Rule, Britannia!

The Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II were officially inaugurated in the UK last month.   It’s the centennial of Charles Dickens birth.  Plus, the 2012 Orange Prize Longlist will be announced on Thursday.

I’m feeling a bout of Anglophilia coming on!

And it just so happens that three books – all with connections back to the Isle of Albion – are coming out this Spring/Summer that I can’t wait to tell you about.  Too soon for the full reviews…so you’ll have to make do with teasers and the release dates (though I’m sure number 2 on my list will shock no one).

   The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (available April, 2012).  This is a first novel for Grace McCleen – an author and singer/songwriter who lives in London, England.  It’s getting quite a bit of attention on both sides of the Atlantic. A 10-year-old narrator with a bully problem, a miniature town built from scraps and a mystical initiation of the End of Days: The Land of Decoration could be the Book Club read of the Summer.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (available May, 2012).  The sequel to Wolf Hall focuses on the downfall of Anne Boleyn and what it cost Thomas Cromwell to bring that about.    I love Mantel’s prose and have a bit of a crush on Cromwell, so I’m counting the days until I clasp those 432 pages in my grubby little hands.

City of Ravens: The Extraordinary History  of London, the Tower and its Famous Birds by Boria Sax (available July, 2012).  Legend has it that London will fall if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London.  Sax delves into the foundation of that story and a host of others about these enormous (and scary looking) black birds.

Have a book to add to the list?  A new release you’re looking forward to or an old favorite everyone should read?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

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The Review: Looking Forward to Translations in 2012

As the gears of the Mayan calendar slowly grind to a stop, I find it’s best to keep our minds off the impending apocalypse.  And what better distraction than a list of books from around the world – all due to be published before November, of course.  (You know, just in case you’re stockpiling early and have some room leftover in your end-of-the-world backpack).


Varamo by César Aira (translated from the original Spanish), published by New Directions – In the interest of full disclosure: I’ve already read this one and can’t wait to share!  I’ve been completely hooked on Aira since reading Ghosts a few months ago.  And it’s not just the prose and quirky stories (which are, of course, wonderful).  The New Directions editions are small, 5″ x 7″ paperback books with lovely covers that inspire book lust of the best kind. I’m slowly building a collection of all their Aira titles.


The Cyclist Conspiracy by Svetislav Basara (translated from the original Serbian), published by Open Letter Books – I’ve been eying this book in the Open Letter catalog for over six months.  It’s finally coming out in March.  What’s the draw?  There’s a Sherlock Holmes connection and a wacky science fiction component.  Here’s a bit of description from the Open Letter website: 

The Cyclist Conspiracy tells the tale of a secret Brotherhood who meet in dreams, gain esoteric knowledge from contemplation of the bicycle, and seek to move in and out of history, manipulating events…


Memoirs of a Porcupine by Alain Mabanckou (translated from the original French?), published by Soft Skull Press – To tide us over while we wait, impatiently, for Black Bazar to come the U.S.  (it’s currently available in English through Serpent’s Tail in the UK).  Not that I’m complaining.  I’m more than happy to content myself with this novel, which won the Prix Renaudot.  It’s the story of a young Congolese boy who discovers his “spirit animal” is a porcupine.  The two become partners in crime – committing acts of violence and murder.  As the title suggests – Memoirs of a Porcupine is the porcupine’s confession as to the part he played.

Children in Reindeer Woods by Krístin Ómarsóttir (translated from Icelandic), published by Open Letter Books – I discovered this novel while I was compulsively checking the release date of The Cyclist Conspiracy on Open Letter Books’ website.  A fable, reminiscent of Italo Calvino, it’s about a small girl named Billie who discovers ‘Children in Reindeer Woods’. A “temporary home for children”.  But the home is in the center of a war zone.  When the home is attacked and everyone killed, Billie must learn to live with a troubled soldier turned farmer.


Manual of Painting & Calligraphy by Jose Saramago (translated from Portuguese), published by Mariner – Saramago’s first novel.  And, really, if I need to say more than that…

The Colonel by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (translated from Persian), published by Melville House – I am so excited about this novel!  Nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize, written by a prolific Iranian author, The Colonel is described as taking place “over the course of a single night, the novel follows the Colonel as he pays a bribe to recover his daughter’s body and then races to bury her before sunrise”.  I’ve been wanting to dive into Melville House’s catalog for ages.  And after reading Lisa’s review over at ANZ Litlovers I knew I had to read it.  Challenging and intriguing – that’s a combination I can’t walk a way from.


Last but not least – I don’t know when these two books are coming out in the U.S…. or who’ll be publishing them… or if they’ll be here in time… All we can do is cross our fingers and keep our eyes open.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos (original Spanish), published by Central Books  And Other Stories in the UK    Update:  Thanks to @andothertweets and @FSG_Books we now know that Down the Rabbit Hole comes out in the U.S. in October 2012, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers (original German), published by Random House Germany

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine Gets Hard Boiled is back with a new collection of audio books.  Crimes, murders, heists…  10 new recordings in all.

I’ll be downloading The Tattoo Murder Case by Japanese author Akimitsu Takagi.  Set in Tokyo in the aftermath of WWII, a girl is found brutally murdered – her full-body tattoo taken,  only her head and limbs are left at the scene.  A detective and his brother, a naive young doctor,  investigate.   It all sounds very Silence of the Lambs meets Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson (though that’s my initial reaction based on the blurbs and nothing more).

I’m also leaning towards Death of a Nationalist by Rebecca Pawel… another murder mystery.  This time set in pre-war Franco’s Spain.  Ever since seeing the film  Pan’s Labyrinth this period has been on my radar.

Both books are, entirely coincidentally as relates to my choosing them, published by Soho Press.

As I’ve said before – I like Iambik because its audio library is built around books from small, independent presses.  Books that were overlooked by the audio book industry.   Iambik takes their service one step further – offering these audio books at remarkably good prices ($6.99 each or $44.99 for the whole lot).   If you enjoy the indie presses and listening to audio books, it’s still a difficult deal to beat.

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