Paperbacks to Look Out For in January 2024: Part One

Cover image for My Nemesis by Charmaine CraigThere are some juicy January paperbacks to banish the winter blues beginning with Charmaine Craig’s My Nemesis which explores ideas about feminism and femininity through two women who apparently hold diametrically opposing views on the subject. Tessa is an academic who conceives a cerebral passion for Charlie, a colleague married to Wah. Tessa’s a feminist with firm views about how women should live while Wah’s a mixed-race woman who appears happy to take on a domestic role. One evening, Tessa tells Wah that she’s an ‘insult to womanhood’ with disastrous results. Not one for those who need to like their narrator, Craig’s novella gave me a great deal to think about.Cover image for The Details by Ia Genberg

Ia Genberg’s The Details sees a woman confined to bed by a mild fever recalling four people who have influenced her life, beginning with her ex-lover who occasionally revealed a shockingly cold, judgemental side to her character, switched on and off as easily as her lavish praise. All three have left an indelible mark on our narrator but it’s her mother who perhaps holds the key to her character. In her translator’s note, Kira Josefsson mentions Karl Ove Knausgaard, contrasting Knausgaard’s prodigious output with Genberg’s concision, a style I much prefer, from which I deduced that her novella is to some extent autobiographical. I found it riveting – accomplished, thoughtful and absorbing.

Cover image for Foxash by Kate WorsleyI’m not entirely sure about Kate Worsley’s Foxash but Sarah Waters’ glowing endorsement has swung it for me. Set in the 1930s, it sees Lettie and Tommy take up the offer of a smallholding in Essex, part of a government scheme to tackle unemployment. They’re both keen for a fresh start but their neighbours’ carryings-on cast a shadow, together with the secret they’re trying to escape. ‘Combining a gothic sensibility with a visceral, unsettling sense of place, Foxash is a deeply original novel of quiet and powerful menace, of the real hardships of rural life, and the myths and folklore that seep into ordinary lives – with surprising consequences’ says the blurb. It’s the myths and folklore I’m a little doubtful about.

I’ve yet to read Sophie Mackintosh’s The Water Cure but that hasn’t stopped me casting my eye at Cursed Bread, partly Cover image for Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintoshthanks to that intriguing title and arresting cover. Elodie, the baker’s wife, becomes fascinated by the young couple who’ve moved to her small town, engaging them in conversation whenever she can, desperate to become part of their lives. While Elodie stalks the objects of her ardent affection, animals collapse for no reason, apparitions appear, and the town seems captivated as if by a fever dream. ‘Audacious and mesmerising, Cursed Bread is a darkly erotic tale of a town gripped by madness, envy like poison in the blood, and desire that burns and consumes’ says the blurb intriguing me all the more.

That’s it for January’s first batch of paperbacks. A click on a title will take you to either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with new fiction it’s here and here.

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