With one positively gargantuan year for literature behind us, it would be wrong to expect another such year. Just plain greedy. But in 2016, blockbusting, record-breaking, appetite-whetting literature is not going to be difficult to come by, even for those who never have the time or energy to read between lectures and essays.
Yes, before the actual book releases, it would only be right to mention that 2016 is significant for another reason. Starting with the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth, and taking in such occasions as the 150th birthdays of Beatrix Potter and H.G. Wells, 2016 is awash with massive literary dates. The third weekend in April is as big as they come: four hundred years since the deaths of Cervantes and William Shakespeare, which means a bumper year for the RSC, including performances of Don Quixote, David Tennant’s Richard II (along with the rest of the ‘King and Country’ cycle of histories), Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For anyone wanting the authentic Shakespeare experience (Shakesperience?), check out shakespeares-england.co.uk for details of exhibitions and a birthday parade in Stratford-upon-Avon this year – though for most us, Edinburgh’s own International Book Festival, run alongside the Fringe festival, may be a little closer to home.
Roald Dahl’s centenary also sees the release of Spielberg’s BFG. Also hitting screens: another Tom Hanks mystery in Dan Brown’s Inferno; more of Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter; the hilarious Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; (as though you didn’t already know) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; and a remake of a little Disney picture called The Jungle Book. With Jon Favreau directing and a cast of recognisable names that would max out our word limit if we were to include it here (Bill Murray as Baloo the Bear!), that last one is our most anticipated release.
Speaking of ‘most anticipated’ things, like, ever, George R.R. Martin has infuriated fans recently by casting doubt on whether The Winds of Winter, the sixth A Song of Ice and Fire instalment, will see a 2016 release.
Perhaps the biggest YA news is An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa Tahir’s fantasy debut released last July is fast gaining momentum, with a film and a 2016 sequel already in the offing.
Hilary Mantel also has fans impatient to get their teeth into the finale of her Booker-winning Cromwell trilogy that started with Wolf Hall. News about that release is thin on the ground, however, and fans are starting to look for other options in sating their hunger for historical fiction. Released on February 2nd, Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night, a similar though seedier rags-to-riches story, will more than satisfy.
Also a Booker-winner, Julian Barnes’ The Noise of Time, released January 28th, thus far remains something of an enigma. The skinny on the Russian-set, 1930s novel so far consists solely of a synopsis that makes it sound like 1984 told from a composer’s perspective. Rave reviews all-round.
Other dystopian entries this year include David Means’ Hystopia, slated for release April 19th, which sounds somewhat like the Philip K. Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle, though potentially more cheerful in that the altered historical event is not the Nazis’ defeat but JFK’s assassination. Also dystopian, though perhaps more interesting to politics students than historians, is Square Wave by Mark de Silva. Out February 9th, this examines the psychological effects of living under a militarised state.
February also sees Yann Martell’s (Life of Pi) next work, The High Mountains of Portugal, which spans one hundred years of Portuguese history, and Mark Haddon (of Curious Incident fame) will release a collection of short stories in May.
With all that and infinitely more this year, good luck deciding what to read!
Image by: brewbooks, flickr.com