
9. Teaching Plato in Palestine: Philosophy in a Divided World (Princeton University Press, 2015) / Carlos Fraenkel
10. Spain: The Centre of the World 1519-1682 (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Robert Goodwin

11. The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015) / Vivian Gornick
12. Return: A Palestinian Memoir (Verso Books, 2015) / Ghada Karmi
13. Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in the World (Duke University Press, 2015) / Amitava Kumar
14. The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy (Harvill Secker, 2015) / J.M. Coetzee & Arabella Kurtz
15. Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather (University of Queensland Press, 2015) / Karen Lamb
16. The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964 (Alfred A. Knopf/Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Zachary Leader
17. Towards the Flame: Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia (Allen Lane, 2015) / Dominic Lieven
18. Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World (Allen Lane, 2015) / Noel Malcolm
19. The Wright Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / David McCullough
20. The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015) / Maggie Nelson

21. Sicily: A Short History from the Ancient Greeks to Cosa Nostra (John Murray, 2015) / John Julius Norwich
22. Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books (New York Review Books, 2015) / Tim Parks
23. Revolutions Without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World (Yale University Press, 2015) / Janet Polasky
24. A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write (Bellevue Literary Press, 2015) / Melissa Pritchard
25. The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches From an Ancient Landscape (Flatiron Books, 2015) / James Rebanks
26. Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music (Canongate Books, 2015) / James Rhodes
27. Nobody Grew But the Business: On the Life and Work of William Gaddis (Northwestern University Press, 2015) / Joseph Tabbi
28. Siena: City of Secrets (The University of Chicago Press, 2015) / Jane Tylus
29. The Ocean, the Bird and the Scholar: Essays on Poets & Poetry (Harvard University Press, 2015) / Helen Vendler
30. The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways (Preface Publishing, 2015) / Michael Williams

31. Edward Thomas: From Adlestrop to Arras: A Biography (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) / Jean Moorcroft Wilson

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April 2015 Highlights

Novels
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, 2015) / 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/Chatto & Windus, 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. Disclaimer (Doubleday, 2015) / Renee Knight

11. Preparation for the Next Life (Oneworld Publications, 2015) / Atticus Lish
12. The Gracekeepers (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Kirsty Logan
13. Oh! You Pretty Thing (Dutton, 2015) / Shanna Mahin
14. The Glorious Heresies (John Murray, 2015) / Lisa McInerney
15. What Becomes of Us (Hachette Books Ireland, 2015) / Henrietta McKervey
16. The Language of Paradise (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Barbara Klein Moss
17. The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015) / Viet Thanh Nguyen
18. The Fishermen (Little, Brown, 2015) / Chigozie Obioma
19. Orhan’s Inheritance (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015) / Aline Ohanesian
20. The Given World (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Marian Palaia

21. Nothing Like Love (Doubleday Canada, 2015) / Sabrina Ramnanan
22. The Miracle Girl (Algonquin Books, 2015) / Andrew Roe
23. Tiger Milk (trans. from the German by Tim Mohr) (Head of Zeus, 2015) / Stefanie de Velasco
24. Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf (Virago/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Norah Vincent
25. Diamond Head (Harper, 2015) / Cecily Wong

Stories
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

Poetry
1. Small Hands (Liverpool University Press, 2015) / Mona Arshi
2. Deep Lane (W.W. Norton/Jonathan Cape, 2015) / Mark Doty
3. Collected Poems (The Figures, 2015) / Michael Gizzi
4. Bone Song (Briery Creek Press, 2015) / Bunny Goodjohn
5. Collected Poems (Penguin, 2015) / Tony Harrison
6. The Travels of Sorrow (The Gallery Press, 2015) / Dermot Healy
7. Sentenced to Life (Picador, 2015) / Clive James
8. The Uses of the Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2015) / Deborah Landau
9. Waiting for the Past (Black Inc., 2015) / Les Murray
10. The Lunatic (Ecco, 2015) / Charles Simic

11. This Present Moment: New Poems (Counterpoint, 2015) / Gary Snyder
12. What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford (ed. Michael Wiegers) (Copper Canyon Press, 2015) / Frank Stanford
13. Map: Collected and Last Poems (trans. from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) / Wislawa Szymborska
14. Junction City: Selected Poems 1990-2015 (Salmon Poetry, 2015) / Eamonn Wall
15. Alive: New and Selected Poems (NYRB Poets, 2015) / Elizabeth Willis

Nonfiction
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. Violence: A Modern Obsession (Simon & Schuster, 2015) / Richard Bessel
7. Fracture: Life & Culture in the West, 1918-1938 (Basic Books, 2015) / Philipp Blom
8. The Road to Character (Allen Lane, 2015) / David Brooks
9. Life Is Short—Art Is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity (Hawthorne Books, 2015) / David Shields & Elizabeth Cooperman
10. The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab, and An Epic Journey (Yale University Press, 2015) / Deborah Cramer

11. The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and The Secret History of Wonderland (Harvill Secker, 2015) / Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
12. The Enlightenment: History of an Idea (trans. from the Italian by Elisabetta Tarantino) (Princeton University Press, 2015) / Vincenzo Ferrone
13. All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West (W.W. Norton, 2015) / David Gessner
14. Einstein: His Space and Times (Yale University Press, 2015) / Steven Gimbel
15. Words Without Music: A Memoir (Liveright, 2015) / Philip Glass
16. The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch (Penguin Press, 2015) / Jonathan Gottschall
17. Nations Under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Policy (Princeton University Press, 2015) / Anna Grzymała-Busse
18. Bonaparte (trans. from the French by Steven Rendell) (Belknap Press, 2015) / Patrice Gueniffey
19. Introducing the Ancient Greeks (Bodley Head, 2015) / Edith Hall
20. James Merrill: Life and Art (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Langdon Hammer

21. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Vintage, 2015) / Yuval Noah Harari
22. Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker (Random House, 2015) / Thomas Kunkel
23. Saladin: The Life, the Legend and the Islamic Empire (Bantam Press, 2015) / John Man
24. Curiosity (Yale University Press, 2015) / Alberto Manguel
25. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (W.W. Norton, 2015) / Mary Norris
26. Founding Grammars: How Early America’s War Over Words Shaped Today’s Language (St Martin’s Press, 2015) / Rosemarie Ostler
27. The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District (Allen Lane, 2015) / James Rebanks
28. On the Move: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) / Oliver Sacks
29. The Life of Images: Selected Prose (Ecco, 2015) / Charles Simic
30. Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni von Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing (Head of Zeus, 2015) / Laura J. Snyder

31. The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath (Yale University Press, 2015) / Dan Stone
32. The Nearest Thing to Life (Jonathan Cape/Brandeis University Press, 2015) / James Wood