Last week I did not manage to get a Mailbox post up, so this week includes the books that have arrived at my home over the last two weeks.
Crown Publishers sent me an Advance Readers Edition (via Library Thing’s Early Review program) of The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner (October 2013). This debut novel is described as “a gritty and powerful crime thriller that explores the dark, dangerous line that separates grief, violence, loss, and revenge.” Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found; the case has long-gone cold and her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. Tom Bevans, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, has become a detective intent on solving murders of other young women…and he finds an opening on Patty’s case which changes everything.
P.D. Viner is an award-winning film-maker who has studied and worked in the USA, New Zealand, Russia and Japan. He now lives in Brighton, UK. This is his first novel. Learn more about Viner and his work by visiting the author’s website.
Atria Books sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield (October 2013). I read Setterfield’s debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, and loved it…so I was excited to see she had a new novel coming out. When William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, and kills the bird instantly, it is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. Now grown, with a wife and children of his own, William has put the whole incident behind him. But rooks don’t forget . . . and when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root.
Diane Setterfield is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale, and a former academic, specializing in twentieth-century French literature, particularly the works of Andre Gide. She lives in Yorkshire, England.
I was thrilled to receive the newest release from Peirene Press. Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (September 2013) is translated from the Polish by Philip Boehm and is the winner of the English Pen Award 2013. This novella is described by the publisher as “a remarkable true story of love and survival” and is set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. When Izolda’s husband, Shayek, is imprisoned, she sets out to release him. She changes her name, her hair, her religion. Eventually she is captured and deported to Auschwitz. But even there, she trusts that her love will save them both.
Hanna Krall was born in 1935 in Poland and survived the Second World War hiding in a cupboard. She began her writing career as a prize-winning journalist. Since the early ’80s she has worked as a novelist. She has received numerous Polish and international awards, such as the underground Solidarity Prize, Polish PEN Club Prize and the German Würth Preis for European Literature 2012. Translated into 17 languages, her work has gained widespread recognition. In 2007 Król kier znów na wylocie (Chasing the King of Hearts) was shortlisted for the Angelus Central European Literary Award.
Philip Boehm is the author of more than two dozen translations of novels and plays by German and Polish writers, including Nobelist Herta Müller, Christoph Hein, Bertolt Brecht and Stefan Chwin. Nonfiction translations include A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous and Words to Outlive Us, a collection of eyewitness accounts from the Warsaw Ghetto. For his work as a translator he has received numerous awards, most recently the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize (UK), the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize (US), and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He also works as a playwright and theater director, and is the Founding Artistic Director of Upstream Theater in St. Louis.
St. Martin’s Press sent me an Advance Readers Edition of How to Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman (October 2013). This is a debut novel in the tradition of Emma Donoghue’s Room and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and is about a woman who begins having visions that make her question everything she knows. Publisher description:
Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day. But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.
Emma Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in Manchester, England. She studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. After university, she travelled solo in Scandinavia, where she learned to camp, bathe in fjords, and carry everything she needed. She is currently living in Perth, Western Australia. How To Be a Good Wife is her first novel. Learn more about Chapman and her work by visiting the author’s website.
Picador sent me and Advance Readers Edition of The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal (January 2014). This novel is set in post-world War II Vienna and follows the lives of four people as they return home fifteen years after being exiled by Hitler’s regime. de Waal’s writing is described as sensitive which makes sense given that she was an exile herself. The Exiles Return is considered a masterpiece of European literature.
Elisabeth de Waal was the grandmother of Edmund de Waal (author of the memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes). He discovered her unpublished autobiographical novel The Exiles Return in 2005. Elisabeth was born in 1899 into a Jewish family living in Vienna. She studied philosophy, law and economics at the University of Vienna, completing her Doctorate in 1923. She was also a poet. She lived in Paris, Switzerland, and England and wrote five unpublished novels. She died in 1991.
Other Press sent me a copy of The Professor of Truth by James Robertson (September 2013). The novel is described as “a literary spellbinder about one man’s desperate attempt to deal with grief by unmasking the terrorists responsible for the act that killed his wife and daughter.”
From the publisher:
Twenty-one years after his wife and daughter were killed in the bombing of a plane over Scotland, English lecturer Alan Tealing persists in trying to discover what really happened on that terrible night. Over the years, he obsessively amasses documents, tapes, and transcripts to prove that the man who was convicted was not actually responsible, and that the real culprit remains at large. When a retired American intelligence officer arrives on Alan’s doorstep on a snowy night, claiming to have information about a key witness in the trial, a fateful sequence of events is set in motion. Alan decides he must confront this man, in the hope of uncovering what actually happened. While Robertson writes with the narrative thrust of a thriller, The Professor of Truth is also a graceful meditation on grief, and the lengths we may go to find meaning in loss.
James Robertson is a multiple prize-winning Scottish author and poet. He has published four previous novels: The Fanatic; Joseph Knight, which won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and the Saltire Prize; The Testament of Gideon Mack, which was a Booker Prize finalist and a Richard & Judy book club pick, and has sold more than 250,000 copies in the UK; and his most recent novel, And the Land Lay Still, winner of the Saltire Prize.
Did any amazing books arrive at YOUR house this week?