Friday, January 2, 2009

New Books for January 2009

I always hesitate to shell out $25 for a new hardcover book, and usually convince myself to wait for the paperback, but there are two new books coming out in January that may overpower my habitual parsimony. The first, due out on Tuesday (January 6), is Barry Unsworth's Land of Marvels. Unsworth won the Booker Prize in 1992 for his novel Sacred Hunger, an epic account of the eighteenth-century slave trade. His novels raise the bar for historical fiction, vividly and imaginatively recreating the past while drawing out the profound implications for the present. His 2004 novel Songs of the Kings cleverly and compellingly recast the Homeric narrative of the Trojan War to catch the echoes of modern politics in the era of the Iraq War. It manages to be entertaining and relevant without being heavy-handed. Land of Marvels, a story of archeology and espionage in World War I era Mesopotamia, promises to follow the same winning recipe of history spiced with modern resonances and the timeless themes of power, ambition, and greed.

The second new book I'm booking forward to is Adam Gopnik's Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, due out on January 27. Gopnik is a writer for the New Yorker, and his new book is described as "an original and personal account of the creation of the liberal voice." The impetus for writing the book seems to have been the fact that this February 12 marks the bicentennial of the birth of both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln.

1 comment:

Shan said...

I love, love, love Adam Gopnik's writing. However, his other 2 books were so different from this upcoming one, I'm not sure if I'm going to be interested in the new one. I love the way he writes about family, urban life, and culture. I miss hearing about his children! (Did you ever read his essay about "Charlie Ravioli"? So funny.)

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