Books to Look Out For Out for in March 2023: Part Two

I started the first batch of March titles by mentioning two big books to look out for. The first was Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood about which I have my Cover image for Old God's Time by Sebastian Barry doubts, the second is Sebastian Barry’s Old God’s Time which blew my socks off. Set in mid-90s Ireland, it follows a recently retired, widowed police officer whose ex-boss has been told to reopen a cold case involving two priests, both child sex abusers: one brutally murdered, the other moved on to another parish. His ex-colleagues are considerate and kind but they know more than they let on. Barry’s writing is gorgeously poetic, lyrical and striking in its imagery. Tom’s narrative slowly unfolds events the details of which he has been hiding from himself for decades. A desperately sad story; there’s a beauty in Barry’s telling of it that makes its ugliness all the more stark. Review shortly… Cover image for Juno Loves Legs by Karl Geary

I didn’t get on with Irish writer Karl Geary’s Montpelier Parade as well as I’d expected but so many readers whose opinion I trust did that I’ll probably give Juno Loves Legs a try. The titular pair became childhood sweethearts when Juno came to Legs’ rescue, laying into the playground bullies on his behalf. They complement each other beautifully, facing the world together, but the blurb hints at trouble ahead. Still not entirely sure about this one but we’ll see.

Cover image for While We Were Dreaming Hard to resist a novel set in Leipzig, at least for me having visited the city several years ago. In Clemens Meyer’s While We Were Dreaming four young men, all thirteen when the Wall came down, run wild in the city streets, drinking, stealing cars and dreaming of a better life than the one on offer. ‘Startlingly raw and deeply moving, While We Were Dreaming is an extraordinary coming of age novel by one of Germany’s most ambitious writers, full of passion, rage, hope and despair’ says the blurb promisingly. Cover image for From Far Away They Saw Us Burn by Alice Jolly

For some reason, I’ve never got around to reading Alice Jolly’s fiction despite seeing it highly praised. From Far Around They Saw Us Burn is her first short story collection whose title piece was inspired by a 1943 orphanage fire. ‘Written with an exemplary eye for detail and an intimate understanding of the complexities of human nature, Jolly’s collection builds up towards the ultimate question: what is revealed of us when we peel away the surfaces, and is it enough?’ say the publishers. Very much like the sound of that.

Cover image for Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self I read Danielle Evans The Office of Historical Corrections just as the astonishing events around the end of the Trump Presidency were taking off lending it a particular resonance. Her new collection, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, sounds as if it explores similar territory with the emphasis on adolescence and family. ‘Striking in their emotional immediacy, the electrifying, prize-winning stories in Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self offer a fresh perspective on race and class in contemporary America’ say the publishers promisingly. 

That’s it for March’s new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with part one it’s here. Paperbacks soon…


37 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in March 2023: Part Two”

  1. There’s not one of these I wouldn’t like to read. But I’d like to start with the Barry, I think. In fact I’ve reserved it from the library when it comes into stock. Likewise the Evans. The others sadly aren’t (yet) in the catalogue.

  2. I’m about halfway through Birnam Wood and I’m actually really enjoying it. I do love Sebastian Barry’s writing so am very keen to read Old God’s Time. As one of those fans of Montpelier Parade, I’m also looking forward to Juno Loves Legs.

  3. I see lots of interesting things here — March is clearly going to be a month of temptations! On God’s Time sounds very interesting; I do admire Barry’s beautifully lyrical writing but I must admit I was just a bit less taken with his Days Without End than many of his readers. I’ve been reading a few novels set in modern Germany lately, so While We Were Dreaming definitely goes on the list! I noticed from the comments that Jenny Erpenbeck has a new novel out; that goes on the list too, as I loved her Going, Went, Gone (unfortunately, the new one won’t be published in the U.S. until next summer). As for Birnam Wood — well … I did read/suffer through Catton’s The Luminaries, with not much enjoyment, the year it won the Booker. The experience left me Catton-shy, but I was interested/encouraged to read Cathy746’s reaction. So, maybe I’ll give it a try! Oh, and I do like Danielle Evans, so that’s another to add to Mount TBR!

  4. Oh I’m so pleased to see Danielle Evans’s other collection (actually her first book, published in the USA in 2010) is coming out here. I’ll have to see if I can get hold of a copy. I’ve read Jolly’s very long novel in verse, but quite fancy trying her short stories. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Barry, but Days Without End was splendid and this sounds just as powerful. Thanks, as always, for the book news!

  5. I’ve been hearing about Alice Jolly, but I’ve never read anything by her. The Sebastian Barry sounds brilliant. Great job, as usual, Susan!

  6. I’ll look out for the Sebastian Barry. His book A Long Long Way is an all time favourite. Thanks for the review

  7. An interesting selection, I’m keen to read Birnam Wood, although her first novel The Rehearsal was a DNF for me, which made The Luminaries a pleasurable read in comparison, if overly long.
    The Sebastian Barry sounds very tempting!

  8. Count me in also for the Sebastian Barry. Just reserved my copy at the library after reading your great list! I’m currently reading Joseph O’Connor’s “My Father’s House” featuring Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, so I might put some other novels in between, but I do love a good Irish novel.

    1. Oh, me, too! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Barry. It’s quite a while since I’ve read O’Connor but I’ve noticed that My Father’s House seems to have gone down very well.

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