Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Book of the Week - Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I am travelling again for the next three weeks, so mainly catching up with books I picked up earlier in the year but haven't had a chance to read yet. At the moment I am reading (and thoroughly enjoying) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) was a Swedish writer and journalist, who wrote three detective novels (The Millenium Series) prior to his sudden death from a heart attack in November 2004. "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" (2005, UK release in January 2008), "The Girl Who Played With Fire", (2006, UK release in January 2009) and "Castles in the Sky" (working title) (2007, English title not confirmed, UK release in January 2010). Before his career as a writer, Stieg Larsson was mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism. In the middle of the 1980’s he helped to start the anti-violence project “Stop the Racism”. This was followed by the founding of the Expo-foundation in 1995, where he later became Chief Executive. From 1999 on, he was appointed the chief editor of Expo, a magazine published by the organization Expo.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has had multiple reprints, and the first edition hardcover by Quercus is now uncommon, but worth picking up if you can find a copy at near cover price (£14.99). "Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history."

Monday, 8 September 2008

Man Booker prize shortlist 2008

The shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize has now been announced, with two of my previous Books of the Week included. For my pre-announcement comments see below! The two favourites failed to make the shortlist, so the prize now seems very open. The Clothes on Their Backs will be the most difficult to find in the hardvcover first edition - the cheapest copies I can see at the moment (Ebay) are now £99 unsigned and £149 signed.

Aravind Adiga The White Tiger (Atlantic)
Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

My predictions:

The shortlist for this year's Man Booker prize will be announced tomorrow. There seems to be a concensus that this is a strong year for fiction, and there are a number of interesting candidates to choose from. The bookies currently favour Salman Rushdie and Joseph O'Neill, and there is a good chance that both will reach the shortlist. The Enchantress by Rushdie was published in two limited editions as well as the trade edition in the UK, with the 100 signed copy edition published in association with Blackwell's being the most desirable - you could still pick up a copy tonight at £100 if you are very quick on ABEbooks, which will be good value if the book is shortlisted.

Of the other novels, I previously chose The Secret Scripture and The White Tiger as Books of the Week, so I hope they do well. The one which will be most difficult for collectors if shortlisted will be Linda Grant's The Clothes on Their Backs, which was issued in a small hardback run at the same time as a paperback edition. The hardback is now very difficult to find at £30 - 50, with prices likely to rise significantly if it is shortlisted.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Book of the Week - Poppy Adams, The Behaviour of Moths

Nothing new has particularly caught my eye this week, so I thought I would highlight a book from earlier in the year which I am now reading. The Behaviour of Moths is a first novel by Poppy Adams, a documentary filmmaker with a Natural Science degree who has made films for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel. She has three children and lives with her husband in London. The book is clearly informed by a close knowledge of moths, and has a Victorian Gothic mood. It was published in the US under the alternative title of The Sister. Signed first editions are still available at cover price.

From her lookout on the first floor, Ginny watches and waits for her adored younger sister to return to the crumbling mansion that was once their idyllic childhood home. Vivien has not stepped foot in the house since she left, forty seven years ago; Ginny, the reclusive lepidopterist, has rarely ventured outside it. The remembrance of their youth, of loss, and of old rivalries plays across Ginny's mind. Why is Vivi coming home? Ginny has been selling off the family furniture over the years, gradually shutting off each wing of the house and retreating into the precise routines and isolation that define her days. Only the attic remains untouched. There, collected over several generations, are walls lined with pinned and preserved Bordered Beauties and Rusty Waves, Feathered Footmen and Great Brocades, Purple Cloud, Angle Shades, the Gothic and the Stranger ...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Haruki Murakami Bibliography - an update

I have held off updating the Haruki Murakami bibliography until I was certain about the limited edition of What I talk about when I talk about Running. The book was released as a Knopf hardcover in the US in July, and in August as a hardcover by Harvill Secker. I have not seen any signed copies of the trade editions, which is perhaps not surprising given the current rarity of Murakami's signature. However, a signed limited UK edition in a slipcase (only 75 copies) has now been released by Harvill Secker, and this will be in demand by collectors as the smallest run of a Murakami limited edition to date (with the exception of Sleep). There is currently (3/9/08) one copy on ABEbooks and one on Ebay if anyone is interested! The title is apparently derived from Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and is a reflection by Murakami on running, writing and the relationship between the two. Also just released is a Murakami Diary for 2009, published as a paperback in both the UK and US by Vintage.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Book of the week and Bibliography - Aleksander Hemon, The Lazarus Project

The Lazarus Project is the second novel by Aleksandar Hemon. Hemon was born in Sarajevo in 1964 and Graduated from University of Sarajevo in 1990. In 1992, he arrived in Chicago on what was planned to be a short visit, but he was soon stranded in the U.S. as Sarajevo fell under siege. When it became clear that he would be in the U.S. more or less permanently, he gave himself five years to master enough English to write fiction. He has subsequently earned widespread literary acclaim, and has been hailed as a major international writer. Of course, this is still early in his career, but it is probably a good time to seek out signed first editions of all of his books.

On 2 March 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a Russian Jewish immigrant to Chicago, tried to deliver a letter to the home of the city's Chief of Police, George Shippy. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. Lazarus Averbuch, Shippy claimed, was an anarchist assassin and an agent of foreign operatives who wanted to bring the United States to its knees. His sister, Olga, was left alone and bereft in a city - and country - seething with political and ethnic tensions. In the twenty-first century, Brik, a young Bosnian writer in Chicago, becomes obsessed with finding out the truth of what happened to Lazarus. And so Brik and his friend Rora, a charming and unreliable photographer, set off on a journey back to Lazarus Averbuch's birthplace, through a history of pogroms and poverty and a present of gangsters and prostitutes.


The Question of Bruno (2000, Doubleday, USA ;Picador, UK)
Nowhere Man (2002, Doubleday, USA; 2003, Picador, UK)
The Lazarus Project (2008, Riverhead, USA; Picador, UK)
Love and Obstacles (2009, Riverhead, USA; Picador,UK)

Other books

The Drawer (2004, Lenox Hill Bookshop, New York, USA; 200 copies signed by author)
A Coin (2006, Picador Shots, UK)