Can you believe it's March already? The year seems to be flying by. Thank goodness we have lots of lovely new books to keep us company — and here are five more to add to your wishlist this month.
The books have been arranged in chronological order according to publication date.
Doug Johnstone's Hit & Run
Faber and Faber, hardcover, 272 pages (March 1)
Driving home from a party with his girlfriend and brother, all of
them drunk and high on stolen pills, Billy Blackmore accidentally hits someone in the night. In a panic, they all decide to drive off. But the next day Billy wakes to find he has to cover the story for the local paper. It turns out the dead man was Edinburgh's biggest crime lord and, as Billy struggles with what he's done, he is sucked into a nightmare of guilt, retribution and violence.
This is Johnstone's second novel to be published by Faber (two earlier novels were published by Penguin). His first, Smokeheads, was a rip roaring thriller that I read and reviewed late last year. If this new one is half as good, it will be a very fine — and pacey — read indeed.
Kathleen Winter's Annabel
Vintage, paperback, 480 pages (March 1)
In 1968, in a remote part of Canada, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people share the secret — the baby's parents and a trusted neighbour. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to go through surgery and raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows up within the hyper-male hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self — a girl he thinks of as 'Annabel' — is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. As Wayne approaches adulthood, and its emotional and physical demands, the woman inside him begins to cry out. The changes that follow are momentous not just for him, but for the three adults that have guarded his secret.
Kathleen Winter is an English-born Canadian writer who made waves with the hardcover publication of this book in the UK last year. I've wanted to read it for ages, not least because of its fascinating subject matter, but mainly because of all the praise — and prizes — heaped upon it. Annabel won the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award in 2010 and in the same year was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General's Awards. It was shortlisted for the Orange Prize last year.
Banana Yoshimoto's The Lake
Melville House, paperback, 192 pages (March 15)
A young woman moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to overcome her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. But she spends her time staring out of the window.only to realise that there is a young man across the street staring out of his window too. They eventually embark on a hesitant romance, until she learns that he is the victim of a childhood trauma. Visiting two of his friends who live a monastic life beside a beautiful lake, she begins to piece together clues that reveal that his troubled past includes a bizarre religious cult.
I discovered Banana Yoshimoto last year when I read her collection of short stories entitled Asleep. I loved the strange quirkiness of her tales and the detached, almost clinical, style of her prose. The Lake, which was published in hardcover in 2010, has been shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, the winner of which will be announced on March 14.
Lionel Shriver The New Republic
Harper, Kindle edition, 400 pages (March 27)
Ostracized as a kid, Edgar Kellogg has always yearned to be popular. A disgruntled New York corporate lawyer, he's more than ready to leave his lucrative career for the excitement and uncertainty of journalism. When he's offered the post of foreign correspondent in a Portuguese backwater that has sprouted a homegrown terrorist movement, Edgar recognises the disappeared larger-than-life reporter he's been sent to replace, Barrington Saddler, as exactly the outsize character he longs to emulate. Infuriatingly, all his fellow journalists cannot stop talking about their beloved "Bear," who is no longer lighting up their work lives. Yet all is not as it appears...
It's Lionel Shriver, what other reason do you need to read this book? Note that the hardcover edition will be published on June 4.
David Park's The Light of Amsterdam
Bloomsbury Publishing, hardcover, 384 pages (March 29)
It is December in Belfast, Christmas is approaching and three sets of people are about to make their way to Amsterdam — Alan, a university art teacher; Karen, a single mother struggling to make ends meet by working in a care home and cleaning city centre offices; and middle-aged couple, Marion and Richard, who run a garden centre. As these people brush against each other in the squares, museums and parks of Amsterdam, their lives are transfigured as they encounter the complexities of love in a city that challenges what has gone before. Tender and humane, and elevating the ordinary to something timeless and important, The Light of Amsterdam is a novel of compassion and rare dignity.
David Park is a critically acclaimed author from Belfast who hasn't yet delivered a bestseller, but perhaps this novel might be the one that achieves the commercial success he deserves. Having read his last novel, The Truth Commissioner, a slow-burning literary thriller with political leanings, I'm anxious to see what he's managed to deliver this time around. The publicity team at Bloomsbury seem to think it is his best one yet.
Please note that the release dates quoted are for the UK and are subject to change.
Are there any on this list that have piqued your interest? Or that you have read?