So many books, so little space, but hopefully a lot of time
This year looks to be a feast of books. Here are some top picks. For more, grab this weekend’s Sunday Times
There are so many great novels coming out this year. I have written about a few of them for the Sunday Times Lifestyle section this weekend, but I had to leave out many because of space constraints. So here are a few I would still like to highlight.
Amy Heydenrych, Qarnita Loxton, Pamela Power and Gail Schimmel are friends and established authors. When the past two years saw all in-person literary festivals cancelled, they decided to channel their disappointment into writing a novel together. So March brings about their effort, Chasing Marian. The blurb? “Jess is a yummy mummy of two whose life is slowly unravelling and who has recently separated from her husband. Ginger is a happily widowed granny with a salty tongue and a wicked sense of humour. The gorgeous and sensitive Matt is an almost-qualified psychologist who still lives with his parents. And Queenie, a librarian from Cape Town, has an absent boyfriend and a secret writing habit. What could these four strangers possibly have in common? They are all diehard Marian Keyes fans. So when they hear the author is due to visit SA to attend a literary festival, they are desperate to meet her. Together they come up with a mad-cap plan. Will they succeed — or will life intervene?”
As a diehard Keyes fan myself, I am eager to read this, along with Keyes’s new book, Again, Rachel . A sequel to the hilarious and poignant Rachel Goes on Holiday, it’s due out in February.
In April, Sarah Lotz’s latest Impossible will be in bookstores. Lotz is a local superstar, making it in the international world with praise from Stephen King for her writing. Her previous novels have all been best-selling thrillers — The Three, Day Four, The White Road, Missing Person — that hit the perfect middle ground between airport reads and literary fiction. They are brilliant. Impossible seems a bit different though — she delves into contemporary romance, the Lotz way. Here is the synopsis from Good Reads. “This is not a love story. This is IMPOSSIBLE. Nick: Failed writer. Failed husband. Dog owner. Bee: Serial dater. Dress maker. Pringles enthusiast. When fate brings them together over a misdirected email, the connection is instant. They feel like they’ve known each other all their lives ... It should have been the perfect love story. Instead it was IMPOSSIBLE.”
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (probably out in March) has a spiel that has me hooked: “Combines the million-copy sales potential and personality drive of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine with the retro-setting and female empowerment of The Queen’s Gambit and quirkiness of Mad Men.” Set in the 1960s in California.
For a compulsive thriller with a jaw-on-the-floor twist, look no further than A Kiss After Dying from Ashok Banker, coming in June. Loving the blurb: “Ricky is living an idyllic playboy life when, out of the blue, he bumps into a shy pretty girl named Hannah. That’s not her real name ...”
Black Cake, a debut by Charmaine Wilkerson that’s on the shelves in March, has already been snapped up as a series by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films. The novel is a powerful epic which spans 60 years in the life of one Caribbean/American family.
Theatre of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth (out in April) is an immersive, historical fiction tale about a mixed-race woman, Zillah, who plays a freak on the stage in Victorian London. When a fellow member of the act disappears, Zillah’s pursuit of the truth takes her into the underbelly of the city, from gas-lit streets to the sumptuous parlours of Mayfair.
All sounds bloody marvellous. Happy 2022 reading!