Susan Price: Having just finished reading Dennis Hamley’s wonderful, subtle The Hare Trilogy, deciding what to read next will be difficult. My friend Karen Bush has just sent me Inheritance, a collection of short stories by a Robin Hobb, a writer we both admire. Another friend, Linda Strachan, has sent me her Guide To Writing for Children, which is a must-read. Visiting my local charity shop resulted in the purchase of Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods. And I firmly intend to re-read Isabella Tree’s Wilding, which I found exciting the first time.
Ross Bradshaw of Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham: Have I read the Australian writer Patrick White before? I can't remember but a customer said I really have to read Riders in the Chariot (Vintage), which is about four independently damaged and discarded people wandering round the wreckage of a once fine city ... oh dear. But the cover blurb says there is a possibility of redemption. I hope so.
Discourse on Colonialism by Aime Cesaire (Monthly Review) comprises a short essay and material about this essay, first published in 1955 and is our bookshop open book group read in January. We try to vary our reading between fiction and non-fiction, and this came out of our discussion of James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain. The bookshop recently put on a talk by Priyamvada Gopal on her Insurgent Empire (Verso) which was inspirational, as part of an irregular series of events on race and Empire and this is a developing theme among our intellectual and activist customers. It's decades since I read Frantz Fanon and Edward Said but their work seems to be reaching a new generation. I need to revise.
I'm a sucker for Patti Smith so I'm saving her Year of the Monkey (Bloomsbury) for the two day Christmas break (poor old retailers, eh?). At heart I want to be Patti Smith, sitting in a cafe in New York munching sourdough toast with olive oil dribbled on it, drinking black coffee and rocking out in the evening. I do wear the same cap as she does, which is a start but it's too late to have been a friend of Robert Mapplethorpe and Allen Ginsberg. Here she wanders round the American west coast, writing her short dreamlike essays, illustrated by her usual Polaroid pictures.
Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season, translated by Sophie Hughes, is an utterly ferocious piece of storytelling from Mexico; it’s a village story, in part a story of mystery and myth, but told with uncompromising realist brutality and a kind of incandescence from which it’s impossible to look away.
Colum McCann’s Apeirogon is a novel of Israel and Palestine – it is huge and thrillingly original and political and intimate and perhaps the best book I’ve read this year. But I’m not telling you any more than that. Just order it now.
But oh, there’s so much else besides those two. Also in January/February we have Bae Suah’s Untold Night and Day, currently next on my TBR; Andrew Krivak’s strange and mesmerising The Bear (I loved this – a proper read-in-a-couple-of-sittings kind of book); Intan Paramaditha’s The Wandering, which I have not yet read but which looks intriguingly like a sort of grown-up Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story from Indonesia; and Paul B. Preciado’s bold, provocative and thought-provoking An Apartment on Uranus. Then through the spring we have the very short and very gripping Elly, by Maike Wetzel, and many new books by familiar greats: Samanta Schweblin coming in April, and Judith Schlansky, Andrés Neuman and Yuri Herrera in June. June is also when we get David Trueba's Rolling Fields (I loved this) - oh, and there’s a début by Elaine Feeney to look out for. It's called As You Were - I’m only fifty pages in and it’s already bursting with emotional power.