Six New Reads Expected to Fly Off Shelves in 2023
New year, new books! If you’re revamping your reading list, you can’t overlook these recommendations by revered independent bookshop McNally Jackson. The range of stories include fantasy, history, thrillers and romance. Check out the list with feedback from their team, below!
By Maggie Millner
Release Date: February 7, 2023
A woman lives an ordinary life in Brooklyn. She has a boyfriend. They share a cat. She writes poems in the prevailing style. She also has dreams: of being seduced by a throng of older women, of kissing a friend in a dorm-room closet. But the dreams are private, not real. One night, she meets another woman at a bar, and an escape hatch swings open in the floor of her life. She falls into a consuming affair—into queerness, polyamory, kink, power and loss, humiliation and freedom, and an enormous surge of desire that lets her leave herself behind.
In rhyming couplets and prose vignettes, Couplets chronicles the strictures, structures, and pitfalls of relationships—the mirroring, the pleasing, the small jealousies and disappointments—and how the people we love can show us who we truly are.
"Publicists and editors share this as, 'A dazzling love story in poems about one woman’s coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming undone.' We are very much sold by this description," McNally Jackson booksellers explained.
Order "Couplets" here.
“The Sun Walks Down: A Novel”
By Fiona McFarlane
Release Date: February 14, 2023
In September 1883, a small town in the South Australian outback huddles under strange, vivid sunsets. Six-year-old Denny Wallace has gone missing during a dust storm, and the entire community is caught up in the search for him. As they scour the desert and mountains for the lost child, the residents of Fairly—newlyweds, farmers, mothers, indigenous trackers, cameleers, children, artists, schoolteachers, widows, maids, policemen—confront their relationships, both with one another and with the landscape they inhabit.
The colonial Australia of The Sun Walks Down is noisy with opinions, arguments, longings, and terrors. It's haunted by many gods—the sun among them, rising and falling on each day in which Denny could be found, or lost forever. Told in many ways and by many voices, Fiona McFarlane's new novel pulses with love, art, and the unbearable divine. It arrives like a vision: mythic, vivid, and bright with meaning.
"We've heard this is going to be really good," McNally Jackson's professionals told The Related Life.
Order "The Sun Walks Down" here.
By Eleanor Catton
Release Date: March 7, 2023
Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice: on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.
Yet Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, an enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker—or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?
Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its drama, Austenian in its wit, and, like both influences, fascinated by what makes us who we are. Major fans of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton, the experts at McNally Jackson are excited about this "one-of-a-kind thriller centered around a guerilla gardening group!"
Order "Birnam Wood" here.
By Sophie Mackintosh
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Still reeling in the aftermath of the deadliest war the world had ever seen, the small town of Pont-Saint-Esprit collectively lost its mind. Some historians believe the mysterious illness and violent hallucinations were caused by spoiled bread; others claim it was the result of covert government testing on the local population. In that town lived a woman named Elodie. She was the baker’s wife: a plain, unremarkable person who yearned to transcend her dull existence. So when a charismatic new couple arrived in town, the forceful ambassador and his sharp-toothed wife, Violet, Elodie was quickly drawn into their orbit. Thus began a dangerous game of cat and mouse--but who was the predator and on whom did they prey?
Booker Prize-nominee Sophie Mackintosh weaves an elegant and hypnotic new novel of obsession that centers on the real unsolved mystery of the 1951 mass poisoning of a French village. Mackintosh spins a darkly gleaming tale of a town gripped by hysteria, envy like poison in the blood, and desire that burns and consumes.
Per McNally Jackson's booksellers, "It's based on a freaky historical event! Very literary, and features conspiracy theories about government testing!"
Order "Cursed Bread" here.
By Stephen Buoro
Release Date: April 18, 2023
Andrew Aziza is an unusually smart fifteen-year-old in Kontagora, Nigeria. He lives with his fiercely protective mother, Gloria, and fantasizes obsessively about white girls, especially blondes. When he's not in church, at school, or hanging about town with his droogs wishing to become one of “Africa's first superheroes,” he's contemplating the larger questions with his teacher Zahrah and his equally brilliant friend Fatima, a Hausa-Fulani girl who has feelings for him. Together they discuss mathematical theorems, Black power, and what Andy has deemed the Curse of Africa.
Sure enough, the reluctantly nicknamed Andy Africa soon falls hopelessly and inappropriately in love with the first white girl he lays eyes on: Eileen. But at the church party held to celebrate her arrival, multiple crises loom. An unfamiliar man claims, despite his mother's denials, to be Andy's father, and an anti-Christian mob has gathered, headed for the church. In the ensuing havoc and its aftermath, Andy is forced to reckon with his identity and desires and determine how to live on the so-called Cursed Continent.
McNally Jackson staff reported that, "It sounds like there was a relatively aggressive bidding war for this! It's a debut, and a romance of sorts, which might be a nice way to bring our literary fiction and romance readers together."
Order "The Five Sorrowful Mysteries" here.
By Kenan Orhan
Release Date: April 25, 2023
This fiercely imaginative debut story collection explores the lives of ordinary people in Turkey to reveal how even individual acts of resistance have extraordinary repercussions. Ranging from the absurd to the tenderhearted, the stories in I Am My Country illuminate the constant force amid one country’s history of rampant oppression and revolutionary progress: the impulse to survive.
A determined florist trains a neighborhood stray dog to blow up a corrupt president. A garbage collector finds banned instruments—and later, musicians—in the trash and takes them home to form a clandestine orchestra in her attic. A smuggler risks his life to bring a young woman claiming to be pregnant via immaculate conception across the border with Syria. A poor cage-maker tries to use his ability to talk to birds to woo his childhood love just before the 1955 Istanbul pogrom. These characters are united by a desperate yearning to break free from the volatile realities they face: rising authoritarianism, cultural and political turmoil, and staggering violence.
"Orhan's playful stories conjure dreamlike worlds—of talking animals, flying houses, and omniscient prayer-callers—to illuminate humanity's extraordinary pursuit of hope in even the darkest situations," McNally Jackson's team said. "We love the review blurbs and, not for nothing, it's a great cover."
Order "I Am My Country" here.
Editor's Note: Novel synopses have been furnished by McNally Jackson.
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