And a happy new year to you all (if you go by the Gregorian calendar, there’s obviously still Chinese New Year, Tet in Vietnam and a bunch of others to come). I’m writing this on the morning of January 2nd, remarkably un-hung over (hung-under? Under-hung? No, that’s something else…) after a day with the in-laws. My new year’s resolution, you ask? Well, to update this site more than once every few months, for a start.
2018 was good in some ways, bad in others, so basically the same as every other year. Saying that, I have high-hopes for 2019. With regards my writing, if 2018 was the year of progress then 2019 promises to be the year of completion. I have a to do list that’s longer than a Leonard Cohen song (to quote Malcolm Tucker) but it’s all stuff I’m very excited about. It’s been a while since I woke up in the morning desperate to get to my desk and get working, but I’ve been feeling that these last few weeks. Unfortunately it’s all still under wraps.
What can I talk about? Well I wrote in the Japan Times about Japanese-related books I’m looking forward to in 2019. In addition to those I can’t wait for Ely Percy’s debut novel Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz on Knight Errant in the spring, and the news that Fourth Estate have secured the rights to Kirstin Innes’s Scabby Queen should have everyone jumping for joy.
Literary Landscapes is a book of essays about, well, landscape in literature, and I have an essay in the collection about Yukio Mishima, The Sound of the Sea, and Japan. Here’s a lovely piece by Simon Callow about the book in The Guardian which doesn’t mention me at all which, considering my history of reviews in that paper, is probably a blessing.
Since it’s that time of year, here are some lists (if you’re into that sort of thing, which I am). All the best for 2019, and I promise to speak to you soon.
My Best Books of 2018 (ones I read in 2018, not ones published in 2018, in no particular order):
John MacLean: Hero of Red Clydeside by Henry Bell (Pluto Press)
A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh (John Murray)
Belka, Why Don’t You Bark by Hideo Furukawa (Trans. Michael Emmerich)(Haikasoru)
Matter by Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead)
Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Canongate)
The Guest by Hwang Sok-yong (Trans. Kyung-Ja Chun and Maya West)(Seven Stories)
Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories by Taeko Kono (Trans. Lucy North)(New Directions)
Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama (Trans. Louise Heal Kawai)(Riverun)
My Best Albums of 2018 (again, not necessarily released in 2018, just what I listened to the most):
Interiors by Brad
God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
Be The Cowboy by Mitski
REM at the BBC
In An Airplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
Anywhere at All by Small Planet Radio
Zuma by Neil Young
Awake Unto by Rick Redbeard
Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit
Snares Like a Haircut by No Age