By February 16, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Preview of 2011 Books

The Millions has a great preview of books due out in 2011 that describes 76 different forthcoming titles. There’s plenty to look forward to:

Alexander Theroux’s biography of Edward Gorey, a writer and illustrator whose twisted Victorian stories helped me develop my taste for the tartness of black humor, is out for the first time in hard cover. Anyone who can come up with The Gashlycrumb Tinies  has to have had a fascinating life. I’m ready to begin The Strange Case of Edward Gorey.

I’ve always loved the Northwest, so Jonathan Evison’s West of Here, which alternates between past and present in a town on Washington’s Pacific coast has to go on my list. Another title with a strong sense of place is Karen Russell’s Swamplandia.

Short story readers have much to anticipate. There’s a Library of America edition of Kurt Vonnegut, Roddy Doyle’s Bullfighting, E. L. Doctorow’s All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories, Emma Straub’s debut Other People We Married, and Jim Shepard’s You Think That’s Bad. I’m particularly excited about that last work: Shepard’s Like You’d Understand Anyway is a collection that really wowed me.

Sarah Vowell’s last book The Wordy Shipmates, a look at the New England Puritans, was a dull disappointment to me. I’m hoping for a return to form in Unfamiliar Fishes, where she’ll explore the many flavors of American Imperialism that were at work in 1898. If you haven’t read Assassination Vacation, you’re missing one of the great voices in American humor and a fascinating trip through presidential assassination trivia.

Arthur Phillips is exploring strange ground in The Tragedy of Arthur. It concerns a lost Shakespearian play about King Arthur and a character named Arthur Phillips who introduces it to the public. The metatext here promises to play games with readers’ heads, but Phillips has the chops to pull it off. For fun, pair this in a book group with James Shapiro’s nonfiction book from last year, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

China Miéville has to be one of the most fascinating authors going in speculative fiction, with enough substance to satisfy book groups easily. I still haven’t gotten to last year’s Kraken, but the reviews were great, and I anticipate Embassytown, where Miéville will turn from fantasy to science fiction, even more.

Add new books by writers like T. C. Boyle, Kevin Brockmeier, Chris Adrian, Francine Prose, Julian Barnes, Kate Christensen, Nicholson Baker, Haruki Murakami, Lionel Shriver, and Adam Levin, and the only clear conclusion that I can draw for 2011 is that readers should expect the unexpected. Drop by The Millions, and I’m sure you’ll find some new books that whet your appetite as well.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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