A new year, a new stack of paperbacks (ideally). Here are six fresh picks; mostly fiction, all promising.
‘A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself’
Peter Ho Davies (HarperCollins, $15.99)
Davies, author of “The Fortunes” and “The Welsh Girl,” here spins a semiautobiographical novel about a writer becoming a father. “This is a complicated story, told with fearless honesty,” a reviewer in the Guardian wrote. “The prose is rueful, spare and matter-of-fact, but emotions churn beneath the clean surface. It can be very funny, but it can also stop you in your tracks.”
‘Legends of the North Cascades’
Jonathan Evison (Algonquin Books, $16.95)
Bainbridge Island author Evison, whose previous novel was the delightful “Lawn Boy,” returns with a sweeping story of a troubled veteran who moves with his daughter into a cave in the Cascades – and whose lives parallel that of an ice age mother and child. Publisher’s Weekly called it “an intimate if uneven story of grief and parenthood with characters from two distant millennia,” adding that “Evison’s empathetic vision offers much to consider about the limits of parental authority and the capacity for both physical and emotional survival.”
‘Of Women and Salt’
Gabriela Garcia (Flatiron, $16.99)
A 2021 award winner and bestseller, Garcia’s debut makes its way from present-day Miami to 19th century Cuba and back again. Calling it “beautifully evocative,” a New York Times reviewer writes that this tale of mothers and daughters grappling with their pasts “is shaped, and given buoyancy, by Garcia’s sharp prose and by (the main character’s) ability to continue believing that the unexpected is possible, even as it repeatedly fails to materialize.”
‘My Broken Language’
Quiara Alegría Hudes (Random House, $18)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (“Water by the Spoonful”) who recently adapted her book for the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights” for the big screen here writes of her childhood in the Philadelphia barrio with her Puerto Rican family. A starred Kirkus Review called it “a tender yet defiant tale about finding strength in one’s roots,” noting that “the text often reads like poetry, but it is also playful, the author toying with the barriers of language, and the narrative is propelled by the urgent notion that community matters in a world designed to push the have-nots further into the margins.”
‘A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth: Stories’
Daniel Mason (Little, Brown, $16.99)
This collection of short fiction from the author of “The Winter Soldier” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; the stories were written over 15 years and set in locations all over the world. “These stories are some of the most unique and beguiling I’ve read in quite some time,” wrote a San Francisco Chronicle reviewer, calling them “a perfect and fitting pick for these seemingly endless days when science, our understanding of reality and a faint longing for human connection are so irrevocably intertwined.”
‘The House on Vesper Sands’
Paraic O’Donnell (Tin House Books, $16.95)
I was charmed by this mystery novel, set in Victorian England, when it came out in hardcover a year ago, writing that it was “filled with atmosphere so thick you could spread it on toast.” Taking place over a series of wintry nights in 1893, it features a wonderfully wry detective (who, if there’s any justice, would star in his own Victorian reality show, or at least a sequel), a female journalist and a lovelorn young man who becomes an assistant detective while helping to solve a mysterious death. Gripping, elegantly written and very funny, it might be exactly what you need on one of these dark evenings.
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