It’s going to be another cracking year in the book world, both nationally and overseas, with big hitters including, incredibly, an unexpected new tome from Harper Lee, the To Kill A Mockingbird sequel Go Set a Watchman, as well as the latest offerings from Kazuo Ishiguro, Toni Morrison. Irvine Welsh and David Mitchell.
We’ve had a look at what’s coming and have highlighted our top 15 picks for 2015.
Paul Keating, The Story of A Prime Minister: The Biography by David Day
Last year saw an avalanche of political memoirs, including former PM Julia Gillard, her treasurer Wayne Swan, foreign minister Bob Carr and Gillard’s minority government kingmakers, independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, as well as Swan’s arch nemesis Joe Hockey. This year kicks off with an in-depth look at the incredible influence of Paul Keating on this nation’s political sphere, firstly as treasurer for eight years, then PM for five. Best-selling biographer Day’s extensive research allows unparalleled access to the towering political figure.
We Are Pirates
Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler’s darkly comic sense of quirky humour is present and correct in his first novel aimed at the adult market, We Are Pirates. San Francisco Bay is terrorised by a bunch of modern pirates, while struggling radio producer Phil dreams of hunting down his fortune. His 14-year-old daughter Gwen has hit that rebellious age and wants to live outside the law, stealing a boat in the process. What could possibly go wrong?
She Will Build Him a City
Raj Kamal Jha’s
Editor of the Indian Express, Jha somehow manages to find time to write award-winning novels as well, with his latest an enticing glimpse at the lives of three strangers among the 20 million souls living in Delhi. A mother tries to connect to her daughter through tales from their past, a young man with murder in his heart rides the last train and a newborn baby is left on the steps of an orphanage. All three tales are part of something much bigger.
The Buried Giant
His first full novel since 2005’s dystopian musing on the nature of life, Never Let Me Go, we’re salivating for Man Booker Prize-winning Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. The new novel from the author of The Remains of the Day is about a couple’s search through the mist and rain to find their long-lost son. Ishiguro describes it as being about “lost memories, love, revenge and war”. Apparently his wife told him the first few pages would not do, so, after putting it aside for a time, he started from scratch until she was happy.
S. J. Watson
Psychological thriller writer S. J. Watson’s international bestseller Before I Go To Sleep was adapted into a hit movie starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth last year. His latest, Second Life, mines similar territory, delving into just how much we can rely on what we think we know about a person. On learning of the horrific murder of her sister, Julia risks the safety of her family by embarking on a crusade to bring the killer to justice, delving into the unknowable boundaries of the online world.
A startling debut offering from Australian author Tampke, Skin has already accrued considerable international interest. Set in Iron-Age Britain as the Roman forces are poised to invade, the story focuses on Ailia, a young woman who rises to the challenge of leadership as to civilisations collide. Born without skin, she’s abandoned at birth, forbidden to marry and excluded from tribal ceremonies, but her ancestors have grand plans for her nevertheless.
At the Water’s Edge
Allen & Unwin
Water for Elephants author Gruen’s latest novel is set in the Scottish Highlands during WWII, as young socialite Madeline Hyde reluctantly ups stick from her comfortable home in Philadelphia on the whim of her husband, who’s on a mad quest to locate the Loch Ness monster. The shadow of Hitler’s Nazis and the very real risk from nightly aerial bombardments opens Madeleine’s eyes to both beauty and evil.
A Decent Ride
Returning to the streets of Edinburgh after The Sex Lives of Siamese Twin’s sojourn in Miami, A Decent Ride revisits Welsh’s inimitable creation ‘Juice’ Terry Lawson and introduces Wee Jonty MacKay, “a man with the genitals and brain of a donkey”. Juice is trying to discover the whereabouts of missing beauty Jinty Magdalen, while keeping Wee Jonty out of prison. And what does reality TV star Ronald Checker have to do with it all? Expect extremely bad language and vicious wit throughout.
God Help The Child
Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Toni Morrison, who penned slavery epic Beloved, as well as The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon, has a masterful eye trained on the truth behind the heart of her characters, so we’re hanging out to read her latest visionary fable. God Help The Child is a searing take on childhood trauma and the lasting affect it has in adulthood. Bride, with blue-black skin, is rejected by her light-skinned mother, Sweetness. Bride loves Booker, a man haunted by the childhood murder of his beloved brother. Rain, a white girl, turns to Bride to share her own dark secrets.
The Wonder Lover
Allen & Unwin
According to The Slap author Christos Tsiolkas, Australian journalist and author Knox “is one of the best novelists writing in the world today. That’s not opinion, that’s fact”. It’s a “fact” backed up by The Guardian, which said of his last novel Jamaica: “If Winton is an aria, Knox is early Rolling Stones.” The Wonder Lover follows the exploits of John Wonder, a man with three families oblivious to his duplicity, or should that be triplicity? Expect it all to unravel exquisitely.
Go Set a Watchman
Literary news doesn’t get much more astounding than the revelation that sometime around the northern hemisphere summer reclusive and adored author Harper Lee will release a sequel of sorts to her cherished classic To Kill A Mockingbird, her only published novel to date, released some 55 years ago. Go Set a Watchman features Scout as a grown woman now living in New York, she returns to Maycomb to visit her father Atticus.
Penned before the completion of Mockingbird, the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was thought lost until Harper’s attorney and life-long friend Tonja Carter uncovered it a few months ago. “After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication,” Harper says. “I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.” Consider us amazed, ecstatic and incredibly impatient too.
Raised almost to the level of mythical creature in the Australian art world, Sidney Nolan, undoubtedly one of our greatest painters, was also a masterful self-promoter. The expert voice of Underhill cuts through the mystique to capture a spectacular life lived to the fullest in miniscule detail.
A Year of Marvellous Ways
Following on from 2011’s huge hit When God Was a Rabbit, Winman’s latest, A Year of Marvellous Ways, is set in Cornwall in 1947 and relays the lonely life of the Marvellous Ways, a 90-year-old woman who spends her days down by the river with a telescope. When an injured young soldier, Drake, shows up, having undertaken to fulfil a dying man’s last wish, Marvellous comes to his aid and sparks a friendship as unlikely as her name.
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Not that he’s been idled, exactly, but it’s seven years since literary heavyweight Rushdie, author of Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses, dropped a novel, and while Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is reputedly much shorter than those two epics, it’s no less ambitious in scope, with the promise that it is a “history, mythology, and a timeless love story to bring alive a world – our world – that has been plunged into an age of unreason”.
Famed for his gargantuan novels, both in terms of physical heft and complex plot, it usually takes a few years for Mitchell to follow up with his latest offering. The Bone Clocks, one of our top 10 picks last year, this novella is yapping at its heels. Starting life as a 2,000-word story released 140 characters at a time via Mitchell’s Twitter account, it took on a life of its own, according to Mitchell and publishers Sceptre, and will include a mysterious connection to The Bone Clocks.