Here are a half dozen new paperbacks for the new year, from a debut novel that might be turned into a movie to a tale shortlisted for the British Book Award.
What better way to begin the new year than with a new book? Here are six possibilities, all newly out or arriving soon in paperback.
“Force of Nature” by Jane Harper (Flatiron Books, $16.99; out Jan. 8). Harper’s first novel, “The Dry,” set in a parched farming community in Australia where a family has mysteriously been slaughtered, was one of my favorite page-turning reads last summer. “Force of Nature” also has at its center the meticulous police detective Aaron Falk and an Outward Bound-style expedition gone terribly wrong. Sold!
“The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” by Denis Johnson (Random House, $17; out Jan. 8). This is the final collection of stories from Johnson (whose works include the collection “Jesus’ Son” and the National Book Award-winning novel “Tree of Smoke”), who died in 2017. In its five stories, wrote a Washington Post reviewer, are “those unmistakable Johnsonian questers and wastrels, narcotized poets and cons, ragged pilgrims ill fit for society, all of them conveyed in prose tingling from the concussion of the sacred and profane, with a sensibility beautifully receptive to bursts of black humor.”
“Tangerine” by Christine Mangan (HarperCollins, $16.99; out Jan. 8). Mangan’s debut novel has a shimmery, “Talented Mr. Ripley”-ish lushness, set (mostly) in 1950s Tangier and involving two former college roommates — neither of them particularly reliable narrators — reunited after a long separation. You’ll read it thinking of Patricia Highsmith, of Gillian Flynn, of Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” — and of the very good movie this novel might make (it’s currently optioned by George Clooney’s production company, with screenwriter Abi Morgan at work on the script.)
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“I’m Not Here to Give a Speech” by Gabriel García Márquez (Vintage, $14.95; out Jan. 8). Márquez, author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” died in 2014; this slim book presents, for the first time in English, a collection of many of his speeches. In accepting his Nobel Prize in 1982, Marquez invited the audience to toast “what a great poet of our Americas, Luis Cardoza y Aragón, has defined as the only concrete proof of the existence of man: poetry.”
“The Widows of Malabar Hill” by Sujata Massey (Soho Press, $15.95). An award-winning author of 13 novels (many of which feature amateur sleuth Rei Shimura), Massey launched a new mystery series with this international best-seller, set in 1921 Bombay (known today as Mumbai) and featuring Perveen Mistry, an Oxford-educated lawyer and one of India’s first female solicitors. “Perveen’s dogged pursuit of truth and justice for her clients is reminiscent of the debuts of Anne Perry’s Charlotte Ellison Pitt and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs,” wrote a Los Angeles Times reviewer, noting that the book “both illuminates a bygone era and offers a thoughtful perspective relevant to today’s focus on women’s rights and equality.”
“Winter” by Ali Smith (Anchor Books, $15.95). Shortlisted for the British Book Award, this tale set in a rambling Cornwall house during an icy Christmastime is the second novel in Smith’s seasonal cycle, following her 2017 Man Booker Prize finalist “Autumn.” “There are few writers on the world stage,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, “who are producing fiction this offbeat and alluring.”