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Books of 2013

James Robertson

The Professor Of Truth

(Hamish Hamilton)

Robertson tackles his most difficult subject yet. Inspired by the Lockerbie bombing, it is told by a man who lost his wife and daughter in a plane which exploded over Scotland. He never believed the right person was convicted for the crime, and sets out on a quest which will, he hopes, explain all.

Javier Marias

The Infatuations

(Hamish Hamilton)

When a couple his heroine sees every day in the same café stop turning up, and she sees the man's photo in the paper, lying murdered in the street, she offers her condolences to the bereaved partner, and begins a relationship that throws up difficult and alarming questions. Brilliance assured from Spain's foremost novelist.

Lucy Ellmann

Mimi

(Bloomsbury)

Mimi is the story of a New York plastic surgeon who dreads making public speeches and the woman who knows she can help him overcome his fears. A delightfully playful, upbeat, erotic and meaningful work.

Maggie O'Farrell

Instructions For A Heatwave

(Tinder Press)

In O'Farrell's new novel, a mother recollects bringing up her three children, who have, to her astonishment, suddenly returned home. Prepare to be chilled.

Ruth Thomas

The Home Corner

(Faber & Faber)

The insightful Thomas gives us the story of a young woman who, after failing to get into university, finds herself working as a teaching assistant to a class of five-year-olds. When she realises how far her life has fallen short of her aspirations, she begins to lose her hold on reality.

Joseph Roth

The Emperor's Tomb

(Granta)

A new translation by the peerless Michael Hofmann, this is the troubled, troubling account of a young man struggling to fit into Vienna in the wake of the first world war, a time when the Nazis' behaviour is slowly becoming evident.

Woody Guthrie

House Of Earth

(Fourth Estate)

Perhaps more a curiosity than a sure-fire literary winner, the manuscript of House Of Earth, Guthrie's only finished novel, was discovered quite recently. Finished in 1947, it is the legendary folk singer's account of a couple trying to find a better life as they work their farm during a drought in depression-era Texas.

Greg Bellow

Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir

(Bloomsbury)

Bellow and his father did not always see eye to eye. Indeed, there were times when the relationship was so strained by their opposing views, Greg wondered if they could hold it together. This is a very personal, affectionate account of a giant of modern literature.

Robert Crawford

On Glasgow And Edinburgh

(Harvard University Press)

From the eminent poet and professor of literature comes a thoughtful and provocative account of the rivalry that has dogged these two cities. It's his belief that this ongoing duel has played a significant part in shaping Scotland, but also that it ought now to be resolved.

William Dalrymple

Return Of A King

(Bloomsbury)

Dalrymple uses previously unseen material to reconstruct the war of 1841 when British troops suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of seemingly primitive tribesmen. A meticulous historian and felicitous writer, Dalrymple is also a deep thinker. This is one history book that matters for making sense of Afghanistan, and Britain, today as well as in the past.

Whether it's uncertainty spawned by the economy, or changing tastes in reading as the march of ebooks gathers pace and publishers tentatively try to keep up, the range of books on offer in the first half of 2013 seems thin. Of course, as surely as the sun rises each morning, there will be another slew of Scottish crime, from writers including Denise Mina, Alex Gray, Karen Campbell, Peter May and Doug Johnstone, although Chris Brookmyre has veered off into sci-fi, which will either confuse or delight his legion of fans, or maybe both. Others to watch out for are essays by Tom Leonard, a collection of AL Kennedy's Guardian blogs and essays about the art of writing, and in the autumn, a new novel from Julian Barnes. Despite cavilling, it's still been hard selecting only 10 titles, so things are maybe not as gloomy as one thinks.

Whether it's uncertainty spawned by the economy, or changing tastes in reading as the march of ebooks gathers pace and publishers tentatively try to keep up, the range of books on offer in the first half of 2013 seems thin. Of course, as surely as the sun rises each morning, there will be another slew of Scottish crime, from writers including Denise Mina, Alex Gray, Karen Campbell, Peter May and Doug Johnstone, although Chris Brookmyre has veered off into sci-fi, which will either confuse or delight his legion of fans, or maybe both. Others to watch out for are essays by Tom Leonard, a collection of AL Kennedy's Guardian blogs and essays about the art of writing, and in the autumn, a new novel from Julian Barnes. Despite cavilling, it's still been hard selecting only 10 titles, so things are maybe not as gloomy as one thinks.

James Robertson

The Professor Of Truth

(Hamish Hamilton)

Robertson tackles his most difficult subject yet. Inspired by the Lockerbie bombing, it is told by a man who lost his wife and daughter in a plane which exploded over Scotland. He never believed the right person was convicted for the crime, and sets out on a quest which will, he hopes, explain all.

Javier Marias

The Infatuations

(Hamish Hamilton)

When a couple his heroine sees every day in the same café stop turning up, and she sees the man's photo in the paper, lying murdered in the street, she offers her condolences to the bereaved partner, and begins a relationship that throws up difficult and alarming questions. Brilliance assured from Spain's foremost novelist.

Lucy Ellmann

Mimi

(Bloomsbury)

Mimi is the story of a New York plastic surgeon who dreads making public speeches and the woman who knows she can help him overcome his fears. A delightfully playful, upbeat, erotic and meaningful work.

Maggie O'Farrell

Instructions For A Heatwave

(Tinder Press)

In O'Farrell's new novel, a mother recollects bringing up her three children, who have, to her astonishment, suddenly returned home. Prepare to be chilled.

Ruth Thomas

The Home Corner

(Faber & Faber)

The insightful Thomas gives us the story of a young woman who, after failing to get into university, finds herself working as a teaching assistant to a class of five-year-olds. When she realises how far her life has fallen short of her aspirations, she begins to lose her hold on reality.

Joseph Roth

The Emperor's Tomb

(Granta)

A new translation by the peerless Michael Hofmann, this is the troubled, troubling account of a young man struggling to fit into Vienna in the wake of the first world war, a time when the Nazis' behaviour is slowly becoming evident.

Woody Guthrie

House Of Earth

(Fourth Estate)

Perhaps more a curiosity than a sure-fire literary winner, the manuscript of House Of Earth, Guthrie's only finished novel, was discovered quite recently. Finished in 1947, it is the legendary folk singer's account of a couple trying to find a better life as they work their farm during a drought in depression-era Texas.

Greg Bellow

Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir

(Bloomsbury)

Bellow and his father did not always see eye to eye. Indeed, there were times when the relationship was so strained by their opposing views, Greg wondered if they could hold it together. This is a very personal, affectionate account of a giant of modern literature.

Robert Crawford

On Glasgow And Edinburgh

(Harvard University Press)

From the eminent poet and professor of literature comes a thoughtful and provocative account of the rivalry that has dogged these two cities. It's his belief that this ongoing duel has played a significant part in shaping Scotland, but also that it ought now to be resolved.

William Dalrymple

Return Of A King

(Bloomsbury)

Dalrymple uses previously unseen material to reconstruct the war of 1841 when British troops suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of seemingly primitive tribesmen. A meticulous historian and felicitous writer, Dalrymple is also a deep thinker. This is one history book that matters for making sense of Afghanistan, and Britain, today as well as in the past.

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