This week I received a huge stack of books which look quite enticing!
The wonderful Meike of Peirene Press sent me their latest installment of fabulous contemporary European literature: Mr. Darwin’s Gardener by Kristina Carlson (translated from the Finnish by Emily and Fleur Jeremiah). I so love Peirene books and this one looks especially good. The novella is described as “postmodern Victorian” literature that explores “faith, knowledge, and our inner needs.” Set in the late 1870s in the Kentish village of Downe, the story centers around Thomas Davies – an eccentric loner, grief-stricken widower, and father of two. He works as a gardener (thus the title!) for Charles Darwin and has, up until now, shunned religion. But now he is seeking answers. “What should he believe in? And why should he continue to live?”
Kristina Carlson was born in 1949 and has published 16 books in her native Finland. She is a highly popular children’s author and her three novels have assured her a wide adult readership and huge critical acclaim. She has won the Finlandia Prize and Finland’s State Prize for Literature.
Emily and Fleur Jeremiah are a multilingual mother and daughter translation team. Emily has an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in German Studies. Fleur is Finnish and has translated both fiction and non-fiction for many years. The two have cooperated on translating the poetry of Helvi Juvonen and Sirkka Turkka and also translated The Brothers by Akso Sahlberg (published by Peirene Press).
Two books arrived from Doubleday:
I was thrilled to death to receive an Advance Readers Edition of The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (which I buzzed about here). This debut novel is due out in August 2013 and comparisons have been made to Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. Set in 1950, the book centers around a young doctor called Norton Perina who signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu’ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. When they discover the tribe, they also find a group of forest dwellers they dub “The Dreamers,” who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences.
Hanya Yanagihara is a former Vintage publicity assistant and travel magazine editor. Her travel writing experience “yields some fantastic descriptions of the island paradise” according to Book Page which named her as one of the women to watch in 2013. Yanagihara lives in New York City.
The Rathbones by Janice Clark is set for publication in August 2013. This first novel just called out to me when I first read the description. Inspired by The Odyssey by way of Poe, and of Melville’s classic Moby Dick, the book promises to be an “ambitious and courageous literary adventure.” At its heart, the novel is a family saga set on the Connecticut coast where the Rathbones have built a great whaling empire. But as the years pass, the whales have disappeared and the great Rathbone family now consists of one young girl named Mercy. Fifteen years old, she has no idea where her father has gone – he was last seen seven years before off the coast of Naiwayonk, Connecticut. Meanwhile, Mercy’s reclusive uncle Mordecai is teaching her Greek history and nautical navigation in their attic hideaway. When a violent visitor arrives at their home one night, the two are forced to flee and they set sail on a journey to uncover the haunted history of the Rathbones. Doesn’t that sound fabulous?
Janice Clark is a writer and designer living in Chicago. She grew up in Mystic, Connecticut and earned an MFA in writing at New York University. The Rathbones is her first novel.
Marlena from Little, Brown and Company was kind enough to send me an Advance Readers Edition of Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (September 2013). I have another copy of this book up for grabs for one of my US readers – the giveaway closes today (June 3rd) at 5:00 pm PST, so you still have time to enter the contest. Go here to throw your name in the hat. This was another of the books I buzzed about recently – and I have a feeling it is going to be getting some great reviews. Burial Rites was inspired by a true story of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. When Agnes is charged with the brutal murder of her former master, she is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. At first the family who is tasked with housing her, avoids Agnes. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. Described as “riveting and rich with lyricism,” Burial Rites promises to “evoke a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and ask the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?”
Hannah Kent is a 26-year-old Australian writer. As a teenager she traveled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir. She is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. Burial Rites is her first novel. Lea4rn more about Kent and her work by visiting the author’s website.
Crown Publishing sent me a suspense thriller by Taylor Stevens. The Doll (released this month) promises to appeal to fans of Lee Child, Stieg Larsson, and Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy. Book description: “Haunted by a life of violence and as proficient with languages as she is with knives, Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and hunter, has built her life on a reputation for getting things done—dangerous and often not-quite-legal things. Born to missionary parents in lawless Africa, taken under the tutelage of gunrunners, and tortured by one of the jungle’s most brutal men, Munroe was forced to do whatever it took to stay alive.” When Munroe is kidnapped on a busy Dallas street, she is suddenly thrust into an underground world controlled by a shadowy figure known as “The Doll Maker.” She “will have to fight fast, smart and furiously to overcome a dangerous nemesis and deliver her trademark brand of justice.”
Taylor Stevens is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Informationist and The Innocent, both featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe. They received critical acclaim and have been published in twenty languages. Raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond the sixth grade, Stevens broke free of the Children of God and now lives in Texas and is currently at work on the next Munroe adventure. Learn more about Stevens and her work by visiting the author’s website.
From Other Press came Three by Atiq Rahimi (June 2013) which is a collection of his short novels Earth and Ashes, A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, and The Patience Stone. Readers to my blog may remember my reviews of two of the three novellas in this collection (read my review of Earth and Ashes; and my review of A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear). I am really looking forward to reading The Patience Stone in this book – and for readers who have not yet experienced this author, this would be a wonderful way to do it. The three novels in this book -including Prix Goncourt-winning The Patience Stone – convey years of Afghan history, heartache, and hope. In Earth and Ashes, Rahimi tells a story about fathers and sons and the terrible strain inflicted on families, when an Afghan village is destroyed by the Russian army. In A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear Rahimi sets his story during 1979, a period of social and political upheaval in Kabul. The Patience Stone is the tale of a woman caring for her brain-damaged husband, who was shot in the neck during a petty conflict. After years of living in a society of Islamic fundamentalism, she finds herself strangely liberated by her husband’s condition. She tells him her innermost thoughts and secrets, many of them dark and deeply repressed, never knowing whether he’s able to hear her or not. These three novels as works in translation.
Atiqu Rahimi was born in Afghanistan in 1962, and fled to France in 1984. There he has become renowned as a maker of documentary and feature films, and as a writer. The film of his novel Earth and Ashes was in the Official Selection at Cannes in 2004 and has won a number of prizes. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear has also been adapted for the screen. His adaptation of The Patience Stone, which he co-wrote and directed, was also recently made into a feature film. Since 2001 Rahimi has returned to Afghanistan to set up a Writers’ House in Kabul and to offer support and training to young Afghan writers and filmmakers. His new novel, A Curse on Dostoevsky is forthcoming from Other Press. He lives in Paris.
Finally, Simon & Schuster sent me the soon to be released paperback edition of The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I received the hardcover when it was first published and still have not read it. But now that this acclaimed debut novel is coming out in paperback, I feel a renewed sense of obligation to pick it up! From the publisher:
Named “a must read” by Entertainment Weekly, this masterful debut takes us to the poignant and powerful heart of a family caught up in Greece’s brutal 1967 military coup d’état. As these characters struggle with their passions, both personal and political, and their stories of love and resistance play out against the backdrop of this turbulent period, their lives begin to unfold in surprising ways. A widowed doctor and her daughters, their poet uncle and his wife, must each make their own peace with when to stay silent in the face of atrocity, and when to act.
Natalie Bakopoulos holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan, where she now teaches. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Ninth Letter, Granta.com, Salon.com, The New York Times, and The New York Times Book Review, and has received an O. Henry Award, a Hopwood Award, and the Platsis Prize for Work in the Greek Legacy. She is a contributing editor for the online journal Fiction Writers Review. The Green Shore is her first novel.
Did any amazing books find their way to YOUR home this week?