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The Best Books to Look Out for in January 2019

Posted on 21st January 2019 by Martha Greengrass

From sparklingly inventive debut fiction to intimate memoirs and journeys in search of the sun's rays and the origins of the universe: welcome to our round-up of January's reading highlights.

Fiction

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Strikingly original from its first page, Bridget Collins’ inaugural novel begins with a truly brilliant premise: that books might be used to hide everything you might want to forget. Already a hit with our booksellers, and leading the pack of 2019’s most anticipated debuts, it's a supernaturally tinged tale of forbidden love, buried secrets and unspeakable betrayal that is simply unforgettable.

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An allegory of broken Britain written by one of its most inventive storytellers. The dark heir of Lanchester’s state-of-the-nation novel Capital,The Wall is a Middle-England dystopia for our fractured and uncertain times. A story of isolationism, segregation and generational conflict that asks key questions about the choice between national interest and personal freedom.

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Beguiling and multi-faceted, the latest novel from the author of The Thirteenth Tale brings together a winning cast of characters around the meandering Thames. There’s much to enjoy in Setterfield’s ability to spin a deeply satisfying story and Once Upon a River contains just the right balance of sweet and bitter. It’s a novel that reminds you why we tell stories and why they continue to matter.

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Emerging in its British translation at a moment of political turmoil with uncanny parallels to those it describes, Eric Vuillard’s Prix Goncourt-winning novel arrives on a wave of European critical acclaim. Told in staccato bursts and combining expertly researched real events with precisely imagined detail, it provides a unique perspective on those who spearheaded Germany’s descent into war.

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Irish writer Ann Griffin’s accomplished five-act debut is a deft unfolding of a whole life through a concertina of its most resonant moments. Containing echoes of the poignant retrospection of Rachel Joyce and Joanna Cannon, it’s a powerful and tender depiction of a lifetime of love and regret, seen through one man’s twilight-hour toasts to five people who defined his life.

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£18.99
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Obioma’s reinterpretation of Igbo folklore intertwines with a vibrant updating of Homer’s Odyssey to create a myth-infused story of love and a life-plan gone awry. Delicate yet muscular, thoughtful yet dynamic, An Orchestra of Minorities churns with the wrench of heartache and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love.
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Crime & Thrillers

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Originally published in 1981, May’s standalone thriller holds fresh relevance seen through the prism of 2019. As in his Lewis trilogy, there’s Noirish cast to May’s writing that serves this swift-paced thriller well and the political mood of 1970’s Brussels is an intriguing mix of gritty mix of machismo and all-too-prescient political concerns. Fans and newcomers alike will find much to enjoy.
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Sharp, menacing and darkly funny, this first novel from Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite is a breathe of fresh air. Not just an inventive take on the serial-murder thriller, the novel is also a tender examination of sibling relationships in an oppressively patriarchal society; a story that turns the tables on the woman-as-victim trope. An addictive - and hugely satisfying - read.
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A brilliant psychological thriller that’s been an instant hit with our booksellers – Helen at our Scarborough branch calls it ‘a suspenseful, almost unbearably tense read’ – The Flower Girls is fast generating a wild-fire word-of-mouth buzz. Astonishingly assured in its telling, it’s a story packed with shock-factor plotting and plenty of unexpected twists to keep the pages turning.

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Bringing all of the appeal of an Agatha Christie-style house-party whodunit to a thoroughly modern thriller, Lucy Foley’s impressive debut casts her readers to the lonely outreaches of the Scottish wilderness. There’s a sharp cleverness to the way Foley explores the long-held grudges of a close-knit cohort, drawing out – with real menace – the poison that lies within.

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The debut novel from the creator of the television phenomenon The Killing. Welcome to the dark world of Thulin and Hess, mismatched detectives on the trail of a brutal, bizarre murder. Simultaneously, a senior politician grieves over her missing daughter: are the events connected? Søren Sveistrup ramps up the character and tension in an accomplished thriller.

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A remarkable debut from a remarkable writer, Where the Crawdad’s Sing bubbles over with the melting-pot tension of a community beset by tragedy and shaped by the landscape that surrounds it. Character-driven, with an impeccable sense of place and time, this is a richly imagined story of innocence undone and of a small town torn and re-shaped by crisis.

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Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Published just as Netflix announces an 8-part adaptation of Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone, the eagerly-awaited next chapter in the ‘Grishaverse’ explores new corners of Bardugo’s stunningly imagined world. An exploration of conflicted loyalty and inner demons, it explores one of Bardugo’s most intriguing protagonists, the conflicted, charming and deadly Ravkan king, Nikolai Lantsov.

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Katherine Arden’s hugely popular fantasy series reaches its third and final instalment. Continuing the winning blend of folk and fairy tale influences with a refreshing depiction of female independence, Arden moves her story from political intrigue of Moscow in revolt to the magical dominion of Baba Yaga’s Midnight, drawing her story to a richly satisfying conclusion.
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Fans of Christopher Paolini have had an agonising wait to re-enter his dragon-dwelling world of Alagaësia. Now the author is back with a new sequence of stories widening the boundaries of the realm. Set shortly after the conclusion of his Inhertance Cycle, there’s a welcome return of familiar characters and some tantalising new threads that leave the path open for future tales.

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Non-Fiction Highlights

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Based on the secret concentration camp diary of Gustav Kleinmann, a Viennese Jew who, with his son, was interred in Auschwitz, this is a visceral, painful and astonishingly human story. Sensitively retold and meticulously researched by Jeremy Dronfield, it presents a personal perspective on the Holocaust and the humbling resilience of hope, bravery and compassion.

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One of the year’s most original and striking memoirs, this is both a personal story of sexuality, abuse and depression and a challenge to how society judges and pigeonholes those experiences, particularly for men. Seen through the prism of a cathartic journey into Epping Forest, Turner’s story is unusual in its range and frankness. It is a hypnotic read that impresses in its nuance and subtlety.

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The powerful and timely follow-up to I Am Malala, We Are Displaced is an oral history that offers an astonishing reminder of the collective power of personal testimony. Poignant and at times harrowing, nevertheless the lasting impression of these accounts is one of hope and resilience that crucially puts a human face to what is all too often reduced to a catalogue of statistics.

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From an outstanding shortlist, Serhii Plokhy’s charged and impeccably-researched history of the Chernobyl disaster emerged as the winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2018. Sobering and gripping, the volume stands as a powerful testimony to the terrible consequences of national hubris.
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The history of mankind’s journeys into the unknown is a well-trodden path – far less so the accounts of women’s place in that history. Wild Women goes some way to rectify that omission, chronicling the daring stories of female adventurers in their own words. A brisk, humorous and often unexpected collection that remaps the territory of global exploration.

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Both informative and highly readable, this new study into the importance of sunlight to our health and wellbeing is apt to send you dashing for the nearest rays. Considering everything from the fascinating evidence for sunlight’s impact on reduction of rates of MS and myopia to the detrimental effects of lifestyles that promote ever-more time indoors, it’s an eye-opening read.

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£20.00
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The perfect starting point for anyone wanting to peer inside the mysteries of the universe, Jo Dunkley’s highly accessible guide tracks the course of the universe from what we know of its origins to the people who have been instrumental in demystifying its deepest secrets. Dunkley is an engaging and enthusiastic companion and her writing makes even the most complex ideas comprehensible.

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Packed full of entertaining trivia, Helen Thompson’s lively and inventive book takes readers on a tour of the brain’s most unmapped territories. Told through nine highly unusual case studies, each presenting a different neurological disorder, Thompson not only explores the science of the mind, but the personal impact of how changes to our brains alter how we live.
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Comments

Paul Oldman

Great advance warning of what’s new in publishing. View more

Paul Oldman
21st January 2019
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