We've been having a pretty stormy winter and with all the storm days you may be a little further through your To Be Read list than you expected: need a new book to fill those winter nights? Here's some new fiction hitting the shelves this February.
We'll start our run through new releases this month with a first novel that is getting a significant push and has an large early print run: both signs that publishers think that this is one that will catch on with readers. Book of Jonah (M) by Joshua Max Feldman (Februrary 4) is a modern day retelling of the biblical Book of Jonah set in New York, Amsterdam and Las Vegas with a young lawyer at its centre.
"Jonah Jacobstein [is] a lucky man: healthy and handsome, he has two beautiful women ready to spend the rest of their lives with him, and an enormously successful career that gets more promising by the minute. He's celebrating a deal that will surely make him partner when a bizarre, unexpected Biblical vision at a party changes everything. Hard as he tries to forget what he saw, this disturbing sign is only the first of many Jonah will witness, and before long his life is unrecognizable. Though this perhaps divine intervention will be responsible for more than one irreversible loss in Jonah's life, it will also cross his path with that of Judith Bulbrook, an intense, breathtakingly intelligent woman who's no stranger to loss herself . . . Feldman examines the way we live now while asking an age-old question: how do you know if you're chosen?"
Another early February release is sure to catch the eye of comedy fans, One More Thing: stories and other stories (M) by B.J. Novak (Feburary 4) is a collection of short stories from an author, actor and comedian who is probably best known as Ryan the Temp on the US version of the sitcom The Office. Novak was also a writer for that show, so it will be interesting to see how he moves his skills from the TV world to the literary one. A starred review in Booklist was filled with superlatives for this collection calling it "high-concept, hilarious, and disarmingly commiserative fiction" and describes the author as "writing with zing and humor in the spirit of Woody Allen and Steve Martin, Novak also ventures into the realm of George Saunders and David Foster Wallace. . . . Baseline clever and fresh, at best spectacularly perceptive, and always commanding, Novak’s ingeniously ambushing stories of longing, fear, pretension, and confusion reveal the quintessential absurdities and transcendent beauty of our catchas-catch-can lives". Also, there is this very funny trailer. (see below).
Book club members will likely already been lined up for the release of a new book by Alice Hoffman. The Museum of Extraordinary Things (M) (February 18) has many of the marks (romance, history, magical realism) that have made this author a favourite. "Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River. The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie."
Another debut getting a bit of buzz is Fall of Saints (M) by Wanjiku Wa Ngugi (Feburary 25). "A Kenyan expat living the American dream with her husband and adopted son soon finds it marred by child trafficking, scandal, and a problematic past. Mugure and Zack seem to have the picture-perfect family: a young, healthy son, a beautiful home in Riverdale, New York, and a bright future. But one night, as Mugure is rummaging through an old drawer, she comes across a piece of paper with a note scrawled on it—a note that calls into question everything she’s ever believed about her husband . . . "