In the good books: What to read in 2014

BALANCING ACT: The doyenne of middle-class drama, Joanna Trollope, dissects the collapse of a very middle-class family business - a pottery firm.
BALANCING ACT: The doyenne of middle-class drama, Joanna Trollope, dissects the collapse of a very middle-class family business - a pottery firm.

Want to know what to read in 2014? Books editor Michelle Hurley cherry picks the year's best offerings.


Another year, another novel about love, sex, lies etc from Hanif Kureishi with, The Last Word, coming from Faber in February.

And familiar territory too for the doyenne of middle-class drama, Joanna Trollope and her new novel Balancing Act, which dissects the collapse of a very middle-class family business, a pottery firm (Doubleday, March).

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine is the much-hyped novel coming from Text in March, about an eccentric Beirut woman and her literary obsessions.

Wellingtonian Sebastian Hampson mingles romance and Paris (who'd have thought!) in his debut novel, The Train to Paris, (Text, March)

New Zealand author Robert Glancy sparked an international bidding war with his debut novel Terms & Conditions, with Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury inking a six figure two-book deal. Is it worth the hype? We'll have to read the fine print in March to find out.

Also in March, rising star Tina Makereti's first novel, Where The Rekohu Bone Sings traverses the Chatham Islands to London, and the 21st century to 1835 (Vintage).

Tim Wilson's second novel News Pigs - chronicling the misadventures of news hack Tom Milde - hits the shelves in April (Victoria University Press).

White Gardenia author Belinda Alexander has a new novel in April called Sapphire Skies (HarperCollins), based loosely on the "night witches": The female Russian fighter plane pilots who wrecked havoc over the German army during WWII.

Last year's recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction, Owen Marshall's latest novel, Carnival Sky, is published in May by Vintage, and is a meditation on love, death and transformation.

June sees Text publish a new novel by Tom Rachman, author of The Imperfectionists. Set in an international newsroom in Rome, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers is a story about "unexpected connections and the revelations that change everything".


Caoilinn Hughes aligns scientific and poetic venturing in her debut collection, Gathering Evidence, published by Victoria University Press in February.

The recipient of the 2013 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry, Michele Leggott's new work Heartland, will be published in April by Auckland University Press and follows on from her previous collection, Mirabile Dictu.

Auckland poet Sam Sampson also has a sequel in the works: Halcyon Ghosts will be published by AUT in May, following on from his first collection, Everything Talks.


The Kept by James Scott (Hutchinson, February) is being described as a literary page-turner in the tradition of Cold Mountain, set in the winter of 1897 when a trio of killers descend upon an isolated farm in upstate New York.

He's barely legal but high hopes are held for Auckland writer Ben Atkins and his debut noir novel, Drowning City, set in 1930s' America (Vintage, March).

Jo Nesbo returns in April with a standalone thriller, The Son, where a charismatic young prisoner escapes jail to find out the truth about his father's death (Harvill Secker).

Tony Parsons makes the jump to crime fiction in The Murder Bag (Century, May), about a serial killer who kills rich and powerful men, the first in a series.

Chris Pavone's The Accident features a legendary media tycoon, an anonymous manuscript about said media tycoon and someone (surely not the media tycoon?) who is desperate for it to remain unpublished (Faber, June).

In what is being billed as his first "hard-boiled detective novel", Stephen King's Mr Mercedes hits the shelves mid-year from Hachette.


Kicking things off in January, Scribe publishes John Rizzoli's The Company Man - a provocative account of his time as the CIA's top laywer post-911, where he approved, among other things, the rules that governed waterboarding.

What George taught me . . . in The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot (Text, January) New Yorker staff writer distils Middlemarch to offer a guide for living well today.

In the prequel to Sarah Vaughan is Not My Mother, Wellington author MaryJane Thomson vividly details how mental illness led her to slip into drugs, stripping and, eventually, psych wards in Bunny: How it Began (March, Awa Press).

The posthumous memoir of Dave McArtney, founding member of Hello Sailor and the Pink Flamingos, will be released by HarperCollins NZ in May next year. Publisher Finlay Macdonald describes Gutter Black as "a kind of social history of those times, as well as an intimate memoir by an amazingly creative individual".

Australian broadcaster and performer Sian Prior investigates her chronic shyness (and disintegrating relationship with her partner, a famous musician . . . alright, it's singer Paul Kelly) in Shy: A Memoir, out from Text in June.


Expect a devastating account of the Robert Farquharson case - the Australian father convicted of murdering his three sons on Father's Day in 2005 by driving them into a farm - from Australia's most extraordinary non-fiction writer, Helen Garner. (September, Text).

Tiger mother Amy Chua turns her critical eye to success in The Triple Package (Bloombsury, February) where she posits that there are three cultural traits that allow some groups to outperform others.

We're picking tenderness isn't one of them.

David Grant's biography of Norman Kirk is being billed the definitive book on one of New Zealand's most admired political leaders (Random House, March).

Architecture photographer Simon Devitt and writes Bill McKay and Andrea Stevens pay tribute to New Zealand state houses in Beyond the State: New Zealand State Houses from Modest to Modern (Penguin, April).

Fairfax journalist Michael Field lifts the lid on appalling human rights abuses on board ships fishing for New Zealand quota in The Catch, coming from Awa Press in April.

April also sees the release of AUP's Ko te Whenua te Utu / The Land is the Price by historian M P K Sorrenson, bringing together major strands of his writing from the last 50 years.

Come May, Auckland academic Michael Corballis examines what the mind is really doing when it's goofing off in The Wandering Mind: What the Brian Does When You're Not Looking (Auckland University).

Bridget Williams Books and The Auckland War Memorial Museum releases in May what should be a landmark publication, Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, by Athol Anderson, Judith Binney and Aroha Harris, offering a sweep of Maori history from Pacific origins to the 21st century.

A new take on the Great War from celebrity historian Simon Schama tells the stories of the soldiers through the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of war in Your Country Needs You! (HarperCollins, June).

And finally, Grahame Sydney fans should look out for Grahame Sydney - Paintings (October, Craig Potton Publishing) in what should be the major survey of his career, with an autobiographical account from Sydney and an essay from Vincent O'Sullivan.

Sunday Star Times