New year, so turn over a new page
Film tie-ins, children’s stories, annual crime thrillers and big authors’ stand-alones are the everyday favourites of readers who like what they know, and buy what they recognise. This year is likely to be no different, with big books dominating the landscape as booklovers devour novels from the names they know and trust.
Last year thriller Gone Girl, teen romance The Fault in Our Stars, gamers’ Minecraft, prize-winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North, crime mainstay Lee Child and the various-storey Treehouses dominated the top 20, Neilsen Bookscan has revealed.
Matthew Reilly of course had a foothold, while Jamie Oliver and The Guinness Word Records 2015 predictably sold well. These authors and titles are likely to continue their dominance but newcomers are also likely to make a splash — especially if they pick up a movie deal — while up-and-comers will make inroads, especially on the festival circuit.
In the meantime, more mature authors will sink or swim in an increasingly digital marketplace as Australian readers save a buck or $20 by picking up ebooks.
So what stands out among the 2015 offerings, and what titles will have local prominence?
Publishers are rolling out books aplenty for summer readers, with a new Tess Gerritsen Rizzoli and Isles thriller Die Again among the highlights (see Shelf Life review). Also on the crime agenda is the latest Tami Hoag, Cold Cold Heart (Hachette $30, ebook $17), the stand-alone mystery of a TV reporter and kidnap victim who investigates the disappearance of her high-school best friend. On the potential future big book list is DreamWorks pick-up The Girl on the Train by debutante Paula Hawkins. Hawkins’ tale centres on a female commuter who watches others but has a chance to become part of the action after witnessing a shocking incident.
Actor and father David Duchovny sets the young adult market firmly in his sights with Holy Cow (Headline $25, ebook $13), a “modern-day dairy tale”, an interesting move for a man once admitted to rehab for sex addiction. London and Hawaii-based novelist Priya Parmar lures Virginia Woolf fans with Vanessa and Her Sister (Bloomsbury $30, ebook $12 and out now), a novel starring the famed novelist’s sister Vanessa Bell as the romantic lead in a charged tragedy which threatens to destroy the family. Melbourne-based West Australian Charles Hall appeals to local readers with Summer’s Gone ($24), a Margaret River Press novel about four friends torn apart by a 1960s tragedy. A panel chose the one-time Gemini band member’s debut for the young publisher’s list over a select batch of competing titles, and it will be launched during the February 19-22 Perth Writers Festival. Meanwhile self-published Perth author Lili Saint Germain takes a mass-market punt with the first of a bikie romance trilogy for HarperCollins, Cartel (ebook $5), a prequel to her Gypsy Brothers series.
Literary light, Man Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro rewards loyal readers with The Buried Giant (Faber $30, ebook $12), a novel which uses the guise of an elderly couple’s journey to explore the way people remember and forget. New voice Claire North (aka Catherine Webb, the fantasy novelist “Kate Griffin”) chases her film-worthy debut, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, with Touch (Hachette $30, ebook $17, out on February 24), the tale of people who die violent deaths and can jump between bodies, in a premise reminiscent of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s creepy book-turned-film The Host.
Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling will return to shelves with Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, a Joel Holland-illustrated fundraising edition of her 2008 Harvard University commencement speech which has been such a success on YouTube.
Urban grit-master Irvine Welsh will deliver the tale of top shagger turned impotent bloke in A Decent Ride (Jonathan Cape $33, $15). The more literary bestseller Kate Atkinson will explore living an unexpected life, with Life After Life companion A God In Ruins (Doubleday $33, $23). Meanwhile Man Booker prize 2014 short-lister Zadie Smith will take another punt at the top prize with Out of Place (Penguin) while Malcolm Knox explores the fictional life of a trigamist in the Wonder Lover (Allen & Unwin). Locally, the prolific John Kinsella will release the short- story collection Crow’s Breath (Transit Lounge).
Red Dog-lover Louis de Bernieres will shake out The Dust that Falls from Dreams (Random House) while Water for Elephants writer Sara Gruen takes a plunge with At the Water’s Edge (Allen & Unwin) and Victorian author Steven Carroll introduces his fifth Glenroy series novel Forever Young (Fourth Estate).
Broome publisher Magabala Books will roll out a poetry retrospective from Jack Davis.
Crime-fiction heavyweight Michael Robotham will debut his latest novel (Hachette), and Australian poet Philip Salom returns to fiction with Waiting (Puncher & Wattmann).
Toni Morrison will deliver for literary fans with The Wrath of Children while Haruki Murakami will share two novellas in Hear The Wind Sing (Random House) as Sebastian Faulks also publishes with the group.
Music fans can add poetry to their lives, as P.J. Harvey releases The Hollow of the Hand (Bloomsbury hardback $85, paperback $35), her first poetry collection. Harvey joined forces with filmmaker and photographer Seamus Murphy to document their road trips across Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, with the pair’s collection of poetry and images forming a chronicle of the current era.
Life and work partners John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan will release an edited Western Australian Poetry Anthology through Fremantle Press. Literary mainstay and Geraldine Brooks will grace shelves for Hachette, while controversial Miles Franklin Award winner Frank Moorhouse returns to his Grand Days world with The Book of Ambrose, the story of a secondary character (Random House).
Curtin University colleagues Liz Byrski and Rachel Robertson will join forces to introduce Purple Prose (Fremantle Press).
© The West Australian
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