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The Most Anticipated Books of 2007

By posted at 1:49 pm on January 2, 2007 18

As I did in 2005 and 2006, I’ve decided to open this year looking ahead to some of the exciting or intriguing titles that we’ll be talking about over the next few months.

coverPossibly the biggest literary arrival of this young year will be that of Norman Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest later this month. Unfortunately for some fans, the book is not the long hoped for sequel to Harlot’s Ghost, a book that Mailer abandoned for this one, according to an interview. With this effort Mailer treads into charged territory, chronicling the early life of Adolf Hitler from the point of view of the devil or something like it. The curious can read an excerpt of the book that appeared in the January issue of Esquire.

coverAlso coming right around the corner is House of Meetings by Martin Amis. The book came out in the UK in September where John Banville in The Independent named it a “Book of the Year.” The reviews have been generally good. The Observer called it a “compact tour de force.” The Guardian was slightly more skeptical saying that the book is “an attempt to compress the past 60 years of Russian history into 200 pages, delivered as the monologue of someone whose name we’re never told; an ambitious plan, held together by the sound of a voice.”

coverAlso this month, Paul Auster’s latest book Travels in the Scriptorium comes out. It sounds like another inscrutable, postmodern tale from Auster, this time starring a protagonist named Mr. Blank. In this case, Auster’s inward looking tendencies are amplified as the book references many of his previous works. At both Condalmo and Strange Horizons, this particular Auster experiment has been deemed less successful.

coverLouis Begley, author of About Schmidt, has Matters of Honor coming out this month. It starts with three unlikely roommates at Harvard in the 1950s and goes on to trace how the diverging outcomes of their lives came to be. If that sounds like a tired old tale, PW makes the same observation but then brushes it aside: “It’s a story covered by everyone from Cheever to Roth, but Begley finds new and wonderful nuances within it.”

coverColum McCann’s fourth novel Zoli will hit shelves soon. The book is named for a Roma (or Gypsy) woman in Slovakia who we follow from her harrowing childhood during World War II to her becoming something of local literary celebrity. Through it all, however, she is unable to escape what her heritage signifies in her Communist bloc country. The book has been out for several months in Ireland and the UK where The Guardian hailed McCann’s “near pitch-perfect control of character and narrative.” For those who want a taste, a pdf excerpt from the book is available.

coverAnother big name with a new book out this year is Jane Smiley, whose Ten Days in the Hills arrives in February. Hills is being billed as Smiley’s “LA Novel” (note that Jonathan Lethem’s “LA Novel” arrives in March). PW sums it all up rather well: “Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant sendup of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters, their concern with compelling surfaces and their perpetual quest to capture reality through artifice, with warmth and seriousness. In their shallowness, she finds a kind of profundity.” On the other hand, I’m not convinced that the world needs another literary look at the Hollywood-caricature side of LA.

coverFebruary will also see the arrival of Daniel Alarcon’s Lost City Radio. This is Alarcon’s first novel, following his collection of stories, War by Candlelight, which was a finalist for the 2006 PEN Hemingway Award. Alarcon likely came to many readers’ attention in 2003, when his story “City of Clowns” was featured in the New Yorker debut fiction issue. This new book scored a blurb from Edward P. Jones – “Mr. Alarcon, like the best storytellers, reveals to us that the world we have secreted in our hearts spins in a bigger universe with other hearts just as good and just as bad as our own.” – always a good sign.

coverAlso in February, a new book will arrive from Nuruddin Farah, quite likely the best known Somali novelist and the winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1998. Knots is about Cambara, a Somalian woman who has emigrated to Canada, where a crisis sends her on a journey back to Somalia. Farah is known for his strong female protagonists and this book appears to be no exception. Knots gets a glowing review from PW – “Despite its heavy subject, joy suffuses the novel” – and Farah will likely continue to be discussed as a potential Nobel winner.

coverIt would be strange to read a book by Jonathan Lethem that wasn’t deeply rooted in his hometown of Brooklyn, but readers will get that chance in March when You Don’t Love Me Yet arrives. The book is set in Los Angeles, but, while Fortress of Solitude had some amusing LA moments set in the office of a Hollywood agent, this new book concerns itself with the city’s grungier east side neighborhoods, home to a star-crossed indie rock band whose members are classic LA misfits. Early accounts at PW and this bookseller’s blog have found the book to be funny and entertaining but not up to par with the author’s earlier efforts.

If you’ll indulge me in allowing a little non-fiction to sneak into this post, please note that William T. Vollmann has a new book coming out in March called Poor People, a rather slim tome, weighing in it at just 464 pages. This is the book that Vollmann mentioned when Ed and Scott saw him read back in spring 2005. From Scott’s post: “Vollman is currently working on a book about the experiences of poor people in different countries. He says he asks everyone why they think they are poor, and the answers greatly vary. He says most of the Thais told him it’s because they were bad in a previous life. Most of the Mexicans he spoke to told him it was because the rich stole from them.”

A book by Columbian writer Laura Restrepo will hit American shores in March. Delirium was originally written in 2004 and follows the life of a struggling literature professor who must investigate what has caused his wife to go insane. The book bears an impressive array of blurbs befitting a writer of Restrepo’s stature (if not here, then overseas), including raves from Jose Saramago, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Harold Bloom, and Vikram Seth.

coverWe’ll also see a new novel from Kurt Andersen co-founder of the influential magazine Spy and host of the public radio show Studio 360. Heyday is set in the mid-19th century and it follows an immigrant, recently arrived on bustling American shores, who falls in with a group heading west, lured by the California Gold Rush. Random House calls the book “an enthralling, old-fashioned yarn interwoven with a bracingly modern novel of ideas.” A short story about two of the book’s main characters appeared in Metropolis in 2003.

coverDebut novelist Joshua Ferris already has a backer in Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation, who says Then We Came To The End is “a humane and affecting book.” Mark also included the novel in his contribution to the Year in Reading series where he said that this “hilarious and gorgeously written novel might just change [his] mind about MFAs.” Of course, Mark is fully aware that we all might not share his particular tastes, so he convinced publisher Little, Brown to let him publish the book’s first chapter at TEV, where you can now check it out for yourself.

coverOrange Prize winner Lionel Shriver also has a new book coming in March, The Post-Birthday World. PW describes as “impressive if exhausting” this novel that explores what might have been if its children’s book illustrator protagonist had given into temptation and pursued an affair. Following the success of Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and the subsequent re-release of her back catalog, The Post-Birthday World marks her first new effort since hitting the literary big time.

coverThe Savage Detectives, originally published in 1998 by the late Roberto Bolano, will arrive in April. The book has already appeared in other languages, which is how Francois of Tabula Rasa came to read it. he shared his reactions with us as a part of the Year in Reading series: “Pure bliss! In turn coming-of-age story, roman noir, literary quest, this is a real tour de force, reminiscent of Julio Cortazar and Jack Kerouac while remaining deeply original. Bolano passed away in 2003. He was fifty years old, and I just can’t help thinking about what else might have been coming from him.” New Directions, meanwhile, will publish a translation of Bolano’s novella Amulet in January.

There’s not much available yet on Dani Shapiro’s new book arriving in April. Buzz Girl notes that Black and White is “about mothers and daughters set in New York and Maine.” The book follows Shapiro’s well received 2003 book Family History.

coverThe biggest literary month of 2007 might be May which will start with the much anticipated, much delayed publication of Michael Chabon’s new novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Chabon’s first full-length adult novel since The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a thriller set in an imaginary world inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s short-lived plan during WWII to create a Jewish homeland in Alaska, rather than the Middle East. Sounds interesting, no? We’ve been following this book for quite some time now, as it was originally set to be released nearly a year ago. But Chabon put the brakes on the project when he decided it was moving along too fast.

Yet another big name author with a new book out this year is Haruki Murakami, whose book After Dark hits shelves in May. The book was originally published in Japan in 2004, and has already been translated into some other languages, including Dutch. In keeping with the title, the novel tracks a number of nocturnal characters who dwell in Tokyo and have the sorts of encounters that tend to occur in the wee hours of the morning. Murakami’s typical melding of dream and reality will be familiar to readers of this new novel as well. Still, I join Scott Esposito in hoping that Murakami breaks new ground with this new book.

Also in May: the arrival of Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje. Not much available on this one yet, save a stray synopsis or two. The novel begins with a family on a farm in northern California in the 1970s and moves to the casinos of Nevada, at which point a “traumatic event” breaks the family apart. The pieces are put back together in the novel’s second part, which takes place “in the stark landscape of south-central France.” Like I said, not much to go on just yet.

Susanna Moore, best known for her novel In the Cut, has a new book coming out in May. The Big Girls is based on Moore’s experience teaching writing in a federal prison in New York, and one early look at the novel found it to be, as one might expect, fairly disturbing. It’ll be interesting to see other opinions of what sounds like a very emotionally charged book.

The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins will arrive in June. Wiggins’ last book, Evidence of Things Unseen, was a National Book Award finalist in 2003. This new book is a historical novel about the Old West photographer Edward Curtis.

I’ll close the list with two additional non-fiction books that I’m particularly looking forward to. Pete Dexter has a collection of his old newspaper columns coming out called Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage. A number of the columns are from his time in Philadelphia, which should be of particular interest for me, since the city is now my home. In addition, I’ve always felt that the old school newspaperman’s sensibility that Dexter brings to his fiction is one of his most appealing qualities as a writer, so I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to delve into the pure stuff, as it were. Another journalist whose new collection is, for me, hotly anticipated is Ryszard Kapuscinski. Kapuscinski is a Polish writer who, to me, is unsurpassed in his chronicling of the so-called Third World and its forgotten wars and struggles. I don’t yet know what his latest, Travels with Herodotus, will cover, but I know I’ll be reading it.

While long, this list is by no means exhaustive, so please use the comments to share what you’re looking forward to reading in 2007.





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18 Responses to “The Most Anticipated Books of 2007”

  1. Brandon
    at 2:29 pm on January 2, 2007

    Personally, I'm looking forward to the Mailer novel. It plays into my fascination with World War II. And since reading Chabon's "The Final Solution," I want to read more from him. And, then of course, there's Philip Roth's "Exit Ghost." Roth is one of my favorite living authors, so I won't be able to pass up the final volume of his Nathan Zuckerman series. And though I'm not a fanboy when it comes to Hobbits, I'm sure fans are anxiously awaiting J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Children of Hurin."

  2. Poornima
    at 5:26 pm on January 2, 2007

    Thank you for this list. I was really looking forward to it.

    Another book worth mentioning is "The Perfect Man" by Naeem Murr which has already been released in the UK and which will be published here in April. I devoured it over the holidays — fabulous read.

  3. Sara
    at 8:30 pm on January 2, 2007

    Thanks for this rather informative post! I'm anticipating the Murakami… even if he wrote 10 more books that were all identical to his previous ones I think I would still love them.

  4. Anonymous
    at 1:55 am on January 3, 2007

    I would like to add "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, to which I am really looking forward.

  5. renee
    at 1:54 pm on January 3, 2007

    Wow, what a great, informative list. Thanks for putting it together!

    (I just finished reading the ARC or Joshua Ferris' "Then We Came to the End"– it IS great.)

  6. the Happy Booker
    at 3:00 pm on January 3, 2007

    Wonderful comprehensive list.

    Personally, we're looking forward to Grand Avenues: the story of the French visionary who designed D.C. (pantheon) by Scott Berg. We intend to blog about this book soon.

    Happy new year, Max. Thanks again for the list! xxoo, tHB

  7. Anonymous
    at 8:54 pm on January 3, 2007

    You mentioned Edward Curtis. If you love his work, you will be interested in a film about his 1911 slide show. The Indian Picture Opera. Its an awsome documentary. I found the dvd on Customflix.com . I highly recommend it.

  8. thomsirveaux
    at 7:05 am on January 4, 2007

    Mmmm….Murakami. There can never be enough Murakami.

    Also eagerly anticipating Tom Bissell's Father Of All Things, which is slated for April.

  9. Garth Risk Hallberg
    at 11:47 am on January 4, 2007

    I'm looking forward to the final volume of John Crowley's "Egypt" series, which Kelly Link's Small Beer Press is putting out. Hadn't heard of Crowley until recently, but he's a fantasy dude who writes like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Started reading "Little, Big" over the holiday, and was shocked by what a good writer this guy is. I think the other three Egypt books were put out by big houses, but they didn't pick up the fourth.

    It is both thrilling and depressing that there are so many amazing writers one never hears about!

  10. Dan Wickett
    at 5:39 pm on January 4, 2007

    I too am looking forward to the Bissell, not to mention Steve Gillis' story collection, Giraffes (Feb.), Ron Rash's Chemistry and Other stories (May), Alyson Hagy's Snow, Ashes (May), Jeff Parker's Ovenman (May), Benjamin Percy's stories Refresh, Refresh (fall) and, of course, Roy Kesey's All Over (Sept./Oct.).

  11. w
    at 6:15 pm on January 5, 2007

    I've read the Dani Shapiro and Susanna Moore novels, and as I'm not too crazy about the Shapiro book, I'll just stick to raving about the Moore: it is satisfactorily disturbing, and the ending gently brings the characters into a sense of dreamlike reality. I hope others will enjoy it as well!

  12. lilli
    at 6:13 pm on January 7, 2007

    Excellent list Max, thanks for putting it together, will print it out and take it to my next bookclub meeting!

  13. Anonymous
    at 8:55 pm on January 11, 2007

    I have heard about Apocalypse 2012 by Lawrence Joseph…he of the Gaia Theory and NY Times…has anyone heard about the book or when it is due in stores?

  14. Anonymous
    at 9:03 am on March 9, 2007

    Don't forget the latest novel from DeLillo– FALLING MAN. Coming early June.

  15. chall gray
    at 3:06 pm on April 27, 2007

    Jeffrey Lent, whose first novel In The Fall created a stir a few years back, has a new novel coming in July.

  16. Anonymous
    at 5:21 am on June 22, 2007

    uh Harry Potter?

  17. Liza
    at 1:45 pm on July 5, 2007

    Thank you very much. I translated your list (and changed the links from Amazon to Ozon according to the place my readers live in).

    http://beth4ever.livejournal.com/861358.html?mode=reply – here. I hope you are not against it?

  18. MidwestDad
    at 3:15 pm on July 2, 2008

    I am looking forward to the book KnorraSky, volume 1, ‘The Deception’ by a new author, RA Knowlton. I read the synopsis at the Guild of Fantasy Writers. Based on the synopsis the book should be tremendous! I also found the web-site for the book http://www.knorrasky.com

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