Paperbacks to Look Out for in February 2022: Part One

Cover image for Open Water by Caleb Azumah NelsonFewer paperback goodies than I’d like in February’s schedules, just about enough for a two-part preview beginning with a title that’s been all over my Twitter timeline for well over a year.

Caleb Azumah Nelson has had a very good year so far. Not only did Open Water win the 2021 Costa First Novel Award, it’s just been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer Award. It’s about two young, bright, Black British people, both artists and both struggling to make their mark, who meet in a London pub and fall in love. ‘At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it’ say the publishers. Keen to read this one.

Jakuta Alikavazovic’s Night As it Falls is about another couple whose relationship is far from plain sailing. Paul and the Cover image for Night As it Falls by Jakuta Alikavazovicmysterious Amelia are students at the same university. To make ends meet, he works nights at a hotel where she rents a room. These two become involved in an intense relationship, then Amelia suddenly disappears. ‘Night as It Falls is a novel of high passion and low light, tracing two young lovers who must both come to terms with their inherited bonds and the paths that shape the future’ say the publishers piquing my interest although it’s the Irish Times’ description of it as ‘a dark, brooding jewel of a book’ that really seals the deal with this one.

Cover image for Ten Days by Austin DuffyAustin Duffy’s Ten Days follows Wolf between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as he takes his teenage daughter to New York City after the death of her mother whose reluctant family are set to scatter her ashes over the Hudson on Yom Kippur in accordance with her wishes. He’s put together an itinerary for his daughter made up of significant locations for himself and Miriam. Ruth is unwilling to spend time with her philandering father who had left her mother years ago but it soon becomes clear that all is not well with Wolf. Duffy’s second novel is marked by the same empathy and humanity that made his debut, This Living and Immortal Thing such a compelling read for me.

It’s been a very long time since I read anything by Alan Warner whose Morvern Caller I loved. Set just before Margaret ThatcherCovedr image for Kitchenly 434 by Alan Warner became Prime Minister, his new novel, Kitchenly 434, sees two young fans turn up at an absent rock star’s Sussex mansion where the butler finds himself caught up in a misadventure. According to the blurb it’s ‘about delusional male behaviour, opening and closing curtains, self-awareness, loneliness and ‘getting it together in the country’, Kitchenly 434 is a magnificent novel about the Golden Age of Rock in the bucolic English countryside’. This one could either be hugely entertaining or a tad self-indulgent. We’ll see.

Cover image for Paradise Block by Alice AshFebruary’s paperback short story collection is Alice Ash’s Paradise Block set in the titular apartment block which is far from paradise by the sound of it. Mould-covered walls, constant alarms and difficult neighbours seem to be the order of the day. ‘With a haunting sense of place and a keen eye for the absurd, these thirteen surreal stories lure us into a topsy-turvy world where fleatraps are more important than babies and sales calls for luxury coffins provide a welcome distraction. Lonely residents live in close proximity while longing for connection’ say the publishers which sounds well worth investigating to me.

That’s it for the first batch of February’s paperbacks. As ever, a click on a title will take you either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you like to catch up with the month’s new titles they’re here and here. Part two soon…


27 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out for in February 2022: Part One”

  1. I’ve just finished Open Water – what a beautiful yet so powerful read. I’ve just started Assembly (at last!). They make a good pair.

  2. I have had a copy of Open Water for several months but have yet to open it – the reaction to is sounds very mixed.
    Of the rest, at a pinch I could go for Ten Days though with toppling stacks of unread books already I doubt I’ll buy it just yet

  3. I have just finished (and loved) Morvern Callar, so am very keen to read the new Alan Warner. I had very mixed feelings about Open Water which I found frustrating on some respects, although I think he is a real talent to watch.

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