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A reading list for 2017

Culture

History-lovers will have plenty to tuck into over the next 12 months. In 2012 Norman Davies set off on a global circumnavigation. “Native Lands”, to be published in April by Allen Lane, is his account of the places he visited and the history he found there. In September comes Anne Applebaum’s “Famine” (also from Allen Lane), about the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. Evolving in the same month, “Darwin”, by A.N. Wilson (John Murray), is a new look at the great naturalist. A crowd of books before the centenary of the Bolshevik insurrection will include “October: The Story of the Russian Revolution” (Verso), by China Miéville, better known for his fantasy fiction.

It will be a vintage year for memoir, too, starting with “Between Them”, by the American novelist Richard Ford (Ecco/Harper Collins); Mr Ford will look back through the lens of his parents’ life. Then there is “I Found My Tribe”, from the Irish writer Ruth Fitzmaurice (Chatto & Windus); her tribe is her five children under ten and her film-maker husband, Simon, who has motor-neurone disease. The memoir of the artist Ai Weiwei (to be published in the spring) will make waves.

Among the novels to watch out for are “4 3 2 1”, by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber), and “A State of Freedom”, by Neel Mukherjee (Chatto): set in India, it explores the theme of migration. “Exit West”(Riverhead/Hamish Hamilton) comes out in March from the author of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, Mohsin Hamid.

It is hardly surprising that the world’s conflicts and their consequences are working their way into fiction. “Dalila”, a second novel from Jason Donald (Jonathan Cape), draws on his work with asylum-seekers in Glasgow and tells of institutionalised British brutality; Christopher Hampton has written a script and will direct the film. “Spoils” (Vintage), by an ex-soldier, Brian Van Reet, explores the relationship between a female American soldier and a jihadist in Iraq. In July comes “The President’s Gardens” (MacLe­hose), an epic novel by Muhsin al-Ramli, set in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and translated from the Arabic by Luke Leafgren.

One of the biggest books at the Frankfurt book fair in 2015 was J.P. Delaney’s “The Girl Before”. A scrum of publishers bought rights in 32 countries, based on just 50 sample pages, and 150 studios around the world bid for film rights (Universal won). Published by Quercus in Britain and Ballantine in America. It is being tipped as the next “The Girl on the Train”.

The plot of America’s election in 2016 was stranger than fiction, and will yield a bumper crop of books. In March the satirist P.J. O’Rourke offers his distinctive take in “How the Hell Did This Happen?” (Atlantic). Before the election he explained why he would vote for Hillary Clinton: “She’s the second-worst thing that could happen to our nation. I endorse her.”

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