New Books February 2018


A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington
Laura Harrington’s new novel is a portrait of a family in the midst of recovery, the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, and of a brother and sister whose love of the natural world just might save their lives.

Set in 1970, a watershed moment in American History, A Catalog of Birds tells the story of the Flynn family and the devastating impact of the Vietnam War. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between siblings Nell and Billy Flynn. Nell excels academically and is headed to college and a career in science. Billy, a passionate artist, enlists as a pilot to fulfill his lifelong dream of flying. He is the only survivor when his helicopter is shot down. When he returns home his wounds limit his ability to sketch or even hold a pencil. As Billy struggles to regain the life he once had, Nell and their family will have to do all that’s possible to save him.

Goblin by Ever Dundas
A novel set between the past and present with magical realist elements. Goblin is an outcast girl growing up in London during World War 2. After witnessing a shocking event she increasingly takes refuge in a self-constructed but magical imaginary world. Having been rejected by her mother, she leads a feral life amidst the craters of London’s Blitz, and takes comfort in her family of animals, abandoned pets she’s rescued from London’s streets.

In 2011, a chance meeting and an unwanted phone call compels an elderly Goblin to return to London amidst the riots and face the ghosts of her past. Will she discover the truth buried deep in her fractured memory or retreat to the safety of near madness? In Goblin, debut novelist Dundas has constructed an utterly beguiling historical tale with an unforgettable female protagonist at its centre.

Malacqua by Nicola Pugliese
Four days of rain trigger strange events across Naples: ghostly voices are heard and musical coins appear. As a journalist searches for meaning, we follow those enduring the floods. This portrait of a much-mythologized city captivated Italy when it was first published in 1977. Withdrawn at the author’s request until his death in 2012, this is its first English publication.

The White Book by Han Kang
From the author of The Vegetarian and Human Acts comes a book like no other. The White Book is a meditation on colour, beginning with a list of white things. It is a book about mourning, rebirth and the tenacity of the human spirit. It is a stunning investigation of the fragility, beauty and strangeness of life.

Breakout at Stalingrad by Heinrich Gerlach
A classic novel of the epic World War II battle and a remarkable portrayal of the horrors of war, Heinrich Gerlach’s Breakout at Stalingrad also has an extraordinary story behind it. Its author fought at Stalingrad and was imprisoned by the Soviets. In captivity, he wrote a novel based on his experiences, which the Soviets confiscated before releasing him. Gerlach resorted to hypnosis to remember his narrative, and in 1957 it was published as The Forsaken Army. Fifty-five years later Carsten Gansel, an academic, came across the original manuscript of Gerlach’s novel in a Moscow archive. This translation into English of Breakout at Stalingrad includes the story of Gansel’s sensational discovery.

Lullaby by Leila Slimani
When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. Building tension with every page, Lullaby is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, and motherhood.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
It’s not the journey that counts, but who’s at your side. Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van.

Satoru is keen to visit three old friends from his youth, though Nana doesn’t know why and Satoru won’t say. Set against the backdrop of Japan’s changing seasons and narrated with a rare gentleness and striking humour, Nana’s story explores the wonder and thrill of life’s unexpected detours.

It is about the value of friendship and solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take. The Travelling Cat Chronicles has already demonstrated its power to move thousands of readers with a message of kindness and truth. It shows, above all, how acts of love, both great and small, can transform our lives.


Mystery / Thriller

I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May
Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.

Niamh begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh, desperate to identify anyone who may have held a grudge against him. The French police, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder – and sent Detective Sylvie Braque to shadow their prime suspect: Niamh.

As one woman works back through her memories, and the other moves forward with her investigation, the two draw ever closer to a deadly enemy with their own, murderous, designs.

Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre
Book #7 in the Jack Parlabane series.

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing. Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for.

Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow.

The Woman in the Window: A Novel by A. J. Finn
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.

With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

Dark Pines by Will Dean
Eyes missing, two bodies lie deep in the forest near a small Swedish town.

Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.

A web of secrets. And an unsolved murder from twenty years ago.

Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the final victim? She’d like to think so. But first she must face her demons and venture far into the deep, dark woods if she wants to stand any chance of getting the hell out of small-time Gavrik.

East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman
Meet Jay. Small-time dealer. Accidental jihadist. The one man who can save us all?

Javid – call him Jay – is a dope dealer living in West London. He goes to mosque on Friday, and he’s just bought his pride and joy – a BMW. He lives with his mum, and life seems sweet.

But his world is about to turn upside-down. Because MI5 have been watching him, and they think he’s just the man they need for a delicate mission.

One thing’s for sure: now he’s a long way East of Hounslow, Jay’s life will never be the same again.

East of Hounslow is the first in a series of thriller starring Jay Qasim.



Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir by Amy Tan
In Where the Past Begins, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan is at her most intimate in revealing the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, she gives evidence to all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer. Through spontaneous storytelling, she shows how a fluid fictional state of mind unleashed near-forgotten memories that became the emotional nucleus of her novels.

Tan explores shocking truths uncovered by family memorabilia—the real reason behind an IQ test she took at age six, why her parents lied about their education, mysteries surrounding her maternal grandmother—and, for the first time publicly, writes about her complex relationship with her father, who died when she was fifteen. Supplied with candor and characteristic humor, Where the Past Begins takes readers into the idiosyncratic workings of her writer’s mind, a journey that explores memory, imagination, and truth, with fiction serving as both her divining rod and link to meaning.

Don’t Save Anything: The Uncollected Writings of James Salter by James Salter
The author of several memorable works of fiction—including Dusk and Other Stories, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award—James Salter is also celebrated for his memoir Burning the Days and many nonfiction essays.

This collection gathers Salter’s thoughts on writing and profiles of important writers, observations of the changing American military life, evocations of Aspen winters, musings on mountain climbing and skiing, and tales of travels to Europe that first appeared in The New YorkerEsquirePeopleCondé Nast Traveler, the Aspen Times, among other publications.

No Place to Lay One’s Head by Françoise Frenkel
Françoise Frenkel was a Jewish woman born in Poland and enamoured of all things literary and French. In 1921 she set up the first French-language bookshop in Berlin, recognising the craving for French culture in that city in the wake of the First World War. Her business was a success – attracting diplomats and celebrities, authors and artists. But life in Berlin for a Jewish woman and a foreigner soon became untenable.

Frenkel was forced to flee to Paris and compelled to keep moving as she attempted to survive in a world disintegrating around her. Her observations of and interactions with the French people, both those who would give her up to the Nazi authorities and those who risked their own lives and families by offering her refuge, show how humanity strives to assert itself even in the darkest times.

Frenkel’s book, written with piercing clarity and sensibility in the immediate aftermath of her escape to Switzerland, was originally published in 1945 in Geneva. But only recently was a copy of this forgotten work discovered republished, seventy years later. No Place to Lay One’s Head is the story of refugees, those fleeing terror, the world over.

Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World by Suzy Hansen
In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Suzy Hansen, who grew up in an insular conservative town in New Jersey, was enjoying early success as a journalist for a high-profile New York newspaper. Increasingly, though, the disconnect between the chaos of world events and the response at home took on pressing urgency for her. Seeking to understand the Muslim world that had been reduced to scaremongering headlines, she moved to Istanbul.

Hansen arrived in Istanbul with romantic ideas about a mythical city perched between East and West, and with a naïve sense of the Islamic world beyond. Over the course of her many years of living in Turkey and traveling in Greece, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iran, she learned a great deal about these countries and their cultures and histories and politics. But the greatest, most unsettling surprise would be what she learned about her own country—and herself, an American abroad in the era of American decline. It would take leaving her home to discover what she came to think of as the two Americas: the country and its people, and the experience of American power around the world. She came to understand that anti-Americanism is not a violent pathology. It is, Hansen writes, “a broken heart . . . A one-hundred-year-old relationship.”

Blending memoir, journalism, and history, and deeply attuned to the voices of those she met on her travels, Notes on a Foreign Country is a moving reflection on America’s place in the world. It is a powerful journey of self-discovery and revelation—a profound reckoning with what it means to be American in a moment of grave national and global turmoil.

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century by Timothy Snyder
The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism.  Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.


Children’s Fiction

Time Traveling with a Hamster by Ross Welford
Back to the Future meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in this original, poignant, race-against-time story about a boy who travels back to 1984 to save his father’s life.