We may be in for a longer lockdown than we'd anticipated, but at least there are some amazing titles out this month...
Our Fiction Title of the Month - A Burning by Megha Majumdar
This is an astoundingly confident debut. The sweeping level of detail in this wonderful novel of modern India is almost overpowering, but it never hijacks the narrative. At the centre of Majumdar’s story is an episode of mass-public shaming. A young Muslim woman named Jivan reads on her phone about a terrorist attack at a railway station near a slum in her native Kolkata. The resulting blaze kills over 100 people. Jivan, musing online about the actions of the police in response to the attack, finds herself the victim of a mass witch-hunt, and ultimately is blamed for the bombing. Arrested and charged, Jivan’s only hope of clearing her name lies with two other characters who encapsulate the struggles of modern India.
One of them is Lovely, a young hijra (a long-established class of intersex and transgender people in India) to whom she has been giving English lessons. The other is a PE teacher, known as PT Sir, who sometimes fed her when she was one of his pupils. Both are set on changing their lives, yet both find themselves thwarted by a society which seeks to undermine their basic human rights. This novel is written with all of the deep-routed knowledge of Indian society that inhabits books by Salman Rushdie and Rohinton Mistry. Unlike those writers though, A Burning carries with it an intensely modern outlook that sets it apart. Fans of Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, David Gregory Roberts Shantaram or Arundahti Roy’s The God of Small Things are sure to love this brilliant book.
You can get your copy of A Burning from the LitVox Bookshop here.
Our Crime Pick of the Month - The Surivors by Jane Harper
Our thriller of the month is a wonderfully atmospheric novel from Jane Harper, author of the critically acclaimed bestseller The Dry. Fans of that incredible debut will know exactly what they’re in for. Harper’s writing is completely free of pomp and padding, every detail and wonderful turn of phrase is there only to advance an incredibly well-rounded plot. Harper is a master of placing family conspiracy and double-dealing at the heart of her narrative. Fear, a sense of foreboding and beautiful maritime imagery are laced thick throughout this brilliant book.
Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on a single day when a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge in the murder investigation that follows. A sunken wreck, a missing girl and questions that have never washed away…
Order your copy of The Survivors from LitVox’s Online Bookshop here.
Our Non-Fiction book of the month - Thin Places by Kerri Ní Dochartaigh
Kerri Ní Dochartaigh’s memoir Thin Places garnered significant controversy even before it’s publication, as it launched a bidding war between 6 major publishing houses for the rights to print. It is, thankfully, that rarest of things; a book that lives up to the hype. As fans of Dioreann Ní Ghríofa’s astounding A Ghost in the Throat and Patrick Freyne’s hilarious memoir will know, books that defy classification are becoming quite the trend. It’s actually an encouraging sign, as authors defy convention and genre to focus purely on the lyrical quality of the tales they seek to tell.
Ní Dochartaigh’s book blends memoir, history, and nature writing with a political account of the Troubles and one woman’s attempt to frame the narrative of her life around it. Ní Dochartaigh was born in Derry at the very height of the Troubles. Kerri was brought up on a council estate on the wrong side of town. But for her family, and many others, there was no right side. One parent was Catholic, the other was Protestant. In the space of one year they were forced out of two homes and when she was eleven a homemade petrol bomb was thrown through her bedroom window. Terror was in the very fabric of the city, and for families like Kerri’s, the ones who fell between the cracks of identity, it seemed there was no escape. Ní Dochartaigh is at her most profound when railing against the reformation of divisive and sectarian thinking, and the creeping re-partition of our island that has fallen deep within the cracks of our collective lives together.
You can buy your copy of Kerri’s beautiful memoir from the LitVox Bookshiop here.
Our Children's pick of the month - Harp Maiden by Jackie Burke
Our Children’s pick for February is Jackie Burke’s Harp Maiden, a beautifully crafted tale steeped in Irish history and folklore. It’s 1899 and a new century is looming near. Fourteen-year-old Evelyn Wells, by some strange twist of fate, has just won a prestigious opportunity to take up a scholarship studying music with renowned maestro, Lionel Thorn. She is whisked away to a mysterious, isolated manor, leaving behind her family. She presumed there would be other students, but finds herself alone. Evie is kept within the confines of the Hall, forbidden to stray from its’ most immediate surrounds. Even her letters home are being doctored and she has no confidence that anyone in the outside world can find her. When her other studies, including her flute take a back seat to mastering a peculiar little harp, Evie begins to realise that Dower Hall is not at all what it seems to be…..
Get your copy here.
And finally, our Science Fiction Pick for February...
Finally, our Science Fiction pick is the latest collection of short stories from Ken Liu, author of the renowned Dandelion Dynasty series. Ken Liu’s well-crafted, thought-provoking and award-winning short stories are high water marks of contemporary speculative fiction. This collection includes sixteen of his best science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years – plus a new novella. This is a must-read for any fans of mind-bending, speculative sci-fi.
Buy your copy from the LitVox Bookshop here.