As we wrap up our reading for the 2016 Festival planning and now get down into the nuts and bolts of creating events, it's time to look ahead and see what is coming out this year. It might seem geeky, but I actually plan my reading by first taking stock of what will be published and what will be buzzed about. Here are the books that are (so far) on my list for 2016:
The Happy Marriage by Tahar Ben Jelloun. The Moroccan novelist (the book was originally written in French) tells the story of a disentegrating marriage in contemporary Casablance, alternating between his and her point of view. Jelloun is a writer whose few works I've read have deeply affected me.
I Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar. The Slovenian writer's latest translation into English tells the story of a young woman who mysteriously disappears during the war. In doing so, Jančar explores the legacy of the war on contemporary Europe and the long shadow it continues to cast, influencing the way we think about society.
The Past by Tessa Hadley. British writer Hadley is one of these writers who many people have suggested we invite to the Festival. We've tried is all I can say. Her short stories are dazzling little gems that are endlessly fascinating (a cursory search online will link to a few New Yorker pieces she's published in recent years). Her new novel explores one of Hadley's consistent themese: the role of a young girl within a family.
The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal. De Kerangal was at our Festival a few years back and all she'd had translated then was one book. But her nomination for the Goncourt (France's biggest literary prize) and her general booming reputation as one of France's most engaging writers has ensured that some of her works, at least, are on publishers' radar and lined up for translation. In typical De Kerangal style, this one tells the story of a heart, an actual heart, as it makes its way from one body via transplant to another.
Spill Simmer Falter Wilter by Sara Baume. As has been noted by several commentators and literary journalists, Ireland is going through a short story and fiction renaissance and Baume is one of the writers leading the way. Her stories are rich, deep and moving. Her new novel, too, got rave reviews when it came out last spring. It's not being released in North America and it's at the top of my list for this year as well.
Dinosaurs on Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin. Like Baume, Danielle McLaughlin is considered one of Ireland's rising voices in short literary fiction. Her collecion of stories isn't out in North America until the summer but it's one that will be worth the wait. Her piece in The New Yorker last year, and several other pieces published online, have made her a short story writer to pay close attention to.
Also writers with books out in 2016 include Edmund White, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Don DeLillo, Louise Erdrich, Anne Tyler and Javier Marias.
Going to be doing a LOT of reading this year!