Rising stars of 2006: Books
Saturday 31 December 2005
In the future, bemused historians will look back on the affluent parts of the early-21st-century world and wonder why autism - its definitions, its causes, its impact on children and families - became such a key worry of the time.
They may decide that all the clinical and policy debates masked a wider anxiety about what it meant to be a full individual, and part of a family and community, in a society of new opportunities and new dangers alike. And one book that will help them (and you) understand our age of autism is Kamran Nazeer's Send in the Idiots, due from Bloomsbury in March.
Diagnosed as autistic at four, the boy from an itinerant Pakistani family (who was born in 1978) entered a state-of-the art specialist school in New York. His book looks back on the childhood and later lives of his fellow-pupils, and teases out the larger questions that lie behind all the wrangles over diagnosis, treatment and education.
This remarkable piece of true-life storytelling takes as its theme not disability, but humanity. Nazeer himself now works as a policy adviser in Whitehall.
Others to watch
In the spring, the unmissable - and probably unavoidable - first novel will be Londonstani by Gautam Malkani. This debut created a huge buzz at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with publishers jostling to bid for the next big voice of contemporary London life. Londonstani (due from Fourth Estate in May) eschews the capital's trendier corners for Hounslow, where Asian kids from a variety of backgrounds struggle to avoid the curse of a job at Heathrow and perfect their rich and strange street-slang.
Coming from the drug-ridden estates of Nottingham, Nicola Monaghan's first novel The Killing Jar (Chatto & Windus, March) will not make the same sort of metropolitan splash. Yet this is another exuberant debut that reaches the parts of Britain mainstream fiction usually leaves alone. Monaghan reports in a thrillingly fresh, vital style on the hope and joy that survive in a land of Asbos and addiction.
Last year's prediction: Diana Evans won the Orange Prize and is shortlisted for the Whitbread award for debut novels.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Goodfellas star Frank Sivero sues for $250m over Simpsons character
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board and takes four gongs
The Apprentice 2014, episode 3, review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Apprentice 2014: Contestant James Hill outed as convicted criminal
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'