By Simon Assaf
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Books to look out for in the New Year

This article is over 8 years, 7 months old
Issue 387

Left wing publishers Pluto Press kick off 2014 with the release of The Fair Trade Scandal. Author Ndongo Samba Sylla mercilessly demolishes the rhetoric behind the fair trade movement.

In February there is a timely relaunch of the books of Italian novelist Leonardo Sciascia. His detective stories exposed the deep corruption endemic within the Italian politics. Sciascia, who died in 1988, was a lifelong communist. He broke with the Italian Communist Party in the 1970s after it cut a deal with the right wing Christian Democrats. Granta is republishing six of his novels including The Day of the Owl, and Sicilian Uncles.

Also out in February and published by Norton is a new translation of the classic of world literature, Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka.

The Arab Spring has seen a raft of new work on the development and roots of the revolutions. There are many good books out there but worth reading is Qatar and the Arab Spring by Kristian Coates Ulrichsen. The book promises to reveal the role of the tiny monarchy in shaping, and ultimately distorting, the uprisings. Out in March.

On the same theme is Michael M Gunter’s Out of Nowhere. An expert on the Kurdish question, Gunter’s study is an important contribution to understanding the complexities of the Syrian revolution and civil war. Both books are published by Hurst.

Set in 1980s Tehran, Amir Cheheltan’s Revolution Street is the tale of the infatuation and jealousy of a state executioner cum back street surgeon. The novel is the first in a trilogy that is unflinching in its portrayal of ordinary people caught in a turbulent era. The novels are part of the cultural flourishing taking place in Iran today. The book is out in March and published by One World.

Norway has been grappling with the legacy of the Oslo bombing and the massacre of Socialists in Utoya carried out by Anders Breivik. The state has attempted to portray the attacks as the actions of a disturbed mind. In Anders Breivik and the Rise of Islamophobia, Norwegian social anthropologist Sindre Bangstad debunks this myth, arguing that Breivik was the product of a rising Islamophobia. (Published by Zed Books, out in April).

Keep an eye out for the paperback version of Karl Marx, a Nineteenth-Century Life, published by the University of Cambridge. Jonathan Sperber promises to challenge “populist” perceptions. There are many bad books on Marx – this one in particular sets out to prove that he was out of date even in the era in which he was working.

In May, One World is releasing Wretched Tryal. Drawing on contemporary material, Greg Grandin tells the story of the 1805 mutiny aboard a slave ship in the South Pacific. The slaves, who are now their own masters, are discovered by abolitionist Amasa Delano. Rather than embrace them, Delano turns his back on his ideals and attempts to crush the rebellion.

Two books out in June and July focus on the War on Terror. In America’s Covert War in East Africa, Clara Usiskin tracks this secret war. Chris Wood delves into death from the skies in Sudden Justice. Both are published by Hurst.

The year 2014 marks one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. No doubt we will be subsumed in patriotic sentimentality. Historian Douglass Newton is offering an antidote. In Darkest Days, published by Verso in July, Newton dissects the actions of the media and politicians in their drive to war.

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