I’m excited to share some of the Transworld titles that I’m most excited to read in 2018. It’s a wonderful mix of fiction and non-fiction, beautifully designed without exception, and I think there will be something here for everyone.
Transcription – Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson is back! The author of the brilliant Life After Life – and one of my all-time favourite novels, Behind the Scenes at the Museum – returns with ‘a bravura novel of extraordinary power and substance’ about a young woman whose life begins to unravel when she joins the BBC in the aftermath of war. Despite the noted lack of major publishing trends in 2017, there is an ongoing fascination with wartime and postwar fiction, and particularly the shadowier aspects of the Secret Service – into which our heroine is first recruited. The short blurb is intriguing but gives little away, and while some lucky booksellers at a recent Transworld showcase received these gorgeous proofs of the novel, the rest of us will have to wait patiently until 6th September.
All That Remains: A Life in Death – Sue Black
Some people might be inclined to shy away from a book about death, but not me. I loved Dr Judy Melinek’s Working Stiff and pressed Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes into many a hand, telling anyone who would listen how much it changed my outlook on death. All that Remains is an exciting new exploration of death by Sue Black, an eminent Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology who has studied death in its many forms. I love the idea of writing about death with a sense of humour. Of course, there’s going to be an element of tragedy here, but overall it’s ‘a story of humanity’ according to Sue Black at the Transworld bookseller showcase, and, to me, sounds strangely uplifting. All That Remains will be published on 19th April 2018.
City of Lies – Sam Hawke
‘I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…’ With this killer opening line, I find myself waiting impatiently for 23rd August, when City of Lies, the first book in the new Poison War series by debut author Sam Hawke, is due to be published in the UK and Ireland. I’m a big fantasy fan, so this recent acquisition by Transworld caught my eye and pulled me in with a tantalising blurb (the ‘charming, irresponsible heir’ sounds like my kind of guy), and hype is building after an excellent review from none other than Robin Hobb, who recommends it for ‘readers who enjoy mystery, compelling characters, cities with forgotten secrets…’ Right, sign me up. It’s also exciting to see Transworld expanding their fantasy list, and Sam Hawke will be in great company with authors like Erika Johansen and the incomparable Terry Pratchett. Watch out for this one!
In Your Defence: Stories of Law and Life – Sarah Langford
The bulk of my current job is editing legal transcripts, most of which take place in the London Crown Courts. Until I started this role, the law seemed arcane and stuffy, shrouded as it is in ‘strange clothing, archaic rituals and inaccessible language’, according to the blurb of In Your Defence. At times, I confess it still is a mystery. But it’s also deeply fascinating, and despite their wigs and robes and ‘my learned friend’ this, that and the other, barristers are only human. That, and great storytellers. They have to be. To paraphrase Sarah Vaughan’s Anatomy of a Scandal, winning a case is sometimes less about the law (and even the truth) and more about telling a convincing story. In Your Defence has also been optioned for a series by Working Title, and hopefully will make the law accessible to a whole new audience. The book will be published on 28th June.
Once Upon a River – Diane Setterfield
Diane Setterfield previously published her bestselling The Thirteenth Tale and Bellman & Black with Orion and has recently moved to Transworld to publish her third novel, Once Upon a River. The description tells of an injured man bursting into an ancient inn on the Thames, where the locals are telling stories on a dark midwinter’s night. In his arms is a drowned child. Later, and seemingly inexplicably, the girl stirs and comes back to life. I’m getting The Essex Serpent vibes from this blurb, which describes a ‘richly atmospheric’ story ‘replete with folklore, suspense and romance’. And just look at that beautiful cover, designed by Sarah Whittaker. Once Upon a River will be on our shelves on 12th July, but I might be saving this one for a dark midwinter’s night myself.
I would love to know which of these books you’re most looking forward to reading. Be sure to mark your calendars for publication day, and in the meantime, cross your fingers that I might get to promote these fantastic and other fantastic titles full time!