Saturday, January 3, 2015

Six New Books to Look for This January

Happy New Year and happy new reading! Here are a few great books to watch for this January.

The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi (January 13): Newfoundland author de Mariaffi gained national attention in 2013 with her Giller longlisted short story collection How to Get Along With Women. As Canadian book trade magazine Quill and Quire noted, de Mariaffi is going "from Giller to thriller" with her first novel, the Toronto-set story of a young journalist investigating the cold case murder of a childhood friend. The publisher compares it to "Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones" and Canadian author Steven Galloway called it "a story that thrills, surprises, and above all else makes the reader rethink their assumptions about how women experience the world of violence. A magnificent debut novel." Expect to see this one on Canadian bestseller lists.

Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera (January 20). You've likely never heard of Daniel Galera, but in Brazil he is known as one of the country's top young novelists. Blood Drenched Beard is Galera's fourth novel, but his first to be translated into English. It won the São Paulo Prize for Literature (the Brazilian equivalent of The Giller Prize) in 2013. It tells the story of a nameless young man who moves to a small coastal town to explore the truth of a family mystery: "The young man’s father, dying, at last tells him the truth about his grandfather – or at least the truth as he knows it. The mean old gaucho was murdered by some fellow villagers in Garopaba, a town on the Atlantic now famous for its surfing and fishing. It was during a Sunday dance at a community hall. The lights went out suddenly and when they came up, his grandfather was lying on the ground in a pool of blood…or so the story goes." Kirkus reviews called it "An elegant, literate and literary mystery of appearances and disappearances."

If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie (January 20): Jump back to 2011 and you may recall the buzz around Vancouver based writer Christie's debut fiction collection The Beggar's Garden. That book, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize,  established Christie as a new Canadian writer to watch. Back with his first novel, it seems like the time for watching has ended and the time for reading is set to begin. If I Fall, If I Die is the story of Will, a young boy with an eccentric mother who has literally never gone outside. The book has received glowing blurbs from well known contemporary liteary authors like Philipp Meyer, Karen Russell, and fellow Canadian Patrick DeWitt who said “Rarely has the tender claustrophobia of the mother-son dynamic, the raw humanity of mental illness, or the delicate, dangerous process of growing up been rendered with such heart and sensitivity. If I Fall, If I Die mines the fundamental dilemmas of both childhood and parenthood to sublime effect. I can’t recall a funnier, truer, or more beautiful debut.” You'll be hearing more about Christie.

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for a Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil. (January 20) For a time during the year when I was 12, part of my daily routine involved walking home from school being followed by another young girl who endlessly called me names and hurled insults at me. I feel like many of us have similar stories, but I have often wondered if I am the only one who spends time thinking about what became of my one-time tormentor. Allen Kurzweil has shown that I am not, and I suspect that many readers will find personal connection to his new book Whipping Boy in which he chronicles his search for the bully who impacted his life. The life of Kurzweil's childhood bully has become the stuff of movies, and the book has been called "a scrupulously researched work of non-fiction that reads like a John Le Carré novel, this is more than a tale of karmic retribution."

Quick Picks:

Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova (January 6): First year Bulgarian university student Thea finds herself lonely upon her arrival at Princeton but soon meets the handsome and intriguing Estlin brothers, who lead her into a "sensual mythic underworld". For fans of: Donna Tartt, Deborah Harkness and Erin Morgenstern.

Munich Airport by Greg Baxter (January 27): An American man receives a phone call from police that his sister has died of starvation in her Berlin apartment: three weeks later he finds himself in a fogged in airport awaiting a flight to take his sister's body home. The publisher calls it "a powerful, poetic, and haunting exploration of loss, love, and isolation". Compared to: Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, and Haruki Murakami.

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