The Good People by Hannah Kent ($22.95)
Kent’s second novel has already shot to the top of the best-seller lists and I think this is a good testament to her talents as a writer and her significant fan base. Here is the synopsis:
Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference.
Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow’s house.
Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken…
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood ($23.25)
The subtitle of Hag-Seed is ‘The Tempest Retold’ and this the latest offering from the Hogarth Shakespeare Series – contemporary authors reimagining Shakespeare’s plays as novels. (I talked about the first, The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson, in this post.)
I studied four (four!) Shakespeare texts for my HSC, and The Tempest was one of these. It’s often put in the ‘problematic’ category (and rightly so)(but it’s one of his best), and I am looking forward to seeing Atwood’s interpretation.
The Island Will Sink by Briohny Doyle ($24.25)
The Island Will Sink is publisher The Lifted Brow‘s first foray into books after establishing themselves, and their excellent literary journal of the same name, firmly in the Australian literary landscape. This novel has sold so well it’s already into its second printing and I believe TLB has plans for more.
Here’s the blurb:
The energy crisis has come and gone. EcoLaw is enforced by insidious cartoon panda bears and their armies of viral-marketing children. The world watches as Pitcairn Island sinks into the Pacific, wondering if this, finally, will be the end of everything. Amongst it all, Max Galleon, anxious family man and blockbuster auteur, lives a life that he cannot remember.
What happens when you can outsource your memories – and even edit them?
When death can be reversed through digitisation, what is the point of living?
If the lines between real and unreal are fully blurred, can you really trust anyone, even yourself?
Dystopia fans will enjoy. I’m getting a copy ASAP.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith ($22.95)
Fans will rejoice to discover Smith’s got a new novel out. Here’s the synopsis:
Two brown girls dream of being dancers–but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…
Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.
I’ve struggled with Smith when I’ve picked up her novels in the past, but I sense I will fare better with this one.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue ($26.25)
Emma Donoghue didn’t shy away from difficult subject matter in earlier novels – most famous of these being the harrowing Room – and The Wonder is no different. Like Kent’s above, this is a historical novel, set in 1850s Ireland and tells of a girl who stops eating but somehow remains alive. Why? And how is this possible? This story will no doubt contain lots to start conversations on the nature of self-deprivation, motives and the imposition of power on girls throughout the generations. (eBook version is available.)