A Look at Ten New Releases for 2015

by - 10:15

I am so excited about this post. 2015 hasn't even begun and already here are ten new releases to look forward to in the first five months. Looks like it's going to be yet another exciting year!!!!!

A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg 
January 2015

South African writer and scholar, Jonny Steinberg, is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Midlands and The Number which both won South Africa's premier non-ficiton literary award, the Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize. He is currently a lecturer in African Studies and Criminology at the University of Oxford. 

A Man of Good Hope, published by Jonathan Cape, takes a powerful look at the impact of the Somali civil war on one man, who having lost everything, refused to give up hope. 

When Asad was eight years old, his mother was shot in front of him. With his father in hiding, he was swept alone into the great wartime migration that has scattered the Somali people throughout the world.This extraordinary book tells Asad's story. Serially betrayed by the people who promised to care for him, Asad lived his childhood at a sceptical remove from the adult world, living in a bewildering number of places, from the cosmopolitan streets of inner-city Nairobi to towns deep in the Ethiopian desert.

By the time he reached the cusp of adulthood, Asad had made good as a street hustler, brokering relationships between hardnosed Ethiopian businessmen and bewildered Somali refugees. He also courted the famously beautiful Foosiya, and married her, to the astonishment of his peers. Buoyed by success in work and love, Asad put $1,200 in his pocket and made his way down the length of the African continent to Johannesburg, whose streets he believed to be lined with gold. So began an adventure in a country richer and more violent than he could possibly have imagined. A Man of Good Hope is the story of a person shorn of the things we have come to believe as human - personal possessions, parents, siblings. And yet. Asad's is an intensely human life, one suffered with dreams and desires and a need to leave something of permanence on this earth. 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
January 2015

Born and brought up in Zimbabwe before moving to London in 1989, Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. The Girl on the Train, published by Doubleday, is her first thriller. 

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. 

And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. 

Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. 

Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train ...

Arrows of Rain by Okey Ndibe
January 2015

Novelist, political columnist and essayist, Okey Ndibe's debut novel, Arrows of Rain, will be republished by Soho Press. Originally published by Heinemann's African Writers Series in 2000, Arrows of Rain, looks at a woman's drowning and the ensuing investigation in an emerging African nation.

A young prostitute runs into the sea and drowns. The last man who spoke to her, the "madam" Bukuru, is asked to account for her death. His shocking revelations land him in court. Alone and undefended, Bukuru must calculate the cost of silence in the face of rampant corruption and state-sponsored violence against women.

Arrow of Rain dramatises the relationship between an individual and the modern African state. Okey Ndibe examines the erosion of moral insight in both public and private life, drawing out the complex factors behind the near-collapse of a nation.

The Curator by Jacques Strauss
February 2015

South African, Jacques Strauss, first book - The Dubious Salvation of Jack V - won the Commonwealth Book Prize, Africa. His second novel, The Curator, published by Vintage Digital, is an unforgettable and provocative journey into the dark heart of South Africa. 

It's not possible to undo what happened in 1976.

In rural South Africa a family massacre takes place; a bloodbath whose only witness is the family's black maid. Hendrik Deyer is the principal of a state-run school camp who lives nearby with his wife and their two sons, Werner and Marius. As Hendrik becomes obsessed with uncovering what happened, his wife worries about her neighbours, a poor white family whose malign influence on her son Werner is - she believes - making his behaviour inexplicably strange and hostile. One night another tragedy changes each of their lives, irrevocably.

Two decades later, Werner is living with his mother and invalid father in a small Pretoria flat. South Africa is a changed place. Werner holds a tedious job in the administration department of the local university and dreams of owning his own gallery. His father is bedridden, hovering on the edge of death, and furious, as he has been for twenty years. As Werner feels his own life slip away, his thoughts turn to murder as a means to correct the course of all their futures. He can't undo the past, but Werner's desperation to change his own fate will threaten not only his own family but also those still living in the aftermath of what happened all those years ago. 

The Burning Gates by Parker Bilal
February 2015

Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of Jamal Mahjoub (Sudanese- British writer). The Burning Gates, published by Bloomsbury, is his fourth Makana Mystery. 

Private investigator Makana has a new client: the powerful art dealer Aram Kasabian. Kasabian wants him to track down a priceless painting that went missing from Baghdad during the US invasion. All the dealer can tell Makana is that the piece was smuggled into Egypt by an Iraqi was criminal who doesn't want to be found.

The art world is a far cry from the shady streets and dirty alleyways of the Cairo that Makana knows. but he discovers that this side of the city has its own dark underbelly. Before long, he finds himself caught between dangerous enemies on a trail that leads him into the darkness of war and which threatens to send the new life he has built for himself up in flames.

Arabic cover
Ritual by Amir Tag Elsir (translated by William Hutchins)
April 2015

Amir Tag Elsir is a Sudanese writer and doctor whose novel The Grub Hunter was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2011.

In Ritual, published by Bloomsbury, a Sudanese writer begins to suspect that one of his most idiosyncratic characters from a recent novel resembles - in an uncanny, terrifying way - a real person he had never met. Since he condemned this character to an untimely death in the novel, should he attempt to save this real man from a similar fate? 

Set in both sides of Khartoum - the bustling capital city and the neglected, poverty - stricken underbelly - this is a novel of unreliable narrators, of insane asylums and of the (dubious?) relationship between imagination and reality. 

A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
May 2015

Jose Eduardo Agualusa, author of novels including Creole and The Book of Chameleons, is one of the leading literary voices in Angola and the Portuguese language today.

On the eve of Angolan independence an agoraphobic woman named Ludo bricks herself into her apartment for 30 years, living off vegetables and the pigeons she lures in with diamonds, burning her furniture and books to stay alive and writing her story on the apartment's walls. 

Almost as if we're eavesdropping, the history of Angola unfolds through the stories of those she sees from her window. As the country goes through political upheavals from colony to socialist republic to civil war to peace and capitalism, the world outside seeps into Ludo's life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of someone peeing on a balcony, or a man fleeing his pursuers.

A General Theory of Oblivion, published by Vintage Digital, is a perfectly crafted, wild patchwork of a novel, playing on a love of storytelling and fable.

The Lights of Pointe-Noire - Alain Mabanckou (translated by Helen Stevenson) 
May 2015 

Award-winning novelist, poet and essayist, Alain Mabanckou, has written several novels including African Psycho, Black Bazaar and Tomorrow I'll be Twenty.

The Lights of Pointe-Noire, published by Serpent's Tail, is a meditation on homecoming.

Alain Mabanckou left Congo in 1989. When he returns home two decades later to the bustling Congolose port town of Pointe-Noire, he finds a country in some ways changed beyond recognition: the cinema where, as a child, Mabanckou gorged on American culture has become a Pentecostal temple; his secondary school has been re-named in honour of a previously despised colonial ruler. But many things remain unchanged, not least the superstitions which inform everyday life.

Mabanckou, now a celebrated writer, finds he can only look on as an outsider at the place where he grew up. As he delves into his childhood, into memories of his departed mother and into the strange mix of belonging and absence that informs his return to Congo, Mabanckou slowly builds a wise, wry, moving exploration of the way home never leaves us, however long ago we left.

The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
May 2015

Award-winning fantasy and sci-fi writer, Nnnedi Okorafor, is back with the prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fanstasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death. The Book of Phoenix, published by Daw Books, is a unique work of magical realism featuring the rise of Okorafor's powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell ...

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York's Tower 7. She is an "accelerated woman" - only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix's abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperiences n the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7's refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realise that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix's escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity's future.

Jimfish by Christopher Hope
May 2015

South African novelist, poet and playwright, Christopher Hope - known for his controversial works dealing with racism and politics in South African - is the author of several novels including Krug's Alp (winner of the Whitbread Prize for Fiction) and Serenity House (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1992).

Jimfish is published by Atlantic Books. In the 1980s, a small man is pulled up out of the Indian Ocean in Port Pallid, SA, claiming to have been kidnapped as a baby. The Sergeant, whose job it is to sort the local people by colour, and thereby determine their fate, peers at the boy, then sticks a pencil into his hair, as one did in those days, waiting to see if it stays there, or falls out before he gives his verdict:

'He's very odd, the Jimfish you've hauled in. If he's white he is not the right sort of white. But if he's black, who can say? We'll wait before we classify him. I'll give his age as 18, and call him Jimfish. Because he's a real fish out of water, this one is.'

So begins the odyssey of Jimfish, a South African Everyman, who defies the usual classification of race that defines the rainbow nation. His journey through the last years of Apartheid will extend beyond borders of South Africa to the wider world, where he will be an unlikely witness to the defining moments of the dying days of the twentieth century. Part fable, part fierce commentary on the politics of power, this work is the culmination of a lifetime's writing and thinking, on both the Apartheid regime and the history of the twentieth century, by a writer of enormous originality and range.

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