In an exclusive interview, Gail Honeyman, author of our February Fiction Book of the Month, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, discusses loneliness in fiction, creating one of contemporary fiction's most likeable outsiders and whether she'd ever return to Eleanor's story.
Posted on 27th Oct, 2017 by Martha Greengrass
A bold, experimental voice in fiction since the 1980’s, award-winning Chilean author Isabel Allende has always drawn strength and courage, even in the darkest moments, from what she calls her own “personal summer". Here, as she presents her latest novel In the Midst of Winter, Allende discusses how finding love in the winter of her own life inspired her return to fiction.
Posted on 22nd Aug, 2017
As we continue our celebration of Helen Dunmore's final novel Birdcage Walk as Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month for August, we look back at the lasting legacy of an author whose books left an indelible impression on her readers. In an exclusive article for Waterstones, Selina Walker, Dunmore's editor and friend, remembers a writer with a keen eye for human experience and for whom every word counted.
Posted on 15th Mar, 2017 by Sally Campbell & Martha Greengrass
Described by The Washington Post as ‘storytelling at its finest’ Amy Engel’s novel The Roanoke Girls is a complex, power-play thriller flavoured with more than a touch of Southern Gothic. Set between Kansas and Los Angeles it is the story of a family with a dark secret and one woman’s attempts to escape the brutal past that haunts her. Dark, twisting and revelatory, it’s a far cry from the YA fiction where the author cut her teeth. As she makes her first steps into adult fiction, Amy Engel talks to Waterstones about making the transition from YA and the lure of a good story.
Posted on 16th Mar, 2017 by Sally Campbell & Martha Greengrass
What does it mean to be a refugee? How does identity survive when it is moved far from the customs, memories and people amidst which it was formed? These are the questions Viet Thanh Nguyen attempts to answer in his short story collection, The Refugees. Described as ‘beautiful and heartrending' by Joyce Carol Oates in The New Yorker, these stories are a testament to the endurance of the human spirit beyond borders and nationhood. Here we present an extract from ‘The Transplant’ to introduce Viet Thanh Nguyen’s timely and moving collection.
Posted on 29th Dec, 2017 by Sally Campbell & Martha Greengrass
Probably most familiar as the author of the highly influential, and much-adapted, The Woman in Black, Susan Hill has long explored our gothic hinterland, whether it be exploring the legacy of Daphne du Maurier in Mrs de Winter or her unflinching eye for life’s cruelty in her Simon Serrailler sequence of English crime stories. Waterstones Online’s Martha Greengrass and Sally Campbell caught up with Hill to discuss her new novel From the Heart.
Posted on 2nd Mar, 2017 by Sally Campbell & Martha Greengrass
Kate Hamer’s first novel, The Girl in the Red Coat, shot to the top of the bestsellers, described as a ‘21st-century Little Red Riding Hood’. Now Hamer is back with her follow-up, The Doll Funeral which touches on many of the same themes: parents and children, self-discovery and mental health delivering what The Guardian has called ‘an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free’. Hamer is certainly no stranger to the art of the page-turner, but what are the books that are keeping her from turning out the light? We asked her to give us a tour of her own bedside reading.
'It's all too rare to find a fun, glamorous, semi-literary tale to get lost in.’ So said The Guardian of Amor Towles’ first novel, Rules of Civility, an assured and evocative account of Manhattanite life in the Thirties. Going on to win the French 2012 Prix Fitzgerald, Towles now returns with his effortlessly urbane A Gentleman in Moscow, the tale of a somewhat singular man - Count Alexander Rostov – who finds himself under house arrest after sentence from a 1922 Bolshevik tribunal. What follows is decades of imprisonment through the most tumultuous decades of Russia’s history and the slow, fascinating rebirth of the Count’s sense of purpose. We caught up with the author to discuss the novel’s genesis and where its fiction met fact.
Posted on 13th Feb, 2017 by Sally Campbell & Martha Greengrass
Our Fiction Book of the Month for February is The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain's finely-tuned and expertly measured account of the indelible impact of a lifelong friendship built in the aftermath of war. Two young boys, Gustav and Anton, form a lasting bond; coloured by social, religious and family division and the legacy of personal and national neutrality. Writing for The Observer, Hannah Beckerman described the boys’ relationship as ‘a powerful, profound and unexpected love story', and the book itself as 'a masterful, meditative novel'. Waterstones Online's Martha Greengrass caught up with Tremain to discuss some of the many themes underpinning the novel: the wide-ranging cost of reticence, the music of fiction and the vital importance of friendship.
Unlike millions of their Polish compatriots, Georgia Hunter's Jewish ancestors managed to survive the gulags, ghettos and pogroms of 1940s Europe. Her debut novel, We Were The Lucky Ones, weaves the facts of their remarkable stories into a first-person, fictional narrative that, as Publishers Weekly notes, 'side-steps hollow sentimentality and nihilism, revealing instead the beautiful complexity and ambiguity of life in this extraordinarily moving novel.’ Here, Hunter explains in more detail the genesis of the book.
Since her 2014 debut The Silversmith’s Wife, Sophia Tobin has been carving out a glorious, somewhat gothic niche in historic fiction, turning now to the wild but desolate beauty of the Yorkshire moors for her latest tale, The Vanishing, a nineteenth century story of menace and isolation as a young London foundling finds herself at the strange mercies of her new master and his widowed sister. Like all fiction featuring this part of the country, the ghosts of the Brontës looms large and for Waterstones Online, Sophia Tobin considers the enigma that was Branwell Brontë, the oft-overlooked brother who only surfaces as a shadow in his sisters’ work.
Posted on 18th Oct, 2017 by Sally Campbell
George Saunders is a writer’s writer. As a short-story author, he has hoovered up a number of awards, including the Man Booker Prize 2017, O. Henry, the World Fantasy Award, the Folio Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Word of Saunders’ shift to the novel has provoked a rare flurry of anticipation, and the result – a wild flight from fact to fantasy where Abraham Lincoln is forced to fight for his dead son’s soul – has had everyone (from Zadie Smith to Thomas Pynchon) referring to Lincoln in the Bardo as a slice of pure, unadulterated genius.
In 2013, a convocation speech George Saunders gave for Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences was later posted to the website of the New York Times and became an extraordinary viral hit. Congratulations, by the way has later found print as a beautifully produced hardback and it’s our pleasure to be able to reproduce that speech here, together with a new foreword and afterword, written exclusively for Waterstones.