The Blagger's Guide To...Super Thursday
Booker wannabes meet the beach blockbusters
Sunday 31 July 2011
*There is more than one Super Thursday in the publishing calendar, depending on what kind of literature one finds super exciting.
This year's Super Thursday for the Christmas market has been predicted by the oracle (The Bookseller magazine) as 29 September, when the celebrity memoirs will hit the shelves like so many doorstops: from Johnny Vegas to Sir Ranulph Fiennes via Joanna Lumley and Louie Spence, stars of stage, screen and snow-capped mountain have put pen to paper to help out with a present for that difficult-to-buy-for uncle or not-quite-out-yet stepson. But this coming Thursday, 4 August, is largely for the fiction.
*So much fiction is published at this time of year because it is expected to stay fresh in the minds of the Booker judges – who are looking at novels published before 30 September in any given year before announcing the longlist late in July (see "Between the Covers") – while still being in time to hit the airport bookshops for the summer holiday exodus. It's all a strange combination of Booker wannabe and beach read, then.
*Of the Booker longlist, which was announced last week, Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending and Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side will both be published on Thursday. Super Thursday explains why the books have been longlisted for the prize before they have even been published. Many more potential Booker contenders who didn't make the list will be published on the same day: AL Kennedy's The Blue Book; Joe Dunthorne's Wild Abandon; Hari Kunzru's Gods Without Men ... Kennedy's previous novel, Day, won the Costa Book Award in 2007, so this one could reasonably have been expected to stand a chance of Booker success. It's certainly not a beach read.
*Anita Desai's The Artist of Disappearance would not be eligible for the Booker (though she has been shortlisted three times before) because it is technically a triptych of novellas, but it is published on 4 August nonetheless.
*In non-fiction, look out for Alison Weir's "first full-scale biography" (right) of Mary Boleyn, "the great and infamous whore", sister of Anne and mistress of two kings. In it, the renowned historian and historical novelist paints Boleyn as "one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age" and presents compelling new evidence for the paternity of both of her children. Gripping.
*Another highly recommended Super Thursday non-fiction title is Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America, by the Texan Harvard graduate Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, whose debut publication has already seen her compared to Joan Didion.
*What else? Look out for The Milkman in the Night, by Andrey Kurkov; Obedience, by Jacqueline Yallop; My Former Heart, by Cressida Connolly; The Hidden Child, by Camilla Lackberg; Anthropology of an American Girl, by Hilary Thayer Hamman; The End of Everything, by Megan Abbott; Blow on a Dead Man's Embers, by Mari Strachan; and Open City, by Teju Cole.
*Why is the Super day always a Thursday? Who knows, except for publishers?
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