Thursday, January 12, 2012

Katie Ward

Katie Ward lives in Suffolk, England. She has worked in the public and voluntary sectors, including at a women’s refuge center, in the office of a Member of Parliament, and in various community-based projects.

Scribner will release Girl Reading, Ward's debut novel, in the US on February 7, 2012.

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
It’s January 2012: This is a selection of recent winter reads, Christmas list arrivals, miscellaneous recommendations that have come my way, and New Year’s resolutions.

Tena Stivicic is a Croatian playwright and her play, Invisible, premiered in the UK last year. I didn’t get to see the show, but was lucky enough to read the script. The work appears to be about immigrants who live in that thin layer of statelessness and flux. But it is also a story of dispossessed individuals, whoever they are, however successful or settled they seem to outsiders. Gritty and beautiful in its way.

The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller has been on my To Read list for ages, and it must be fabulous for three reasons: (1) Because it was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice in summer 2011; (2) Elizabeth Speller is a Virago author; and (3) Elizabeth Speller is lovely. (She even signed my copy for me!)

It’s a classic, so why haven’t I read The Turn of the Screw yet? Probably because I’m a bit scared. As a rule, I can’t tolerate malevolent child ghosts, but I will slay my daemons this year.

Jon McGregor is a writer I deeply admire, and Even the Dogs was my train journey reading whilst visiting relatives over the Christmas season. It’s about the discovery of a body in a council estate flat, and the damaged or drug-addled people who might have prevented the tragedy from occurring. Equally culpable are the myriad authorities who seem to have little compassion for the living, but lavish reverence and expense on the dead. Not the most festive title I could have chosen, it’s a brutal and poignant read.

I’ve heard so many good things about The Observations by Jane Harris, that I was thrilled to find this under the tree. The narrator is the funny and indiscreet Bessy, a Victorian servant girl delving into the secrets of the past. Can’t wait.

I’m reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids at the moment. Strange to say that I heard of the book before I ever really listened to the music. It’s about Patti’s relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. And the book is ... exquisite ... one of the finest I’ve read in a long time, and certainly one of the greatest memoirs I’ve ever come across. I’ve got two of her albums now – Horses and Easter – and I’m completely hooked.

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh has been a glaring omission from my bookshelves for some time. Thank you, Santa, for putting that right.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan will be published in March 2012 (UK) and I feel privileged to have received a preview copy. The cover design shows us a tiny little boat in the middle of a vast ocean, conveying isolation and fear. It’s about shipwreck, love, death, and the lengths people will go to to survive. (Should that be ‘depths’ rather than ‘lengths’?) Hilary Mantel, Emma Donoghue and J.M. Coetzee are already raving about it.
Visit Katie Ward's website.

--Marshal Zeringue