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2017 sees us move from The Essex Serpent’s tight embrace to a meditation on the season's passing with Julian Barnes’ masterpiece, The Noise of Time. Our choice for Fiction Book of the Month for January proves Barnes’s deft ability to survey the human condition with astonishing brevity, precision and conscience.

Ian McGuire’s raw, brutal and compelling The North Water was probably our favourite of the Man Booker long-listers that perhaps unjustly didn’t make the final grade; much anticipatory talk around Eleanor Wasserberg debuting with her haunting Foxlowe and January marks the return of two giants: Paul Auster, a writer of extraordinary naturalistic power, presenting 4 3 2 1 and Michael Chabon (ask any bookseller about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and odds on, it’ll be their favourite book!) brings us Moonglow, his cunning autobiography-as-novel.

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Our Bestselling Fiction Books

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Film & TV Adaptations

A Waterstones exclusive: George Saunders frames his viral lecture hit, Congratulations, by the way

George Saunders is a writer’s writer. As a short-story author, he has hoovered up a number of awards, including the 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 in advance of the publication of Saunders’ novel, it’s our pleasure to be able to reproduce that speech here, together with an exclusive foreword and afterword, written for Waterstones Online.

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Alternative Histories

By Gaslight and Candlelight

Writing the Great Fire: Andrew Taylor shares the origins of Ashes of London

Andrew Taylor has long been a familiar figure in the crime writing firmament and indeed continues to stand as the only author to twice-bag the Crime Writing Association's Historical Dagger. Even for Taylor’s experienced hand, Ashes of London, (our Thriller of the Month for January) represents something of a fresh benchmark: receiving critical adulation from the off, it seems fair to say that in its brilliantly-nuanced protagonist James Marwood, we’re witnessing the birth of who may prove to be one of the great enduring genre characters of the future, a ‘new Shardlake’ as The Times put it. For Waterstones, Andrew Taylor walks us through the inspiration for this fine slice of Restoration murder.

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Love and Waugh

Q & A: Zadie Smith

In the ebb and flow of publishing there are moments which break the waves as markers of quality in any year and the publication of a new Zadie Smith is one such moment. A consistently innovative and challenging voice, Zadie Smith has been a cut above since her ground-breaking debut White Teeth burst joyfully and anarchically into being sixteen years ago.

Her newest novel Swing Time is at once a story about friendship and a meditation on dance - the dip and sway of lives in motion, moving through time. Criss-crossing the globe, this is a sweeping epic that encompasses a changing, increasingly polarised world. We were fortunate enough to be able to catch up with Zadie and ask her about her love of dance, literature and charismatic characters.

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