New books!

I’ve proudly stuck to my two-year-old resolution not to buy new books, but I make an exception for book club books, because it’s not always possible or practical to get hold of a library or second-hand copy in time.

As a result, today for the first time in, ooh, ages, two shiny new books have arrived on my desk (literally: we have a very obliging postman at work). The first, Global Women: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy, looks interesting and thoughtful, but the one sending anticipatory shivers up my spine is Come Closer by Sara Gran, about which I know almost nothing except that it’s scary. I like scary books, and the cover blurb is enough to make me want to feign sickness, go home and read the whole thing in one sitting:

Hypnotic, disturbing… a genuinely scary novel


Deeply scary, blurring as it does the bounds between everyday life and the completely unthinkable. Just don’t read it alone.


Sara Gran’s swift, stylish narrative quickly leads to a terrifying place where anything at all might happen


The sly little novel…slides its icicle shard into the warm, pulpy flesh of your dark desires. Gran’s swift finale is very, very cool.

Doesn’t it sound exciting? Fortunately I am sharing both books with other people, and for reasons of timing must read the first one first, so I can prolong the anticipation for a little longer.

I shan’t start either until after I’ve finished my current book, which is When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I’m not sure why I haven’t read it before, since it has everything I like in it, but now I’ve picked it up I’m enjoying it very much. My one small criticism, and that’s too strong a word, is that there is slightly too much of this sort of thing (not a quote, but a composite example from memory):

As I sit here pondering the events of this morning, it occurs to me that my curious conversation with Sarah last night might not have happened at all had it not been for an incident which took place a week ago, at the Palm Hotel.

We then get the story of what happened  a week ago at the Palm Hotel, followed by the curious conversation with Sarah and finally the events of this morning. I suppose it’s a trick or gimmick designed to draw the reader in with the promise of secrets yet to be revealed, and it’s quite effective, but it does require the reader to do quite a lot of work (“what day is it now? Is this happening before or after the scene I’ve just read?”) and I think it’s slightly overused here.

Still, it’s a detective story set in inter-war Shanghai, which is so much my bag that when I’ve finished reading it I shall sling it over my shoulder and keep my lunch in it.