The books we (at The Economist) wrote this year

I’m not the only one at The Economist to launch a book “this” year.

(As you know, my launch is technically on January 5th, but Hannibal and Me is already available for pre-order, so that counts as 2011.)

Here is a list of the books my colleagues and I wrote this year. A pretty broad range of genres and topics, wouldn’t you say?

16 thoughts on “The books we (at The Economist) wrote this year

  1. So, as I read the list, I came across this description:

    In his second novel, our east Africa correspondent writes of a British secret agent who is held hostage by jihadist fighters in Somalia, a deep-ocean researcher and their brief but memorable love affair.

    I must admit, it confused me… the British secret agent was held hostage by jihadists, an ocean researcher and their love affair? The ocean researcher had an affair with the jihadists and they abducted the secret agent?

    That sentence is harder to parse than the Second Amendment.

    • I’m guessing that it was not the author but some marketing hack that wrote those words.

      Or that it’s a case of British commas wreaking havoc.

      As I read it, the British secret agent has the affair with the ocean researcher. (And it is brief and memorable.)

    • Andreas, if you read it non-critically, if you just absorb it, it is clear what the writer intended. But, if you pay attention as you read, it’s like that squeak of chalk across the blackboard. It’s the same angst I feel when someone on a TV show gets dial tone on their cell phone.

  2. I composed the following comment before I saw what Douglas said. But, having taken all the trouble to write it, I’ll post it anyway:

    About “Submergence”, by J.M. Ledgard, your employer magazine said: “…..In his second novel, our east Africa correspondent writes of a British secret agent who is held hostage by jihadist fighters in Somalia, a deep-ocean researcher and their brief but memorable love affair……”.

    While I understand that the jihadist fighters in Somalia are holding the British secret agent hostage, I’m confused as to the deep ocean researcher. Did he (she) belong to the jihadist fighters, so that he (she) also connived in holding the British secret agent hostage?

    And who was the brief but memorable love affair between? The deep ocean researcher and the jihadists? – which would imply group sex. Or between the British secret agent, the deep ocean researcher, and the jihadists? – which would also imply group sex. Or only between the British secret agent and the deep ocean researcher? – which would not imply group sex.

    No doubt the Economist – a paragon of clear writing, after all – deliberately allowed this confusing description of the book to entice more people to buy it, as a special favour to the book’s author.

    I’m so intrigued by the description that I think I’ll buy “Submergence” too – in addition to “Hannibal and Me”, of course.

    • OK, if there is a third comment about this, I will investigate and find out who wrote the sentence.

      “… No doubt the Economist – a paragon of clear writing, after all – deliberately allowed this confusing description of the book to entice more people to buy it, as a special favour to the book’s author…”

      Your wit is lethal, Monsieur Philippe. ;)

  3. In his second novel, our east Africa correspondent writes of a British secret agent who is held hostage by jihadist fighters in Somalia, a deep-ocean researcher and their brief but memorable love affair.

    The east Africa correspondent seems to be a character in his own story:

    In his second novel, our east Africa correspondent writes of…

    So the novel opens with the correspondent at his typewriter tapping out a tale about a secret agent fed by jihadist fighters to Somalia, a deep-ocean researcher. (Toponyms are sometimes used as first names, e.g., Paris Hilton.) For some reason, perhaps on religious grounds, that’s where jihadists of this particular tribe put their hostages.

    As he’s writing the story, the east Africa correspondent falls in love with his own creation, the British agent slowly being broken down by Somalia’s gastric juices, and they carry a passionate imaginary affair.

    At least that’s what I took away from this sentence initially: a story of homosexual obsession and cannibalism.

    Upon reflection, though, I agree with previous commenters that the sentence is a trifle confusing.

  4. I read Snowdrops. I liked a lot about it.

    Robert Lane Greene’s book looks like fun. He had me at grammar grouches.

    I’m thinking about getting Ann Wroe’s book about Pontius Pilate before I read Orpheus. She might be the only woman on the list of authors (not that I’m paying attention), but, boy, she’s no slouch, is she?

  5. One more thing.

    “Young Wisden: A New Fan’s Guide to Cricket. Tim de Lisle — the editor of our sister publication, Intelligent Life, and a former sports writer — explains the intricacies of the game to eight-to-13-year-olds.”

    How can he be a “former” sports writer if what he’s writing about now is cricket, a sport.

    Surely “chronic” sports writer was intended.

    • “A sometime sportswriter” may have been a better way for the Economist to describe some of what Tim De Lisle does for a living.

      Is the Economist’s sloppiness in this, on top of its sloppiness in describing the novel “Submergence”, an adumbration of a lowering of standards in all its writing?

      If we can no longer rely on the Economist for linguistic perfection, who can we trust?

    • Jenny,

      If we shadows have offended,
      Think but this, and all is mended,
      That you have but slumb’red here
       While these visions did appear…

    • Jim,

      What a perfect thought as we approach the (winter) solstice!

      And there, too, is the answer for Philippe:

      Our sport shall be to take what they mistake…

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