14 December 2017

What the literary agents will be reading this Christmas

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by Jack Hadley From the Agents

Last week we asked the team at Curtis Brown and C+W what books they’d be giving as gifts this Christmas. This week we thought we’d check in on their own Christmas reading lists. The team here are usually hugely busy with reading from both the regular submissions pile and their client list, and finding time to read other novels unconnected to their working lives can be a challenge  So for the agents and assistants here, the Christmas break represents a precious moment in which they can whittle down that ever-growing ‘to be read’ pile.

Emma Finn
I always have an over-ambitious Christmas reading pile but this year the top of the pile is Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping (which has been recommended to me countless times and which I’ve never got around to before now) and Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman (I adored the film).  I picked up beautiful editions of both in ‘Shakespeare & Co’ a couple of weeks ago and am dreaming of lazy afternoons by the fire already.

Abbie Greaves
I’m looking forward to reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng which I have seen, ironically, everywhere for the past month or so. Plus it had a Bedtime Book Club recommendation by The Pool – and that says a lot…

Katie Greenstreet
I’ll be re-reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, one of my favourite novels and my top choice book for gifting. I read it for the first time over Christmas in 2011 while on holiday in Switzerland and couldn’t be bothered to leave the flat to do any sightseeing or market-hopping – it is that immersive and completely unputdownable.

Melissa Pimentel
I’m looking forward to reading Jon McGregor’s Booker-longlisted Reservoir 13a gently experimental novel about a village dealing with the aftershocks of the disappearance of a young girl, and the effects of loss and time on a small community.

Sophie Baker
I’m looking forward to having the time to read Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. It won the National Book Award and has been praised by Margaret Atwood and Marlon James. So it should be a wonderful literary read!

Niall Harman
I’ll be re-reading Howards End, one of my favourites. Forster tackling class with his brilliant characterisation and witty asides can’t be beaten, and after loving the recent Sunday night drama adaptation, I can’t wait to see the Schlegels, the Wilcoxes and the Basts in print form once more.

Claire Nozieres
I’m looking forward to reading David Grossman’s latest novel and International Man Booker prize winner, A Horse Walks into a Bar. I’ve never read this author and am excited to discover him, with this title described as an ‘ambitious high-wire act of a novel’.

Rufus Purdy
I’ll be reading – to my daughter Martha – The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I always go to the CBC YA and Children’s Fiction tutor Catherine Johnson for children’s book recommendations – as she’s been absolutely spot-on with her tips for a book-hungry eight-year-old so far – and at the CBC Christmas party last week, she described this book to me as ‘perfect’ and ‘perhaps the best middle-grade novel ever written’. High praise indeed.
And me? I’ll be reading Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke – a YA novel that I tried on my kids but was rejected by them for being ‘too scary’. That certainly doesn’t put me off, and it’ll be a joy to immerse myself in this master storyteller’s creepy vision of Victorian London.

In addition, Gordon Wise has told us he is keen to get stuck into Booker-shortlisted Graeme Macrae Burnet’s latest, The Accident on the A35. Mairi Friesen-Escandell is looking forward to reading The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich as well as ‘lots of Daphne du Maurier’. Clare Conville admits to her ‘secret guilty Christmas pleasure’ Maam Darling by Craig Brown.

For an in-depth course as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission) with a great tutor and participation from our literary agents, apply for:

Six-Month Novel-Writing Course in London with Christopher Wakling (deadline for applications is Sunday 21 January).

Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell (deadline for applications is Sunday 28 January).

For a dedicated online course for those writing for young adults or children as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission), with a top children’s author, apply for: 

Writing YA and Children’s Fiction with Catherine Johnson (deadline for applications is Sunday 4 February).

We are also offering three low-cost ‘foundation’ online courses, featuring tuition from CBC director Anna Davis:

Starting to Write Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 15 January).

Write to the End of Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 22 January).

Edit & Pitch Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 29 January).


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