Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

First Looks, May 2012: The Last Hundred Days and The Innocents

Hello again, FWR friends. Welcome to the latest installment of our “First Looks” series, which highlights soon-to-be released books that have piqued my interest as a reader-who-writes. We publish “First Looks” here on the FWR blog around the 15th of each month, and as always, I’d love to hear your comments and your recommendations of forthcoming titles. Please drop me a line anytime: erika(at)fictionwritersreview(dot)com, and thanks in advance.

This month’s First Looks picks take us in a decidedly international direction. Let’s begin with The Last Hundred Days, Patrick McGuinness’s debut novel, which was longlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize and is publishing in the U.S. next week. Especially for those of you—I know you’re out there!—who are too young to remember much about the Cold War and Eastern-bloc dictatorships, this novel will introduce you not only to a foreign city (Bucharest), but also to some not-so-ancient history (the novel takes place during the last months of the Ceausescu regime in 1989). Beyond that, McGuinness is another new novelist coming from a poetry background, and I’m always interested in the products of that cross-genre training.

Next, early June will bring the U.S. release of another debut novel: Francesca Segal’s The Innocents. Billed as a recasting of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence—but set within a modern-day London Jewish community—this one hits many of my readerly and writerly interests: reworkings of classics I’ve loved, Jewish literature, and the international accent.

P.S. In keeping with the internationalist focus: If you missed my recent reviewlet covering Anne Korkeakivi’s debut novel The Unexpected Guest (set mainly in Paris), now is a perfectly fine moment to read it.

Further Reading and Resources:

  • Watch and listen: Patrick McGuinness recently visited Villanova University and read from his work there.
  • Courtesy of The Man Booker Prize: a Reader’s Guide (PDF) for The Last Hundred Days.
  • Listen to Francesca Segal read from The Innocents.
  • Read Francesca Segal’s Granta essay, “In My Father’s Footsteps,” about her father, author Erich Segal.

Literary Partners