Books to Look Out For Out for in January 2024: Part Two

The second part of January’s preview starts with a crime novel, an uncharacteristic choice for me. I enjoyed Louise Welsh’s The Second Cut so much last year that I put up my hand for To the Dogs which also has a foot in Glasgow’s murky underworld. Cover image for To the Dogs by Louise WelshProfessor Jim Brennan is called away from a graduation ceremony at the Beijing institute associated with his university when his son is arrested on a drugs charge. He catches the first plane home, heading straight for the police station before calling in at the Fusilier, his gangster father’s old haunt. Before long, he finds himself dragged back into the world he’d assumed he’d long since left behind while navigating the ethical grey area of university funding. Welsh’s cleverly plotted novel neatly contrasts straightforward crime with the dubious morality of accepting funding from repressive regimes. I raced through this pacy slice of campus crime. Highly recommended, even if you’re not a crime reader. Review shortly…

I was delighted when I spotted a new Nathan Hill in the schedules having thoroughly enjoyed The Nix back in 2017. Wellness Cover image for Wellness by Nathan Hill,weighs in at roughly the same doorstopping length, exploring a multitude of themes through a long marriage. Jack and Elizabeth meet in Chicago as students: he’s a photographer, always dressed in black; she’s dabbling in several majors, eventually plumping for behavioural psychology. Twenty years later, married, with a child, they’re beset by the usual worries but while he’s clung to the heady romanticism of their early days, her feelings have been tempered by the humdrum everyday reality of childcare and domesticity. Not quite a match for The Nix for me but I enjoyed this sprawling novel which ends on a note of hope, at least I chose to interpret it as such. Review to follow…

Cover image for Come and Get it by Kiley ReidKiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age was one of those books I avoided thanks to the hype surrounding it until I started seeing positive reviews from readers whose opinions I trust and ended up enjoying it very much. Come and Get It is set in 2017 when Millie is at the University of Arkansas, eyes set on a job and a secure future. With that in mind she accepts an odd assignment from a visiting professor which backfires horribly. ‘A fresh and intimate portrait of desire, consumption and reckless abandon, Come and Get It is a tension-filled story about money, indiscretion and bad behaviour’ say the publishers, promisingly. Not very keen on that cover, though.Cover image for Breakdown by Cathy Sweeney

Cathy Sweeney’s Breakdown sees a woman walk out of her Dublin home one morning, leaving her husband and two teenage children asleep. Two days later she finds herself alone in a Welsh cottage having spent time in a multitude of places along the way, including the beds of strangers, no longer able to ignore the breakdown which has been building within her for some time. ‘From one of Ireland’s most provocative and admired writers, this is a story of rage and reckoning, joy and transformation’ says the blurb, whetting my appetite nicely.

Cover image for Huner in Huskvarna by Sara StridsbergJanuary’s short story collection is Sara Stridsberg’s Hunter in Huskvarna which comprises eleven stories. The blurb suggests a wide-ranging selection from a woman secretly nursing her lover’s dying wife to a young man visiting his sister’s murderer on death row in a Texan prison to a boy, last seen walking with a wolf in the titular Swedish town, who disappears. ‘These genre-spanning stories are held together by a sense of longing: for escape from the narrow margins of a prescribed life, for a past which promises an undiscovered future, for a place or a person that feels like home’ according to the publishers which sounds promising.

That’s it for January’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…

22 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in January 2024: Part Two”

  1. Breakdown sounds interesting, it made me think of Anne Tyler’s Ladder of Years, and that situation where a woman has been playing a ‘role’ for so long, that all will be shocked when that day arrives and she steps out of it, completely.

  2. I’m intrigued by To The Dogs – great to hear you recommend it! I don’t really read contemporary crime but I did read The Cutting Room and The Second Cut and thought they were excellent.

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