LITERARY CALENDAR 2017
THE TOP BOOKS RELEASED THIS YEAR ORDERED BY MONTH
Thus far, 2017 brought us Trump, Brexit and the Grenfell Tower fire. The sociopolitical climate has been in turmoil with the Syrian crisis worsening, Russian-American relations sending shivers down everyone’s spine and a wad of well-known and much-loved musicians dying before their time. But so too, has it sparked the world’s most creative minds and some stellar literary works have been emerging in very quick succession, in spite of increasing austerity and turbulence. Read on for my top picks of books released this year in the literary calendar 2017.
LITERARY CALENDAR 2017 – JANUARY
Jason Donald tunes into the current refugee crisis in heart-stopping detail in his new novel Dalila (Penguin Random House). Irene Dalila Mwathi flees her hometown of Kenya in search of a better life, never once imagining that London might pose even more danger. Published 17 January, this book will make you re-evaluate everything you think you know about asylum seekers. Having attended The People Speak last year, an event aimed at abolishing Direct Provision organised by Stephen Rea, Anthony Arnove and Bill Shipsey, this novel really resonated with me.
2. THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS
Lost and found things can open portals to memory and emotion and this is the premise for Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things (Two Roads). On the day his wife unexpectedly dies, short story writer Anthony Peardew loses a trinket gifted to him by his beloved. Devastated by the loss and its significance, Peardew dedicates his entire life to returning keepsakes to their rightful owners. A beautifully moving story and a worthy debut novel.
LITERARY CALENDAR 2017- FEBRUARY
3. THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES
From the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne’s new novel offers a slice into an old Ireland, where unmarried mothers were cast with scorn from their villages and being gay was confined to the shadows. The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Penguin) is the story of Cyril Avery, an adopted child struggling to come to terms with rejection and his sexuality. Released 9 February, this book boasts razor sharp wit in true Dublin dialect and the history of the sins of our fathers.
LITERARY CALENDAR 2017 – MARCH
4. THE RULES DO NOT APPLY
If you liked Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, you’ll love The Rules do not Apply (Deckle Edge). Ariel Levy’s memoir is a brutally honest depiction of a woman who gains everything she ever wants and loses it all in the blink of an eye. This is a no-holds-barred tell-all biography – not for the faint but the brave of heart. Feminist overtones guaranteed.
LITERARY CALENDAR 2017 – APRIL
Brace yourself; it’s about to get real. And it doesn’t get realer than Ciaran McMenamin’s Skintown (Penguin) the story of twenty-something Vincent Duffy navigating his way through life, drugs, sex and the working class. Think Trainspotting meets Shameless if Roddy Doyle wrote the script.
6. HOW TO BE HUMAN
How to be Human (Penguin) is Guardian features writer Paula Cocozza’s first novel and it won’t be her last. Described by the novelist herself (you can read my Irish Times interview with Cocozza here) as a ‘sort of urban pastoral,’ Cocozza’s debut novel centres on Mary; desperately lonely, newly single and longing to cultivate her inner wildness. When Mary happens upon a chance encounter with a fox, her whole world changes but is it for the better? You find out. This book is positively un-put-downable. I read it in 2 days straight, through the night.
LITERARY CALENDAR 2017 MAY-JULY
7. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME
When my sister asked me to describe Sherman Alexie’s new memoir, I said ‘it’s about a Native American man’s obsession with his mother and his relationship to salmon. Oh, and there’s lots of poems.’ 78 of them in fact, and many of them are about salmon (just saying). You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (Hachette), published 18 June is Alexie’s ode to his mother but it’s certainly not written through rose-tinted glasses. This book vacillates between memory, fiction and half-truth with some prose and verse poems thrown in for good measure. I loved it.
8. THIS FAMILY OF THINGS
Alison Jameson’s new book is widely anticipated and rightly so. A study into the Irish family and its dysfunctional habits is the starting point for This Family of Things (Doubleday Ireland).Released 8 June, this is a must-read for fans of Irish fiction.
We can’t shake off the possibility of a real-life Handmaids Tale and it seems that our greatest writers are honing in on a post Apocalyptic world. Following suit is H(A)PPY, Nicola Barker’s new novel about a life where sickness and disease are eliminated and values are surprisingly skewed. A real mind-bender, you won’t want to put this down.
10. GRAVEL HEART
An absent father, an absent-minded mother and secrets that plague his childhood home, Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah is the story of Salim, a young man dealing with the breakup of his parents in 1970s Zanzibar. When his uncle offers him an opportunity to live with him in London, he leaps at the chance but struggles to shake a sense of dislocation, feeling distanced from his both past and his present.