Books to look out for in 2011..?

Let me just get out my crystal ball and predict a few up and coming authors for 2011. Oh, no someone else did that already…!

On Thursday, Waterstones hosted an event to highlight 11 debut novelists who they think have a good chance of making it big in 2011. I was lucky enough to be invited along, and even had a chance to chat away to a couple of the authors and other lovely literary types. I also snaffled a copy of the the pamphlet with extracts from the novels, which I have been leafing through the last couple of days.

The extracts are varied but the quality of writing is uniformly excellent, however I can’t help but have a bit of a gut-feeling about the writing I’m more naturally drawn to. One extract that stood out to me in particular was from Sophie Hardach’s  The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages (Simon & Schuster). Just a couple of pages into the story I went from a state of amusement to feeling quite devastated by the tragic consequences of a group of Kurdish refugee’s desperate struggle to reach the shores of Europe. In the bit that I read, Hardach’s writing was engaging and moving and I really felt as if I wanted to know what would happen in the rest of the story.

Bizarrely enough, I quite enjoyed a piece from Shehan Karunatilaka’s Chinaman (Jonathan Cape) which is the first-person narrative of a man living on borrowed time because of alcohol abuse. He has decided to write “a halfway decent documentary on Sri Lankan cricket” before he dies. I have absolutely no interest in cricket or most sport for that matter, however I found the few pages that I read entertaining and really quite poignant. Quite honestly I’m not sure that I would ever read the whole book because of the sport-related subject matter but I was pleasantly surprised by Karunatilaka’s writing style.

Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman (Bloomsbury) looks to be another dark bit of fiction. It opens with two boys observing a dead body and casually wondering whether they should nick his nearly-new Nikes – “He don’t need ’em no more”. The style is gritty and the voices authentic.

Slightly more cheerful perhaps is When God Was a Rabbit (Headline) which opens with a conversation between a precocious child and his parent about just how far God’s love extends (Murderers? Robbers? Poo…?). The extract suggests a more serious discussion underlying the humour. I suspect that some former acting in TV’s Holby City will help to boost writer Sarah Winman’s profile.

The full list of authors and extracts from their novels can be found here if you are interested. I wonder which of the books on this list will do well this year? The support of such a big bookseller should definitely be a bonus for these up-coming authors!

I’ll definitely be looking to see if I can spot them out on the shelves in the coming months and whatever happens, I wish them well.

9 responses to “Books to look out for in 2011..?

  1. These books caught my eye too. I’m planning to blog about them tomorrow. I’m currently reading the first chapter of each of them and have to say that Pigeon English has really jumped out at me. looking forward to reading it!

  2. I found the writing quite captivating. I know you like dark books too so I’m not surprised that you were interested in this too 🙂

    Look forward to reading your post tomorrow!

  3. Ooooh hark at you going to these lovely literary events hee hee hee. Jealous, me? Never! I have When God Was A Rabbit and had been really excited by it… but the font of the proof is sooooooooo bad its grey and hurts your eyes which could make me throw a book across a room. I havent with this one yet… but I havent picked it up more than once either… yet!!

    • Oh it’s terrible when the font puts you off (amazing how that can be so but true!) You’ll have to tell me how you get on with it when you pick it up!

  4. I’m looking forward to the Kevin Barry one.

  5. I was just regretting not buying ‘Chinaman’ when I was in Sri Lanka because, like you, I’m not all that into sports;P But I recently read a short story by Karunatilaka which impressed me so I think I may want to read his novel at some point. And I think I’d also like to read Obreht’s ‘The Tiger’s Wife’.

    • I like the title of The Tiger’s Wife but I wasn’t sure if it was my cup of tea. Although when I was reading the extracts I only picked out the ones that really jumped out at me as I was feeling a little bit tired and grumpy at the time! Interesting that you read a short story by Karunatilaka before. I did find his style really very engaging.

  6. Pingback: Debut authors to look out for in 2012 – Waterstones Eleven | Novel Insights

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