Jess Htay - December 22nd, 2016
2016 was a fantastic year for W&N Fiction. Let our editorial assistant, Craig, walk you through our last twelve months in books.
2016 kicked off for W&N with the publication of Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris, hailed as ‘a fine addition to the creepy hotel thriller genre’ by the Independent and ‘a stunning read’ by Sci-Fi Now. Get your copy here.
February brought The Maker of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell, a debut with prose as beautiful as its cover. This Gothic tale received admiring reviews from all quarters, and was shortlisted for Newcomer of the Year at the Bord Gáis Book Awards 2016! Treat yourself to a copy here.
April marked a very special publication: The Death of an Owl, by Paul and Piers Torday. Paul sadly died of cancer in late 2013, with The Death of an Owl only half-finished. Fortunately for us all his son, Piers Torday, an accomplished novelist in his own right, picked up the story where his father left off, completing it so perfectly that ‘you can’t see the join’ (The Times). Piers wrote a very moving tribute to his father as an Author’s Note, which you can read here. If you loved Salmon Fishing, don’t miss this last tale. Pick up your copy here.
First out of the gates was A Hero in France by that master of the espionage thriller, Alan Furst. The Germans are trying to eliminate the French Resistance cells that are running downed British airmen back to Blighty. Will Mathieu and his fellow Resistance fighters be able to evade the clutches of the Gestapo? Find out.
Next we visited the seedy underbelly of LA as Charcoal Joe comes knocking for one of the best PIs in the business – Easy Rawlins. Walter Mosley’s detective returns in a frenetic adventure through the wild and unrepentant city.
June ended with two W&N blockbusters, Belgravia and Black Water Lilies.
Belgravia by Julian Fellowes was first released chapter-by-chapter via an innovative app, which delivered a new episode weekly to your e-reader, building up the full story over 12 weeks, (for more information on the app, click here). In June, the beautiful hardback version was published, the full story of the gossip and intrigue that went on behind the porticoed doors of Belgravia in the years after Waterloo. Perhaps buy a copy for a Downton fan this Christmas.
Following on from the runaway success of After the Crash, Michel Bussi’s eagerly anticipated next novel, Black Water Lilies, was released to instant acclaim. Hailed as ‘a work of genius’ by the Daily Express and a ‘haunting masterpiece’ by the Daily Mail, this is one thriller you can’t afford to miss.
Smoke roiled out of W&N’s offices in May, spreading unstoppably across the country. The first instalment in a new high-concept series from Dan Vyleta, Smoke images a world where a person’s sin is manifested physically, rising from the body in the form of thick dark smoke. ‘Astonishing . . . it’s filling in that gaping hole left by both Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights.’ (Stylist). If you’re looking for another world to get lost in this Christmas, then the search is over.
The sights and sounds of Jamaica were evoked beautifully in the pages of Kei Miller’s Augustown. When Kaia comes home from school with his dreadlocks shorn off, Ma Taffy knows that something terrible is going to pour out into the world. In an effort to keep this evil at bay, she decides to tell him a story: ‘Kaia, I ever tell you ’bout the flying preacherman?’ This new novel from Forward Prize-winning poet Kei Miller is a lyrical delight to be savoured.
W&N went into zero gravity in August with Good Morning, Midnight by Lily-Brooks Dalton. When global communications go down, the crew of the spaceship Aether and two sole occupants at an Arctic research station are plunged into uncertainty and doubt. Unable to raise anyone on the radio, they are each forced to reassess their identities in the face of the void. A beautiful debut from an electrifying new voice. Pick up your copy here.
September saw the return of the inimitable Piet Barol in Richard Mason’s Who Killed Piet Barol? A novel first conceived years ago, Richard undertook research for it in the forest of Gwadana in South Africa. He has produced some brilliant videos telling this story. After we were introduced to Piet in History of a Pleasure Seeker¸ Richard’s next novel tells the end of Piet’s story. Hailed by the Cape Times in Richard’s native South Africa as ‘one of the finest novels I have read in many years’, this is a must for your to-read list. Pick up your copy here.
W&N was turning over a new leaf in October with the publication of Today Will Be Different, the next novel from the dazzling pen of Maria Semple. Not only did the hilarious plight of Eleanor Flood capture the imagination of the critics – ‘Whipsmart, dazzling, darkly comic and deeply touching’ (Marian Keyes), ‘Never has a meltdown been so entertaining’ (Glamour) – it also attracted the attention of Hollywood. We were thrilled when it was announced that Eleanor Flood will be played by Julia Roberts in a TV adaptation! Definitely one to read before it comes out on the small screen. Pick up your copy here.
The Eye of the Reindeer by Eva Weaver, author of The Puppet Boy of Warsaw, was our first November title. Set in Finland, the novel is full of the legends and culture of the Sami people who still live in that region today. The book is a fascinating look into the Sami culture, and a beautiful redemptive story – sometimes it takes a lifetime to find your way home.
Next was The Woman on the Stairs, the eagerly anticipated new novel from the author of the internationally bestselling The Reader, Bernhard Schlink. When a hitherto-lost painting of a woman on a staircase unexpectedly reappears in the art world, it affects three men particularly deeply: three men who all loved the woman in the painting. They manage to track her down to an Australian cottage, but can they untangle the past before it is too late?
And finally, squeezing into 2016 is a little French gem from Grégoire Delacourt: We Only Saw Happiness. A heart-breaking but ultimately heart-warming tale about a father who loses everything, then sets out to get it all back. Longlisted for the Prix Goncourt (the French equivalent of the Man Booker here in the UK), this novel will leave you with a warm glow on a cold winter evening.
Tags: A Hero in France, after the crash, Augustown, Belgravia, Black Water Lilies, Charcoal Joe, Good Morning midnight, Smoke, The Death of an Owl, The Eye of hte Reindeer, The Maker of Swans, The Reader, The Woman on the Stairs, Today Will be Different, Traveler's Rest, We Only Saw Happiness, Who Killed Piet Barol?
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