Books: New from Megha Majumdar, CK McDonnell, Kate Mosse, Andrew Steele, Rachel Rooney
A Burning by Megha Majumdar is published in hardback by Scribner, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available January 21
WHAT’S the price of ambition? More specifically, what’s its price in a country ruptured by extremism? This question is at the heart of A Burning, the searing debut by Indian novelist Megha Majumdar. Melding political thriller with dreamy bildungsroman, this novel follows three characters in the aftermath of a devastating terror attack. Jivan is a Muslim girl from Kolkata’s slums accused of collaborating with the terrorists. Lovely is a vivacious intersex hijra who dreams of becoming a Bollywood star. PT Sir is Jivan’s former gym teacher, seduced by a charismatic politician and the elite echelons of society. Slicing between these three perspectives, A Burning offers an unflinching and often harrowing take on corruption and its consequences. Electrifying from the first action-packed page, Majumdar is a talent to watch out for.
The Stranger Times by CK McDonnell is published in hardback by Bantam Press, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available January 14
THIS is Irish comedian and author Caimh McDonnell’s new novel, his first writing under the pen name CK McDonnell. It is a darkly comedic sci-fi/crime/fantasy crossover, where The Stranger Times newspaper bridges real-world Manchester with the shadowy supernatural. Alternating between sinister and silly, McDonnell’s writing is intelligently witty. The story lopes along at an easy pace that swiftly immerses you in its bizarre happenings, with a motley crew of loveable eccentrics jostling for fan favourite. After a slow start and a bit of backstory, McDonnell’s fantasy world begins to bloom – and there will doubtless be no limits to where it’ll take us in future.
The City Of Tears by Kate Mosse is published in hardback by Mantle, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available January 19
THE St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572, where thousands of Huguenots across France were slaughtered, is the focal point of The City Of Tears. It’s the second instalment of The Burning Chambers series, which plots an action-packed course across the ravaged landscape of the French Wars of Religion, perfect for readers who enjoy Mosse’s sweeping, fast-paced historical epics. We’re back with Minou Joubert and her family, who get caught up in the horrors of the massacre and are forced to seek refuge in Amsterdam. Despite its subject, the thrills never spill over into real horror, although the villainous Vidal – by far the most interesting character, and one who doesn’t appear nearly enough – injects some menace. If you’re looking for an absorbing, undemanding read, this fits the bill nicely.
Ageless: The New Science Of Getting Older Without Getting Old by Andrew Steele is published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £20 (ebook £14)
IS AGEING a treatable disease? Scientist Andrew Steele suggests it is in this book, putting forward passionate and engaging arguments with witty observations that can be laugh-out-loud funny. However, despite his best attempts to explain complex biological terms and theories, some may find the detail challenging. Arguably Steele’s aim is to provoke more questions than answers; although the book deals specifically with biogerontology (the science of ageing), readers may be left wondering whether social and financial structures could support extended lifespans, and how we would then mitigate the resulting population excess. Nonetheless, it’s an intriguing and thought-provoking read worthy of the difficult subject matter.
The Worrying Worries by Rachel Rooney, illustrated by Zehra Hicks, is published in hardback by Andersen Press, priced £12.99 (no ebook)
THE Worrying Worries follows a young child who catches a worry for a pet. It quickly grows and becomes annoying, unmanageable and interfering, so he visits the Worry Doctor. Rachel Rooney and Zehra Hicks have created an engaging, rhyming story that steers clear of being too prescriptive or overbearing. It helps children understand ways they can control their worries, such as deep breathing, statue standing and thinking happy thoughts. Although the rhymes are easy to read, some could have done with more refining. Perhaps a missed opportunity is making the Worry Doctor feel a bit more real – like a teacher – giving children a clue as to who they can talk to. But as children don’t always talk about their fears, this is a friendly book that will be useful to keep within reach of young hands.
1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
2. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
3. Troy by Stephen Fry
4. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
5. The Betrayals by Bridget Collins
6. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
7. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
8. One August Night by Victoria Hislop
9. Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
10. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
:: Compiled by Waterstones