11 Tremendous Books to Look Forward to in 2017
As this year comes to a close, it can be said that we live in a decidedly unsettling world. But one thing that we can always look forward to is the advent of wonderful new books. Here is a list of 11 new books from the four corners of the world. There are debut novels and short stories, there is translated fiction from Argentina, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany and a modern classic from Bulgaria, and there are new books by established and beloved authors from Kenya, India, and Pakistan.
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag
Vivek Shanbhag, who has been described as an Indian Chekhov, wrote this powerful novel about work, money, and globalization and their effect on family dynamics. Shanbhag, a Bangalore-based author who trained as an engineer, described his book in a recent newspaper interview as “not just about wealth but I feel that wealth is something that has impacted us in the last 25 years in India. Economic liberalisation has resulted in generating money that is more than necessary. Nobody thinks that what they have is enough but there is a line beyond which wealth is not necessary.” Ghachar Ghochar was written in the Kannada language and was translated by Srinath Perur.
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Viet Thanh Nguyen burst onto the literary scene in 2015 with his highly praised novel, The Sympathizer, which not only won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction but also the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the California Book Award for First Fiction. All the more reason, then, to read his earlier work--his collection of short stories, The Refugees, was written before The Sympathizer. The stories explore the themes of immigration, identity, love, and family and primarily the duality of being a newly arrived immigrant—in Nguyen’s case as a refugee.
Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
Dance of the Jakaranda, Peter Kimani’s third novel, recounts the rise and fall of colonialism in Africa, using the birth of Kenya’s railroad as a literary device. It’s a multi-layered tale in which a complex and rich cast of characters lives the fallout of colonial rule. Kimani, also a poet, was commissioned by the National Public Radio to compose and present a poem to mark President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. Kimani's is an important new voice in the West.
Things we Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enriquez
Not to be confused with the book of poetry or the film with the same name, Argentinian journalist and author Mariana Enriquez’s collection of 12 short stories are dark, disturbing, and ominous accounts of life in the poverty-stricken areas of Buenos Aires. Tense and memorable, Dave Eggers describes Enriquez’s fiction as one that hits the reader with the force of a freight train. Things we Lost in the Fire: Stories were translated by Megan McDowell.
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Ayobami Adebayo’s novel is set in Nigeria during the politically turbulent 1980s. It is about family and its undoing, grief and motherhood. Stay With Me is Adebayo's debut novel; her short stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, and she was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship in 2014 and 2015.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
British-Pakistani author Hamid is a master at embroidering contemporary news with love stories in imaginary, unnamed countries. In his new novel, Hamid describes the emotional violence of migration, the act of separation refugees go through with their families and sense of self when they leave their country; in this case Nadia and Saeed, who meet in their city in a country on the brink of civil war.
The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink
For those who loved Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, they will find similarities in his new book, The Woman on the Stairs, in which the past has a hold on the present. Set mainly in Australia, it’s the story of a German lawyer who comes across a painting of a woman in an art gallery. Bewitched by its subject, he commissions a detective agency to find out the owner of the painting and the whereabouts of the woman. The Woman on the Stairs was translated by Joyce Hackett and Bradley Schmidt
Wolf Hunt by Ivailo Petrov
A modern Bulgarian classic, Wolf Hunt was published in 1986 before the fall of the Berlin wall and echoes the calamitous history of 20th-century Bulgaria. Wolf Hunt is about an ill-fated winter hunting expedition between neighbors who have a long and involved history together. Tragic, but not without humor, the tale of this Bulgarian village is a must from a recent past. Wolf Hunt was translated by Angela Rodel.
Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin
The late Taiwanese author, Qiu Miaojin, was one of the country’s most innovative authors and one of the most revered countercultural icons in Chinese letters. Her posthumous novel, Notes of a Crocodile, is set in the post–martial-law era of 1990s Taipei and describes the coming-of-age of a group of queer misfits discovering love, friendship, and artistic affinity while barely studying at Taiwan’s most prestigious university. Notes of a Crocodile was translated by Bonnie Huie.
Dark Chapter by Winnie M. Li
Winnie M. Li is a Taiwanese-American writer and filmmaker, whose debut novel, Dark Chapter, is inspired by true events. Set in West Belfast, Dark Chapter is a story about a chance encounter that irrevocably determines the paths of a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist and a 15-year-old Irish teenager.
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami
Japanese author, provocative essayist and literary critic, Hiromi Kawakami’s previous novel translated into English, Strange Weather in Tokyo (called The Briefcase in the US), was shortlisted for both the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. In The Nakano Thrift Shop, a young woman takes a job in a neighborhood thrift shop and is drawn into an idiosyncratic community. As a love story develops between her and a fellow employee, the objects for sale in the shop reveal they have a life and secrets of their own.The Nakano Thrift Shop was translated by Allison Markin Powell.