Sunday 17 December 2017

The new books which may well prove to be unputdownable in 2017

Whether it's work from best-selling Irish writers or those releasing their debuts, Claire Coughlan rounds up some of the most promising books coming our way

Crime writer Jane Casey. Photo: Tony Gavin
Crime writer Jane Casey. Photo: Tony Gavin
Neil Jordan

As 2016 changed the world in ways few could have predicted, it could be argued that books are needed now, more than ever - to inform and entertain, to provoke and to provide escapism.

Publishing trends come and go, but the crop of new literary fiction for 2017 seems particularly strong - with plenty of Irish authors continuing to make waves.

Irish writers making their debuts include Rory Gleeson with Rockadoon Shore (John Murray, January), about "the realities of growing up and growing old in modern-day Ireland". The Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice, by Ronan Ryan (Tinder Press, Jan), chronicles "the changing streets of Ireland, from the days of the Troubles to the boom and bust years and Dublin today", while Ithaca, by Alan McMonagle (Picador, March) is set in the summer of 2009, and told from the point of view of 11-year-old Jason Lowry.

Irish Book Award-winning short story writer Billy O'Callaghan is debuting with The Dead House (O'Brien Press, May), while 25-year-old Sally Rooney's first novel Conversations with Friends (Faber, June) "addresses serious matters - politics, feminism, sex, love - with a lightness of touch," according to her publisher.

Ethel Rohan's The Weight of Him (Atlantic, June) is an issues-led novel about obesity and suicide and already comes weighted with praise by John Banville, who calls it "a brave and moving book".

New offerings from familiar Irish writers include Once We Sang Like Other Men, by John McKenna (New Island, January), set in the aftermath of the dissolution of a radical US cult.

Multiple award-winning author Sara Baume has a new novel, A Line Made by Walking (Tramp Press, February) and Paula McGrath, whose debut Generation was published last year, has A Difficult History (John Murray, May). Lisa McInerney's The Blood Miracles (John Murray, April) has a tough act to follow after her Baileys Prize-winning debut The Glorious Heresies and critically-acclaimed Michele Forbes also has a new second novel with Edith & Oliver (W&N, March).

Big names in the literary firmament with novels on the way in the first half of 2017 include Michael Chabon with Moonglow (Fourth Estate, January); Paul Auster with 4321 (Faber, February); Neil Jordan with Carnivalesque (Bloomsbury, February); John McGregor with Reservoir 13 (Fourth Estate, March); George Saunders with Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury, March) and William Wall with Grace's Day (New Island, April) .

Short story lovers can look forward to June Caldwell's "genre-bending" debut collection (New Island, May), while Sean O'Reilly has the "stylistically playful" Levitation (Stinging Fly Press, April), a linked novella and series of short stories set between Dublin and Derry, through the Troubles and up to the present day, his first book since Watermark in 2005. The 'Grip Lit' craze for psychological suspense shows no signs of abating in the New Year - and titles like Tattletale, by Sarah J Naughton (Trapeze, January) has already made waves, as has Erin Kelly's new novel, He Said, She Said (Hodder & Stoughton, April) - while Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough (HarperCollins, January) promises such a hefty twist, there's even a hashtag on social media - #WTFthatending.

The Irish ladies taking names on the crime fiction scene with new books out in the New Year include Jane Casey with Let the Dead Speak (HarperCollins, March); Claire McGowan with Blood Tide (Headline, March) - the latest in the series featuring forensic psychologist Paula Maguire; Sam Blake with In Deep Water (Twenty7, April), and Sinead Crowley with One Bad Turn (Quercus, June).

John Connolly's detective Charlie Parker is back in A Game of Ghosts (Hodder & Stoughton, April), while novels inspired by true crime seem to be having a moment. Little Deaths, by Emma Flint (Picador, January), was inspired by a murder trial in 1960s New York when two children go missing, are later found dead and their mother is charged with killing them, and the case of Lizzie Borden gets a whole new telling by Sarah Schmidt in See What I Have Done (Tinder Press, May).

Feel-good fiction is what we all need right now, and 2017 has lots of that in store. Inspirational Irish author Emma Hannigan has a new novel coming, called The Wedding Promise (Hachette Books Ireland, February), while actress-turned-author Claudia Carroll releases Our Little Secret (Avon, March). Women's fiction favourite Patricia Scanlan has Orange Blossom Days (Simon & Schuster, March), which is set around a Spanish holiday apartment complex and the queen of the 'Aga Saga' Joanna Trollope publishes her twentieth novel, City of Friends (Mantle, February).

TV personality Dawn O'Porter, wife of Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, publishes her first novel for adults, the "fearlessly frank and funny" The Cows (HarperCollins, April) and arts journalist Eithne Shortall debuts with romantic comedy Love in Row 27 (Corvus, June).

Best-selling author Cecelia Ahern has branched out into Young Adult fiction, and young and old fans alike can keep an eye out for Perfect (Harper Collins Children's, April), the second in the Flawed series. The first half of the year looks strong for YA titles, with new books from Claire Hennessy, Like Other Girls (Hot Key Books, May) and Juno Dawson, Margot & Me (Hot Key Books, January).

Irish debut author Sarah Carroll's novel The Girl in Between (Simon & Schuster Children's, June) is "a ghost story with a difference," and it explores "themes of loneliness and grief with an effortless warmth, and an unforgettable voice".

Fantasy fans should keep their eyes peeled for another book in the Darkmouth series by Shane Hegarty - Darkmouth: Rising (HarperCollins Children's, April), as well as The House of Mount Fathom, by Nigel McDowell (Hot Key Books, March) and Aurabel, by Laura Dockrill (Hot Key Books, April).

For younger readers, there's Cass and the Bubble Street Gang: The Clubhouse Mystery, by Erika McGann (O'Brien Press, February) and Rugby Runner, by Gerard Siggins (O'Brien Press, February).

Best-selling children's author Judi Curtin is publishing Fast Forward (O'Brien Press, March), a short story, which features best friends Molly and Beth who appeared in the hugely popular Time after Time, which came out last September.

Sunday Independent

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