Monday, December 14, 2009

2010 probably won’t be a great year for books either

At the beginning of the year, the Millions enthused that 2009 might be a great year for books. It didn’t turn out that way, sadly. But there is always next year.

The forthcoming novels that everyone is talking about are David Foster Wallace’s Pale King, which Little, Brown is expected to release in 2010, and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which will reportedly be released in time for next Christmas.

Here are a few books to look forward to, or not, with firmer publication dates.

• Ralph Ellison, Three Days Before the Shooting . . . (Modern Library, January). The complete manuscript of Ellison’s uncompleted last novel, which was abridged as Juneteenth in 1999.
• Joshua Ferris, The Unnamed (Reagan Arthur, January). A man walks out on his family.
• Rebecca Goldstein, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God (Pantheon, January). Mrs Steven Pinker fictionalizes the public debate between religious faith and the new atheism. Christopher Hitchens is all in favor, which tells you which side the novel takes. An excerpt is here.
• Herta Müller, Traveling on One Leg, trans. Valentina Glajar (Northwestern UP, January). First English translation of Nobel Prize winner’s novel about a 35-year-old woman who escapes from a Soviet Bloc country to West Germany. Originally published in Berlin in 1989.
• Anne Tyler, Noah’s Compass (Knopf, January). A 60-year-old teacher, recently fired, is attacked in his apartment, and can’t remember.

• André Aciman, Eight White Nights (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, February). A torrid weeklong affair.
• John Banville, The Infinities (Knopf, February). His family gathers around a dying mathematician. And so do some Greek gods.
• William Boyd, Ordinary Thunderstorms (Harper Collins, February). A spy novel by the author of Brazzaville Beach and A Good Man in Africa.
• Don DeLillo, Point Omega (Scribner, February). The portrait of a “defense intellectual,” and a glimpse inside the American war machine.
• Louise Erdrich, Shadow Tag (Harper, February). A troubled marriage and a family in disarray.
• Craig Nova, The Informer (Shaye Areheart, February). A serial killer targets prostitutes in ’thirties Berlin.

• Aharon Appelfeld, Blooms of Darkness, trans. Jeffrey M. Green (Schocken, March). A eleven-year-old Jewish boy is hidden from the Nazis in a brothel. Originally published in Jerusalem in 2006.
• Fernanda Eberstadt, Rat (Knopf, March). An Incredible Journey by two children, fifteen and nine, from “the Pyrénées Orientales, a gorgeous but forlorn Mediterranean no-man’s-land just north of the Spanish Catalan border,” to London.
• Chang-rae Lee, The Surrendered (Riverhead, March). A Korean girl, orphaned by the war, and an American soldier are reunited thirty years later. By the author of the brilliant Native Speaker.
• Ian McEwan, Solar (Nan A. Talese, March). A Nobel Prize-winning physicist is cuckolded.
• Lionel Shriver, So Much for That (Harper, March). A “deeply honest look,” says the publisher, “at the human cost of the American health care and insurance systems.” If it were a dishonest look, would the publisher say so?

• Pearl Abraham, American Taliban (Random House, April). A surfer’s hunger for the spirit leads him to Islam.
• Tadeusz Borowski, Here in Our Auschwitz and Other Stories, trans. Madeline G. Levine (Yale UP, April). The first authoritative translation of Borowski’s prose fiction, including numerous stories that have never appeared in English before.
• Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America (Knopf, April). A reinvention of Tocqueville’s journey to America.
• Roddy Doyle, The Dead Republic (Viking, April). The final volume of the Irish novelist’s trilogy about the one-legged IRA veteran Henry Smart, who finally returns to Ireland after thirty years in the States.
• David Goodwillie, American Subversive (Scribner, April). A young American woman, not an Arab terrorist, is suspected of detonating a bomb in a Manhattan office tower in 2010.
• Alasdair Gray, Old Men in Love: John Tunnock's Posthumous Papers (Small Beer, April). The diary of a retired headmaster, begun on September 11, 2001, which discusses politics from the angle of socialism—with a few postmodern touches thrown in for good measure. Originally published in the U.K. in 2007.
• Andrea Levy, The Long Song (Farrar Straus & Giroux, April). A followup to the Orange Prize-winning Small Island (2004). Slavery comes to a violent end on Jamaica.
• Yann Martel, Beatrice and Virgil (Spiegel & Grau, April). A donkey and a howler monkey undertake an epic journey together.

• Martin Amis, The Pregnant Widow (Knopf, May). Explaining the title, Amis told the Independent three years ago, “[A]t the end of a revolution you don’t have a newborn child, you have a pregnant widow. And the pregnant widow in this novel is feminism. Which is still in its second trimester. The child is nowhere in sight yet. And I think it has several more convulsions to undergo before we’ll see the child.”
• Shirley Jackson, Novels and Stories (Library of America, May). Author of a haunted-house classic as well as that staple of the high-school canon known as “The Lottery.” Life among the Savages, her memoir of motherhood, probably won’t be included, which is a shame. Edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
• Ted Mooney, The Same River Twice (Knopf, May). Three American expatriates get themselves in trouble with elements from the former Soviet Union.
• Chuck Palahniuk, Tell-All (Doubleday, May). A Hollywood novel set in the era of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The “tell-all” memoir in question is about Lillian Hellman.
• Jane Smiley, Private Life (Knopf, May). The wife of a scientific genius from the 1880’s to the Second World War.

• Ann Beattie, Walks With Men (Scribner, June). The first novel in eight years—a hundred-page novella, really—by the chronicler of affectless baby boomers adrift.
• Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (Knopf, June). Punk rock and psychological compulsion from San Francisco to Africa.
• Bret Easton Ellis, Imperial Bedrooms (Knopf, June). A sequel to Less Than Zero. The L.A. druggies turn middle-aged.
• Oscar Hijuelos, Beautiful Maria of My Soul (Hyperion, June). “Beautiful Maria of My Soul” was the song that made the Castillo brothers popular in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. His new novel is “related to” the older one, Hijuelos says.
• David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Random House, June). At the end of the eighteenth century, a young man with the appropriate biblical name comes to Japan to work as a clerk—to earn enough money to wed his girl.
• Henry Roth, An American Type (Norton, June). The last novel by the author of Call It Sleep, discovered among his unpublished papers after his death.

• Kevin Canty, Everything (Nan A. Talese, July). In Montana, the middle-aged come to terms with loneliness and mortality.
• Allegra Goodman, The Cookbook Collector (Dial, July). Fourth novel by the author of The Family Markowitz and Kaaterskill Falls.
• Rick Moody, The Four Fingers of Death (Little, Brown, July). A nearly 700-page dystopian novel about America in 2025.
• Cristina Garcia, The Lady Matador’s Hotel (Scribner, September). The residents of a luxury hotel in a country like Guatemala become increasingly intertwined with one another over the course of a week.


Steven Riddle said...

Dear Mr. Myers,

Agree with your note on Shirley Jackson--it would be a shame to miss that wonderful book--although I love the rest of her oeuvre.



Anthony said...

Mnnm, McEwan is worth looking forward to but otherwise ... Banville is published in England and looks good.

I predict another triumph of hype over hope for Amis.

D. G. Myers said...

Amis and Banville are two of the books that I will be reviewing in the coming year.

Others will include DeLillo’s Point Omega, Lee’s Surrendered, the new “definitive” edition of Borowski, Henry Roth’s American Type, and Goodman’s Cookbook Collector.

Jonathan said...

Will you be sharing your take on "The Original of Laura"?

revgrant said...

First, the Mueller book is the only one on the list, I believe, that is in translation--several other writers such as Garcia with strong non-English roots, but still writing in English. Worth pointing out b/c three Bolano novels/novellas are forthcoming: Monsieur Pain, Antwerp, and The Return; with Antwerp being the one book Bolano says in an interview that he is least embarrassed by. Then there's The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Malzieu and Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Mengiste, and Cesar Aira's The Literary Confernce.

Other US/British writers: The Ask by Sam Lipsyte, All that Follows by Jim Crace, The Lonely Polygamist by Udall, A Dead Hand by Paul Theroux, and short story collection by Rbt. Stone Fun w/Problems.

D. G. Myers said...

Aharon Appelfeld’s novel is translated from the Hebrew.

D. G. Myers said...

And Borowski, of course, is translated from the Polish.

D. G. Myers said...

Other foreign titles being released in the States next year include:

• Peter Handke, Don Juan: His Own Version, trans. Krishna Winston (Farrar Straus & Giroux, February). Originally published in Germany in 2004.

• Morten Ramsland, Doghead, trans. Tim Nunnally (Thomas Dunne, February). Winner of the Danish Best Novel award.

• Margriet De Moor, The Storm, trans. Carol Janeway (Knopf, March). First published in the Netherlands in 2005.

D. G. Myers said...


Not sure why The Original of Laura is being mentioned here. But anyways. . . .

Next semester I am teaching a seminar on Nabokov’s American books, and though the class will not be reading Laura, I will—if nothing else, to put it into context. I’ll report then.

Jonathan said...

Dr. Meyers,

My question had little to do with the 2010 books you listed.

I raised it only because you mentioned some books you plan to review in the upcoming year. Knowing your opinion of Nabokov, I wondered if you also planned to review The Original of Laura.


Richard LeComte said...

Wait -- Franzen's coming out with another novel? Really? I don't know how he can keep up with this one-a-decade pace. It always annoyed me that my mother's favorite writers -- Danielle Steele, Jan Karon, Margaret Truman -- could come up with one or two works a year, and my favorite writers couldn't, because they had to THINK about what they were writing.

D. G. Myers said...

Well, I’m not absolutely sure that what Franzen does can be called thinking. But I catch your drift.