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Jenny Downham is the award-winning author of Before I Die and You Against Me, two hugely powerful and moving young adult titles. Her latest YA novel, Unbecoming, explores the themes of memory, identity, and the revelation of secrets through three generations of women in one family. The novel draws on her own family’s first-hand experience of a loved-one’s Alzheimer’s. Here, to mark National Alzheimer’s Day, we are honoured to publish such an open and heart-felt article.
Here are the ten titles selected as the very best non-fiction has to offer in 2016, introduced by Waterstones Online's Christopher Davies.
John Williams’ My Son’s Not Rainman is a deeply personal and hilarious book, overflowing with fascinating insights into his son’s autism. Intended not only to dispel the notion that all autistic children are geniuses, Williams' tender and comic writing shows so clearly the astonishing, witty, charismatic boy behind the label ‘autistic’.
While planning the follow-up to her immensely successful In Bitter Chill, and fuelled by a life-long fascination with Hammer Horror, crime writer Sarah Ward travelled to Whitby, the birthplace of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Here, she explains how the eerie location stirred the shadows of her imagination and helped her to write A Deadly Thaw, the second Inspector Francis Sadler novel.
Amnesty International's Here I Stand anthology unites twenty-five unique voices on the theme of human rights under threat. The book is a searing, eye-opening collection of drawings, stories and poems by some of the world’s best-loved writers and illustrators. Here, Walker Books' Commissioning Editor Emma Lidbury explains how the project and the stellar line-up fell so completely into place.
Our ever-popular Rediscovered Classics series continues with Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop. Her second novel after her 1977 debut The Golden Child, The Bookshop is the perfect introduction to Fitzgerald territory, a tale of a quiet determination in the face of parochial-but-steely resistance. It lost out on the Booker but paved the way for Fitzgerald’s success the following year with Offshore, her 1979 entry in a remarkable five-book run that firmly established her a very great, if late-flowering, British talent.
The Midas touch of David Nicholls has seen each of his novels receive the type of acclaim and success most authors can only dream of. Starter for Ten, his debut of 2003, deftly set the Nicholls’ store – witty, knowing, writing prepared to look at relationships without being remotely mawkish – and in turn a series of bestsellers followed, including the all-conquering One Day of 2009. Happily, David is also one of the Waterstones family with a stint at our fine establishment at Notting Hill to his name: some of those experiences go into the following introduction to The Bookshop, which we exclusively reproduce here.
Although we’re trying desperately not to be too partisan at Waterstones towers, we can’t but help but feel a shiver of pride to witness ex-Waterstones bookseller Graeme Macrae Burnet forge through to the final Man Booker 2016 shortlist six for his masterful novel of criminal trial, His Bloody Project. The book has received rare praise for its almost overwhelming sense of authenticity and here, Graeme lifts the lid on his singular narrative approach.
Together with John le Carré, Len Deighton stands as our greatest living thriller writer. A colourful background – including stints in the RAF as photographer and working as an illustrator in both London and New York – gradually led to his genre-defining debut The IPCRESS File in 1962, the ‘antidote to Bond’ that was later immortalised by the film of the same name starring Michael Caine. Well over two dozen superb novels followed, accompanied by a clutch of non-fiction titles including the acclaimed Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain.
Rob Mallows’ Deighton Dossier has long-served as the ultimate online Len Deighton resource. With the author’s 1978 slice of counter-factual history SS-GB now happily installed as our Thriller of the Month, we turned to Rob to unearth something of the novel’s background.
The next installment in our Man Booker Prize Longlist coverage is a candid and amusing account by longlisted author Ian McGuire of how he came to write The North Water. After a chance discovery of a little-known book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, McGuire abandoned his original idea for an altogether darker premise.