It’s the first Wednesday of 2017, and that means it’s time for two things. One: I wish you all a very happy New Year and I hoped you had fun celebrating it! Two: time to look at Goodreads’ top 5 of new fiction releases for this month.
- Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
Publication date: January 3rd 2017
Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the marriage of one of them. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbours conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.
- This Is How It Always Is: A Novel by Laurie Frankel
Publication date: January 24th 2017
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes. This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan.
- Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Publication date: January 10th 2017
Solimar Castro Valdez embarks on a perilous journey across the US/Mexican border. Weeks later she arrives on her cousin’s doorstep in Berkeley, CA, pregnant. Amid the uncertainty of new motherhood and her American identity, Soli learns that when you have just one precious possession, you guard it with your life. Kavya Reddy is in her mid-thirties when the unexpected desire to have a child props up. When she can’t get pregnant, this desire will test her marriage, it will test her sanity, and it will set her on a collision course with Soli, when she is detained and her infant son comes under Kavya’s care. As Kavya learns to be a mother, she builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else’s child. There are no bad guys in this story, no obvious hero. From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon valley, author Shanthi Sekaran has taken real life and applied it to fiction; the results are moving and revelatory.
- 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
Publication date: January 31st 2017
Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, Archibald Isaac Ferguson is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Each Ferguson falls under the spell of the magnificent Amy Schneiderman, yet each Amy and each Ferguson have a relationship like no other. Meanwhile, readers will take in each Ferguson’s pleasures and ache from each Ferguson’s pains, as the mortal plot of each Ferguson’s life rushes on. As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, yet with a passion for realism and a great tenderness and fierce attachment to history and to life itself that readers have never seen from Auster before. 4 3 2 1 is a marvellous and unforgettably affecting tour de force.
- History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Publication date: January 3rd 2017
Linda has an idiosyncratic home life: her parents live in abandoned commune cabins in northern Minnesota and are hanging on to the last vestiges of a faded counter-culture world. The kids at school call her ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. She is an outsider in all things. Her understanding of the world comes from her observations at school, where her teacher is accused of possessing child pornography, and from watching the seemingly ordinary life of a family she babysits for. Yet while the accusation against the teacher is perhaps more innocent than it seemed at first, the ordinary family turns out to be more complicated. As Linda insinuates her way into the family’s orbit, she realises they are hiding something. If she tells the truth, she will lose the normal family life she is beginning to enjoy with them; but if she doesn’t, their son may die.
Superbly-paced and beautifully written, HISTORY OF WOLVES is an extraordinary debut novel about guilt, innocence, negligence, well-meaning belief and the death of a child.
I’ve put the fourth book in this list on my to-read list. Quite frankly for one simple reason: all the other books are quite depressing and sad and I want to start my year out on a more positive note. I also chose the Paul Auster book because it really intrigues me. It’ll be fun to read about how one boy could live 4 very different lives and how seemingly random decisions can impact our lives. Which one will you be reading this year?
Other new releases of January 2017 can be found by genre right here on Goodreads.