A collection of essays from Zadie Smith, a novel critiquing the concept of romantic love by Alain de Botton and Marina Lewycka’s first book in four years are among the highlights of Penguin General’s spring 2016 list.
Authors and staff from Penguin General – which comprises of imprints Penguin, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Fig Tree and Portfolio – presented the highlights at a showcase in Waterstones Piccadilly last night (Wednesday 1st July).
Smith spoke about her forthcoming book of essays, titled Feel Free, which will be split into four sections: one about politics and the news; one about media and the arts; another comprising essays she has been asked to write; and the final section, titled “Feel Free”, which brings together personal essays. She also read an essay called “Flaming June”, about the first piece of art she connected with, Sir Frederic Leighton’s 1895 painting of the same name. Feel Free will be published in June 2016.
De Botton talked about his new novel, The Course of Love, which he called a “companion piece” to his first book, Essays in Love (Picador). He described the book as a study of a relationship set in Scotland in which “nothing brilliant or terrible happens”. It is a “commentary on other love novels” that has a “redemptive” moral with a “heavy dose of cynicism”. It will be out in February 2016.
Lewycka, author of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize-winning debut novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Penguin), read from her new novel inspired by Berthold Lubetkin, the Georgian-born architect who pioneered modernist design in Britain in the 1930s. The Lubetkin Legacy is told from the perspective of a middle-aged actor called Berthold Sidebottom, who lives in a Lubetkin-designed council flat with his mother until she dies and he moves another elderly lady in to masquerade as his mother, for fear of losing the flat, not realising that she has her own agenda. The book will be published in May 2016.
Other highlights from the showcase included Naomi Alderman reading from her new novel, The Power, which imagines what would happen if women suddenly had the power to electrocute people at will, due for publication in April 2016. Former criminal and family lawyer Kit de Waal also read from her debut novel, My Name is Leon, which Viking has said is its biggest debut publication since Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing. It tells the story of nine-year-old Leon who is in foster care with his baby brother Jake, until Jake – who is white – is adopted, and Leon – who is mixed-race – is not. It will be published in hardback in June at an r.r.p of £12.99.
Ruby Wax ended the evening discussing her new book, Wake Up: A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, out in January 2016. Other books discussed at the showcase were Thomas Piketty’s Chronicles, a collection of the author’s articles about the financial crisis and what’s happened since from the last 10 years; The Path, a look at achieving a fulfilling life through ancient Chinese philosophy by Harvard University professor Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh; thriller The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle; and Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias.