Spring reading

A few book recommendations from recent reading:

Communion Town by Sam Thompson. I picked up the lovely hardback edition last year and read the first couple of chapters, or stories, depending on how you view it – the book is described as ‘a city in ten parts’.  I’d been reading so many fragmented narratives at the time, I ended up putting it aside and finally got round to reading it properly this year. The writing is gorgeous, with gems of prose shining through even when the voice is deliberately stylised, as in the noir detective chapter. The stories aren’t really linked in the way that, say, David Mitchell does in Ghostwritten, but each one is mesmerising and strangely beautiful and I found myself increasingly hooked the more I read on. Certain chapters will definitely linger with me – the guitarist’s tale, in particular. If you need convincing further, Christopher Priest has a detailed piece on the book over on his website.

Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta. I saw a review by Nic Clarke which put me on to this and it could very well be the best thing I read this year. Dasgupta uses the framing device of passengers stranded in an airport overnight after their flight is delayed, to tell a kind of contemporary Arabian Nights. It has all the things I love – stories within stories, stunning use of language, incredible invention – but what I really loved about this book was the juxtaposition of a modern, globalised society with folklore and fairytales. So you get call centres in India and daughters locked up in towers; a woman who turns into a department store in New York through the mysterious workings of Oreo cookies. I can’t recommend this novel enough.

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. I hadn’t read Evie Wyld’s first novel so had no idea what to expect. This is a really clever, haunting novel, and a brilliant exercise in suspense. I don’t want to talk about plot because I think it’s one of those that works best if you come to it without knowing too much. Again, beautifully, quite starkly (though very visually) written with an intriguing narrator whose past unfolds in ways you don’t necessarily expect.

Currently reading: Light by M. John Harrison. After several chapters of having no idea what was going on, I’m now half way through and really enjoying this one, especially Seria Mau Genlicher, who must be my new favourite character name.

Ordered and waiting for delivery of: Spin by Nina Allan and Martian Sands by Lavie Tidhar. Recently acquired: The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan and Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. Looking forward to all of these.

A quick note re Night Shade Books, my US publisher, and the proposed sale to Skyhorse/Start. If you haven’t heard about the Night Shade business, Tobias Buckell has a super-summary of what’s been going on over at his blog. A couple of people have asked me if this has any impact on the UK publication of The Osiris Project trilogy. The answer to this is no: I’m continuing to work on Books 2 and 3 and Cataveiro is currently scheduled for UK publication in September 2013. More updates on the US front when I know more.

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