Okay, it is summer time, hence only few new titles got onto the shelves recently, and many lists are still mirroring last month’s preferences. In both Sweden and Germany, only one new book can be found, in Germany this is Lilliane Hoffman’s thriller “Pretty Little Things” about a missing thirteen year old, and in Sweden it is the autobiography of messed up rock star Ozzy Osborne.

In UK fiction we find a few well known author brands with new items, such as Karin Slaughter (“Broken”, bringing her Grant County and Atlanta characters together for a second time), or Tess Gerritsen with her eighth novel featuring Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli. Meanwhile Justin Cronin is still into vampires, and Simon Scarrow introduces the last volume of his “revolution” series, now confronting Napoleon and Wellington on their ultimate battlefield of Waterloo.

A more interesting new book – not only with regard to the UK list – is probably Australian Christos Tsiolkas’ “The Slap”. The pretty original plot of this award-winning novel is about a group of family and friends who are watching an adult slapping an unrelated young child. This event is the starting point for the characters to argue and debate if striking a child can ever be justified.

In the US, we find, in classical summer reading mode, a lot of thrillers and crime, plus a genuine memoir by a former Hugh Heffner Playboy bunny (Kendra Wilkinson: “Sliding into Home”).

More original may be, in Spain, the novel “The House of Impossible Love” by Critina López Barrio (“La casa de los amores imposibles”), written in the style of Latin-American “magic realism”, a family saga about several generations of women whose destiny seems doomed by the fact that they give birth only to girls, not sons.

Another family sage, yet on a definitely less loaded tone, has gotten into the top segment in France, quite surprisingly: “The Taste of Apple Pips”, a German debut novel by Katharina Hagena, originally published in 2008, which we will focus on with more detail in the “Book of the Month”..
In nonfiction, we must point, of course, to the autobiography of British politician Lord Mandelson, “The Third Man” which tops the list this month. More of a surprise discovery however is the book of Claudi Alsina, a professor of mathematics, “Mathematical Murders”. Annoyed by all the statistical and logical blunders that we consume from the media almost every day (you may remember, for example, former US president George W. Bush and his insight that most US imports come from ‘overseas’), she has built an amazing collection of such mistakes for her provocative essay.

If ‘provocative’ is the word, Chinese history teacher and internet star writer Yuan Tengfei is the man in the Middle Empire currently as he sets out to re-write “World History” from a clearly nationalistic Chinese point of view (“Yuan Tengfei's History of the World (vol. 1)”), just as does economist Lang Xianping who predicts at least “ten wars” confronting China in the not too distant future with the rest of the world over issues like exchange rates, climate change, energy, or finance.
In France meanwhile, the nonfiction list reflects on two distinct opposite approaches of “La Grande Nation” to the glorious State: On the one hand, a general can land a bestseller by writing about “My Life for France” (by the late highly decorated war hero Marcel Bigeard). On the other side, you can be sure to win over the audience in no time by bitching those official do-nothings in the bureaucracy (“Absolutely o-ver-whel-med! The paradox of the clerks” by Zoé Shepard). It is the combination of those two ingredients that seem to make up a great country indeed.


Book of the Month: Hagena - Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen (Germany)
Crime stories
Saying “the evil has many faces” seems to be true for reality and literature as well. A number of titles entering August’s top segment of bestselling charts are featuring crime and detective stories in many variations, yet mostly sundry.
We starting with the old master of murder and suspense, James Patterson, who has made it one more time into the top ten of UK fiction charts with his recent novel “Don`t blink”, written together with co-author Howard Roughan. An ambitious reporter witnesses a murder in a New York' Steak House which gets him straightaway into a Russian-Italian mafia war.
English-born and Canadian-based crime writer Peter Robinson has successfully launched a series featuring Inspector Alan Bank who, in its nineteenth installment titled “Bad Boy”, has to cope with a tragic domestic occurrence. His daughter Tracy falls in love with the wrong man, namely the bad boy. Following a similar line, we also find Daniel Silva’s “The Rembrandt Affair”, the tenth part of his spy thriller starring art restorer and assassin Gabriel Stallon. Silva lives up to his earlier successes in 2008 (“Moscow Rules”) and 2009 (“The Defector”), and once again reaches the top of the US charts.
Let’s go over quickly the rest of the current load of translated crime stories. We find the Dutch version of “Kvinden i buret” by Danish author Jussi-Adler Olsen (Swedish “De vrouw in de kooi”, English “The Woman in the Cage”) dealing with a politician, who disappears without a trace. In France, Swedish crime novelist Camilla Läckberg is listed with “La princesse des glaces” (Engl. “The Ice Princess”, Swedish original title "Isprinsessan"). Italien charts displays two thrilling translations, one by US author Jeffrey Deaffer (“Il filo che brucia”, original “The Burning Wire”) and another by late Belgian writer Georges Simenon (French original "Cour d'Assises", Engl. “The Court of Assise”) portraying a young man who likes to pose as gangster and thus has to bear the consequences.
To complete this overview of crime fiction three more titles should be mentioned. The German list is topped by a collection of nine stories about unpunished criminal acts. “Guilt” (German title “Schuld”) shows clearly that author Ferdinand von Schirarch did not move far away from his profession as a counsel, when he obviously wants to cast doubt on whether it’s possible to discern good from evil.
Staying in Germany, we must point to the nonfiction list, where we find Kirsten Heisig, a judge of a juvenile court in Berlin, who faces crime in its real form. In “The End of Patience“ (German title “Das Ende der Geduld”) she suggests a new treatment to reduce criminal acts committed by adolescents.
Speaking of striking new entrants, Emma Donoghue gives literary form to a fact based storyline which hardly anyone would have expected from the Irish novelist. However, in fact several novels by Donoghue are based on historical sources. The plot of “Room” bears resemblance to the true, yet unbelievable Austrian “Fritzl” case, when a father imprisoned his own daughter for over twenty years in the basement of the family home. Aside from being prominently on the UK's bestselling charts, "Room" is also long listed for the Man Booker Price and, backed by the promotion of its publisher Picador, it’s a safe bet to find this attention-getting title soon on the international side.
Historical themes
And yet, it is not all about crime. A number of books focus on history. There are some historical novels just as “The Road to Rome” by Ben Kane, ranked number six at the UK fiction chart. Kane may be considered a newcomer, although he has already published two titles. His debut novel “The Forgotten Legion“, released in 2008, reached nearly 10.000 sold copies. The sales numbers of its sequel increased. His recent book betters this performance. It’s the final installment of the trilogy starring Romulus and Tarquinius fighting in Caesar's legion.
In Spain, we find the “El alma de las piedras”, the third novel by Spain author Paloma Sánchez-Garnica dealing with the origin of the Jacobean myth. Italy’s chart displays “Canale Mussolini” by Antonio Pennacchi. He describes the so-called "battle of the swamps", Mussolini's reclamation of the Pontine Marshes. Eventually Philippa Gregory’s “The Red Queen” may be a good read for fans of British history, especially the Tudor dynasty.
Chinese nonfiction bestselling segment features several history books. In addition to Yuan Tengfei’s general historical introductions a new book of this kind enters the list. Jin Yinan concentrates at the history of China in the 20th century (“Miserable Glory”).
In Germany, internationally acclaimed fiction writer Bernhard Schlink (“The Reader”) tops the ranking with a new book, “Summer Lies” (“Sommerlügen”), a collection of seven stories starring characters, who each lose the sense for the meaning of their lives.

Nonfiction Highlights
In a final step let’s glance at two current sensations of the US nonfiction list. On the one hand Andrew Morton has published an unauthorized biography of American actress Angelina Jolie, claiming to provide insights into Jolie’s private life. Just one position beneath, we find Laura Ingraham and “The Obama Diaries”, a Radio host and Fox News contributor. Ingraham persists in saying that she has found this copies of diary entries written by President Barack Obama, his family and high-ranking administration officials next to her car while she has her manicure.


Book of the Month: Donoghue - Room (UK)
In this starting fall season, an impressive number of heavy weight authors have instantly brought their new novels into the top ranks in many of the largest book markets.

Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” not only was famously featured both by Oprah Winfrey and on the cover of Time magazine, and naturally a number 1 in the US. The book is also at rank 4 in Germany – yet behind domestic ‘all age’ queen Cornelia Funke (with “Reckless”), but ahead of romance writer Ildiko von Kürthy (“Finally”).

The unlikely duo of James Patterson and Nordic Lisa Marklund had turned their cooperation on the “Postcard Killers” into a hit novel in Sweden, now followed by the US (# 6) and the UK (#9).

A new Paolo Coelho novel, with insights on the true nature of angels, and with a perhaps surprising reference to German composer Richard Wagner (“The Valkyries”) was successfully launched both in Spain and in the Netherlands, while in France, notorious Michel Houellebeq tops the list with a mock autobiography, an account of the author’s murder plus a detective solving the case included (“The Map and the Territory”). Amelie Nothomb is closely behind Houellebeq with her 19th novel, “A Form of Life”.

Sweden brings loads of new crime, headed by old school star author Leif G W Persson (“The Dying Detective”), yet with a couple of translations down the ranks, notably French Anna Gavalda (“A Beautiful Escape”) and Canadian Alice Munroe who, according to well informed Swedish voices, is supposed to be a hot bet for this year’s Nobel. Meanwhile, Lars Kepler’s “Hypnotist” migrated to France, with Actes Sud, and thus on the trail prepared by Stieg Larsson and Camilla Läckberg.

The ‘all star” pattern is also true for China, where young adult author Guo Jingming, so far better known for simple stories about the challenging life of contemporary Chinese urbanites, now set out with what seems to promise a huge fantasy opus magnum, merging old Chinese concepts of mythical kingdoms with contemporary saga telling (“Ages Below Critical”).

Western vampires and werewolfs, of course, also love to populate endless series. Most recently this is the case with Christine Feehan’s mythical “Dark Curse” series and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s vampire and werewolf saga “Dark Hunter” who are delighting their readers with a range of over 20 respectively 30 volumes (both US authors are writing other series additionally).

Non-fiction is clearly defined by three titles which could not be more different: Physicist Stephen Hawking’s cosmic theory “The Grand Design” (in the US as # 1, plus in the ranks in the UK and Germany), Tony Blair’s autobiography “A Joruney” (in the US and the UK), and the new book of Rhonda Byrne, “The Power”, about self-empowering strategies.

However, you may additionally want to be aware of Austrian abduction victim Natascha Kampusch’s tell-all book “3,096 Days” which was remarkably well received also beyond the yellow press, two biographies of French first-lady Carla Bruni, and, of course, the authoritative guide to 150 “Birdsongs” which made it finally, from being only second last month, to the very top in Sweden.

Find a close up to perhaps the most promising new fiction author, Finnish-Estonian Sofi Oksanen as the Book of this Month.


Book of the Month: Oksanen - Puhdistus (Finland)
Beside the omnipresence of the first title by Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy “Fall of Giants”, which is ranked at the German, US, UK, French and Italian list this month, we find a wide range of interesting new entries.

Melinda Nadj Abonji and her award-winning novel “Tauben fliegen auf” (Doves fly up) conceives a politically charged topic in an entertaining novel. Find a close-up to the winner of the German Book Prize 2010 as the Book of the Month.

Staying at prize-winning literature, we have to point to the comic novel “The Finkler Question” by Howard Jacobson. This year’s winner of the Man Booker Prize (it’s the first comic novel to win the prize since 1986) explores Jewish identity in Britain by displaying three old school friends, who never had lost contact even though they have followed significantly different live paths. An evening of reminiscence is the story’s peak, when all three project themselves to a time before they have found and lost love in their lives.

No picture book, but a nice collection of keen-eyed animal related short stories is behind “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk” by American Grammy Award-nominated comedian and writer David Sedaris. These uproarious tales bear resemblance to human situations of everyday life.

Barack Obama dominates US nonfiction list just as his critics do. Bob Woodward’s documentary portrait “Obama's Wars” heads the ranking, followed by Michael Savage (“Trickle Up Poverty” at #3), who heavily relies on confrontational statements (for instance declaring that Obama aims at weakening the USA). Finally we find Bill O'Reilly’s balanced survey “Pinheads and Patriots” debating the current state of the US nation.

Two nonfiction titles have most likely a potential for being successful in translation, too. “Fragments: Poetry, Personal Writings, Letters” is a collection of manuscripts of the late Marilyn Monroe, illuminating the relationship that the actress kept up with literature. The book has already reached the top ten of the French non-fiction chart. The same is true for Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician and anti-corruption activist, who has finished her memoirs “Even silence comes to an end”, where she describes her ordeal as a hostage of Colombia guerrillas. The book has made it to the French and the Dutch bestseller list.

Several Swedish authors present noteworthy new titles which, pretty much exceptionally, are no crime stories. Jan Wallentin’s debut novel ”Strindberg's Star” comes in as a hybrid mixing an adventure story with a deep political agenda. A book hard to classify is Torgny Lindgren’s “Reminiscences”. It can be called a memoir turned into a story of literary fiction.

Let us close with a glance at Southern Europe to highlight Italian author Michela Murgia with “Accabadora” (new on rank three). In her third novel Murgia touches upon the topics of euthanasia and adoption, which, just as her previous books, has won a national Italian literature award.


Book of the Month: Abonji - Tauben fliegen auf (Switzerland)
Forseeably, and in good synch with the calendar, with only a few more weeks to go for Christmas, we find a strong line up of major star writers (and a lot of biographies and autobiographies) on top of almost all the lists.

Take just the new top entries of fiction in the UK, where we find the new Stephen King (“Full Dark, No Stars”), Dawn French (“A Tiny Bit Marvellous”, a diary about how a teenage daughter dismisses her child psychologist mother when taking responsibility for her own young life), John Grisham (“The Confessions”, a not all too well reviewed book making a case against the death penalty), Patricia Cromwell (“Port Mortuary”, on a forensic scientist exploring ‘virtual’ dissections of bodies and cold cases), Clive and Dirk Cussler (“Crescent Dawn”, mixing the Middle East, Muslims, Jesus and, of course, terrorism), and, sure, even James Patterson (“Cross Fire”, on some murdered politicians in Washington D.C.).

Grisham’s latest book is also close to the top in the US (#3) and the Netherlands (#7), but this comes not even close to the “Life” of Rolling Stone Keith Richards who did it in the UK (#6), the US (#2), Germany (#2), France (#4), Sweden (#6) as well as in the Netherlands (#9). But perhaps more interesting is the fact that in not one major market, the long awaited autobiography has become a number 1, despite all the preceding speculation on how much Mr. Richards will be able to recall from his legendary wild life of sex and drugs and Rock’n Roll in the first place.

Looking at the books that outmatched the singer provides a pretty diverse picture. In Germany, it has been topped by neo-conservative national banker Thilo Sarazin and his anti-Muslim rant “Germany Does Away With Itself”, while in France, this honor goes to the call to arms “Raise In Protest” by Stéphanie Hessel, a former French diplomat who is deeply angry about his country’s anti-immigration policy. In the UK this month’s victory of Keith Richard goes to Jamie Oliver’s “30 Minute Meals”. But even the fake autobiography of a cartoon computer generated Russian meerkat, “A Simples Life” outran the Rolling Stone.

Other, more national developments include the lasting impact of German crime writer Jussi Adler-Olsen, who currently has even two titles in the top 10 – for details see the Book of the Month in November - , just as Finnish Sofi Oksanen with her woman trafficking novel “Purge”, set in the Sowjet Union and in Estonia (this was our Book of the Month in September, right when her rise to the international top started in serious).

Oksanen’s theatre trained style is particularly appreciated in France at this moment, where she fits in smoothly with all the French grand prize winners who dominate the charts more heavily than in many previous years. We see Prix Goncourt winner and all time controversial hero Michel Houellebeq, with “The Map and the Territory” as the number 1, followed by highly artsy Matthias Énard, this year’s laureate of the High School Students Goncourt for his learned oriental novel “Tell Them About Battles, Kings and Elephants”.

The winner of the recent Prix Femina, Patrick Lapeyre, presented the old fashioned topic of a threesome love, painted in poetic metaphors (“Life Is Short and the Desire Endless”), while this year’s Renaudot winner is perhaps more generic, as Virginie Despentes came up with a mix of a thriller, a social satire – and a lesbian romance (“Apocalypse Baby”). And right behind her follows the last of the “grand prizes”, Maylis de Kerangal who with “Birth of a Bridge” on the constriction of the Golden Gate Bridge in a fictitious San Francisco took home the Prix Médicis. Confronted with such a French domestic line up, even Ken Follett, last month’s number one, comes in only at a modest rank seven.

Over such a fury, one could almost overlook this year’s Nobel laureate, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa’s stunning and forceful new book, “The Dream Of the Celt”, about an Irish patriot who was among the first to publicly blame the colonial system for its abuse on human dignity and lives, only to see him sacked by the British Secret Service, and threatened by the death penalty.

In Italy, Umbverto Eco has a new book, “The Cemetery in Prague”, on a forger who lived and, well, forged, around 1800, while the autobiography of Mark Twain in the beautifully University of California Press version, edited by Harriet Elinor Smith, has landed in the top 10.

In Sweden, last but not least, and we have all heard about this book, the King’s portrait, written in all juicy detail by Thomas Sjöberg, Tove Meyer & Deanne Rauscher, is the clear top of all the pops.


Book of the Month: Adler-Olsen - Kvinden i buret (Denmark)
Closing a rich bestseller year in 2010, with a particularly diverse serving for all literary tastes indeed, we find Henning Mankell in Italy, whose “Troubled Men” seems to end his tour through continental Europe. The English translation is going to be released in March 2011. Meanwhile, Umberto Eco’s “The Cemetery in Prague” now enters the Spanish book market after its initial release the last month in Italy, and we can be pretty certain in our prediction that the story about the cynical forger Simonini is good for a long journey in 2011.

This year’s Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa has made it with an older title, “Feast of the Goat”, to rank four on the Swedish fiction list. He portrays the assassination of Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo and its aftermath.

Some star writers are back in the list with the Christmas sales, including Jonathan Franzen in the US, and Ken Follett in the UK. Many other authors could maintain their position. Thus, the English language charts in the US and the UK are dominated by a similar line-up of bestselling authors, with James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell in the top segment in the US. “Dead or Alive”, a collaborative effort bytwo major American thriller writers, Tom Clancy and Grant Blackwood, has made it into both lists, and additionally appears in the Dutch ranking. The story unites characters from Clancy’s previous fictional world, when they try to capture a Middle Eastern top terrorist.
Besides, we have a large number of strong crime fiction titles widespread in various countries. In Germany, Rita Falk in her debut “Winter Potato Dumpling” re-invents the genre of province crime fiction, which perfectly fits to the rustic charm of the Bavarian landscape and culture.

A completely different scenery can be found in Claude Ragon’s “Wood for Coffins”. “The best French crime story of the year” (winner of Prix du Quai des Orfèvres 2011) is set in the winter landscape of Jura Mountains, where a manager of a forest industry is pressed to death by a wood compactor. More victims are claimed in the crime novel “XY” by Italian author Sandro Veronesi. (See also Book of the month – to follow!)

The debut of US writer Jenna Blum is in the Dutch charts. Revealing secrets of a Nazi family and taking a direct, unsentimental look at the Holocaust are features of her impressive narrative in “Those Who Save Us”. Staying at the genre of the family saga brings us to the Chinese fiction list where the top new entry is Qi Jinnian’s portray of a modern family who has to confront staggering internal conflicts.. In the book, the author combines story telling skills with other elements such as notes and essays. Also in the Chinese fiction list, Jiang Rong is back with his fabled tale of exile from the Cultural Revolution in Inner Mongolia, among herdsmen and wolves, “Wolf Totem”, a novel translated in all major European languages two years ago.

In nonfiction, there is no way around the “Light of the World”, a book by Pope Benedict and German journalist Peter Seewald. It addresses current topics such as the sex abuse scandal, celibacy and homosexuality within the Catholic Church. The title has been translated into eighteen languages and is ranked this month in the German, Italian and French list. In Italy, journalist Giuseppe "Beppe" Severgnini warns his compatriots that one day people will wonder in puzzlement how and why Italians have endured Berlusconi over so many years. Therefore, he tries to analyze the “Belly of Italians” to explain the phenomena. In the US, Laura Hillenbrand, author of the bestselling nonfiction title about the race horse Seabiscuit, has published a biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption”.
In this early moment of 2011, the probably most staggering feature is the broad impact of Nordic crime, spread all over the world, and following the trail to readers opened by Stieg Larsson in the past two years. An entire family of writers could carve their names in the charts, including Norwegian Jo Nesbø who currently tops the UK fiction list, with the eighth installment of his Harry Hole series “The Leopard”. The Swedish crime writing duo Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström are to be found as #7 on the US market with “Three Seconds”. The Spanish has Åsa Larsson’s “The Black Path” as #3, an Swedish Camilla Läckberg, groomed for some time by her French publisher as a heiress to Larsson, has brought her new bookd “The German Child” to the very top of the French list by now.

In January, it’s impossible to get around one genre in particular: More crime, produced by English language stars, includes a new James Patterson / Michael Ledwidge production (“Tick Tock”, UK rank 2) as well as a first and last US thriller fiction list. To highlight some names, we find Brad Meltzer, who gives variety to the common thriller staff with stinging archivist Beecher White into action (“The Inner Circle”, US rank 1).

The trick of forcing a series of books, woven into an endless story, has been, of course, discovered and brought to fruitition by fantasy writers as well. Susan Collins, for instance, is currently, yet with a certain delay against other markets, strong in Germany with her “Hunger Games” trilogy, notably with volume three, “Mockingjay”. And her German counterpart Kerstin Gier has even made it twice into the ranking, with volume one and three of her “Jewel”-trilogy, a very popular story about a time-travelling family.

Against such serial killers, with a branded author plus either a genius investigator or fantasyland as a truly string brand, stand alone works are in a more delicate position to impose themselves on a broad readership.

Some at least are to be found in France and the Netherlands. In France, Alexandre Jardin addresses the dark secrets of his family history. In “Very Nice People” the author parades his grandfather Jean Jardin as Vichy-collaborator and blames him for his judgments against Jewish people. Number two of the Dutch list “Sonny Boy” by Annejet van der Zijl follows an ill-assorted couple on their way to a restart in live, leaving behind their families to prevent a scandal.

Since July 2009 Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel “The Help”, dealing with African American maids working in white households during the early 1960s, has stayed steady among the US Top 10. Now, a Dutch and a French version are each listed in the respective countries.

To highlight some nonfiction titles, a Chinese angle on education is hardly avoidable. Chinese born US author mom Amy Chua set out on a global spree with her radical “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, about how to bring your children to success, regardless of the cost. In China mainland, just as in many countries in the West, guides to education and self improvement are a staple for readers. At this moment, we find Yin Jianli’s education guide “A Good Mother is More Important than a Good Teacher “,listed in the charts since September 2009. Being more moderate than tigress Amy Chua, Yin favors a combination of the strict traditional "Chinese" upbringing with western culture and methods.
Perhaps the most outstanding, because unexpected book by its very emotional topic and approach is currently number 2 in German fiction, Arno Geiger’s “The Old King in his Exile”, about his accompanying of his father who suffers from dementia. We will present the novel of the winner of the German Book Price of 2005 in more detail as the “Book of the Month”.
US author Ally Condie’s negative utopia “Matched” of a repressive and controlled state is featuring a teenage girl who lives in the so-called “society”, where everything, even the choice of a future husband, is dictated by the ‘officials’. Jodi Reamer, who has scouted Stephenie Meyer, sees Ally Condie as a hot tip for this year’s top sales hit.
207 customer reviews at amazon.com and a massive online-presence in the word of social media seem to be a solid starting point in this ambition, and at least in Germany, the rise of the newly found star in successful fiction seems to work out.
In the UK, the usual load of thrillers is headed Simon Kernick’s crime story „The Payback“, which continues with a new operation for ex-policeman Dennis Milne taking action against cop Tina Boyd, who is on a mission by her own. Nora Roberts’ J. D. Robb already counts forty volumes of her “In Death” series. In “Treachery in Death” main protagonist Eve Dallas takes on a corrupt cop.
Literary newcomer Deborah Harkness works as professor of history at the University of Southern California. Her literary debut “A Discovery of Witches” has made it both on the US and UK list. She introduces us to a row of witches, vampires and demons, who gather around Yale historian Diana Bishop o get an ancient book out of her hands.
Thrillers also dominate the line-up on the US list. We meet with a number of US thriller authors, including Alex Berenson with the spy novel “The Secret Soldier”, or Stuart Woods (“Strategic Moves”). But also in the Netherlands, Herman Koch follows the trail with his new book, “Summer House with Pool“, as a general practitioner is suspected to kill one of his prominent patients. In Sweden, Jo Nesbø with “Headhunters” is on top of the new entries, introducing us to headhunter Roger Brown, playing the dangerous game of art theft, followed at rank 13 by Swedish Lars Kepler’s “Contract ("Paganinikontraktet" in the Swedish original).
Spanish author Clara Sánchez is at rank 9 in the Italian list, after hiting her domestic charts in Spain already in 2010. Her novel “What Hides Your Name” (Spanish original title “Lo que esconde tu nombre”) has brought her the Premio Nadal, the oldest Spanish literary prize which is awarded annually by the publishing house Ediciones Destino.
Still in Spain, Eloy Moreno launched his stunning take off by self-publishing his debut novel “The Green Gel Pen” (“El bolígrafo de gel verde”), a book dealing with ordinary people who somehow cannot dare to break out of their daily routines. Moreno initially set out touring libraries with this book, promoting it with booksellers and via social media. Finally his plan worked out and readers started paying attention to the story. A publication by Espasa Calpe followed. An entirely different debut has been authored French musician Michel Rostain, born in 1942, “The Son” (French original title “Le fils”), a touching novel about a father’s grief triggered by the death of his beloved son. Rostain has won the “Prix Goncourt Debut” in early 2011 with the book.
In nonfiction titles, Iraq warrior Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs “Known and Unknown” outpace in the top ten those of his president, George W. Bush, “Decision Points”.
Preparing little children if not for war, but at least for a competitive life is the ambition of Amy Chua with “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, a book which not only hit headline media worldwide recently, but also the book charts in the US and in Germany.
In the UK, British travel writer Colin Thubron has experienced many very special moments during his journey to Tibet. In “To a Mountain in Tibet” he describes his pilgrimage to the scred MountKailas, an itinerary which begins in Nepal and leads him to one of the most magical spots of Tibet.
Closing on a lighter tone, we follow Dutch crime writer Saskia Noort in the nonfiction segment for once as she joined forces with Playboy editor Jan Heemskerk, exploring between the two of them what men and women really want to know about the opposite sex (“Jan & Saskia about Sex and Love”).


Book of the Month: Geiger - Der alte König in seinem Exil (Austria)
In at least three countries, in Germany, France and Spain, politics and rage dominate the nonfiction charts. It started in France, when Stéphane Hessel, with “Indignez-vous”, launched his outcry against the political fallout in the French Republic and of today’s elites and the establishment turned the angry old man, who was born in 1917 in Berlin, into an unlikely star. Currently, the book has been translated into many languages, and tops also the nonfiction charts in Spain, whil Hessel already published a sequel, in the form of a dialogue across the generational gap, with Gilles Vanderpooten, a 25 political activist.
In Germany meanwhile, the top five titles in nonfiction are directly reflecting current debates on politics and morals, including Pope Benedict’s biography of Jesus (the second volume), a highly critical memoir of former chancellor Kohl’s son on his almighty father, and a biography of the failed shooting star of Angela Merkel’s government, minister of defense and aristocrat Karl Theodor zu Gutenberg on top (he had to resign recently after his doctoral thesis was found to be a case of staggering plagiarism). Conservative polemicist Thilo Sarazin still comes in a solid number four with his essay on Germany and its trouble with foreigners, and former protestant bishop Margot Kässmann at rank five. She had stepped down from all public offices after found driving with alcohol in her blood, and is now discussing the real values in life.
But also real biographies turned into fiction has became a popular genre recently. US author Paula McLain in her second novel “The Paris Wife”, follows Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, during their tumultuous residence of Paris in the twenties. A satirical novel by French writer Jean Teulé brings King Chales IX to life (“Charly 9”). And yet another book uses a real-life personality, as Spanish Alicia Giménez Bartlett displays a female outlaw who joined the resistance struggle against the Franco regime in her suspense-packed historical novel “Where Nobody Will Find You”. For this book, she was awarded the prestigious Nadal Prize.
Otherwise, several strong author brands are back with new stories. French Tatiana de Rosnay is back in the charts with “Rose”. Chinese author Juo Gingming is still in a leading position within Chinese top ten with his fantasy series “Ages Below Critical 1-3”. As usual, a big load of crime is to be found in various countries. Simon Beckett’s forensic crime novel “The Calling of the Grave” is the number one in Germany. Looking to Scandinavian literature, Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen is represented with “Message In A Bottle” in Sweden, while Swedish Camilla Läckberg can be found on the Dutch ranking with “The Lighthouse Keeper”. The Italian list features Allesia Gazzola, who debuts her writing career with a forensic thriller called “The Student”, starring a young graduate student of forensic medicine, who gets confronted by the first real murder.
Apart from the giants of international book market, new talents come up with interesting narratives, such as UK newcomer Sarah Winman. Her family drama “When God Was a Rabbit” takes up the themes of memory and identity in the perspective of two children.
Sweden’s latest literary export, Katarina Mazetti, has reached the top ten of French fiction. Although her writing career is already lasting for over twenty years, the time seems to have come for more international attention. Mazetti is a nationally acclaimed hero in her home country, where her first novel "Guy in the Grave Next Door” has sold 450.000 copies (until 2003). Its sequel “The Vault Family” continues the hilarious love story featuring two protagonists who cannot be more disparate as they are.
In the Netherlands, an exiled Iranian writer, Kader Abdolah has two books about his native country in the top ranks. We will introduce him and his works as the Book of the Month of April.


Book of the Month: Abdolah - De koning (Netherlands)
Not only do we have almost concurring book titles from widely different backgrounds in this selection (“Everybody Dies On Its Own” in Germany, against “No One is Saved Alone” in Italy). Times long past play a remarkable role in a number of books as well, be it the 17th century Chinese “Dream of The Red Chamber”, the German star author of the 1930s and 1940s, Hans Fallada, or all of human history from the last 30 or so millennia.
The highly anticipated sixth book of Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series, "The Land of Painted Caves” caps April’s bestseller selection. Her remarkable re-creation of the ways how life might have been more than 25,000 years ago, took Auel 31 years to write, including a survival training and an extensive library research on the Ice Age. The culmination of the story staring orphaned Cro-Magnon Ayla and her mate Jondalar enters each list of our selection, with the exceptions of Italy and China.
Readers of French author Franck Thilliez’s recent novel “Gataca” enter a prehistoric scene as well, yet adding crime, as a Neandertal family has been killed by a Cro-Magnon. This is just one of three murders in the stretch of 30.000 years. Together they are linked by one secret key that resides in the word "Gataca".
At the other end of a time scale across millennia, an increase in deaths of so-called replicas, future beings that are half-human and half-machines, calls for an investigation. Although the technical advanced scenery set in 2109 makes room for the classic futuristic stereotypes, Spanish award-winning author Rosa Montero does not abandon her sense of romantic feelings in her thirteenth novel “Lágrimas en la lluvia” (Tears in the Rain).
All over, the thriller genre is represented by a number of authors and their new releases. Some of them made it on more than one list. Michael Connelly’s fourth legal thriller featuring Mickey Haller, “Fifth Witness”, heads the US list and is on the fourth position of the UK ranking. British novelist Wilbur Smith reaches the UK and the Italian list with his Africa based novel "Those in Peril”. Being more partial to historical themes, Smith finally reaches the twenty-first century, when the daughter of a wealthy oil producer family is kidnapped by Somali pirates. Harlan Coben comes up with a new Myron Bolitar thriller, “Live Wire”, succeeding his US bestseller debut “Long Lost. Also the name of Swedish crime fiction writer Kristina Ohlsson should be earmarked, who has her bestseller debut in her home country with her third crime novel “Änglavakter” (Guardian Angels). Release dates for the French (published by Michel Laffont) and an English translation in the UK (published by Simon & Schuster) of her first title have already been announced. More information on Ohlsson is provided within the scope of our “Book of the Month”-presentation.
Some major authors, whose recent titles already have appeared in previous reports of ours, are now entering new markets. Notably Haruki Murakami (“1Q84”) enters the Spanish and Swedish market, Umberto Eco (“The Cemetery in Prague”) is featured on the French chart, and Paulo Coelho (“The Aleph”) is listed on the German ranking.
Similar to thrillers, also romantic novels seem to become more and more diverse and do not observe one strict pattern. Thus, authors may well eschew happy endings as Italian novelist Margaret Mazzantini does in her latest book “Nessuno si salva da solo” (No One is Saved Alone), in which she exposes all negative consequences that love may cause. In celebration of his fortieth anniversary as writer, Javier Marías is back with “Los enamoramientos” (Flirtation), contrary to his announcement to end his writing career. The female narrator, inspired by a friend of his, falls in love in a way that turns out to be more harmful to the protagonist than anything else.
It’s a rare phenomenon that old books cause a lot of excitement as Liu Xinwu’s adaption of the famous 17th century Chinese novel "Dream of the Red Chamber" does. Adding a final ending to the unfinished story, which deals with two branches of the aristocratic Jia clan, more than 650 comments and over 2.000 tweets within a few days express both praise and discontent.
With “Jeder stirbt für sich allein“ (Everybody Dies On Its Own), a book written 63 years ago enters now the German top 10. It is based on the true story of Otto Hampel and his wife Elise, who call for defiance against the Nazi regime by distributing handwritten postcards. The book was first printed in 1947, days after its author Hans Fallada died of a morphine overdose. However, censored by its editor on political grounds, a full German version is now available for the first time. After the book was rediscovered by an American publisher in 2009, it had become a surprise bestseller in both the US and UK.
Picking out interesting nonfiction releases, we must point to “The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz” by Denis Avey. British soldier Avey marched willingly into Buna-Monowitz, the concentration camp known as Auschwitz III. After six decades he shares this first-hand experience of a place which no-one who has not witnessed it, can imagine really.
After his huge success with the investigative title "Gomorra", Roberto Saviono again heads the Italian ranking with a new bestselling title. Accompanying the eponymously labeled TV series “Vieni via con me” (Come Away With Me), the book spotlights the challenges Italy is facing in the fight against the mafia.


Book of the Month: Ohlsson - Änglavakter (Sweden)
Holidays are coming and the bestseller selection in May provides us already with many good readings tips for relaxed summer days.
Fans of crime novels are spoiled by ample choice: A new load of English speaking thrillers is to be found in fiction this month, both in the original and in various translations. Most notably, UK and US authors are dominating their home markets with new titles. Jeffrey Archer (“Only Time Will Tell”) heads the UK ranking with the first part of his Clifton Chronicles series, whose protagonist is searching for the truth about his father during the Great War and the outbreak of the Second World War. Pulitzer Prize winner John Sandford landed with the 21st novel of his Prey series “Buried Prey” starring homicide detective Lucas Davenport recovering a cold case. The last novel written by Robert B. Parker, who died in January 2010, shows a movie star accused of asphyxiation of a female fan. With “Sixbill”, Parker joined posthumously the US ranking. UK newcomer S. J. Watson joins the bestseller list the first time with her psychological thriller “Before I Go to Sleep”. The story leaves the reader in doubt, when Christine, who lost her memory, doesn’t know whom to trust and even her husband is a stranger to her.
Turning to other countries, we find a number of crime authors at the French list. Beside US imports Michael Connelly and Mary Higgins Clark, both Fred Vargas and Maxime Chattam express their preference for scary stories as we find them in Vargas’ latest commissioner Adamsberg case dealing with a raging army of undead creatures. Further down the list, Chattam’s „Léviatemps” follow-up scares readers with a series of mysterious events such as mummies that go missing.
Only Spanish author Manuel Loureiro can beat this with his startling zombie-themed horror series "Apocalyse Z", and the third installment “The Wrath of the Righteous” carries forward the plot triggered by a global epidemic that turns human beings into undead. The Spanish list is headed by Swedish crime queen Camilla Läckberg. Her eighth book in the Fjällbacka series opens with the sudden disappearance of a family - only the one year-old daughter Ebba is left behind. As an adult woman, she returns to her parental home, where a strange discovery may expose what has happened many years ago. Swedish Lars Kepler, actually a writer duo, has been successful already in several markets before now landing with “The Hypnotist” in both the UK and the Netherlands.
Several surprises are to be found in Italy, where readers not only have rediscovered French novelist Irène Némirovsky, who has lived in the first half of 20th century. Her autobiographical inspired novel “The Wine of Loneliness” gives an account of Némirovsky's childhood and her transition to adulthood. Even an old mastermind of leftwing politics, Antonio Gramsci, has been brought back to a broad reader appreciation through the re-edition of his famous prison notebooks.
An american novel inspired by history, delivered by Australian Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, “Caleb's Crossing“, takes up the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. And speaking of cultural crossover, the millions of fans of Chinese He Ma’s fantasy series “The Tibet Code” have been waiting almost too long for the release of the ultimate part “The Sacred Final“, which hopefully offers the answers to all the Tibetan myths that have been addressed in the former nine volumes.
Many nonfiction lists feature political involved titles in the line of Stéphane Hessel’s angry bestseller “Raise In Protest!”. In Spain, where we find Hessel’s protest lettering again at the top, a group of scholars frame ten answers to urgent political and social problems that cause growing discontent among the Spanish population. In Italy, journalist Mario Giordano brings light to scandals and misuse of social security in “Leeches. The Pension Scandal That Drains Your Pockets”.
On an entirely different not travels the memoir of Juliane Koepcke. The German zoologist became famous for being the sole survivor among 93 passengers and the crew in a 1971 plane crash in the Peruvian rainforest. She survived a 3000 meters’ fall, still strapped into her seat, with only a collarbone fracture and minor injuries. Her autobiography “When I Fell From the Sky” gives an account of her rescue and the way this event has influenced her further life.


Book of the Month: Loureiro - Apocalipsis Z (Spain)
This month, it gets hard to keep track of the load of crime fiction we find in almost every country.
In the UK we find James Patterson, co-authored by Mark Pearson, who carries on the 2010 kick-off novel “Private” with “Private London“, wherein an American female student flees to London from her persecutor and turns to the London based branch of the exclusive detective agency. “Against All Enemies” by Tom Clancy, whose Cold War-era mystique gathers a pretty brotherhood, is centered around the world of Moore, a former Navy SEAL terrorist, who takes revenge after bombing in Pakistan has wiped out his entire CIA team. A crime title that may be interesting for readers, who are not into crime genre at all, could be the new Jeffery Deaver novel “Carte Blanche”. The book was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications and updates the James Bond's story. Set in mid-2011, Bond, who has turned to a nonsmoker in the meanwhile, has been recruited to a new agency that puts him on a secret attack on Britain. Quite surprisingly, we also find deceased author Robert Ludlum carrying the brand while actual author Eric Van Lustbader took over the character in his own series of novels. In the sixth installment “Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Dominion”, Bourne's enemies are gathering forces by turning his most trusted friend into his greatest - and most deadly - enemy
To highlight some other crime authors in other markets, the German charts feature the sixth novel by Volker Klüpfel and Michael Kobr “Schutzpatron” (Engl. Patron Saint) starring a quirky country policeman as the main protagonist of this province crime fiction that storms the leading position in its home country.
The Swedish line-up comes up with authors who we should keep in mind in the future, in the tradition of others who have made already a career internationally. Criminal defense lawyer and author Jens Lapidus has made his writing debut in August 2006 with the first of the Stockholm Noir Trilogy. Same comes to an end in “Livet deluxe“ (Engl. Life Deluxe). As a lawyer, Lapidus draws from his own experience and depicts the life of a gangster through the eyes of gangsters. In the Swedish list, he is followed by Mons Kallentoft and his most recent item “Den femte årstiden “(Engl. The Fifth Season), having his first venture into crime fiction in 2007 with his fourth title “Midvinterblod” (Engl. Midwinter Sacrifice), with sold rights into twenty-one countries). Since then, three additional titles introducing inspector Malin Fors hit the Swedish bestseller charts.
The US fiction list proves great continuity in its selection of authors and genres. Laurell K. Hamilton’s twentieth adventure of her Anita Blake series “Hit List” outruns the vampire story “Dead Reckoning“ by former number one Charlaine Harris. Two-times listed adventure novel “The Kingdom” by Clive Cussler and co-author Grant Blackwood embraces all things needed for a nice summer read - “fresh prose, a smart and amusing husband-and-wife team, interesting history and science, and a wildly imaginative plot all add up to a good time for Cussler's many fans as well as series newcomers”, Publishers Weekly starred review states. Looking for a more decentralized view on the world, US novelist Ann Patchett may be a good choice. After a four year absence, she returns with “State of Wonder “, wherein a pharmacy researcher is sent deep into the Amazon river basin, settles with an indigenous tribe and thus quits her Midwestern life.
French duo Jacques Ravenne and Éric Giacometti have a solo performance on their home market, where their historical-themed thriller “Le septième templier“ (Engl. The Seventh Templar) is the only new title which got onto the shelves recently. Weaving the dissolution of the Knights Templar by order of King Philippe in 1307 with an attempt of the pope's life in present times makes up the center of the plot. Against the background of Spanish history on the one side and his profession as veterinarian on the other, Spanish Gonzalo Giner launches “El jinete del silencio” (Engl. The Horseman Of Silence), unfolding the story of a horse whisperer set in the 16th century.
At the Dutch charts, we find US thriller star Niccy French and native Suzanne Vermeer on the top, re-enforcing the prevalence of crime fiction. However, A. F. Th. van der Heijden’s personal memorial, and Martin Bril’s both posthumous released titles “Vader en dochters” (Engl. Father And Daughters) and “Au revoir” (Engl. Good bye) divert to a domestic trend of autobiographic inspired novels recalling the personal circumstances of the author’s lives. To trace this pattern we choose van der Heijen’s requiem novel “Tonio” as our Book of the Month.
Being open both for national and international trends, the Italian market proves again as a good indicator for international trends in fiction. Domestic authors delve into religious themed stories such as permanent attendee Erri De Luca with “Le sante dello scandalo” (Engl. The Holy Scandal) and nonfiction turned Michela Murgia with her investigative account “Ave Mary” (Engl. Hail Mary). Beside, some very interesting titles attract our attention: Swedish author Jonas Jonasson’s narrative about “The Centenarian Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared” starts to enter foreign markets. The line-up of foreign fiction features shooting stars as well as acclaimed authors: US debutant Vanessa Diffenbaugh (“The Language Of Flowers”), Irish born Catherine Dunne (“Missing Julia”), the newly launched young adult fantasy series by television producer John Stephens “The Emerald Atlas” which have been the talk of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair last year, and not to forget pole positioned Carlos Ruiz Zafón ("Las luces de septiembre”, Engl. September Lights).
We close this month’s overview with a nonfiction title that causes controversy among Amazon reviewers whether it’s suitable for children or not: "Go the Fuck to Sleep", respectively “Go the F**k to Sleep “ as the title appears on the US list, is a bedtime book for grown-ups who are not blessed with children who go to bed voluntarily. US author Adam Mansbach composes poems in the style of classical children's bedtime stories making fun of the frustration, parents are facing when junior refuses to go to sleep.


Book of the Month: van der Heijden - Tonio (Netherlands)

Monthly Bestseller overviews
2012-01-10 13:43:25 by JC

Track developments of bestselling titles and trends, month by month, through snap shots of selected significant books and their international performance in European main markets plus US and China (free samples July 2010 to June 2011).

Also check out an overview of the most successful fiction titles across seven European main markets (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and UK) here below.


European Top25 fiction 2011