New Books To Read This February

New Books To Read This February

From the long-awaited return of Marian Keyes to a selection of brilliant debuts, this month serves up both fascinating fiction and intelligent thrillers…

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is the South Korean million-copy bestseller that’s just been translated into English. Kim Jiyoung is a girl born to a mother whose in-laws wanted a boy; she’s a sister made to share a room while her brother gets one of his own; a female preyed upon by male teachers at school; a daughter whose father blames her when she is harassed late at night; a good student who doesn’t get put forward for internships; a model employee but gets overlooked for promotion; a wife who gives up her career and independence for a life of domesticity. Ultimately, this is a life story of one young woman which raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that are relevant to us all.

“This is a book about the life of a woman living in Korea; the despair of an ordinary woman which she takes for granted. The fact that it’s not about ‘someone special’ is extremely shocking, while also being incredibly relatable.” – Sayaka Murata, author of Convenience Store Woman


Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

Is this Marian Keyes' best novel yet? Considering we raced through almost 700 pages in under two days, we’re inclined to say yes. Grown Ups follows the lives of the Caseys. Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together: birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they're a happy family. But under the surface, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, others like each other a little too much. Everything stays under control until Ed's wife, Cara, gets concussion and starts revealing secrets one by one. In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it's time to finally grow up. A heartening, pacey read.

“A novel that is warm and witty but never afraid to tackle the big stuff.” – Elizabeth Day, author of How To Fail


The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lido comes a story of friendship, belonging and never giving up on your dreams. Day and night, Stella's Café opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It's a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door. At the centre of the tale is Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella's, but is it time to step outside and make their own way in life? Page’s second novel offers readers 24 hours at Stella's Café, where one day might just be enough to change a life.

“Feel-good and uplifting, this charming novel is full of heart.” – Lucy Diamond, author of Something To Tell You


The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Adunni is a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”, the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir. When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing. But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. A powerful, emotional debut novel told in an unforgettable way.

“A stunning novel – original, beautiful and powerful.” – Rosamund Lipton, author of Three Hours


Actress by Anne Enright

From Booker Prize-winning Irish author Anne Enright comes this moving novel about fame, sexual power and a daughter’s search to understand her mother’s hidden truths. This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and the West End. But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime. Actress is about a daughter’s search for the truth: the dark secret in the bright star, and what drove Katherine finally mad.

“With a sharp eye for female interaction and familial subtext, Actress finds the former Booker Prize-winner on superlative form.” – Waterstones


The Book of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka

1981: England looks forward to a new decade. But on the streets of Brixton, it’s hard to hold onto your dreams, especially if you’re a young black man. Racial tensions rumble, and now Michael Watson might land in jail for a crime he did not commit. Thousands of miles away, village girl Ngozi abandons her orange stall for the chance to work as a maid. Alone in a big city, Ngozi’s fortunes turn dark and soon both her heart and hopes are shattered. From dusty roads to gritty pavements, Ngozi and Michael’s journey towards a better life is strewn with heartache and injustice. When they finally collide, their lives will be transformed for ever.

“So bewitching I almost felt like I time-travelled back into Brixton 1981. A gorgeous book – totally recommended.” – Alex Wheatle, author of Home Girl


Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride

A nameless woman enters a non-descript hotel room she's been in once before, many years ago. Though the room hasn't changed, she has, as have the dimensions of her life. As she goes on to occupy a series of hotel rooms around the world, each of which reflects back some aspect of herself, we begin to piece together the details of what transpires in these rooms, the rules of engagements she's put in place for herself and the men she sometimes meets, and the outlines of the absence she is trying to forget. Told in a voice that will lure readers with its fierceness, vulnerability, honesty and black humour, Eimear McBride's Strange Hotel immerses us in the currents of attraction, love and grief.

“She writes with beauty, wisdom and humour and she is uniquely sensitive to what is being communicated with every look or jerk of the body.”Guardian


Apeirogon by Colum McCann

From the National Book Award–winning and bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin comes a novel rooted in the real-life friendship between two men united by loss. Colum McCann’s most ambitious work to date, Apeirogon concerns friendship, love, loss and belonging. Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colours every aspect of their daily lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on, to the schools their daughters, Abir and Smadar, each attend, to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate. Their worlds shift irreparably after 10-year-old Abir is killed by a rubber bullet and 13-year-old Smadar becomes the victim of suicide bombers. When Bassam and Rami learn of each other’s stories, they recognise the loss that connects them and they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace.

“Colum McCann’s Apeirogon is nothing like any book you’ve ever read. Think of reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, or George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo for the first time.” – Michael Cunningham, author of The Snow Queen


Here We Are by Graham Swift

This new novel from the winner of the Booker Prize in 1996 for Last Orders is set in Brighton in 1959. The theatre at the end of the pier is having its best summer season in years. Ronnie, a brilliant young magician, and Evie, his dazzling assistant, are top of the bill, drawing audiences each night. Meanwhile, Jack is everyone’s favourite compère, a born entertainer, holding the whole show together. As the summer progresses, the off-stage drama between the three begins to overshadow their theatrical success, and events unfold which will have lasting consequences for all their futures.

“In Here We Are, Swift does not just dwell on the pivotal moments of our lives, but traces their shockwaves both forward and back. I thought it was wonderful.” – Joseph Knox, author of Sirens


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