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Time to turn over a new leaf with our guide to some of the most interesting books of 2103

What will we be reading on our tablets, e-readers and even good old paper in 2013?
The writer Mohsin Hamid. Photo by Andrew H Walker / Getty Images
The writer Mohsin Hamid. Photo by Andrew H Walker / Getty Images

A world view

The focus is firmly on the Middle East for one of most eagerly awaited books of 2013. Dave Eggers' A Hologram For The King (Hamish Hamilton, February) is set in Saudi Arabia, and follows a recession-hit American businessman trying to make sense of his life. It received excellent reviews on its US pre-release.

In May, Khaled Hosseini tries to repeat the remarkable success of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns with another family saga, And the Mountains Echoed (Bloomsbury), but before that Mohsin Hamid attempts to match the acclaim of his bestselling, Booker-shortlisted The Reluctant Fundamentalist with How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Hamish Hamilton, March). The story of a poor rural boy who somehow becomes a corporate tycoon, it pokes fun at business self-help books.

Talking of the Booker prize, the British Pakistani author Nadeem Aslam was nominated in 2004 and returns with The Blind Man's Garden (Faber) in February, tracking a family in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the turbulent months following September 11.

Finally, the breakout novelist may well be Ruth Ozeki. Her protagonist finds a lunch box washed up on shore after the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the contents sparking an enchanting mystery taking in continents and decades - A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate, March) is certainly one to watch.

Found in translation

Some of the biggest publishing houses in the world began to pick up and translate contemporary Arabic literature into English in 2012. The momentum continues with one of the best Arab novels of recent years, The Silence and the Roar (Pushkin, January), Nihad Sirees' chronicle of life under a dictator.

Closer to home, Abdul Aziz Al Mahmoud's The Corsair looks fascinating, the tale of the 19th-century folk hero Erhama bin Jaber and his battle for control of the Gulf (BQFP, January).

In March, the focus is firmly on the world of Arab writing with the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. So it makes sense that the 2011 co-winner, Mohammed Achaari, will finally see his story of a liberal father who finds his son has died a martyr in Afghanistan, in The Arch and the Butterfly, translated into English (BQFP).

Meanwhile, last year's rather shy winner, Rabee Jaber, has another one of his books set in 21st-century Beirut, The Mehlis Report (New Directions, June), available in English.

Away from the prize, Hassan Blasim's short story collection The Iraqi Christ (Comma Press, March) is required reading for a real taste of life in Iraq. It's been translated by Jonathan Wright, who is also responsible for Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser (BQFP, June), a tale of an Arab country run by military commanders which was incredibly well-received in Arabic.

Crime and fantasy thrills

Last year, The National spoke to the crime writer David Hewson, who successfully wrote the book adaptation of the award-winning Danish television series The Killing. But it was just the first instalment in a three-parter, and he returns with The Killing II in January (Macmillan).

For those who like a little thought in their thrillers, Macmillan will also publish The Jackal's Share by Chris Morgan Jones in February, a spy thriller partly set in Dubai and featuring a strange billionaire. Watch out for an interview with the best-selling Morgan Jones later this month.

Fantasy fans are eagerly awaiting A Memory of Light, the final book in Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's multimillion-selling Wheel of Time series (Orbit, January).

It's also a good month for those who like a bit of swashbuckling magic with their historical fiction, as Bernard Cornwell releases the latest in his Thomas of Hookton series, 1356 (Harper).

And the least surprising news is that the ridiculously prolific James Patterson has at least five books on the slate for 2013. So far.

Non-fiction fare

We're getting slightly ahead of ourselves here, but 2014 will undoubtedly be packed with books marking the centenary of the First World War. So Charles Emmerson's 1913: The World Before The Great War (Bodley Head, April) is a good primer for all things 1914, not least because it focuses on cities from Mumbai to Algiers rather than offering a Eurocentric view.

Looking further ahead, Sid Lowe's Fear and Loathing in La Liga: The True Story of Barcelona and Real Madrid (Yellow Jersey, August) will almost certainly be a fascinating preseason read on the two giants of Spanish football.

But before then, Power Systems - a new set of interviews discussing urgent world issues with Noam Chomsky - is published in January (Macmillan), including a section on democracy in the Arab world.

Two other leading lights of the fiction world, Paul Auster and JM Coetzee, collate their regular correspondence in Here and Now (Faber, June) - surely the last time contemporary letters will be published rather than emails.

And finally, just to lighten the mood, the American humorist David Sedaris compiles a series of globetrotting comic essays taking on everything from dentistry in France to the toilets of Beijing. Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls (April, Little, Brown) is obviously the title of the year, too.

Published: January 1, 2013 04:00 AM

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