Instead of being a sleepy season, this winter in fiction seems enticing and invigorating. From zombies in the Russian countryside (yesplease yesplease yesplease), and characters’ examinations of their Muslim identity, to survival stories and feral cats, Winter 2016 truly seems to have something for everyone.
I knew I’d hear tell of a zombie novel set in Russia eventually (and how I looked forward to that day). While I was expecting Lukyanenko or Glukhovsky to be behind it, I couldn’t be happier that controversial satirist Sorokin is making my bookish dream come true.
My family and I recently watched the sweet animated fairytale Song of The Sea about a selkie girl named Saoirse who take the form of a seal underwater and human form on land. The movie piqued my interest in selkies (have I ever read a novel about one?) and this book feeds that curiosity.
Given recent headlines, this Gatsby-esque novel about a very rich Manhattan DA hiding his Muslim roots seems timely — a solid choice for book clubs. Originally published in French, it was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt.
If you haven’t already read Aboulela’s Lyrics Alley, a work of historical fiction set in 1950s Sudan, you should. She does a particularly good job of breathing life into her characters. I’m interested to see what she does in The Kindness of Enemies which is narrated partly by Natasha, a modern woman coming to terms with her Muslim heritage, and partly by characters alive during the Crimean War.
A single line in a Publishers Weekly review got me very very excited about this title: “Anders smoothly pivots from horror to humor to heartbreak and back again, and she keeps readers guessing as to the fate of her two protagonists.” The protagonists in question are Patricia (nice name, right?) a practicing witch, and Laurence, a tech genius, upon whose actions rests the fate of the world.
Sure to please cat lovers everywhere, The Wildings tells the story of a feral pack of cats in India from the cats’ points of view. (Finally a Warriors-flavour book aimed at adults — Take that, kids!)
Speaking of kids, if you’ve asked me for a great middle grade read aloud to share with your family, chances are good I’ve recommended Iain Lawrence’s magical The Giant-Slayer. His newest, The Skeleton Tree, looks like a modern-day Hatchet — perfect for families who love survival tales.
A story born of the idea that modern women inhabit forty rooms in their lifetimes, taken as a whole these rooms make up our biographies. I’m interested in reading Grushin’s latest alongside Rachel Cusk’s Outline to see what the two have to say to each other.
Chigozie Obioma, author of Booker-shortlisted The Fishermen, named this story of a convicted muderer in Zimbabwe as his favourite of 2015 (it was published in the UK last year), calling it “a wonderful historical novel that takes you to a distant point in time, and which chronicles the angst of cultural rejection very poignantly.”
Elena Ferrante has kindled my interest in Italian fiction, and while this title doesn’t delve into the intensity of female friendships the way Ferrante does, it does paint an arresting portrait of a family profoundly affected by war.
Happy Winter Reading!
*Thank you as always to NetGalley and Edelweiss for providing Advanced Readers’ Copies of these titles.