Next week, look out for 80-year-old Pakistani debut novelist and international publishing discovery Jamil Ahmad, plus new novels from Jeffrey Eugenides and Allan Hollinghurst. In nonfiction, there are memoirs from Harry Belafonte and Ozzie Osbourne, and a fresh look at the Jonestown massacre.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print). Visitors to Times Square may be startled by the unfamiliar phenomenon of a giant billboard featuring an author. Pictured is Jeffrey Eugenides, in full stride, a la the Marlboro Man. Anticipation is high for the release on Tuesday of his new book, The Marriage Plot (FSG), the first since his 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex. Even Business Week gives it an early look. Set during the 1980s recession, it follows three disillusioned college students caught in a love triangle. The Los Angeles Times compares it favorably to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, calling it “sweeter, kinder, with a more generous heart. What’s more, it is layered with exactly the kinds of things that people who love novels will love.” Michiko Kakutani says in the NYT, “No one’s more adept at channeling teenage angst than Jeffrey Eugenides. Not even J. D. Salinger” and NPR interviewed the author on Wednesday. Holds are heavy in most libraries.
The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad (Riverhead; 10/13) is a series of fictional sketches about a family on the harsh border region between Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan that has become a literary sensation in Pakistan and has received positive coverage in the UK. The author is a Pakistani writer who is now 80 years old, and was engaged in welfare work in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas for decades. According to a Los Angeles Times interview, Penguin India picked up the book in 2008 after it was submitted for a contest, 37 years after London publishers had originally rejected it. U.S. trade reviews are mixed, with PW calling it a “gripping book, as important for illuminating the current state of this region as it is timeless in its beautiful imagery and rhythmic prose,” while Kirkus says it’s “fascinating material that’s badly in need of artistic shaping.”
Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst (Knopf; Random House Audio) is a social satire about the legacy of a talented and beautiful poet who perishes in WWI, in the vein of E.M. Forster and Evelyn Waugh - written by the 2004 Booker prize winner for the Line of Beauty. The Washington Post says it ”could hardly be better,” and PW calls it “a sweet tweaking of English literature’s foppish little cheeks by a distinctly 21st-century hand.”
Snuff (Discworld Series #39) by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins) brings back fan favorite Sam Vimes, the cynical yet extraordinarily honorable Ankh-Morpork City Watch commander as he faces two weeks off in the country on his wife’s family’s estate. There are more than 65 million copies of the series out there.
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Mass Market; Trade Paper) is back in a movie tie-in edition, in advance of the film opening November 18. Beginning Nov. 1, theaters will feature “Twilight Tuesday” showings of the entire series, including new interviews with the cast and behind the scenes footage.
The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam by Lewis Sorley (Houghton Mifflin) argues that much of the fault for losing the Vietnam War lies with General William Westmoreland. Kirkus says, “The general’s defenders will have their hands full answering Sorley’s blistering indictment.”
A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres (Free Press) follows the experiences of five Peoples Temple members who went to the Jonestown farm in Guyana to sacrifice their lives to the vision of a zealous young preacher. Scheeres draws on thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews. PW says, “Chilling and heart-wrenching, this is a brilliant testament to Jones’s victims.”
Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes by Paula Deen and Melissa Clark (Simon & Schuster) is a collection of Southern recipes. PW says it’s ”not quite as comprehensive as it could be, [but] certainly an honorable addition to the field.”