Upcoming: TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, by Gabrielle Zevin (Knopf)

ZevinG-TomorrowAndTomorrowAndTomorrowUSHCTomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin has been the subject of quite a bit of pre-publication buzz — it’s appeared on a number of Most Anticipated Books of 2022 lists (which is how I learned of it). Aside from the eye-catching cover, the premise also promises an interesting and intriguing read:

Let the games begin! A glorious and immersive novel about two childhood friends, once estranged, who reunite as adults to create video games, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. They borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo: a game where players can escape the confines of a body and the betrayals of a heart, and where death means nothing more than a chance to restart and play again. This is the story of the perfect worlds Sam and Sadie build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, games as artform, technology and the human experience, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

As is the norm for me, after learning about this novel I went out and picked up a couple of Zevin’s other novels: Young Jane Young and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Looking forward to reading them.

Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is due to be published by Knopf in North America (July 12th) and Chatto & Windus in the UK (July 14th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: YOU HAVE A FRIEND IN 10A by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf)

ShipsteadM-YouHaveAFriendIn10AUSHCI’m a newcomer to Maggie Shipstead‘s work. My first, in fact, was last year’s superb, gripping Great Circle. Since then, I’ve picked up the author’s other two novels — Astonish Me and Seating Arrangements — both of which I hope to read very soon. While browsing publisher catalogues, I also stumbled across the author’s next book: her first short story collection, You Have a Friend in 10A.

In this collection of dazzling stories, Maggie Shipstead’s prowess in short fiction is on full display for the first time. Diving into eclectic and vivid settings, from an Olympic village to a deathbed in Paris to a Pacific atoll, and illuminating a cast of indelible characters, Shipstead traverses ordinary and unusual realities with cunning, compassion, and wit.

ShipsteadM-YouHaveAFriendIn10AUKHCIn “Acknowledgments,” a male novelist reminisces bitterly on the woman who inspired his first novel, attempting to make peace with his humiliations before the book goes to print.

In “The Cowboy Tango,” spanning decades in the open country of Montana, a triangle of love and self-preservation plays out among an aging rancher called the Otter, his nephew, and a young woman named Sammy who works the horses.

In “La Moretta,” a couple’s honeymoon in the hills of Romania builds ominously into a moment of shattering tragedy. In the title story, a former child actress breaks with her life in a religious cult, narrating with mesmerizing candor a story of vulnerability, loss, and the surrealism of fame.

You Have a Friend in 10A is sophisticated, gripping, and hilarious, comprised of knockout after knockout: a collection to seal Shipstead’s reputation as a versatile master of fiction.

Maggie Shipstead’s You Have a Friend in 10A is due to be published by Knopf in North America (May 17th) and Doubleday in the UK (May 19th).

Also on CR: Review of Great Circle

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: SON OF ELSEWHERE by Elamin Abdelmahmoud (McClellan & Stewart/Ballantine)

AbdelmahmoudE-SonOfElsewhereCAHCI first heard of Elamin Abdelmahmoud‘s upcoming memoir, Son of Elsewhere via Twitter — as is so often the case, I’ve forgotten who it was who Tweeted about it, or re-tweeted a mention. Regardless, my attention was grabbed by the Canadian cover and interest further piqued by the synopsis. As a relatively new Canadian myself, I’m also interested in reading about other people’s immigrant experiences here. Really looking forward to reading this. Check out the synopsis:

From one of the most beloved media personalities of his generation comes a one-of-a-kind reflection on Blackness, faith, language, pop culture, and the challenges and rewards of finding your way in the world.

Professional wrestling super fandom, Ontario’s endlessly unfurling 401 highway, late nights at the convenience store listening to heavy metal — for writer and podcast host Elamin Abdelmahmoud, these are the building blocks of a life. Son of Elsewhere charts that life in wise, funny, and moving reflections on the many threads that weave together into an identity.

AbdelmahmoudE-SonOfElsewhereUSHCArriving in Canada at age 12 from Sudan, Elamin’s teenage years were spent trying on new ways of being in the world, new ways of relating to his almost universally white peers. His isa story of yearning to belong in a time and place where expectation and assumptions around race, faith, language, and origin make such belonging extremely difficult, but it’s also a story of the surprising and unexpected ways in which connection and acceptance can be found.

In this extraordinary debut collection, the process of growing — of trying, failing, and trying again to fit in — is cast against the backdrop of the memory of life in a different time, and different place — a Khartoum being bombed by the United States, a nation seeking to define and understand itself against global powers of infinite reach.

Taken together, these essays explore how we pick and choose from our experience and environment to help us in the ongoing project of defining who we are — how, for instance, the example of Mo Salah, the profound grief practices of Islam, the nerdy charm of The O.C.’s Seth Cohen, and the long shadow of colonialism can cohere into a new and powerful whole.

With the perfect balance of relatable humor and intellectual ferocity, Son of Elsewhere confronts what we know about ourselves, and most important, what we’re still learning.

Elamin Abdelmahmoud’s Son of Elsewhere is due to be published on May 17th by McClellan & Stewart in Canada, and Ballantine Books in the US. (At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information about a UK edition.)

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: A SECRET ABOUT A SECRET by Peter Spiegelman (Knopf)

SpiegelmanP-ASecretAboutASecretUSHCBack in 2016, I read an excellent crime/thriller novel: Dr. Knox by Peter Spiegelman. It was one of my favourite novels from that year, and it led me to hunt down his other novels, not all of which are readily available — I was able to find Thick As Thieves. Anyway, I’ve often found myself wondering what he’s been up to recently, and it turns out he’s been writing A Secret About A Secret (among other things, I’m sure).

A hypnotic mystery about a murder at a secluded research facility and the secrets that it exposes.

In a world not quite our own, a stranger arrives at a brooding manor on a remote coast.

Myles is an agent of Standard Division, the most feared element of a vast security apparatus, and he has come to Ondstrand House, the headquarters of biotech firm Ondstrand Biologic, to investigate a murder. Ondstrand Biologic is engaged in advanced genetic engineering, and Allegra Stans, one of the firm’s most gifted scientists, has been found dead on the premises — her neck broken.

As his investigation proceeds, Myles quickly discovers that gifted scientist is only one thread in the complicated fabric of Allegra’s life; there are darker strands as well — of ambition, manipulation, and bitter grievance — all woven in a web of secrets and motives for murder. And Allegra’s aren’t the only mysteries Myles finds himself unraveling. Her colleagues, lovers and former lovers — the very halls of Ondstrand House itself — have much to hide, and Myles eventually learns that even his own masters in Standard Division haven’t told him everything they know.

When another murder is discovered, Myles finds himself an increasingly unwelcome presence in an ever more hostile landscape.

Peter Spiegelman’s A Secret About A Secret is due to be published by Knopf in North America, on June 7th.

Also on CR: Review of Dr. Knox

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: ROGUES by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday)

KeefePR-RoguesUSHCEmpire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe is one of my favourite reads from last year. A detailed, gripping biography of the Sackler family and the scourge they unleashed with the development and aggressive marketing of oxycontin. This summer, Doubleday (North America) and Picador (UK) are due to publish Rogues: a new collection of his New Yorker articles and profiles.

ROGUES brings together a dozen of his most celebrated articles from The New Yorker.  As Keefe says in his preface “They reflect on some of my abiding preoccupations:  crime and corruption, secrets and lies, the permeable membrane separating licit and illicit worlds, the bonds of family, the power of denial.”

Keefe brilliantly explores the intricacies of forging $150,000 vintage wines, examines whether a whistleblower who dared to expose money laundering at a Swiss bank is a hero or a fabulist, spends time in Vietnam with Anthony Bourdain, chronicles the quest to bring down a cheerful international black market arms merchant, and profiles a passionate death penalty attorney who represents the “worst of the worst,” among other bravura works of literary journalism.

The appearance of his byline in The New Yorker is always an event, and collected here for the first time readers can see his work forms an always enthralling but deeply human portrait of criminals and rascals, as well as those who stand up against them.

One of my most-anticipated non-fiction books of the year, Rogues is due to be published in North America on June 28th, and in the UK on July 7th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with SCOTTO MOORE

MooreS-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Scotto Moore?

I’m a playwright-turned-novelist, an amateur house music DJ, and a curator of bizarre and beautiful media, sitting somewhere between absurdist and existentialist on the “why is life even a thing” scale.

Your latest novel, Battle of the Linguist Mages was recently published by Tor.com. It has a really intriguing premise: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The book is a near future science fantasy adventure about Isobel Bailie, an extremely talented VR gamer who learns that her skills in the game have uses in the real world. She finds herself caught between a powerful conspiracy and spellcasting anarchists in a struggle to save the world from a vicious threat on its way to Earth from beyond this dimension of reality altogether.

And then, if the potential reader was still paying attention, I’d also mention that the game she excels at is a medieval rave themed game called Sparkle Dungeon. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES BREAKWELL

BreakwellJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Breakwell?

Father. Comedy writer. Pig owner. Overall mediocre human being. I write daily jokes on the internet for free and occasional books in print for money.

Your new novel, The Chosen Twelve, is due to be published by Solaris in January. It looks rather intriguing: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Thousands of years in the future, the last twenty-two humans in existence, all of them children, are charged with settling a new planet under the less-than-benevolent guidance of the self-interested robots who raised them. The kids discover that, contrary to the promises of their digital overlords, the landing craft that will make the one-way trip to the planet only has twelve seats. Those who secure a spot will lead the human race, possibly forever — or until they get killed by the biologically engineered super kangaroos who now hold the planet, whichever comes first. Those who don’t get a seat will be left behind to die on the decaying moon base, aging slowly without the injections from the immortality chamber that have kept them artificially young for decades. The resulting struggle to secure those seats will determine the fate not only of the last twenty-two humans, but also of all sentient life in the universe, both organic and digital. Continue reading

Quick Review: THANK YOU, MR. NIXON by Gish Jen (Knopf)

JenG-ThankYouMrNixonUSHCA novel comprised of linked short stories, which paints a picture of China’s past half-century

Beginning with a cheery letter penned by a Chinese girl in heaven to “poor Mr. Nixon” in hell, Gish Jen embarks on a fictional journey through U.S.-China relations, capturing the excitement of a world on the brink of tectonic change.
 
Opal Chen reunites with her Chinese sisters after forty years; newly cosmopolitan Lulu Koo wonders why Americans “like to walk around in the woods with the mosquitoes”; Hong Kong parents go to extreme lengths to reestablish contact with their “number-one daughter” in New York; and Betty Koo, brought up on “no politics, just make money,” finds she must reassess her mother’s philosophy.
 
With their profound compassion and equally profound humor, these eleven linked stories trace the intimate ways in which humans make and are made by history, capturing an extraordinary era in an extraordinary way. Delightful, provocative, and powerful, Thank You, Mr. Nixon furnishes yet more proof of Gish Jen’s eminent place among American storytellers.

An interesting and engaging novel, Thank You, Mr. Nixon contains 11 linked short stories that give us a glimpse of how China’s social, political and economic evolution since its “opening” affects those who experience it: Chinese, Honk Kongers, members of the wider Chinese diaspora, and others. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE JUSTICE OF KINGS by Richard Swan (Orbit)

SwanR-EotW1-JusticeOfKingsAn excellent start to a new fantasy series

NO MAN IS ABOVE THE LAW

The Empire of the Wolf simmers with unrest. Rebels, heretics and powerful patricians all challenge the power of the imperial throne.

Only the Order of Justices stands in the way of chaos. Sir Konrad Vonvalt is the most feared Justice of all, upholding the law by way of his sharp mind, arcane powers and skill as a swordsman. In this he is aided by Helena Sedanka, his clerk and protégé, orphaned by the wars that forged the empire.

When the pair investigate the murder of a provincial aristocrat, they unearth a conspiracy that stretches to the very top of imperial society. As the stakes rise and become ever more personal, Vonvalt must make a choice: will he abandon the laws he’s sworn to uphold in order to protect the empire?

I remember reading the synopsis for Richard Swan’s debut quite a while ago. “That sounds interesting,” I thought to myself, and made a note. The buzz for the novel grew over the next few months, as it was sent out to authors for blurbs. So, when I was able to read an early copy, I jumped at the chance. The Justice of Kings is a very strong debut, and an engaging start to a new fantasy/crime series. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE EMPEROR’S LEGION by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

WraightC-WotT1-EmperorsLegionPolitics on Terra as the galaxy burns

The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s praetorian guard, the defenders of Terra and watchers over the Golden Throne. But when a threat arises, they and their Sisters of Silence allies may find themselves pressed almost beyond endurance…

The Custodian Guard have stood watch over the Emperor’s Palace on Terra since the foundation of the Imperium. Charged with protecting the Master of Mankind from all threats, within and without, their fearsome resolve is renowned throughout the galaxy, and their golden armour is the last thing that a would-be assassin or saboteur will ever see. Alongside the Null-maidens of the Sisters of Silence, who are anathema to psykers and sorcerers alike, there is no threat to the Golden Throne that they alone cannot vanquish… until now.

The Emperor’s Legion is a novel that takes a look at the politics of the Imperium, and the ways in which recent events in the larger WH40k meta-story have changed… well, almost everything. While it has plenty of action, it felt quite different to many other Black Library novels. An interesting and illuminating shift in focus and perspective, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading