Tuesday, February 15, 2005

new julian barnes novel on it's way

Just read news in the Bookseller that Julian Barnes has signed up with Random House for his next book, which will arrive via Jonathan Cape in July. It'll be titled 'Arthur and George', and - according to somone at RH - "it's much the most commercial - and the longest - thing he's done". I look forward to that.

No info on what it's actually about yet, but the article also mentions that Salman Rushdie (who, long ago, wrote several of the best books I've ever read), also at Random House these days, has his 'Shalimar the Clown' pencilled in for later this year, too. A quick glance at Amazon provides a little more info, and, besides the plot, a couple of brief extracts.

The ambassador had been slaughtered on her doorstep like a halal chicken dinner, bleeding to death from a deep neck wound caused by a single slash of the assassin's blade. In broad daylight! How the weapon must have glistened in the golden morning sun; which was the city's quotidian blessing, or its curse.

She didn't feel like an India, even if her colour was rich and high and her long hair lustrous and black. She didn't want to be vast or subcontinental or excessive or vulgar or explosive or crowded or ancient or noisy or mystical or in any way Third World.
Well, you never know, it might be good, although neither of the two quotes set my pulse racing. I remember reading 'The Satanic Verses' for the first time, fearing some dreadfully serious tome (not the most extravagently playful book since 'Catch-22'), and encountering those first few lines, and how exciting they were. I suspect we'll never get that from Rushdie again
‘To be born again’, sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land up on the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Taka-thun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister, without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again …’ Just before one dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty nine thousand and two feet, towards the English channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.

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