Friday, September 30, 2011

Bite-sized Morsels

THE FOLLOWING EMAIL was sent to a senior editor of a publishing house in Kuala Lumpur. The email, with typos corrected, reads: “I can’t write very well, but I thought I’d like to write 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, what they like to do during the weekends, what kinds of books they read, etc., so that I can start working on the novel? With much appreciation.”

A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE says that I have messed up his life for good. The day I met you, he says, I have read more books and spent more money on them than anything else in my life. This, indeed, is music to my ears!

AWARD-WINNING TRAVEL WRITER and novelist Colin Thubron’s new travel memoir, A Mountain in Tibet, transports you to the sacred peak of Mount Kailas in the Himalayas (“the most sacred of the world’s mountains—holy to one-fifth of the earth’s people”) and ponders about faith and death in this wondrous corner of the planet. This is a definite must-read for armchair travellers!

It’s Now the ANZ-Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2011
JUST EIGHT WEEKS before the gala opening of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2011, ANZ (through its subsidiary PT ANZ Panin Bank), a leading international bank in Indonesia, has stepped in to offer the Festival sponsorship that will see the event named as the ANZ Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2011. The Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Group) is renowned for supporting cultural, community and sporting events such as the Archibald Prize, Royal Flying Doctors and the Australian Open.

Festival Director and Founder Janet de Neefe says, “This is a happy, happy day for this, our eighth Festival. When our 2010 naming rights sponsor defaulted at almost the eleventh hour, we were devastated, but determined that Indonesia’s premier literary event would go ahead untarnished and proud. On the eve of launching what we believe is our most enthralling and inspirational program ever, we take great heart from knowing that ANZ, our newest and most generous sponsor, shares our aim to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

“We are pleased to support the ANZ-Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, rated as one of the world’s top six literary festivals. The Festival also enables us to show our support for Bali and the development of Indonesian literature and culture. It is also a great proposition for our customers, especially our retail customers and credit-card holders,” stated ANZ CEO Indonesia Joseph Abraham.

All are invited to the ANZ-Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2011 to celebrate the diversity of thought and breadth of vision represented by more than one hundred writers across all genres, across the globe, in recognition of its theme, cultivate the land within. Festival dates are 6-9 October 2011. For more info

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Penning the Orient

Hong Kong author DAVID T.K. WONG’s pride in his Far Eastern culture shows in his dazzling, wonderful novels set in the Orient and beyond, writes KASHINI KRISHNAMURTHY

“LOVE is only as much as you are willing to sacrifice for it, the same goes with writing,” explains David T.K. Wong. This author of two novels and several short-story compilations was born in Hong Kong but spent his formative years in China, Singapore and Australia, and studied political science and journalism at the University of Stanford in America. All that travelling must have influenced Wong’s perception of life in both Eastern and Western cultures as his stories reflect a worldly balance where protagonists live in harmony with both.

As a young boy, Wong chose to read comics like Beano, Hot Spur as well as Chinese comics. These publications were famous for school stories lived out by drawn characters and hit newsstands once a week. This may have very well been the start of Wong’s exposure to storytelling. As he got older, he started to browse through the masses of books around the house, and despite not quite understanding the thick textbooks, a curiosity to decode these books was soon born. Wong also admired the wise-cracking tough guys and precocious women in Raymond Chandler’s detective novels. “We all go through phases. We all move on. Right now, I’m reading The Tao of Physics. There is so much in this world that I know nothing about and I want to know.” The book challenges conventional theories by demonstrating striking parallels between Oriental and Greek mystical traditions and the discoveries of 20th-century physics and Wong finds himself immersed in this book solely out of pure curiosity.

He always felt a burning desire to write, but understood that he needed to make some money for himself before he could do so. This explains why it took him 40 years of reporting, teaching and managing companies before he had the time to sit down and write. “But now I feel an internal satisfaction when I write and I write primarily for myself.”

When asked of the fundamentals of a good fiction novel, Wong explains, “When you want to write, you have to think whether you have anything to say. If you don’t, then don’t write. You must also find a way to write in an interesting way that will give the reader some sort of amusement or pleasure.

“You go through all these intellectual questions of what you want to do, and if at the end of the day, there is something that you want to share, then you start this long process of putting words down on paper.” He also explains that there is no perfect way to pen a novel. It is something that comes from within. “Read classics like Orwell and Kipling and observe their style of writing. I find that if you read too many contemporary novels, your mind tends to absorb their style of narrative, so always be aware when you write that what is coming out is personal.”

When quizzed about the future of publishing with the introduction of e-books and e-readers, he explained, “I have never seen, held or read an e-book so I don’t have an opinion on one. But what I do know is that if I wished to lie in a field with a girlfriend and read a poem to her, a book could document that memory. If I were to pick a daffodil and press it between the pages, that same daffodil would still be there 20 years later.” Wong’s home is also very much like his collection of books. Each painting, ornament or artefact tells a story of a memory, one he holds dear and wishes to revisit.

Wong’s latest book, The Embrace of Harlots, vividly explores the Orient, London and even the United States. He paints an amazing picture with carefully chosen words that most contemporary writers today lack. He has also spent a lot of time researching the era which his protagonists live in, thus giving accurate insight to one’s life in 20th-century Hong Kong.

“It started some time back that you’re not even conscious of. I was young and all I wanted to do was write, and I thought I would write and everyone would cloak me in glory but that never happened. Now that I finally have the time and silence to reflect, I managed to write The Embrace of Harlots in six years.

“The process may be long but I thoroughly enjoyed finding words that matched exactly how I felt about a character or situation. I was also very conscious to not adopt any other author’s writing style. I took particular care in ensuring that what I have written came from deep within me.”

Wong, who currently lives in Kuala Lumpur, is looking to start research on a book about his ancestors. He hasn’t decided if he will write this book as he explains that all truths must be told, unfavourable ones as well, and that could cause some discomfort to others. He continues to read and learn, absorbing as much knowledge as he can and always allowing his curiosity to get the better of him.

Reproduced from the July-September 2011 issue of Quill magazine

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Connecting Through Words

WENA POON discovers the international reach of Malaysian and Singaporean women novelists at the 2011 Hong Kong International Literary Festival

THE STRUGGLES of Malaysian and Singaporean authors to “break into” the global literary market has always been a favourite topic of discussion in this part of the world. We have long admired Tash Aw and Tan Twan Eng for their international success. But what about our women writers?

As a woman writer, I am heartened to discover the international accomplishments of two Singaporean women novelists, Meira Chand and Suchen Christine Lim, whom I caught up with at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival on March 8-18, 2011.

The three of us consider ourselves Singaporean, although we may not look or sound like we’re from the same country. Meira Chand was born in London in 1942 of Indian and Swiss parents, has lived in Japan and now lives in Singapore. Suchen Christine Lim was born in 1948 in Penang to a Hakka-Cantonese family, and spent most of her adult life in Singapore. I was born in Singapore in 1974 to a family of Teochew Chinese, and left after junior college for the US. We all speak with different accents, but with Singapore being such a small country, we knew each other and instantly connected at the festival.

While chatting with Chand and Lim, I realised that the three of us have actually broken new ground in the international fiction market, shattering the stereotype that still persists in Singapore that Singaporean literature has not really taken off.

Lim’s The Lies That Build a Marriage (2007), published by Monsoon Books in Singapore, is an extraordinary literary document, probably the first of its kind in Asia. The fictional stories were commissioned by Christian pastors who wished to heal families torn apart by the discovery of a homosexual child. Lim was invited to tour around Malaysia and Singapore to read these stories from the pulpit in the place of sermons, and the audience response was deeply moving.

I was surprised and proud to discover that Lim’s novels are taught in universities in the UK and US, as well as in Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong. Our intrepid writer has also been honoured from Burma to the US, from Korea to Australia, as a writing fellow in various residencies. Very few people actually know that Lim is so well-represented globally.

Chand’s latest novel, A Different Sky (2010), published by an imprint of Random House in London, was voted Cardholder’s Book Circle Choice by UK bookstore chain Waterstone’s. It is set in pre-Independence Singapore and stars a multi-ethnic cast of Indians, Chinese and Eurasians struggling to find their place in a world of political conflict and racial prejudice.

This year, Chand’s short story, “The Pilgrimage,” was among 20 stories longlisted in a UK competition called The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, the world’s biggest and most prestigious short-story prize. She was nominated alongside names like Hilary Mantel, whose Wolf Hall won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2009.

Very few people in Singapore even knew about this and it wasn’t reported in the Singapore media. Ironically, in the US and UK, Chand was making waves, on and off Facebook!

The year 2010 has been an extraordinary year for me. I wrote a novel about Spanish bullfighting, starring an American college girl who wants to become a matador. It came out of a project suggested by a Singaporean Chinese theatre director. Published by Salt Publishing in London, Alex y Robert was adapted by the BBC into a ten-episode miniseries on Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. It is currently being promoted by bookstore chain WHSmith for all its bookstores across the UK.

In the same year, I beat 300 mostly British and American writers to win the UK’s Willesden Herald Short Story Prize, a small but much coveted international award which has been famously described by past judge Zadie Smith as a prize which is “only about good writing”.

Again, all this wasn’t reported in the Singapore media. Imagine my embarrassment whenever I go back to Singapore and hear people lament, “Maybe one day our Singaporean writers would achieve international recognition.”

So we have not yet won the Man Booker Prize. Yet it’s important that the Singapore and Malaysian literary community know about what the three of us have done so far, so that we continue to believe in our local writing scene. No more should we bemoan that “our English isn’t good enough” or “our books don’t sell” or “our writers are not good”. We’re already there. We have broken into the international scene, and we will continue to sally forth. I want you all to come along for the ride!

Singapore and Malaysia, being small countries, can be viewed as a single literary writing force. We already publish each other’s authors. There is strength in numbers.

Detractors often question why we should care about breaking into the international market.

We should never slavishly seek foreign approval of our books. Yet the international reach of the Singapore-Malaysian voice is critical for outsiders to understand who we really are, culturally, artistically, and intellectually.

Every time I am discouraged, I think of Jimmy Choo. If a Chinese Hakka shoemaker from Penang can create something that drives London and New York fashionistas insane, we can do it. Yes, we can!

And what do we write about? Anything we desire. It is 2011. We no longer have to write about geishas and bound feet and family dynasties and political oppression. The doors are wide open now and Asian literature will go wherever Asian writers and publishers want to take it.

“You know you are living in a global and interconnected world,” begins a Spanish book reviewer in his Spanish-language blog, “when a Singaporean writer living in New York is writing about Spanish bullfighting.”

For decades we had to read Western novels in our classrooms. It’s about time they read something we wrote, to see the world from our point of view. After all, we are already writing in English. “Only connect,” said E.M. Forster in Howards End. Who do you think he was talking to? Yes, you!

Everything we write can be understood by million of readers in the US, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, as well as Malaysia and Singapore. So, write on. What are you waiting for? People are waiting to hear our stories.

WENA POON is a Singapore-born novelist and short-story writer who lives in the United States. She holds degrees in English Literature and Law from Harvard and is a practising attorney. She is the author of Lions in Winter, The Proper Care of Foxes and Alex y Robert.

Reproduced from MPH’s 105th Anniversary issue of Quill magazine

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Making the brave leap to fiction

ERIC FORBES talks to former lawyer M.J. HYLAND who has made a courageous and successful leap to fiction with three critically acclaimed novels, one of which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2006

Photographs © Rory Carnegie

M.J. HYLAND was born in London to Irish parents in 1968 and spent her early childhood in Dublin. She studied English and Law at the University of Melbourne, and practised as a commercial lawyer for seven years before taking the leap to fiction. She considers herself a mediocre lawyer at best and took a half-hearted approach to the profession. “I knew I wanted to write stories and my consciousness was torn, split, divided. When I was in the office, writing letters of advice, or letters of demand, or preparing witness statements for court hearings, I wanted only to rush home to finish reading Kafka or Flannery O’Connor.” However, she reiterates that she loved studying the law and believes that if she had stayed in the profession, she would have taken the road to academia. “I taught law briefly—criminal law—and, of the seven years I spent in the law, this was the most enjoyable time. I liked teaching law very much. But I quit not long after my first novel, How the Light Gets In, was published.” Her first novel, How the Light Gets In, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and her second, Carry Me Down, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2006 and won both the Encore and Hawthornden Prizes.

Hyland knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life when she had her first short story published during her final year in high school. “One of my teachers typed it up and sent it off to a magazine—and I knew then that I would be a writer,” she says. But she did not have any sane or rational grounds for knowing this. “I had very little discipline and my character wasn’t compatible with the job. A writer, especially a novelist, needs extraordinary patience, a supreme doggedness, and, of course, the writer must stick to a single idea for a long time, and hold his nerve. He must sit in one place and assiduously move words around on the page, and he must do this hermetically. When I was in my late teens, and through all of my twenties, I was far too distracted, too drunk, too stupid, too jumpy, too impatient, and worse, I had no stamina for the craft.”

Her latest novel, This Is How, is an unsettling psychological exploration of an outsider at odds with the world and an intense meditation on the nature of guilt and redemption. It has a murderer as the protagonist-narrator of the story. “The idea for This Is How comes from Tony Parker’s wonderful book of interviews, Life After Life: Twelve Interviews with Twelve Murderers.” She read the interview—upon which the novel is loosely based—in 2004, and she made a note in her notebook: Must write next novel about a gratuitous criminal act, and must set the story in a seaside boarding house (though there’s no seaside boarding house in the original story). And then, in late 2005, she began writing in earnest. “I wanted to write something in the territory of Albert Camus’s The Outsider and Peter Handke’s The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, and, of course, André Gide’s The Vatican Cellars.”

It took Hyland three years of slogging it out to get the mild-mannered psychopath Patrick Oxtoby’s voice in tune, and for a long time the book didn’t work at all. “It had no traction, no pulse, the images were too dilute and fancy; there were too many characters, too many redundancies and it was full of falsehood (both in terms of character motivation and movement). For several years, Patrick wasn’t credible.”

One of her abiding preoccupations at the time of writing the story was to argue with (and perhaps against) Jean-Paul Sartre’s notion of radical freedom, and to explore Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s response to Sartre. “Of course, none of this thinking is apparent on the surface of the story. It shouldn’t be.”

Hyland was also keen to see how much emotional effect she could create with her seemingly unaffected economical prose. “The impulse here was to create a fictional world stripped of artifice; a plain authenticity of tragedy; an apparently artless and ‘true’ first-person account, and I wanted to make the author invisible.” She also wanted to explore moral confusion and to resist diagnosis or pathology. “I wanted to skate on the very thin ice of an unsympathetic narrator and yet find a way to make it difficult for the reader to judge Patrick, to round him off, to make a sensible neatness of his world. I wanted a moral mess.” Like life, she says incisively. “I wanted to make both condemnation and pity difficult. I also wanted to evoke an idea—in vivid and dramatic terms—of platonic love between men, and the nature of our neglect of freedom, and loneliness and ... well, the list of themes is too long to go into.”

In This Is How, she also explores the relationships between prisoners in a claustrophobic environment, and the fact that many convicts are much happier within the cloisters of the prison walls than without. What attracted her to the idea of setting the story in this enclosed world? “If it can’t happen in a cave, then I’m not interested. I’ll always put my characters in close proximity, and the prison cell is a fantastically claustrophobic and appealing set for drama.”

The death penalty has been a subject of much debate and controversy over the years. I ask Hyland what her thoughts are on this: “I think—if you’ve read the novel—you’ll know that I’m not only against the very idea of the death penalty, but I want to show, in dramatic terms, how easy it might be for somebody to be falsely accused, and how it pays to see the shades of grey; to stretch to compassion. Have you seen Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line? It’s a wonderful documentary, a case study, a case in point. And I’m very pleased that organisations like Reprieve do what they do. If I had more guts, if I was a little less selfish, I’d take a year or so out of writing and go to the US and work for Reprieve. Small, guilty donations and my feeble attempts in fiction to make my point against the absurd absolutism and futility of the death penalty don’t seem enough.”

Hyland, who lives in Manchester, teaches a class in creative writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. In what way does teaching influence her work as a writer, I was curious to know. “I’m not sure that teaching influences my writing in any direct way, but I’m sure it doesn’t do it any harm. While this isn’t true for many writers, I like the way talented students remind me why I bother; the way their unabashed passion, their excitement, reminds me this is a pretty blessed way to spend a life. To read, to love the art of conjuring vivid fictional worlds, and to write stories, and get paid to do it.”

There is much depth and richness in Hyland’s writing despite her unaffected prose style, and in This Is How, she has succeeded in creating a character, though unlikeable in many ways, you still find yourself rooting for. She is one of those writers who keep getting better with every new work they put out. And we look forward to her next one with bated breath!

Reproduced from MPH’s 105th Anniversary issue of Quill magazine

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Portrait of a Social Commentator

Photographer DR OOI CHENG GHEE talks to MARY SCHNEIDER about his early work and how it culminated in Portraits of Penang: Little India, a volume of black-and-white photographs documenting a fast-fading way of life

Photography by OOI CHENG GHEE

SOMETIMES we discover our passions in life while engaged in the most mundane of activities. Renowned Penang photographer Dr Ooi Cheng Ghee’s interest in photography was piqued while sitting at a bus stop in the late 1960s.

“As a medical student at the University of Malaya in Singapore (now known as the National University of Singapore), I had to catch two buses to get to the main campus. While waiting for my connection, I would often look at the camera shop across the road from the bus stop. One day, out of curiosity, I wandered over to take a look in the window. I was immediately drawn to a Praktica camera and I knew I had to learn more about it.

“After graduating in 1969, I sold everything I had, except my clothes and a few books. I had about 300 Singapore dollars, which was a lot of money then. I went to Orchard Road and asked for the best camera my money could buy. I ended up getting a Nikkormat, which is still in working order today.”

Early influences
Upon returning home, Ooi joined the Photographic Society of Penang and honed his skills by taking photographs of family and friends, sunrises and sunsets, and the local flora and fauna.

“Family members always oblige you,” he says with a smile. “But after 10 years with the society, I was tired of taking salon-type pictures and was ready to do something on my own. So in 1978, I submitted a portfolio of 12 pictures to the Royal Photographic Society in London and was immediately accepted as an associate.”

At that time, Ooi was influenced by a number of photographers. “When I first saw American Paul Strand’s work and how he used his photographs to effect social awareness, I began to question what I’d been doing. Then there was Lewis Hine, the photographer and sociologist who taught Strand. Hine was the first photographer to advocate against child labour and used his photographic essays to change public opinion and influence a change in the US government. They both had a purity of approach, emotion and thought—there wasn’t money in photography back then so their motivation wasn’t commercial.”

Little India
Ooi’s desire to raise social awareness through his photography coincided with an ambiguous period in Penang’s development. “In 1979, we were industrialising; factories were popping up and people were moving away from the city centre into new townships,” he recollects. “Penang had lost its free port status and people were migrating to the suburbs. When I first walked down the streets of Little India after an absence of 20 years, I felt as if I were in another country. Many roads were deserted. Houses were abandoned. It was quite different from the Little India I knew as a kid.

“As I walked the streets, the whole spectrum of life unfolded before me. I saw the rituals of the people who had stayed behind, their code of ethics, how they took care of the place, their trades, and so on. I knew I had to record it before it disappeared forever. After that, whenever I had an hour or so to spare, I’d drop by the enclave, walk around, observe and take photographs. “I used a Leica, a small unobtrusive camera that doesn’t make a lot of noise. I think it’s one of the best cameras ever made. I used only one lens. Sometimes, I would get very close to a subject, maybe two to three feet away, take my camera out and just shoot. It was all very casual.”

Long silence
When Ooi finished shooting Little India that year he had taken more than 4,000 photographs and enthusiastically set about generating interest in his social essay.

“No one was interested in an unpleasant subject,” he recalls. “It was also too early for my photographs to be regarded as a record of some importance. Still, the endeavour taught me much about photography and my neighbourhood.”

Undeterred, Ooi began work on his next photo essay, which focused on Koay Jetty, one of the eight original clan jetties built along the George Town waterfront.

Shortly after, his house was broken into and three of his cameras—including his beloved Leica—were stolen. Demoralised by his loss and the lack of interest in his essays, he decided to take a respite from photography. For the next 20 years he devoted himself to his work as a doctor and his family—he and his wife Hor Leng have two daughters and a son.

Although he spent more time with his family, he never really gave up photography. He continued taking some pictures and kept track of what was happening. “Between 1980 and 2000, there wasn’t much change; just the same old thing packaged in a different way. Then I attended a photography exhibition in Penang in 2004. I immediately saw the progress and change that photographers had been making. Not long after, I bought my first digital SLR camera and began experimenting with it.”

The spark had been reignited.

Little India revisited
Ooi’s renewed interest in photography also gave him the confidence to dust off his old photographs when people began expressing interest in his earlier work. However, it took him five years to select and prepare the 160 prints that appear in Portraits of Penang.

“They had not aged too well and many of them were blemished,” he explains. “It would have been impossible to print my photographs using old photographic methods.”

Ooi is hard-pressed to pick his favourite photographs. “Possibly the series on betel nut workers,” he says, after a brief pause. “Penang is named after the betel nut, yet there are few records of the industry. Most people express a preference for a specific picture because of how they’re related to it rather than what it tells.”

Observing and listening
Although Ooi’s youngest daughter recently graduated from university and many of his responsibilities are now behind him, he still practices medicine at his clinic. “I continue to work because I enjoy my practice and like to be with people,” he says. “I also think my work has helped me become a better photographer. One of the first things I learned as a doctor is the importance of observing, listening and paying attention to details.

“Anyone with an interest in photography must realise the importance of learning to see things. The Malaysian education system is such that people read to understand words, but nobody teaches us how to see. Seeing is a skill in itself. Learning photography by example is a tedious old method. Young photographers must learn to free their minds, be brave enough to make mistakes and change their mindsets. It’s also important to take photographs because you’re interested in the subject matter, not because other people like it.”

When not at his clinic, Ooi likes to read. His favourite author is John Berger, who is known for both his fiction and non-fiction. “His writing can make your life difficult,” he says with a chuckle. “He’s very imaginative, and cleverly combines fantasy and reality. I’m currently reading Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red, a fascinating novel about conflicting painting styles in 16th-century Turkey. I make time to read. I’m quite a disciplined person. Two days a week I run five miles, three days I play tennis, and one day I play table tennis. My life is quite routine.”

Looking ahead
His dream project is to take a month off every year for the next 10 years photographing billboards throughout Malaysia because they depict the contemporary lifestyle accurately. “To me there’s nothing that documents the way society lives better than billboards.”

Reproduced from MPH’s 105th Anniversary issue of Quill magazine

Thursday, September 01, 2011

September 2011 Highlights

1. Birds of Paradise (W.W. Norton, 2011) / Diana Abu-Jaber
2. Last Man in Tower (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011) / Aravind Adiga
3. The Picture Book (Portobello Books, 2011) / Jo Baker
4. Lost Memory of Skin (Ecco, 2011) / Russell Banks
5. On Canaan’s Side (Penguin USA, 2011) / Sebastian Barry
6. Everything Happens Today (Europa, 2011) / Jesse Browner
7. Feast Day of Fools (Simon & Schuster, 2011) / James Lee Burke
8. Ragnorok: The End of the Gods (Canongate, 2011) / A.S. Byatt
9. The Affair (Bantam Press, 2011) / Lee Child
10. The Grief of Others (Riverhead, 2011) / Leah Hager Cohen

11. The Kingdom of Childhood (Mira, 2011) / Rebecca Coleman
12. Death of Kings (HarperCollins, 2011) / Bernard Cornwell
13. Spirit House (Pan Macmillan Australia, 2011) / Mark Dapin
14. I’ll See You in My Dreams (McClelland & Stewart, 2011) / William Deverell
15. A Greyhound of a Girl (Marion Lloyd, 2011) / Roddy Doyle
16. The Cold Eye of Heaven (Atlantic Books, 2011) / Christine Dwyer Hickey
17. The Little Shadows (Doubleday Canada, 2011) / Marina Endicott
18. Nightwoods (Random House/Sceptre, 2011) / Charles Frazier
19. River of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) / Amitav Ghosh
20. The Lady of the Rivers (Simon & Schuster, 2011) / Philippa Gregory

21. King of the Badgers (Faber & Faber, 2011) / Philip Hensher
22. The Map and the Territory (trans. from the French, La Carte et le Territoire, by Gavin Bowd) (William Heinemann, 2011) / Michel Houellebecq
23. Requiem (HarperCollins Canada, 2011) / Frances Itani
24. Child Wonder (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw) (Graywolf Press, 2011) / Roy Jacobsen
25. Hand Me Down World (Bloomsbury USA, 2011) / Lloyd Jones
26. Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes (Viking Adult, 2011) / William Kennedy
27. A Man of Parts (Penguin USA, 2011) / David Lodge
28. The Retribution (Little, Brown, 2011) / Val McDermid
29. Light From a Distant Star (Crown, 2011) / Mary McGarry Morris
30. A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In (Bloomsbury, 2011) / Magnus Mills

31. 1Q84 (trans. from the Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel) (Harvill Secker, 2011) / Haruki Murakami
32. Headhunters (trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett) (Harvill Secker, 2011) / Jo Nesbø
33. The Golden Hour (Quercus, 2011) / William Nicholson
34. The Cat’s Table (Jonathan Cape, 2011) / Michael Ondaatje
35. Tell It to the Trees (Knopf Canada, 2011) / Anita Rau Badami
36. The Secret of Pain (Corvus, 2011) / Phil Rickman
37. Glass (Coffee House Press, 2011) / Sam Savage
38. Cross Currents (Penguin USA, 2011) / John Shors
39. There But For The (Knopf Doubleday, 2011) / Ali Smith
40. The Taste of Salt (Algonquin Books, 2011) / Martha Southgate

41. Noon (Faber & Faber, 2011) / Aatish Taseer
42. The Barbarian Nurseries (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) / Héctor Tobar
43. I Married You for Happiness (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2011) / Lily Tuck
44. The Winters in Bloom (Atria Books, 2011) / Lisa Tucker
45. The Quality of Mercy (Hutchinson, 2011) / Barry Unsworth
46. A Good Man (McClelland & Stewart, 2011) / Guy Vanderhaeghe
47. American Boy (Milkweed Editions, 2011) / Larry Watson

1. Train Dreams (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) / Denis Johnson

First Novels
1. The Art of Fielding (Little, Brown, 2011) / Chad Harbach
2. You Deserve Nothing (John Murray, 2011) / Alexander Maksik
3. The Song of Achilles (Bloomsbury, 2011) / Madeline Miller
4. The Night Circus (Doubleday/Harvill Secker, 2011) / Erin Morgenstern
5. The Town That Drowned (Goose Lane, 2011) / Riel Nason
6. Dancing Lessons (Cormorant Books, 2011) / Olive Senior

1. The Necessity of Certain Behaviors (University of Pittsburg Press, 2011) / Shannon Cain
2. Rome Tales (trans. from the Italian by Hugh Shankland) (Oxford University Press USA, 2011) / Helen Constantine (ed.)
3. Mennonites Don’t Dance (Thistledown Press, 2011) / Darcie Friessen Hossack
4. The Granta Book of the African Short Story (Granta Books, 2011) / Helon Habila (ed.)
5. The Journey Prize: The Best of Canada’s New Writers (McClelland & Stewart, 2011) / Alexander MacLeod, Alison Pick and Sarah Selecky (selected by)
6. New Selected Stories (Chatto & Windus, 2011) / Alice Munro
7. The Book of Life (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books, 2011) / Stuart Nadler
8. Blueprints for Building Better Girls (Simon & Schuster, 2011) / Elissa Schappell
9. This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories (Hamish Hamilton Canada/Penguin Canada, 2011) / Johanna Skibsrud

1. Loudness (Seren, 2011) / Judy Brown
2. Touch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012) / Henri Cole
3. The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman (Peepal Tree Press, 2011) / Loretta Collins Klobah
4. Interferon Psalms (Allen & Unwin, 2011) / Luke Davies
5. Profit and Loss (Jonathan Cape, 2011) / Leontia Flynn
6. Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2011) / Tess Gallagher
7. The Casual Perfect (Faber & Faber, 2011) / Lavinia Greenlaw
8. The Back Chamber (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) / Donald Hall
9. Selected Poems (ed. Martin Amis) / Philip Larkin
10. Handwriting (Jonathan Cape, 2011) / Michael Ondaatje

11. Heavenly Questions (Bloodaxe Books, 2011) / Gjertrud Schnackenberg
12. Confer (Bloodaxe Books, 2011) / Ahren Warner
13. Kindertotenwald (Knopf, 2011) / Franz Wright

1. Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) / André Aciman
2. The History of England: Volume I: Foundation (Macmillan, 2011) / Peter Ackroyd
3. The Inner Man: The Life o J.G. Ballard (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011) / John Baxter
4. Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything (Particular Books UK, 2011) / David Bellos
5. Fiction Ruined My Family: A Memoir (Riverhead/Penguin USA, 2011) / Jeanne Darst
6. Just One Catch: The Passionate Life of Joseph Heller (Biteback, 2011) / Tracy Daugherty
7. The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food (Quercus, 2011) / Adam Gopnik
8. Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane (W.W. Norton, 2011) / Andrew Graham-Dixon
9. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (Simon & Schuster, 2011) / Alexandra Fuller
10. Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution (Little, Brown, 2011) / Mary Gabriel

11. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (W.W. Norton/Bodley Head, 2011) / Stephen Greenblatt
12. Virginia Woolf (Thames & Hudson, 2011) / Alexandra Harris
13. All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 (HarperPress, 2011) / Max Hastings
14. Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011) / Paul Hendrickson
15. Arguably: Essays (Twelve, 2011) / Christopher Hitchens
16. Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It (Bloomsbury, 2011) / Howard Jacobson
17. A Short History of England (Profile Books, 2011) / Simon Jenkins
18. The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 (The Penguin Press, 2011) / Ian Kershaw
19. The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China (Picador, 2011) / Julia Lovell
20. Disordered World: Setting a New Course for the Twenty-first Century (Bloomsbury, 2011) / Amin Maalouf

21. The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination (Faber & Faber, 2011) / Fiona MacCarthy
22. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (Doubleday, 2011) / Candice Millard
23. Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England (Allen Lane, 2011) / Thomas Penn
24. Her Father’s Daughter (Black Inc., 2011) / Alice Pung
25. Driving Home: An American Journey (Pantheon, 2011) / Jonathan Raban
26. Leningrad: Tragedy of a City Under Siege 1941-44 (Bloomsbury, 2011) / Anna Reid
27. Connemara: A Little Gaelic Kingdom (Penguin Ireland, 2011) / Tim Robinson
28. The Unexamined Orwell (University of Texas Press, 2011) / John Rodden
29. Leon Trotsky: A Revolutionary’s Life (Yale University Press, 2011) / Joshua Rubenstein
30. The Elizabethans (Hutchinson, 2011) / A.N. Wilson