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The Most Anticipated Books of the Rest of 2007

By posted at 5:17 pm on June 26, 2007 8

With year nearly half over, it’s time once again to look ahead at books that will be arriving in the coming months. 2007 was very much a front-loaded year in terms of big-name literary releases with heavyweights like Delillo, McEwan, Murakami, Lethem, and Chabon all dropping new titles early in the year. The second half of 2007, while it doesn’t have as many headline grabbers (excluding Harry Potter, of course), does have a number of interesting books on offer.

coverSeptember: I’ve already written about the Junot Diaz book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Here’s what I said “The reason I’m so excited about this is that Diaz’s story by the same title in the New Yorker’s 2000 end-of-year fiction issue was one of the best stories that’s appeared in the magazine in the ten years I’ve been reading it. It is a story so good that I still remember talking to various people about it in my then home city of Los Angeles, people with whom I never before or after talked fiction. It was a story that got around. And now, finally, it has blossomed into a book.” Since then, the New Yorker has published another excerpt from the book, in the June 11 & 18 Summer Fiction issue, but the story isn’t available online.

coverSuite Francaise, a posthumously published work by a Russian-born, French novelist who died in the Holocaust was a surprise bestseller in 2006. Though Irene Nemirovsky was a celebrated writer in the 1930s, she had been largely unknown to today’s readers. Now, however, her work is returning to the spotlight. Like Suite Francaise, Fire in the Blood was written during the early years of the war, but only published decades later. Unlike Suite Francaise, Fire in the Blood does not center on the war, instead “it dwells on intense, often repressed emotional conflict set against bucolic country life,” according to the International Herald Tribune where more about the book and Nemirovsky can be found.

coverSongs Without Words is Ann Packer’s follow-up to her acclaimed debut, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. Based on some reports from BEA, the book has generated some buzz, but I haven’t seen any early reviews. Publisher Knopf describes the book as a chronicle of a friendship between two women that is shaken when an “adolescent daughter enters dangerous waters” and “the fault lines in the women’s friendship are revealed.” An excerpt from the book is available, too.

coverDenis Johnson has a hefty new tome (600+ pgs) on the way. As Garth pointed out to me when he snagged a galley of the book at BEA, Tree of Smoke has garnered some serious praise from FSG head Jonathan Galassi. His letter from the front of the galley says: “The novel you’re holding is Denis Johnson’s finest work, I believe, and one of the very best books we have ever had the honor to publish. Tree of Smoke has haunted me in the sense that I’ve thought about it and dreamed about it since I finished reading it, and the impression it left has only deepened over time. I think it is a great book, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.” (via SoT)

Richard Russo is taking something of a departure from his usual terrain in upstate New York with his new novel Bridge of Sighs. The book’s protagonist Louis Charles “Lucy” Lynch hales from upstate Thomaston, but the book’s action takes place partly in Venice where Lucy goes with his wife to find a childhood friend. From the sound of it, Russo stays true to the themes and tone of his past books but broadens the geography a bit.

October: Ann Patchett, author of big seller Bel Canto has a new book coming out called Run. Patchett recently told Amazon the book is “about a man who is the former mayor of Boston, who has three sons and who has political ambitions for his sons that perhaps one of them would go on to be president, and he pushes them in that direction.” Or if you want a snappier blurb: “Joe Kennedy meets The Brothers Karamazov,” which sounds more than a little intriguing. Curious readers can listen to Patchett reading from the book courtesy WGBH Boston.

coverIn my early days as a bookseller, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones was one of the first bestsellers I encountered from that side of the retail equation. I came to understand that this meant having a copy of the book within reach at all times since requests for it came unabated. At one point I even had the book’s ISBN memorized from ringing it up so frequently. Sebold and her publisher will undoubtedly be hoping for similar success with her follow-up novel The Almost Moon. USA Today recently ratcheted up the hype by revealing the book’s first sentence: “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.”

coverTom Perotta’s last book, Little Children got noticed both because of good reviews and because Pepperidge Farm made publisher St. Martin’s take its goldfish crackers off the cover (they were replaced by chocolate chip cookies). Perrotta’s new book, The Abstinence Teacher depicts no food whatsoever on the cover. The book treads Perrotta’s usual turf: the raw underbelly of suburbia. Following in the footsteps of Election, another Perrotta novel, a film version of The Abstinence Teacher is said to be in the works.

coverPerhaps the “biggest” book yet to come out during the second half of this year, though, will be Philip Roth’s Exit Ghost. Billed as the final Zuckerman novel, Exit Ghost follows Zuckerman back to New York where he is seeing a doctor but is waylaid when chance encounters stir things up in the way things get stirred up in Roth novels. An early look from PW is less than impressed – “the plot is contrived.” A random blogger offers a different opinion. With the publication date several months away, the jury is still out.

The above are the forthcoming books that have caught my eye, but I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones. Tell us about them in the comments.





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8 Responses to “The Most Anticipated Books of the Rest of 2007”

  1. Seth Christenfeld
    at 7:20 pm on June 26, 2007

    I've read The Almost Moon, and it's almost good. (Forgive the obvious glibness.)

    It all goes downhill from that first sentence. I should note that I adored The Lovely Bones until its last fifty pages, at which point a certain event turned me utterly against the narrative. Moon isn't as bad as the ending of Bones, sure, but it's not nearly as good as the rest of it was.

  2. Poornima
    at 4:04 am on June 27, 2007

    I am looking forward to Ha Jin's "A Free Life" due out in October. It's the first of his set here in the States.

  3. Dan Wickett
    at 5:43 am on June 27, 2007

    Hey Max – great post. Some potentially great books by names not so large as those you've brought up:

    Refresh, Refresh – Stories by Benjamin Percy from Graywolf in October. Percy's title story was in BASS 2006 and won a Pushcart as well. He was just named the winner of the Paris Review's Plimpton Prize as well.

    Graywolf also has the new novel from Percival Everett, The Water Cure, coming in September. This time around Everett looks at revenge and our society.

    Unbridled has another Marc Estrin title due out in November – The Lamentations of Julius Marantz that asks a question – Who would benefit if they really did bring The Rapture on?

    Steve Erickson fans can be excited to hear that Europa Editions is bringing out his latest novel, Zeroville, in November.

    And there's this collection of short stories, All Over, by a guy named Roy Kesey that a new publisher, Dzanc Books, is publishing towards the end of October – I heard one of the stories included will also be in BASS 2007 earlier that month.

  4. Gayla
    at 6:04 am on June 27, 2007

    I'm pretty excited about the new Perrotta–I adored both Election and Little Children. The new Ha Jin looks good, too.

  5. Sean Ferrell
    at 6:38 am on June 27, 2007

    I've always been horribly jealous of Denis Johnson's talents, and the description of "Tree of Smoke" and the glowing letter from Mr. Galassi do nothing to alleviate that jealousy.

  6. Garth Risk Hallberg
    at 11:31 am on June 27, 2007

    I devoured both "Exit Ghost" and "Tree of Smoke" this month. I'm still mulling over the former, but "Tree of Smoke" is really something, on the grandest kind of scale. I wish they'd released it in May. It's one of those long books that are great to take on trips…like Lonesome Dove filtered through the sensibilities of Cormac McCarthy Vollmann St. Augustine. Only set in Vietnam.

  7. Erin
    at 7:31 pm on June 28, 2007

    Rupert Thomson's Death of a Murderer, which comes out in the U.S. in a month or two. (I've read it, and it's terrific.)

  8. GreenTea
    at 10:30 pm on June 29, 2007

    The surprise book for me is The Reincarnationist – by M.J. Rose – one of the BEA Buzz titles – which is where I picked up an arc. Literary thriller that should put Rose on the map.

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