Books to Look Out for in January 2018: Part One

Cover image Round about now at the fag-end of the literary year, I begin to look forward eagerly to what’s coming next. The first batch of goodies kick starting this January is dominated by Australian writers, beginning with a new Peter Carey which is always something worth looking out for. A Long Way from Home is set in 1953 when the Bobbseys arrive in Bacchus Marsh, Australia. Their neighbour Willie soon becomes drawn into their orbit, persuaded to be their navigator on the Redex Trial, a car race that circumnavigates the continent. ‘As they drive into unknown territory, and cross the outback, Willie will discover the heartrending truth about his own and his country’s past’ say the publishers which sounds very promising.

Less well-known outside Australia than Carey, Helen Garner also has a book out in January. Stories: Collected Short Fiction is being issued in celebration of her seventy-fifth birthday and comprises short stories ‘all told with her characteristic sharpness of observation, honesty and humour. Each one a perfect piece, together they showcase Garner’s mastery of the form’ according to the publishers. I’ve only read The Spare Room but my memories of that are of clean, crisp prose so I have my eye out for this collection.

Michelle de Kretser’s The Life to Come covers many geographical miles taking its readers from Sydney to Paris and Sri Lanka following three people: Pippa, a writer; Celeste embroiled in an affair and Ash who suffered a tragedy in childhood. ‘Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people… …a mesmerising novel [which] feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary’ say the publishers, covering all the bases. I remember very much enjoying de Kretser’s Questions of Travel a few years back.

Around the world to the American South for Eleanor Henderson’s The Twelve Mile Straight, set in Georgia in 1930 where a man is lynched for allegedly raping a white sharecropper’s daughter who has given birth to twins, one clearly white, the other suspiciously brown. Surrounded by gossip, Elma brings up her babies helped by her father and the young black housekeeper who is as close to her as a sister. ‘It soon becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have imagined. A web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the truth’ say the publishers, hinting at all manner of things. This one could easily backfire but it’s such an intriguing premise, a little reminiscent of Laird Hunt’s The Evening Road which I enjoyed very much,  and it’s much praised by Ann Patchett, apparently.

That’s it for the first selection of January’s new novels. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should any take your fancy. Second batch to follow shortly, all with their feet firmly planted in the UK.

14 thoughts on “Books to Look Out for in January 2018: Part One”

  1. I’m shortly to start reading The Twelve-Mile Straight and I too am excited by the thought of a new Peter Carey. I have a feeling I’m going to be adding a few books to my wishlist as you continue with these posts…

  2. Lots of Australian titles on here! The Publishers Weekly review of the Carey is pretty damning…

    I’m interested in The Twelve-Mile Straight, which I already have on my Kindle (I think it’s been out in the States for a while).

    1. Let’s hope they’re wrong. I’ve seen it reviewed positively on Australian sites.

      A freind has read The Twelve Mile Straight and was a little underwhelmed but it sounds worth a try, I think.

  3. I remember a lot of readers enjoying de Kretser’s Questions of Travel too, including one of the girls in my book group. Nice to hear there’s a new one on the way – I’ll let her know.

  4. So I’ve barely finished adding your ‘Book of the Year’ selections that I missed to my TBR stack and now you’re giving me January books? You’re killing me! (in the nicest possible way). Please expect a mention (again, in the nicest possible way) when I review my 2017 progress, or rather lack of, on reducing my TBR stack.

  5. Peter Carey is one of those really interesting seeming writers that I’ve never got around to reading (I’ll have to add him to my list). I can see why you were a successful bookseller. All those lists, all that temptation!

    1. It felt like a vocation! I hope you will get around to Carey, Belinda. I haven’t got on with everything I’ve read by him but Oscar and Lucinda was so good I’ve read it three times.

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