World Book Night Titles

Case Histories – Kate Atkinson
Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet – Lost on the left, Found on the right – and the two never seem to balance. Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, he attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected… Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. She is also the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird. Case Histories won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster. Her new novel, One Good Turn, also features Jackson Brodie.

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
Laura Chase’s older sister Iris, married at eighteen to a politically prominent industrialist but now poor and eighty-two, is living in Port Ticonderoga. While coping with her unreliable body, Iris reflects on her far from exemplary life. Chief among these was the publication of The Blind Assassin, a novel which earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, The Blind Assassin describes a risky affair in the turbulent thirties between a wealthy young woman and a man on the run. As the invented story twists through love and sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real one. By turns lyrical, outrageous, formidable, compelling and funny, this is a novel filled with deep humour and dark drama. Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. The Blind Assassin was the winner of the 2000 Man Booker Prize. The Handmaid's Tale, Cat's Eye, Alias Grace were all shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and she has won many other literary prizes in other countries.

A Life Like Other People’s – Alan Bennett
'Your Dad and me have found an alcoholic drink we really like. It's called bitter lemon.' Alan Bennett’s poignant memoir recounts the marriage of his parents, the lives and deaths of his aunts and the uncovering of a long-held secret. First published in the acclaimed collection Untold Stories, this tender, intimate family portrait beautifully captures the minutiae of the Bennetts’ domestic life: their disappointments and pleasures, tragedies and successes, and underlying it all, their suspicion that they were somehow different to and lesser than other people. Alan Bennett is one of the UK's most celebrated figures. Untold Stories, his last prose collection, was published to near universal acclaim in 2005, and his play The History Boys was the National Theatre's most successful production ever.

Killing Floor – Lee Child
Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles down a country road into Margrave, Georgia. An arbitrary decision he’s about to regret. Reacher is the only stranger in town on the day they have had their first homicide in thirty years. The cops arrest Reacher and the police chief turns eyewitness to place him at the scene. As nasty secrets leak out, and the body count mounts, one thing is for sure. They picked the wrong guy to take the fall. Lee Child was born in 1954 in Coventry, but spent his formative years in Birmingham. Aged 40 he wrote his first book, Killing Floor, published in 1997 and winner of the Anthony Award. Since then he has become one of the world’s most successful thriller writers, reaching the No. 1 spot in bestseller lists around the world. In 2008, he achieved the rare feat of being a double No. 1 bestseller in both the UK and the USA.

The World’s Wife – Carol Ann Duffy
Stunningly original, haunting and memorable, the voices of Mrs Midas, Queen Kong, Mrs Lazarus, the Kray Sisters, and a huge cast of others startle with their wit, imagination, lyrical intuition and incisiveness. Duffy is a master at drawing on myth and history and subverting them in a wholly unexpected and surprising way. These poems have the pull of the past and the crack of the contemporary. Poems for a new century – vivid, funny, outrageous and entertaining – they will dazzle you, the wives of the past, the present, the future. Carol Ann Duffy lives in Manchester where she is Professor and Creative Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has written for both children and adults, and her poetry has received many awards, including the T. S. Eliot, Whitbread and Forward Prizes, and the Lannan and E. M. Forster Prize in America. She was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009.

Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
Fifty-one years, nine months and four days have passed since Fermina Daza rebuffed hopeless romantic Florentino Arizo’s impassioned advances and married Dr. Juvenal Urbino instead. During that half century, Florentino has fallen into the arms of many delighted women, but has loved none but Fermina. Having sworn his eternal love to her, he lives for the day when he can court her again. When Fermina’s husband is killed trying to retrieve his pet parrot from a mango tree, Florentino seizes his chance to declare his enduring love. But can young love find new life in the twilight of their lives? Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia, 1927. He is the author of several novels, works of non-fiction and collections of short stories, including Leaf Storm (1955), One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), The General in His Labyrinth (1989) and Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2005). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, pattern and the truth. He hates the colour yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down. Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was published in 2003. It was the winner of more than 17 literary awards, including prizes in Japan, Holland and Italy, and was translated into 44 languages. He has written 15 books for children, published a first collection of poetry in 2005 and is an illustrator and award-winning screenwriter. Mark is at work on a new novel.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
Among the brightest and best of his graduating class at Princeton, Changez is snapped up by an elite firm and thrives on New York and the intensity of his work. His infatuation with fragile Erica promises entree into Manhattan society on the exalted footing his own family once held back in Lahore. For a time, it seems as though nothing will stand in the way of Changez's meteoric rise to personal and professional success, the fulfilment of the immigrant's dream. But in the wake of September 11, he finds his position in the city he loves suddenly overturned and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and perhaps even love. Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School. His first novel, Moth Smoke published in ten languages, won a Betty Trask award, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in London.

New and Selected Poems (1966-1987) – Seamus Heaney
This volume contains a selection of work from each of Seamus Heaney's published books of poetry up to and including the Whitbread prize-winning collection, The Haw Lantern (1987). 'His is 'close-up' poetry - close up to thought, to the world, to the emotions. Few writers at work today, in verse or fiction, can give the sense of rich, fecund, lived life that Heaney does.' John Banville Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland. Death of a Naturalist, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1966 and since then he has published poetry, criticism which have established him as one of the leading poets now at work. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. District and Circle (2006) was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2006. Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O'Driscoll, appeared in 2008. In 2009 he received the David Cohen Prize for Literature.

Rachel’s Holiday – Marian Keyes
Meet Rachel Walsh. She has a pair of size 8 feet and such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family has forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters – Dublin’s answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall Jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey – and it’s about time she had a holiday. But what Rachel doesn’t count on are the toe-curling embarrassments heaped on her by family and group therapy, the dearth of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – and missing Luke, her ex. What kind of a new start in life is this? Marian Keyes' international bestselling novels include Rachel’s Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There and This Charming Man. Two collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also available from Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John le Carré
Alex Leamas is tired. It’s the 1960s, he’s been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters, and has seen too many good agents murdered for their troubles. Now Control wants to bring him in at last – but only after one final assignment. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, Leamas’s mission may prove to be the worst thing he could ever have done. In le Carré’s breakthrough work of 1963, the spy story is reborn as a gritty and terrible tale of men who are caught up in politics beyond their imagining. John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a world-wide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People. His recent novels include The Constant Gardener, Absolute Friends, The Mission Song and A Most Wanted Man.

Agent Zigzag – Ben Macintyre
One December night in 1942, a Nazi parachutist landed in a Cambridgeshire field. His mission: to sabotage the British war effort. His name was Eddie Chapman, but he would shortly become MI5’s Agent Zigzag. Dashing and louche, courageous and unpredictable, the traitor was a patriot inside, and the villain a hero. The problem for Chapman, his many lovers and his spymasters was knowing who he was. Ben Macintyre weaves together diaries, letters, photographs, memories and top-secret MI5 files to create the exhilarating account of Britain’s most sensational double agent. Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. His novel Agent Zigzag was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Galaxy British Book Award for Biography of the Year 2008. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel
After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi - a 16-year-old Indian boy. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of literary fiction of recent years. Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a transformative novel, a dazzling work of imagination that will delight and astound readers in equal measure. It is a triumph of storytelling and a tale that will, as one character puts it, make you believe in God. Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963. After studying philosophy at university, he worked at odd jobs and travelled before turning to writing. His internationally acclaimed, 2002 Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, was translated into thirty-eight languages. His most recent novel is the international bestseller Beatrice and Virgil. Yann Martel lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Stuart, A Life Backwards – Alexander Masters
Stuart, A Life Backwards, is the story of a remarkable friendship between a reclusive writer and illustrator and a chaotic, knife-wielding beggar whom he gets to know during a campaign to release two charity workers from prison. Interwoven into this is Stuart’s confession: the story of his life, told backwards. With humour, compassion (and exasperation) Masters slowly works back through post-office heists, prison riots and the exact day Stuart discovered violence, to unfold the reasons why he changed from a happy-go-lucky little boy into a polydrug-addicted-alcoholic Jekyll and Hyde personality. Funny, despairing, brilliantly written and full of surprises: this is the most original and moving biography of recent years. Alexander Masters lives in London. His first book, Stuart, A Life Backwards, was a Sunday Times bestseller and the winner of the Guardian First Book Award.

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
In 1975, in an unidentified Indian city, Mrs Dina Dalal, a financially pressed Parsi widow in her early 40s sets up a sweatshop of sorts in her ramshackle apartment. Determined to remain financially independent and to avoid a second marriage, she takes in a boarder and two Hindu tailors to sew dresses for an export company. As the four share their stories, then meals, then living space, human kinship prevails and the four become a kind of family, despite the lines of caste, class and religion. When tragedy strikes, their cherished, newfound stability is threatened, and each character must face a difficult choice in trying to salvage their relationships. Rohinton Mistry was born in 1952 and grew up in Bombay, India, where he also attended university. In 1975 he emigrated to Canada. He is the author of three novels and one collection of short stories. In translation, his work has been published in twenty-nine languages. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2010.

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation, the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each others echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small. In his extraordinary third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us. David Mitchell has written five novels. His first, Ghostwritten, was published in 1999, when it won the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Cloud Atlas has won numerous awards and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His latest novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet was published in 2010.

Beloved - Toni Morrison
It is the mid-1800s. At Sweet Home in Kentucky, an era is ending as slavery comes under attack from the abolitionists. The worlds of Halle and Paul D. are to be destroyed in a cataclysm of torment and agony. The world of Sethe, however, is to turn from one of love to one of violence and death - the death of Sethe's baby daughter Beloved, whose name is the single word on the tombstone, who died at her mother's hands, and who will return to claim retribution. Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. She is the author of many novels, including The Bluest Eye, Beloved (made into a major film), Paradise and Love. She has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fiction. She is Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University.

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the civil war-blighted Nigeria of the 1960s three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village works as houseboy to a university lecturer. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover the professor. The third is Richard, a shy Englishman besotted with Olanna’s enigmatic sister. When the shocking savagery of the war engulfs them their loyalties are severely tested as they are pulled apart and thrown together in ways that none of them imagined … Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her most recent novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She has also written a collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck. Her work has been translated into thirty languages.

One Day – David Nicholls
15th July 1988. On their last day at Edinburgh University, Emma Morley wakes up next to Dexter Mayhew. She prides herself on her social commitment. He prides himself on his ability to extricate himself from one night stands. This time, however, things get more complicated. They decide to spend the day together. They are completely mis-matched. The timing is all wrong. They’re better off as friends. But from that one day grows a complicated friendship; a strange and tangled love story that weaves their disparate lives together. Every year on the 15 July we spend a day with Emma and Dexter. From these snapshots we build up a collage of two flawed people, struggling to find their place in the world and working out what they mean to each other. One Day is a funny/sad love story spanning twenty years, a book about growing up – how we change, how we stay the same... David Nicholls made his name in writing for film and television before taking the publishing world by storm in 2004 when his debut novel Starter For Ten became one of the big hits of the year. David’s third novel, One Day, was published in 2009 and has remained in the bestseller lists ever since. Filming for the movie of One Day has started.

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
Without this child, we shall all die. Lyra and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. But the destiny that has awaited her since birth takes her on a dangerous journey to the frozen North in search of a kidnapped friend. It is a journey that will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world... Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, in 1946 and grew up in Zimbabwe and Wales. He has won many awards, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Book Award and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. His acclaimed trilogy, His Dark Materials, has been published in thirty-nine languages and sold tens of millions of copies. He lives in Oxford with his wife, and has two sons.

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
One by one the boys begin to fall… In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the ‘glorious war’. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches. Erich Maria Remarque was born in Osnabrück in 1899. He fought and was injured in the trenches in the First World War when he was eighteen years old. He was exiled and his works were burnt by the Nazis. He lived in America and Switzerland and married and divorced his first wife twice before marrying the celebrated Hollywood actress Paulette Goddard. He published several novels after All Quiet on the Western Front, the most famous of which is The Road Back. He died in 1970.

Dissolution – C.J. Sansom
1537, England. Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and England is full of informers. At Thomas Cromwell’s orders, a team of commissioners are sent out to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved. But at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control with the murder of Commissioner Robin Singleton, which is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege. Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death, accompanied by his loyal assistant Mark. His duty is to uncover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea. Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything that he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes… C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full time writer. He has written five novels in his acclaimed historical crime series, featuring lawyer, Matthew Shardlake. He lives in Sussex.

Toast – Nigel Slater
Toast is Nigel Slater’s multi award-winning story of a childhood remembered through food. Whether relating his mother’s ritual burning of the toast, his father’s dreaded Boxing Day stew or such culinary highlights of the day as Arctic Roll and Grilled Grapefruit (then considered something of a status symbol in Wolverhampton), this remarkable memoir vividly recreates daily life in sixties suburban England. Nigel’s likes and dislikes, aversions and sweet-toothed weaknesses form a fascinating backdrop to this incredibly moving and deliciously evocative portrait of childhood, adolescence and sexual awakening. Nigel Slater is the author of a collection of bestselling books including the classics Real Fast Food, Appetite and the critically acclaimed The Kitchen Diaries. His latest books include Tender – Volume I: a cook and his vegetable patch and the companion volume Tender – Volume II: a cook's guide to the fruit garden. He has written a much-loved column for the Observer for seventeen years and is the presenter of the award-winning BBC series Simple Suppers.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
Romantic, heroic, comic and tragic, unconventional schoolmistress Jean Brodie has become an iconic figure in post-war fiction. Her glamour, freethinking ideas and manipulative charm hold dangerous sway over her girls at the Marcia Blaine Academy - the 'crème de la crème' - who become the Brodie Set, introduced to a privileged world of adult games that they will never forget. Muriel Spark, born and educated in Edinburgh, was active in the field of creative writing from 1950, when she won a short story competition in the Observer, until her death on 13 April 2006. Her novels and stories brought her international fame. She also wrote plays, poems, children’s books, and biographies of Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë and John Masefield. She was awarded the D. B. E. in 1993 and was elected a C-Litt in 1992. Dame Muriel was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1978 and to L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 1988.

Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
`We were all more or less thieves at Lant Street. But we were that kind of thief that rather eased the dodgy deed along, than did it … We could pass anything, anything at all, at speeds which would astonish you. There was only one thing, in fact, that had come and got stuck - one thing that had somehow withstood the tremendous pull of that passage - one thing that never had a price put to it. I mean of course, Me.’ Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, is born among petty thieves - fingersmiths - in London’s Borough. From the moment she draws breath, her fate is linked to another orphan, growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away . . . Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966. She has a PhD in English Literature and has been an associate lecturer with the Open University. She has written five multi award-winning novels. She was included in Granta’s list of ‘Best of Young British Novelists 2003’, and in the same year was voted Author of the Year by both publishers and booksellers at the British Book Awards and the BA Conference, and won the Waterstone's Author of the Year Award. She lives in London.