April 16, 2014
From the author of the Costa Best Novel-shortlisted ‘The Elephant Keeper’, Winter is the a…
Here’s our round-up of 4th Estate’s biggest books of 2012. These are the books that made 2012 better, funnier, more entertaining and, in the case of Bad Pharma, angrier. We’re sure you’ll have your favourites and we’d love to hear them too.
The book that needs no introduction, 2012 was truly Hilary Mantel’s year. Bring Up the Bodies is a darker and more violent installment of the Cromwell trilogy; the Spectator described it perfectly as ‘an imaginative achievement to exhaust superlatives’. With this book, Hilary Mantel became the first British author and the first woman to be awarded two Man Booker Prizes, as well as being the first to win with two consecutive novels. But stop reading about Bring Up the Bodies, and just have a read for yourself. There’s no better way to start the year.
Oh, Nigel. From one of our best-loved food writers, Kitchen Diaries II is a beautiful and inspiring companion volume to the bestselling Kitchen Diaries. As New Year’s resolutions go, deciding to spend a year in the kitchen with Nigel is probably one of the nicest, and probably the most delicious.
Think of The Yips as the literary equivalent of the London Olympics Opening Ceremony: entertaining, maximalist, full of English eccentricity and totally baffling. There was no other book like The Yips in 2012, and its place on the Man Booker long list confirmed Nicola Barker as one of the most exciting writers in England. The Yips is the most flamboyant piece of comic fiction ever to be set in Luton.
We were bowled over by US debut The Art of Fielding which was shortlisted for the Guardian’s First Book Award. This campus novel concerned the most important and very best things in life: love, friendship and Moby Dick. Don’t worry, we don’t know what a shortstop is either.
2012 proved that the mess of the financial crisis is far from over, and that we’ll be feeling its effects for many years to come. In The Hour Between Dog and Wolf neuroscientist and former Wall Street trader John Coates explains how we think with our bodies as well as our brains and what affects this had on the decisions made by the fervorous bankers. One of the best explanations of the human behaviour that caused the crash, this is essential reading on issues that affect us all.
Even before Communion Town was long listed for the Man Booker Prize, Sam Thompson’s debut novel was attracting sparkling praise. The Telegraph wrote, ‘here is a new writer working out what he can do, and realising that he can do anything.’ Communion Town is the story of a city, filled with the stories of the commonplace and the strange, of love and crime, of ghosts and monsters.
Another big campus novel, The Marriage Plot mixes French theory with the subtle and sensitive workings of the human heart. Yes, a recipe for disaster. For anyone who still wonders about their university days and their choice of books and love-interests, or for anyone about to embark on the university experience, The Marriage Plot is for you.
All of the below is perfectly legal:
Drug companies run bad trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the benefits by design.
When these trials produce unflattering results, the data is simply buried.
Patients are harmed in huge numbers.
2012 was the year of waking up to the life-endangering behaviour of drug companies; Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma needs to be read by everyone.
In 2012 Michael Chabon, author of the much-loved The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, returned with Telegraph Avenue, an intimate epic set to the laid-back beat of classic soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all of its own. For all the fan boys who still wax lyrical about High Fidelity, this one goes out to you.
The holidays. Ahh. This week we’ve been revisiting some of the internet things that we’ve bookmarked as ‘old favourites’: blogs and websites to return to over and over again. We hope you enjoy them.
We thought cat blogs were just for girls. Then we found Writers and Kitties. When we saw both Sartre and Foucault cosying up to cats we realised we had been wrong about cats on the internet. Dead wrong.
Put your deepest, darkest secret on a postcard and send it off into the world where it will be read by millions on postsecret.com. This community mail art projects has been around for a while now, but we’re still checking back to see the new postcards that are uploaded regularly.
When children point and laugh at you reading on the bus. When you drop a pile of books in front of the girl of your dreams and she tramples all over them, just remember: the most awesome people were all readers and here’s proof – the Awesome People Reading tumblr.
Creep up on anyone in the office during an idle moment and chances are they will be reading a letter, postcard, telegram or memo on Letters of Note, the site that gathers the best correspondence from many well-known names. It’s the best old box of letters you ever found. And if you like this, you may also enjoy Lists of Note.
What do characters in books actually look like? Settle disputes with friends once and for all with The Composites, a website which uses law enforcement composite sketch software and descriptions of literary characters to create portraits of the most famous characters in literature. So, is the picture above how you imagined the face of Humbert Humbert in Lolita?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Certainly not, if you consider any of the following books old friends. Now’s the time to download and re-read these recent classics, or even get to know them for the first time, as all these authors have fabulous new titles out next year. So what better way to fire up your Kindle, kick-start your Kobo or get hooked on your Nook…
In 1940, with the Japanese about to invade Malaysia, textile merchant and petty crook Johnny Lim embarks on honeymoon with his beautiful new wife Snow Soong. Years later, Snow’s son searches for the truth about his father. Look out for Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire next year – a kaleidoscopic tale of life in modern Shanghai.
A literary icon on the life of a Hollywood icon – Marilyn Monroe; the most famous blonde in the world. Oates explores the inner life of Monroe, looking beyond the myths to give us the story of the woman. 2013 is the year of The Accursed, as Oates plunges the distinguished residents of turn-of-the-century Princeton into a hell on earth, after a mysterious visitor comes to call on US President-to-be Woodrow Wilson.
Eighteen-year-old Helen Memel is in hospital after an intimate shaving accident. Helen then describes this, and various aspects of her sex life, sparing absolutely no detail. Wetlands was the book that everyone had to read in 2009, and Wrecked, a taboo-busting tale of sex, grief and marriage, will be the talking point of the coming year (so to speak).
A family with a history of secrets. But who knows what really happened? Amy Tan takes us back to Shanghai in the 1920s, through to the Second World War, and beyond in The Kitchen God’s Wife. Valley of Amazement will be out in Autumn 2013 and is another fabulous, multi-generational epic, following the legacy of a painting passed from grandmother, to mother, to daughter.
Kambili lives a closeted existence, ruled over by her fanatical father. But then a military coup leaves Nigeria changed forever, and Kambili’s eyes are opened to the possibilities of the world around her. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie returns in the spring with Americanah; a startling exploration of race, coming-of-age tale and heartrending love story all rolled into one.
Alex Cold is sent to live with his indomitable grandmother. She is a reporter, bound for an assignment deep within the Amazon rainforest. But rather than leave her grandson behind, she brings him along for the adventure. A departure from Isabel Allende’s usual style, Maya’s Notebook is a gritty tale of a young woman’s descent into addiction; her notebook is the diary of her longed-for redemption.
4 books to feast on this Christmas, recommended to you by us at 4th Estate
‘So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun’
Slade, Merry Christmas Everybody
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Feasting only comes once a year for the students of Enfield Tennis Academy, which is known for its intense training regimes that dominate every part of the students’ lives. On this night, the Continental Interdependence Day gala, the boys can go wild. Normally dietary requirements are for one hour suspended, dessert is served, and everyone wears some sort of hat. But the highlight is Mario Incandenza’s technically and politically complex film of a puppet show which sends up the country’s ridiculous politicians and their hairbrained politics. This is one of the best set-pieces in Infinite Jest, full of comic detail, swerving in and out of the film, dinner, and events happening outside of the room and is a feast as much for the reader as the tennis players gorging on refined sugar.
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
‘Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!’
A Christmas Carol should be as crucial to Christmas as crackers and turkey. In this festive treasure of a book, Dickens tells how Ebenezer Scrooge cast aside humbuggery in favour of goodwill to all men. The book – with the help of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future – crams a plethora of feasts into one day, from Christmas Present’s throne made up of turkeys, geese, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples and more, to Tiny Tim feebly crying “Hurrah!” at the sight of his humble goose. Hard-hitting truths about the misfortune of England’s poor are combined with moving optimism about the power of goodness, to create a book that has shaped our idea of Christmas since publication, and induces ‘won-der-ful happiness’ in all that read it.
Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
‘Eating momos dipped in chutney, Gyan said: “You’re my momo.”
Sai said: “No you’re mine.”’
In New York, illegal immigrant Biju cooks every kind of cuisine under the sun, fleeing to a new restaurant whenever there’s a green card check. In West Bengal, Biju’s father prides himself on his traditional English puddings, mastered for the benefit of his Anglophile employer, a retired judge. But the judge’s granddaughter Sai and her tutor Gyan and fall in love over Nepalese momos, while around them, the Gorkhaland independence movement gathers dangerous pace.
A momo is a delicious steamed dumpling, stuffed with lamb, served with a lightly spiced dipping sauce. The Inheritance of Loss is a tale of changing India, of young love and past grief – and it will leave you with an insatiable hunger for momos.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I first read Great Expectations when I was at school and my lasting memory of it is the description of Miss Havisham’s ruined wedding feast. The scene of waste and decay, with spiders crawling over the mouldy remains of her never-to-be-eaten wedding cake serves as a mirror to Miss Havisham’s life and the reason why ‘she stole [Estella’s] heart away and put ice in its place’.
Merry Christmas everyone! I can picture the scene now – egg-nog a plenty, wafts of turkey drifting in from the kitchen and flashes of wrapping paper propelled across the room by mischievous animals (just me then?). You might just have awoken to a brand new e-reader, so it’s only right that we flag up the best 4th Estate books to begin building your e-library.
Here, in one ebook volume, are the first four books in the hugely acclaimed Martin Beck series, novels that shaped the future of Scandinavian crime fiction and influenced writers from Stieg Larsson to Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell to Lars Kepplar. Join Detective Martin Beck and his colleagues in the National Homicide Department in Stockholm this Christmas (!). Find it on Apple, Amazon and Kobo.
Scott Pilgrim is 23 years old, he’s in a rock band, he’s ‘between jobs,’ and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties… Find it on Apple, Amazon and Kobo
Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, the first two instalments in Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy, have gathered readers and praise in equal and enormous measure. They have been credited with elevating historical fiction to new heights and animating a period of history many thought too well known to be made fresh. Find it on Apple and Amazon.
For fans of Fifty Shades of Grey comes an eBook which combines the international bestseller The Bride Stripped Bare and its sensational follow-up, With My Body. An explosive novel of sex, secrecy and escape is followed by a powerful tale of marriage and desire. Find it on Apple, Amazon and Kobo.
The Kitchen Diaries II includes over 250 recipes, many from Nigel Slater’s BBC TV series Dish of the Day, Simple Suppers and Simple Cooking. From and one of our best-loved food writers, a beautiful and inspiring companion volume to his bestselling Kitchen Diaries. *This ebook is best viewed on a tablet device*. Find it on Apple, Amazon and Kobo.
The never-before published letters of the legendary Mitford sisters, alive with wit, affection, tragedy and gossip: a charismatic history of the century’s signal events played out in the lives of a controversial and uniquely gifted family. Get The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters on Apple, Amazon or Kobo.
Bad Science hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science, becoming a 400,000 copy bestseller. Now Ben Goldacre puts the $600bn global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope in Bad Pharma. What he reveals is a fascinating, terrifying mess. Find it on Apple, Amazon and Kobo.
There are heaps of seasonal cheer and a smidgeon of seasonal Scrooginess in 4th Estate’s offerings from the internet this week.
Giving someone a book this Christmas? Get some inspiration for your inscription from bookinscriptions.com, which includes gems like the sarcy ‘Still want a gap year?’ in a copy of Alex Garland’s The Beach, and a personal and enigmatic apology in Kafka’s The Apology, reading: “He isn’t making sandwiches, you know, but I still hope you might like this, even though it’s nothing about sandwiches… Sorry.”
If Christmas 2012 is less about the birth of Christ, and more about the beginning of the Hobbit’s unexpected journey, why not consider a Christmas present to yourself along the lines of these 20 mind-blowing Tolkien inspired tattoos alongside this lovely collector’s edition of The Hobbit?
Wondering what to give the aspiring poet among your friends and family? Check out this inventory of Emily Dickinson’s possessions to see the snoods, spoons and sandglasses given to the notoriously reclusive poet over the course of her life.
“Those incessant scenes that seemed to be almost physically necessary to you, and in which your mind and body grew distorted and you became a thing as terrible to look at as to listen to…”
Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas
If tidings of comfort and joy turn to raised voices and carving knives at dawn, head here for break-up letters from literary greats, for consolation and inspiration.
Enjoy more of Wilde’s wordsmithery in this selection of his letters.
Cast off all Scrooge-esque instincts this Christmas and embrace the festive fervour at the recently revamped Charles Dickens museum. Check out the many seasonal happenings going on or browse the gift shop’s wares – this Oliver Twist themed bowl is particularly tempting – from the comfort of your own blazing hearth.
And just because its Christmas, here is one extra treat for you:
A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a word is worth 20,000 lights in Maricopa Arizona. Have a look at Kristina Green’s Christmas light show here to see how.
Still searching for that perfect gift? Look no further. 4th Estate is home to many longlisted, shortlisted and prize-winning authors and you can rest assured that whoever you’re buying for will be thrilled to unwrap these amazing reads.
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies have each won the prestigious Booker Prize – quite a recommendation! Mantel brings history to life like no other author and the books give vivid and scintillating insights into the life of Henry VIII and Tudor England, as seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. Sir Peter Stothard, chairman of the Man Booker Prize, hailed Mantel as ‘the greatest English prose writer eligible for the prize’, who had ‘rewritten the book on writing historical fiction’. These breath-taking books are sure to be gratefully received.
Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science was shortlisted for the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize. This hilarious yet alarming bestseller took on pseudo-scientific reporting and the questionable science which lay behind many of the infamous court cases, drug trials, and missed opportunities of our time. In his second book, Bad Pharma, hailed in The Daily Telegraph as ‘a work of brilliance’, Goldacre shifts his focus to the pharmaceutical industry – exposing the truth about badly conducted trials, hidden results and the effects this has on everyone, including you.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007. It tells the gripping story of two sisters, a houseboy, and a professor, as their lives are torn apart by the Nigerian-Biafran War in the late 1960s. At times harrowing, yet full of exuberance and ambition, this is a truly moving read. Adichie beautifully depicts the struggle to survive, to love, and to maintain hope when surrounded by devastation. “A worthy successor to such twentieth-century classics as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River” (Joyce Carol Oates), this is a book that will be treasured by any recipient.
Having won both the Guardian First Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction, and been shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and the Wellcome Trust Book Prize in 2011, Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s examination of cancer has established itself as a book to be reckoned with. Mukherjee tells the story of cancer, the disease that has played a huge part in humans’ lives – and deaths – for thousands of years. The result is a terrifying yet inspiring look at the foolishness, innovation and resilience that humans show when dealing with their own bodies.
Joan Didion has been widely recognized as one of America’s most powerful writers: she has been awarded honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from both Harvard and Yale University as well as multiple prizes. Treat yourself or a loved one to The Year of Magical Thinking, winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005. Didion’s brilliant autobiographical exploration of bereavement and grief in her family life is ‘ultimately, and unexpectedly for a book about illness and death… a wonderfully life affirming book’ (Observer). Her latest work, Blue Nights, describes Didion’s experiences dealing with the death of her husband and daughter, in devastatingly honest, beautifully written prose. Although intensely personal, Didion’s books are essential reading for any who have loved and lost.
Five things to read, see, watch and do on the internet. From us, to you. Simple.
We thought we loved Nigel Slater the most, until he took part in a Mumsnet chat this week. Nigel revealed his favourite and worst dishes as well as sharing lots of cookery tips. Read the web chat here and if you haven’t already, pick up the beautiful Kitchen Diaries II.
You can follow Nigel on twitter, he’s @realnigelslater.
A site like Kanye Wes has been long overdue. It just makes so much sense: Kanye West lyrics layered onto stills from Wes Anderson films. Give this site to someone for Christmas and they’ll enjoy a year of the most perfect bright and foul-mouthed screen savers.
Next year London’s Southbank Centre will celebrate the seminal book on music, The Rest Is Noise: The Soundtrack of the 20th Century, written by our author Alex Ross. Comprising of almost 100 concerts as well as films, talks and events. Start booking your tickets now and look out for our special edition ebooks next year, all taken from the book itself. We’re so excited to see this book come alive. Read the book now if you haven’t already.
We know, we know, at this time of the year, the internet is chock-a-block with book of the year round-ups. But this list of The Best Books We Read in 2012 has been compiled by all the movers and shakers in the industry, and as it’s American, it’s a chance for you to discover some of the books you might have missed.
Is there any literary heroine greater than Lisa Simpson? Join the Lisa Simpson Book Club and find out everything she’s ever read, and then read it too. Also features other Simpsons characters and their books.
It’s cold and dark outside and, as usual, the question looms: what do you buy your mother, sister, niece or special lady to show her that not only do you care, but that you really ‘get her’? Behold, a list of books for every woman in your life which unlike bath salts, hand creams or cheap jewellery are guaranteed to stay with them forever.
Taking place over one night, I Married You For Happiness lingers over the intimacies, dark secrets and overwhelming joys that form the lives of Nina and Philip, who have been married for a lifetime. You know the family member curled up on the sofa, tearing up and laughing in the same breath at that bittersweet film on TV? This one’s for her.
For fans of Skins, Heart-shaped Bruise and Submarine, Someday Find Me is a shocking and thought-provoking love story. It’s told through the charming, funny and anguished voices of Saffy and Fitz, and confronts the difficulty of finding your way when you don’t yet know who you really are. Perfect for teenage sisters, or the young love in your own life.
The original erotic sensations and still the best, The Bride Stripped Bare and With My Body are the books to buy for Fifty Shades fans this Christmas. These page-turners are consistently bold and passionate and feature women who dare to explore their deepest desires and discover what they really want.
In A Perfectly Good Man, Patrick Gale returns to the rugged Cornish landscape that was the backdrop to the much-loved Notes from an Exhibition. This new novel lays bare the lives and the thoughts of a whole community and examines what it means to be truly good. It was chosen for this summer’s Richard and Judy Book Club, with Judy promising, ‘it will stay with you like a prayer – profound, simple, and timeless.’
From the author of The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan’s The Kitchen God’s Wife takes us to Shanghai in the 1920s, through World War II, and the harrowing events that led to the main character’s, Winnie’s, arrival in America in 1949. This book is for everyone who loves a thoroughly well spun yarn which combines tragedy and survival, and the enduring qualities of hope, love and friendship.
Meet Margo Crane – a female Huckleberry Finn, a teenage Scout Finch – as she single-handedly embarks on a daring journey through the American wilderness with nothing but raw courage, and her rifle. Once Upon a River will enthral fans of The Hunger Games, True Grit and Winter’s Bone and is perfect for the all the gutsy girls in your life.