Book Buzz: Winter 2012

Last spring I posted a series of articles about upcoming book releases – books I was anticipating and thought I would love, or books which I thought would garner attention in the book world.

This time I am buzzing about books due for release in the Winter of 2012.

You may locate more information about book releases from Edelweiss where readers can browse catalogs from many of the book publishers.

Highly Anticipated:

Ragonark by A.S. Byatt – Grove Press (February 2012) /ISBN 9780802129925 / 192 pages

Publisher Description: Ragnarok retells the finale of Norse mythology. As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Gods – a book of ancient Norse myths – and her inner and outer worlds are transformed. War, natural disaster, reckless gods and the recognition of impermanence in the world are just some of the threads that AS Byatt weaves into this most timely of books. Linguistically stunning and imaginatively abundant, this is a landmark.

“Majestic . . . Dazzling . . . Wonderful . . . . What you see here . . . is the strength and fire of Byatt’s imagination.” –The San Francisco Chronicle

Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates – Ecco (March 2012) / ISBN 9780062095626 / 448 pages

Publisher Description: A powerful exploration of the enduring claims of the past, Mudwoman is at once a psychic ghost-story and an intimate portrait of an individual who breaks-but finds a way to heal herself. In its portrayal of a woman who must make her way in the male-dominated world of professional academia, Mudwoman traces the porous membrane between childhood and adulthood, the real and the imagined, the “public” and “private” selves of a highly complex contemporary woman.

“Oates is just a fearless writer . . . with her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers.” –Los Angeles Times

Arcadia by Lauren Groff – Hyperion Voice (March 2012) / ISBN 9781401340872 / 304 pages

Publisher Description: A brilliant follow-up to Groff’s bestselling first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia is the romantic, lush, haunting story of a great American dream-of a back-to-nature commune that succeeds for a time beyond anyone’s expectations and about the lasting impact of the Arcadian experience on a gifted young man born into the idealistic community.

“Richly peopled and ambitious and oh, so lovely, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s not possible to write any better without showing off.”
-Richard Russo, author of the novel That Old Cape Magic and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls

Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan – Picador (February 2012) / ISBN 9781250012708 / 336 pages

Finalist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, Winner 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award

Publisher Description: Berlin, 1939. The Hot-Time Swingers, a popular German American jazz band, have been forbidden to play live because the Nazis have banned their “degenerate” music. After escaping to Paris, where they meet Louis Armstrong, the band’s brilliant young trumpet player, Hieronymus Falk, is arrested in a café by the Gestapo. It is June 1940. He is never heard from again. He is twenty years old, a German citizen. And he is black. Berlin, 1992. Falk, now a jazz legend, is the subject of a celebratory documentary. Two of the original Hot-Time Swingers American band members, Sid Griffiths and Chip Jones, are invited to attend the film’s premier in Berlin. As they return to the landscape of their past friendships, rivalries, loves, and betrayals, Sid—the only witness to Falk’s disappearance who has always refused to speak about what happened—is forced to break his silence.

“Unforgettable…Brilliantly conceived, gorgeously executed. It’s a work that promises to lead black literature in a whole new direction.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott – Bloomsbury USA (February 2012) / ISBN 9781608197057 / 368 pages

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the South East Asia and Pacific Region

Publisher Description: Set in Western Australia in the first decades of the nineteenth century, That Deadman Dance is a vast, gorgeous novel about the first contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the new European settlers

“An enchanting and authentic book, giving us an insider’s view of Australia before it was Australia … Enormously readable, humane, proud, and subtle.” —Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark, The Great Shame, and A Commonwealth of Thieves

Five Bells by Gail Jones – Picador (February 2012) / 9781250003737 / 224 pages

Publisher Description: Told over the course of a single Saturday, Five Bells describes four lives that come to share not only a place and a time but also mysterious patterns and symbols. A fifth figure at the Quay, a  barely glimpsed child, reminds us that some patterns are imprecise and do not resolve. By nightfall, when Sydney is drenched in a rainstorm, each life will have been transformed by the events of the day.

Five Bells is a brilliant work, both explicitly Australian and insistently cosmopolitan. This new novel establishes Gail Jones as one of Australia’s finest authors. . . . She] gives us individuals who are achingly alive, filled with apprehensions of beauty, love and mortality.” —The Australian

The Lost Saints of Tennessee by Amy Franklin-Willis – Atlantic Monthly Press (February 2012) / ISBN 9780802120052 / 320 pages

Publisher Description: With enormous heart and dazzling agility, Amy Franklin-Willis expertly mines the fault lines in one Southern working-class family. Driven by the soulful voices of forty-two-year-old Ezekiel Cooper and his mother, Lillian, The Lost Saints of Tennessee journeys from the 1940s to 1980s as it follows Zeke’s evolution from anointed son, to honorable sibling, to unhinged middle-aged man.

“The gifted novelist, Amy Franklin-Willis, has written a riveting, hardscrabble book on the rough, hardscrabble south, which has rarely been written about with such grace and compassion. It reminded me of the time I read Dorothy Allison’s classic, Bastard out of Carolina.”-Pat Conroy

Debut Authors:

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman – Farrar, Straus and Giroux (February 2012) / ISBN 9780374162573 / 288 pages

Publisher Description: Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social worker’s reports, half-recalled memories, story problems, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world while she searches for the way out of it. Girlchild is a heart-stopping and original debut.

Girlchild is a devastating and hilarious portrait of poor white America. Tupelo Hassman’s ruthless dissection of the laws, traditions, and values of a trailer park will leave you horrified and laughing uproariously. Hassman’s novel is at once a ragtag anthem to the generations of single mothers raising their children on their own, a brilliant critique of the inadequacies of social services, and a colorful depiction of the extraordinary hurdles that children who break the cycle of poverty have to face. But mostly it is a description of the seismic transformations that happen within each of us as we fly the coop. Hassman’s wildly inventive prose explodes off the page.” -Heather O’Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals

Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli – Viking/Penguin (March 2012) / ISBN 9780670023318 / 336 pages

Publisher Description: Glow transports us from Washington, D.C., on the brink of World War II to 1836 and into the mountain coves of Hopewell County, Georgia, full of ghosts both real and imagined. Illuminating the tragedy of human frailty, the power of friendship and hope, and the fiercest of all human bonds—mother love—this stunning debut will appeal to readers of both Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and Amy Green’s Bloodroot.

“With Glow, Ms. Tuccelli has rendered a novel of such precise honesty that it casts its own bright incandescence upon its readers. The language is varied and musical throughout and the characters as recognizable as one’s family. I will care about these people for years to come.” -Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life and Bone Fire

A Good American by Alex George – Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (February 2012) / ISBN 9780399157592 / 400 pages

Publisher Description: The Meisenheimer family is caught up in the sweep of history as they struggle to find their place in their newly adopted country. A tale of America itself, the colorful people who inhabit the family’s new town are also an integral part of the story: a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant; a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn a lot more than just music; and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf. A Good American is a book about being an outsider—in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home.

“A winner from the first page. Alex George has created that rare and beautiful thing—a novel I finished and immediately wanted to start again.”—Eleanor Brown, author of The Weird Sisters

No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel – Riverhead (February 2012) / ISBN 9781594487941 / 336 pages

Publisher Description: In 1939, the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them. Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years— across oceans, deserts, and mountains—but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless. At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Destiny is unwritten. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator—the girl, grown into a young mother—must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future.

“A special work of the imagination, an original gift, dark and light, and Ramona Ausubel colors it all with a glowing wisdom.”—Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies

 Do any of these books look good to you? Are there books you are anticipating for release this winter?

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    • Cindy on January 4, 2012 at 14:32

    Wow 2012 seems to be a very good year from the aspect of literature! I can’t wait to read the Mudwoman, I’ve heard of it several times, it must be a great book.

  1. In my opinion, you started with the best. So glad to know that there’s a new Byatt coming out! (Although, I still need to read The Children’s Book, Possession has long been one of my favorite books ever.)

  2. Good ones for me to add to my list. I still haven’t read The Children’s Book and would love to read that one first but we’ll see how that goes.

    • Amused on January 4, 2012 at 19:02

    OMG, I can’t believe I am drooling over all of them when my book piles are toppling over as it is! Off to add these to my lists now!

  3. I really want to read Half-Blood Blues. It is out in Canada and I went to order it with my Christmas gift cards and forgot. I am thinking I will buy it near the end of the year for when I join you for your reading challenge because it works for Giller and Governor General… (Actually it won the Giller… I went to double check because I was second-guessing myself.)

  4. Thanks so much for the shout out for The Lost Saints of Tennessee! This is an amazing batch of books to be in the middle of 🙂

    Amy Franklin-Willis

  5. I can’t wait to get my hands on Half-Blood Blues! I might buy it now instead of waiting until March plus it’s an award-winner. Great post!

    • Helen D. Brown on January 5, 2012 at 02:07

    Great post! I’m not that book reader but it is one of my new year resolution to read books this year. I guess I’ll start from your list 🙂 Thanks for posting this.

    • Jules on January 5, 2012 at 03:03

    I’ve read half-blood blues, it was a great book, and well deserving of the Giller Prize. Hope you get a chance to read it!

    • Andi on January 5, 2012 at 07:08

    These look great. I’m especially excited to read more by Byatt in the coming year, and Mudwoman looks amazing. I’m always a fan of Oates. 🙂

  6. Thanks for the great list of books. Especially “Half-Blood Blues” sounds very interesting to me. It’s on my list now.

  7. A lot of these look amazing, but I only have one on my list so far! I am going to be adding a few after seeing this post. It seems like it’s going to be a good year for books! Thanks for sharing these!

    • Anna David on January 5, 2012 at 08:25

    I’m especially excited to read more by Byatt in the coming year, and Mudwoman looks amazing. I’m always a fan of Oates, thanks for the post, keep up the good work.

  8. Ragnarok sounds interesting. I’ve read Possession by A.S. Byatt and enjoyed it so I might give this one a try.
    I may have read some short story by Oates but I’m not sure. She’s an author that’s been on my radar for a while so I’ll pick up one of her novels soon. Maybe even Mudwoman.
    The only book I can’t wait to get my hands on at the moment is Fate, by L.R. Fredericks, the second one in a series – I have to wait until July, though.

  9. I was anticipating That Deadman Dance so much that I bought a copy from New Zealand in November. Unfortunately I haven’t read it yet, but I am going to try to do so before its UK release in April as otherwise I’ll feel bad for not waiting.

  10. I have Arcadia for review AND I love Joyce Carol Oates, so her new one MUST go on my to-buy list! Great list!

    • gavin on January 6, 2012 at 17:25

    These all look fantastic and several are on my Hold list at the library. Another one I am excited about is The Snow Chiild by Eowyn Ivey, due out the 1st of February.

    • Bekah on January 7, 2012 at 06:26

    What a great list to look forward to! Thanks for sharing it, Wendy! I’m especially looking forward to Ragonark, Half-Blood Blues, and The Lost Saints of Tennessee – put a couple more of them on my wish-list, though.


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