In our first ever instalment of This Month in Books, Deputy Editor Lewis and Rebecca look at the month’s best releases within the world of literature. From a new Part Barker novel to a brand new Philippa Gregory, this month sees an eclectic bunch of releases to get one’s hands on for the last full month of Summer before university rears its head.
Set in London in the autumn of 1940, Noonday marks the first novel where Pat Barker looks at the Second World War rather than the First. Focusing on the characters of Elinor, Paul and Kit, Noonday explores the crushed dreams of the characters who are caught up in yet another way as old loves and obsessions begin to resurface. Following from Life Class and Toby’s Room, Noonday is simultaneously a stand-alone novel as well as the finale of a trilogy. Out 27th August via Hamish Hamilton.
We Don’t Know What We’re Doing is a debut collection by Thomas Morris, exploring a variety of stories and characters set within Caerphilly, a town situated in South Wales. From a young video shop assistant to siblings finding themselves at the bottom of a coal mine with a Japanese tourist. From a Welsh stag in Dublin to a windowed pensioner attending a summer festival. This collection is as much electric as it is delicate and poignant. A writer praised for having a very fresh voice and being a new star in the literary scene, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing is a must-read for this Summer month. Out 20th August via Faber & Faber.
Laila Lalami brings us the critically-acclaimed imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America: Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico in The Moor’s Account.The slave of a Spanish conquistador, Estebanico sails for the Americas with his master as part of a danger-laden expedition to Florida. However, within a year, Estebanico is one of only four crew members to survive. As he journeys with his Spanish companions, oppressive social rankings begin to melt away and Estebanico is remade into an equal, healer and a marvellous storyteller. The book is both a New York Times Notable Book and a Wall Street Journal Top 10 Book of the Year, and therefore one not to miss. Out 18th August via Vintage.
Philippa Gregory returns once more to tell the story of another women left as a footnote to the life of her famous husband in The Taming of the Queen. This time she takes on the story of Kateryne Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and last wife, looking at the woman who is compelled to marry a man who has executed two wives and divorced another two, with a fifth dying shortly after childbirth. Philippa Gregory is well at home writing about the Tudor court, and has a real talent for bringing to life the stories of women who lived rich and thrilling lives, yet are often forgotten. Out 13th August via Simon and Schuster UK.
Continuing a best seller series is never an easy task, particularly when the original author has died, and much of their success has been posthumous. The Girl in the Spider’s Web, written by David Lagerkrantz and translated by George Goulding, continues the story of Michael Bloomkist and Lisbeth Salander, who haven’t seen each other for some time before the start of this novel. Building on one of the strongest thriller series written in recent years, this book certainly has some fascinating and well written characters to work with, as well as big shoes to fill, so to speak. Certainly worth giving a chance to, particularly given that the story revolves around threats to a world leader in artificial intelligence. Out 27th August via MacLehose Press.
One for fantasy lovers, and the end of a literary era, The Shepherd’s Crown is Terry Pratchett’s last Discworld novel. This will be the forty-first novel set in Discworld, and the late author’s daughter, Rhianna Pratchett has announced that it will be the last of his Discworld works to be published. Essential reading for any lover of fantasy, this novel tells the story of Tiffany Aching, a teen witch who stands against an invading fairy horde. Called one of Pratchett’s most formidable creations yet by Time Out, Tiffany’s story looks set to be the send off that Pratchett’s literary world deserves. Out 27th August via Random House.