Published in June, We Need New Names was one of the year’s most talked-about débuts, for its fresh, colourful language and imagery. It tells the story of protagonist Darling and her friends, their fantasies about America and Europe, and the reality of leaving one Paradise for another. The novel was shortlisted for the Booker, and the Zimbabwean author is now working on a memoir. We already can’t wait.
Forthcoming from Serpent’s Tail in January, Zoe Pilger‘s début novel Eat My Heart Out is sure to polarise opinions. Outrageous anti-heroine Ann-Marie is fucked-up, heartbroken, alienated and confused, living in London and looking for love in all the wrong places. Surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters from feminist icons to ridiculous hipsters, Ann-Marie’s misadventures are melodramatic, narcissistic and uncomfortable but also sharply observed, unapologetic, funny and fierce.
Evie Wyld‘s début novel won the Betty Trask Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, garnering her a place on Granta and The Telegraph’s lists of best young authors. All The Birds, Singing is her equally powerful second novel, a tense and sinister carefully-crafted thriller that’s garnered praise a-go-go for its intricately-constructed narrative and stark, gorgeous prose.
Born in Belfast, Michele’s first novel Ghost Moth is set during the rising tensions in Ireland in the summer of 1969, telling in lush language the story of a married couple and their struggle to stop buried secrets destroying their relationship. Beloved by everyone from Anne Enright to Roddy Doyle, this rich, beautiful and unpredictable début definitely marks the author as one to watch.
Published by Peepal Tree Press in September, Desiree Reynolds‘ début Seduce is sharp, slyly funny and brilliantly original, told in poetic Patois and exploring important questions around race, relationships, gender and class. Set on a fictional Caribbean island, it recounts a funeral and wake, where Seduce’s family, former lovers, friends, enemies, ghosts and mourners congregate, sharing their memories and stories, and is a bold fresh take on loss, love and identity.
Twelve years in the making, Anakana’s début Malarky is “written so skilfully, funnily, respectfully and beautifully that you’ll be disarmed, frantically treading water in unseen and unexpected depths.” Although the premise is soap-opera simple, the richly-textured character studies of its cast mean it’s a book that will resonate long after you finish reading.
Provocative, powerful, offbeat, melancholic and magical, Kawakami’s fiction has won her all sorts of awards in Japan, but when the English translation of her novel The Briefcase (confusingly also available under the title Strange Weather in Tokyo) made the shortlist for last year’s Man Asian Literary Prize, she finally started to get the attention she deserves here. With its gorgeous dream-like language, it’s perfect for fans of Haruki Murakami or Banana Yoshimoto.
So far, she’s won all sorts of recognition and awards for her poems and short stories, and her first full-length poetry collection Sex with Elvis (2005) won praise galore for its authenticity, sharp observations and originality, while Strip (2007) contained stark cinematic imagery and powerful narratives in its explorations of pin-ups, pornstars and sex symbols. Featured this year at EQUALS, we can’t wait to see what she does next.
With an infectious passion for Caribbean culture, Malika Booker’s plays and poetry explore music, storytelling, family tensions and identity. She’s frequently been anthologised and her first full-length poetry collection Pepper Seed was published earlier this year, to reviews which applauded its rawness, power, boldness and bravery. Malika also runs a writers’ collective in London and Chicago and has appeared all over the world, both independently and with the British Council.
Everything Speaks in its Own Way, the first full-length poetry collection from South London’s spoken word sweetheart, is finally available, and comes with its own CD and DVD of the poems being performed. And Brand New Ancients, her award-winning production in conjunction with Battersea Arts Centre, will continue to tour the UK in 2014 following several sold-out London stints, exploring the experiences of two South London families over an exciting live score. Kate is an incredibly fierce and powerful performer, so catch her while you can.
That’s all from us for 2013, but if you’ve got any reading resolutions of your own for 2014, we’d love you to share them with us in the comments.
And from the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all the amazing readers, authors, publishers, publicists, festivals, charities and other organisations we’ve worked with in 2013.
Over the course of the past year, For Books’ Sake celebrated its third birthday, and became bigger and better than ever. And we couldn’t have done it without your support. This Christmas, we’ll be raising a glass of eggnog in your honour.
For Books’ Sake will be back on Monday 13th January 2014. To make sure you remember when we’re back in business, sign up to the mailing list, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Bloglovin‘ for updates. In the meantime, crack that Amaretto open and pass the mince pies. Have a very merry Christmas, and we’ll see you on the other side.
(Image via Aki Jinn’s Flickr photostream)