Pant-wetting excitements for 2020


A the year draws full circle, I can’t help but look forward to see what pant-wetting excitements we have lined up for next year162

Ali Smith – Summer Of course, in July we have the final volume of Ali Smith’s ‘seasons’ quartet and as with the earlier volumes, it won’t be written until close to publication, we know little about it, apart from the lovely cover with another variation on David Hockney’s ‘tunnel’ series of paintings (Due 2 July 2020)

Anne Enright – Actress I loved Enright’s last novel, ‘ The Green Road’ and her next one looks to be a move away from Irish concerns to a broader download.jpeg-1canvass: ‘This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings. But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime.’ (Due 20 February 2020)

Philip Hensher – A Small Revolution in Germany Hensher is a great favourite of mine, with ‘The Northern Clemency’ the toppermost of the poppermost, so a new novel is always cause for celebration. ‘Spike is brought into a small, clever group of friends,download.jpeg-2 bursting with a passion for ideas, and the wish to change the world. They smash up political meetings; they paint slogans on walls; they long for armed revolution; they argue, exuberantly, until dawn. In the years to follow, they all change their minds, and go into the world. They become writers, politicians, public figures. One of them becomes famous when she dies. They all change their minds, and make sensible compromises. Only Spike stays exactly as he is, going on with the burning desire for change, in the safe embrace of unconditional love. Alone from the old group, he is the only one who has achieved nothing, and who has never deviated from the impractical shining path of revolution he saw as a teenager. Thirty years on, photographs of the teenage group look like a bunch of celebrated individuals, with only one unknown face in it – Spike.’ (Due 6 February 2020)

Evie Wyld  – The Bass Rock Evie Wyld’s previous novels, ‘After the Fire, a Still Small Voice’ and ‘All the Birds, Singing’ were beautiful, mysterious books about outsiders, loneliness, fear and loss. For her third, Wyld continues in this mould: ‘In 1720s Scotland, download.jpega priest and his son get lost in the forest, transporting a witch to the coast to stop her from being killed by the village. In the sad, slow years after the Second World War, Ruth finds herself the replacement wife to a recent widower and stepmother to his two young boys, installed in a huge house by the sea and haunted by those who have come before.

Fifty years later, Viv is cataloguing the valuables left in her dead grandmother’s seaside home, when she uncovers long-held secrets of the great house. Three women, hundreds of years apart, slip into each other’s lives in a novel of darkness, violence and madness.’ (Due 26 March 2020)

Hilary Mantel – The Mirror and the Light Another literary ending as Mantel finally MirrorTheLight_78669-0_78741-3_93741-2_196832-3_196840-8__16372.1567599282delivers the final volume on the trilogy which began with ‘Wolf Hall’. I have to admit that I have never been able to get to grips with ‘Wolf Hall’ or its sequel, ‘Bring up the Bodies’, much preferring Mantel’s contemporary novels. However, it will be interesting to see the reception this book gets and, of course, the question of whether it wins the Booker Prize, bringing it in line with the previous volumes. (Due 5 March 2020)

Ottessa Moshfegh Death in Her Hands Moshfegh is a scream, and I can’t wait for her this latest novel, a murder mystery! ‘While on her normal daily walk with her dog in the forest woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with a frame of stones. “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body”. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea 9781984879356.jpegwhat to make of this. She is new to area, having moved her from her longtime home after the death of her husband, and she knows very few people. And she’s a little shaky even on best days. Her brooding about this note quickly grows into a full-blown obsession, and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of her conjectures about who this woman was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But as we follow her in her investigation, strange dissonances start to accrue, and our faith in her grip on reality weakens, until finally, just as she seems be facing some of the darkness in her own past with her late husband, we are forced to face the prospect that there is either a more innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home. (Due 23 April 2020)

(As am aside, a couple of years ago I was hoping to hear and meet Moshfegh when she visited Manchester to promote her novella, ‘McGlue’. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled as the Manchester Arena bombing had taken place the night before – almost a scene from one of her own novels)

Emily St. John Mandel – The Glass Hotel St John Mandel’s last novel, ‘Station Eleven’ was a strange, sci-fi hybrid which I wasn’t would be me, but which I loved. ‘Vincent is the51iWpdwsccL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_ beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.’ (Due 30 April 2020)

Garth Greenwell – Cleanness I had some grave reservations about Greenwell’s ‘What Belongs to You’, but as I was in a tin minority I’m going to give him another go with his 9781509874637new novel ‘Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song. In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student’s confession recalls his own first love, a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with another foreigner opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.’ (Due 30 April 2020)

Plus! Another favourite making a return is Andrew O’Hagan with ‘The Caledonian Road’. No idea what it’s about (apart from murmurings about it being a ‘state-of-the-nation’ address) but anything new from O’Hagan is always something to look forward to. (Due 3 September 2020)

…and last but not least, will 2020 finally see publication of Shena Mackay‘s memoir? It was announced in 2015, when Virago acquired the rights to her back catalogue (and, in my opinion, squandered the chance to bring this glorious writer out of the shadows). Please, please, please…


This entry was posted in Ali Smith, Andrew O'Hagan, Anne Enright, Emily St John Mandel, Evie Wyld, Garth Greenwell, Hilary Mantel, Ottessa Moshfegh, Philip Hensher, Shena Mackay. Bookmark the permalink.

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