Happy New Year everyone!
And without pause for breath…
The Guardian have given their predictions for the biggest authors of the New Year. One is a former journalist, another is Faber’s youngest female signing and the last is an Oxford historian. Meet the big names of 2012:
“The plot just fell into my head, quite complete. When I dropped the kids off to school on Monday I took the laptop out to the garden where there was no Wi-Fi and started writing. It was so much unbelievable fun. I had this weird confidence about it and I just blitzed it.”
Her book, Alys, Always – published by Weidenfeld) is a thriller set in the London literary scene. Frances Thorpe is a “lowly subeditor” on a newspaper books desk, but after a car crash on an icy road and a death, our narrator manages to insinuate herself into the highest band of London literary life, in an unnerving and tense plot.
Lane worked as a subeditor for Tatler before going on to edit and write for the Observer, the Telegraph and Vogue. But in 2008 she nearly lost her sight with a chronic inflammation of the optic nerve and put on medication, ending her journalistic career. Unable to continue, she decided to join a creative writing course, and clearly the decision paid off!
20-year-old Chibundu Onuzo is not only juggling the promotion of her debut novel, but is also managing her final-year at King’s College London where she is studying history. The Nigerian writer signed a two-book deal with Faber in February last year, becoming the youngest ever woman to do so.
Her novel, The Spider King’s Daughter revolves around two Lagos teenagers – Abike, a well-to-do girl, and a young street hawker.
“It’s just interesting, how people from different classes relate to each other. Abike should relate to the hawker in the same way as she relates to her driver. But the hawker is good-looking, and speaks English well, and that makes her pause.”
The youngest daughter of two doctors, and influenced by American TV shows she watched at home in Lagos, Onuzo started writing on a whim at just 10 years old. When she moved to England to do her GCSEs, her thoughts returned to Nigeria, and this is reflected in her writing.
Her older sister encouraged her to send the first 33 pages to three agents, and Capel & Land asked for the rest. 10 months of writing, and countless redrafts, the book is ready to hit shops in March.
Philip Larkin famously decided that sexual intercourse began in 1963. But 42-year-old historian (and teacher of history at Exeter College, Oxford) Faramerz Dabhoiwala dug deeper. And after a decade worth of research, his debut book The Origins of Sex, sets out to prove that the “first sexual revolution” can be seen in the 18th Century. Even our fascination with celebrities and their sex lives can be traced back to then, with courtesans such as Kitty Fisher (pictured on the cover) flirting with the media of the time.
“I’ve always been interested in cultural differences in attitudes to sex. That may be because I grew up in Amsterdam in the 1970s and 1980s and then I moved back to England in Mrs Thatcher’s heyday to go to university, so that was a little bit of a contrast. Most of my family live in India and they have particular attitudes to sexuality. So I have always been attuned to the subject and then I had the luck of stumbling across this huge unexplored, unexplained revolution in behaviour and I just pursued it.”
A revolutionary and intriguing blend of anecdotes and analysis is hoped to appeal to everyone from schoolchildren to academics. I will leave the last words to Dabhoiwala…
“I modestly hope it will change the way that people think about sex. I could also say that people should read it because it will almost certainly improve their sex lives, but even if it doesn’t it’ll still be a really good read.”
What books are you looking forward to in 2012?