Harry Potter aside, here are the best new books for adults

news: Harry Potter aside, here are the best new books for adults

WITH THE recent furore about Harry Potter, one could be forgiven for forgetting that there are many other excellent new books coming out. To redress the balance for adults, this week we are featuring a varied selection of new paperback titles which will provide some fascinating reading.

If you remember the Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, which was a completely absorbing read, then you will enjoy his new book, The Portrait

by Marc Acito. It’s 1983, andin a sleepy community in New Jersey, seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief. However, the fun comes to a halt when his father refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Julliard.

Edward’s truly in a bind. He’s ineligible for scholarships because his father earns too much. And, in a sure sign that he’s destined for a life in the arts, Edward’s incapable of holding down a job. So he turns to his loyal (but immoral) friends to help him steal the tuition fees from his father, all the while practising for their high school performance of Grease. Disguising themselves as nuns and priests, they merrily scheme their way through embezzlement, money-laundering, identity theft, forgery and blackmail. But along the way, Edward also learns the value of friendship, hard work and how you’re not really a man until you can beat up your father, metaphorically or otherwise. It’s an exuberant caper with good period detail and the ironic wit necessary to prevent Edward from being too much of an insufferable Ferris Bueller type. The hero’s caustic self-knowledge is matched only by the author’s and the references to popular American culture come thick and fast. For the most part, they are wittily placed to match the story of the book. (£7.99, ¤12.50)

Xinran, who wrote a seminal book about Chinese women’s lives in The Good Women of China, was born in Beijing in 1958. In the late 1980s she began working for Chinese radio and went on to become one of China’s most successful journalists. She has now written Sky Burial, prompted by a rumour she heard about a soldier in Tibet who had been brutally fed to the vultures in a ritual known as a sky burial: the tale frightened and fascinated her. Several decades later Xinran met Shu Wan, a Chinese woman who had spent years searching for her missing husband who had been serving as a doctor in Tibet; her extraordinary life story would unravel the legend of the sky burial. For thirty years she was lost in the wild and alien landscape of Tibet, in the vast and silent plateaus and the magisterial mountain ranges, living with communities of nomads moving with the seasons and struggling to survive.

In this haunting book, Xinran recreates Shu Wen’s remarkable journey in an epic story of love, loss, loyalty and survival. Moving, shocking and, ultimately, uplifting, Sky Burial paints a unique portrait of a woman and a land, both at the mercy of fate and politics. This little-known culture has been brought vividly to life through the incredible love story of Shu Wen. This story of an extraordinary woman written by an extraordinary woman will stay with you long after closing the book. (£6.99, ¤11.00)

For the fans of taut action, Sidney Sheldon has come up with a fast-moving and engrossing story, Are you afraid of the dark? In New York, Denver, Paris and Berlin, four people have died separately in apparent accidents. Two women – the widows of two of the dead – find themselves under ruthless attack and are drawn together in fear, confusion and for mutual protection. But are they being targeted because one of them is the prosecution witness at a famous criminal trial? Or is there a connection to the mystery behind their husband’s deaths?

Meanwhile, Tanner Kingsley, Chief Executive of an international Think Tank created only seven years ago, is on the cusp of an amazing discovery which could alter the future of the world. If properly handled, the outcome of this could deliver unbelievable power into the company’s hands. But are the mysterious deaths connected to this volatile secret? And can it be further protected?Starting with an unnervingly realistic premise that could alter our lives, Are you afraid of the dark? is Sheldon at the top of his form. (£6.99, ¤11.00)

There have been quite a few books about golf recently – this one promises to be one of the better reads. The Cinderella Story is written by Bill Murray, whose name has become synonymous with golf. The love of the game was with Bill long before Carl (of the film Caddyshack) uttered the now famous words, “Cinderella story outta nowhere. Former green-keeper and now about to become the Masters champion.” Born and raised in Wilmette, Illinois, Bill felt the lure of the links at a tender age. He learned life lessons at the caddyshack“How to smoke, curse, play cards. But more important, when to”. And long before he caught the acting and writing bug, Bill protected the Evansion Community Golf Course from gophers and golfers as a green-keeper. “There must be a bent chromosome somewhere in man that urges him to wound that which he cannot conquer…” And throughout his career, the pull of the links has been constant. A summa cum laude graduate of golf school, specialising in the flop shot, Bill’s escapades on the Pro-Am golf circuit, at Augusta National, and as a fan at the Masters, the US Open, and the Western Open make for an irresistible read.

Filled with the kind of deadpan and dead-on hilarity that only Bill Murray could create, The Cinderella Story is an up-by-the-bootstraps chronicle of a man, his muse, and his critical examination of our society’s fascination with a little white ball. (£8.99, ¤14.00)

Lastly, many of us are still struggling in our attempts to come to grips with the Portuguese language. A very useful book, 501 Portuguese verbs, has now come out in a second Edition, again written by John J. Nitti and Michael J. Ferreira.It is an ideal supplement to classroom textbooks for students learning Portuguese. The most frequently-used Portuguese verbs are presented alphabetically in table form, one verb per page. Each verb is completely conjugated in all tenses with English translations. A new index in this edition lists an additional 1,000 verbs with English translations, cross-referenced to verbs that are similarly conjugated in the main text. Language students will find additional material covering idiomatic verb usage, grammatical construction, and more. What more could one ask? (£16.95, ¤28.00)