10 novelties to read in February


The holidays are officially over and the year is off to a flying start. On the plus side, that means more books as publishers increase their offerings.

Many titles for readers of all tastes are expected in bookstores this month. Here is an overview of a selection of them (some of which are already on the shelves).

The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from book editor Jason Steger. Get delivered every Friday.


Cold enough for snowJessica Au

Giramondo, $24.95, February 1

This slender, skilfully crafted and seductive short story that hovers between past and present was the first winner of the International Novel Prize and will be published simultaneously here in Britain and the United States. There is absolute certainty in Jessica Au’s prose, but the evanescent story she tells – of a young woman who takes her mother on a trip to Japan, their conversations and reflections on their lives – is full of ambiguity.


CelebrationStuart Macintyre

Allen & Unwin, $49.99, Feb. 1

This is the second volume of the history of the Communist Party in Australia by the late Stuart Macintyre. The Reds covered from 1920 to the end of World War II. In Celebration, he examines the period in which the party had its greatest influence – the struggle against fascism and the organization of strikes that ultimately alienated both sides of mainstream politics. The exposure of Stalin’s crimes did not help, nor did the attention of the authorities, and so began a decline in membership and influence.


What I wish people knew about dementiaWendy Mitchell

Bloomsbury, $26.99, February 1

This is Mitchell’s second book after being diagnosed with dementia praecox at age 58. It’s an insider’s story and a boon for anyone who has dementia, cares for someone who has it, or just wants to know more. The book is divided into six chapters: Meaning, Relationships, Communication, Environment, Emotions and Attitude. It’s full of good advice, Mitchell’s (often funny, often heartbreaking) experiences, and can help de-stigmatize the disease.


The betrayal of Anne FrankRosemary Sullivan

HarperCollins, $32.99, Feb. 2

That’s the question anyone who has read Anne Frank’s diary asks: who led the Nazis to the attic where she and her family were hiding? This “cold case” investigation led by Vince Pankoke, a former FBI agent, lasted nearly five years and re-evaluated documents, interviewed people who had not been consulted before and found new evidence. In the end, Pankoke says they achieved what they set out to do: figure out what happened and why at Prinsengracht 263 on August 4, 1944.


VioletIsabelle Allende

Bloomsbury, $34.99, January 25

The Chilean writer best known for The house of spirits makes a habit of starting her books on January 8. This one tells the story of a woman born during the Spanish flu pandemic and follows her life into the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, Allende touches on some of the great developments of the 20th century through the experiences of a living central character who was partly inspired by his own mother.


The FuriesMandy Beaumont

Hatchet, $32.99, January 26

Beaumont has made quite a mark with his stories in Wild Dauntless Chests, which Carmel Bird said was “flamboyant in wielding its weapons of words to illuminate the monstrous truths of the terrible veins of violence that snake through human lives”. Beaumont’s first novel is set in outback Queensland and 16-year-old Cynthia struggles to survive after her parents go missing. Beaumont reminds the reader at the outset that the Furies were “vengeful female deities”.


The islandsEmilie Brugman

Allen & Unwin, $29.99, Feb. 1

Brugman’s novel – his first – is about Finnish migrants settling in virtual isolation on a small island in the Abrolhos group in the 1950s. Omni Saari inherited his brother’s cray license after the latter drowned (who could not swim). Can he, his wife and their unborn daughter pull through? Writer Jock Serong, who knows enough about the stories set on the islands, says Brugman’s narration is “amazing”.


HarrowJoy Williams

Tuskar Rock, $29.99, February 1

Williams is best known for her short stories and it’s been over 20 years since her last novel. Harrow takes place after some sort of environmental disaster has devastated the landscape. The central character, the teenage Khristen, is alone – father dead, mother gone – and drifts to a village of elderly survivors who live by a lake named Big Girl. Not an easy read, but certainly rewarding.


The girl with the goslingsJacqueline Roy

Simon & Schuster, $32.99, February 2

What to do with a child who kills? And what happens to this child when he gets out of prison? It’s the premise of Jacqueline Roy’s captivating thriller that clearly bounces off the Jamie Bulger case. Michelle, who is mixed-race, lives under a new identity but her past comes to light when there is another murder. A detective, Natalie Tyler, believes there is more to the story than meets the eye and knows from her own experience as a black woman that racism played a significant role in destroying the life of Michelle.


Found, WantNatasha Sholl

Ultimo Press, $32.99, February 2

How would you handle this? You are 22 and in the middle of the night your partner has a heart attack and dies – as simple and as horrifying as that. Sholl knows this because this is what she experienced and this memoir is the result. Her grief is excruciating, but what she shares with the reader is deep, necessary and also, at times, funny and quite beautiful.

The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from book publisher Jason Steger. Get delivered every Friday.


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