Mystery set in NORTH AMERICA
Books to look out for in 2023
14th December 2022
The first part of 2023 will be a bumper year for new fiction. We have looked at the list of upcoming titles and chosen ten that look really exciting with a strong sense of place. The publication dates we give are UK ones.
Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein – Trinidad / 16 February
The music was still playing when Dalton Changoor vanished into thin air . . .
On a hill overlooking Bell Village sits the Changoor farm, where Dalton and Marlee Changoor live in luxury unrecognisable to those who reside in the farm’s shadow. Down below is the barrack, a ramshackle building of wood and tin, divided into rooms occupied by whole families. Among these families are the Saroops – Hans, Shweta, and their son, Krishna, who live hard lives of backbreaking work, grinding poverty and devotion to faith.
When Dalton Changoor goes missing and Marlee’s safety is compromised, farmhand Hans is lured by the promise of a handsome stipend to move to the farm as watchman. But as the mystery of Dalton’s disappearance unfolds their lives become hellishly entwined, and the small community altered forever.
Hungry Ghosts is a mesmerising novel about violence, religion, family and class, rooted in the wild and pastoral landscape of colonial central Trinidad.
Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery – New York / 2 March
New York City, 1966. Seventeen-year-old Mae lives in a run-down apartment with her alcoholic mother and her mother’s sometimes-boyfriend, Mikey. She is turned off by the petty girls at her high school, and the sleazy men she typically meets. When she drops out, she is presented with a job offer that will remake her world entirely: she is hired as a typist for the artist Andy Warhol.
Warhol is composing an unconventional novel by recording the conversations and experiences of his many famous and alluring friends. Tasked with transcribing these tapes alongside several other girls, Mae quickly befriends Shelley and the two of them embark on a surreal adventure at the fringes of the countercultural movement. Going to parties together, exploring their womanhood and sexuality, this should be the most enlivening experience of Mae’s life. But as she grows increasingly obsessed with the tapes and numb to her own reality, Mae must grapple with the thin line between art and voyeurism and determine how she can remain her own person as the tide of the sixties sweeps over her.
Nothing Special is a whip-smart coming-of-age story about friendship, independence and the construction of art and identity, bringing to life the experience of young women in this iconic and turbulent moment.
The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner – Paris / 21 March
May mercy be upon the man who finds himself the enemy of a vengeful medium…1873.
At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.
Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…
Homecoming by Kate Morton – Adelaide, Sydney / 13 April
Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959.
At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek in the grounds of a grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called and the small town of Tumbilla becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia.
Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story. Having lived and worked in London for almost twenty years, she now finds herself laid off from her full-time job and struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital.
At a loose end in Nora’s house, Jess does some digging into her past. In Nora’s bedroom, she discovers a true crime book, chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime – a crime that has never been truly solved. And for a journalist without a story, a cold case might be the best distraction she can find . . .
An epic novel that spans generations, Homecoming asks what we would do for those we love, and how we protect the lies we tell. It explores the power of motherhood, the corrosive effects of tightly held secrets, and the healing nature of truth.
Ada’s Realm by Sharon Dodua Otoo (translated by Jon Cho-Polizzi) – Ghana, Germany, London / 13 April
WHERE IS ADA?
In a small village in West Africa, in what will one day become Ghana, Ada gives birth again, and again the baby does not live. As she grieves the loss of her child, Portuguese traders become the first white men to arrive in the village, an event that will bear terrible repercussions for Ada and her kin.
WHEN IS ADA?
Centuries later, Ada will become the mathematical genius Ada Lovelace; Ada, a prisoner forced into prostitution in a Nazi concentration camp; and Ada, a young, pregnant Ghanaian woman with a new British passport who arrives in Berlin in 2019 for a fresh start.
WHO IS ADA?
Ada is not one woman, but many, and she is all women – she revolves in orbits, looping from one century and from one place to the next. And so, she experiences the hardship but also the joy of womanhood: she is a victim, she offers resistance, and she fights for her independence.
This long-awaited debut from Sharon Dodua Otoo paints an astonishing picture of femininity, resilience and struggle with deep empathy and humour, with vivid language and infinite imagination.
Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley – Upper Peninsula, Michigan / 9 May
Perry Firekeeper-Birch’s lazy summer plans have been thwarted. Her no-nonsense Aunt Daunis has made her take a job at the local museum.
But when Perry learns about “Warrior Girl”, a Native American ancestor whose bones are stored in the museum archives, everything changes. Now Perry is determined to return Warrior Girl to her tribe – even if that means organising a daring heist with a bunch of misfits. But this repatriation plan uncovers much bigger secrets that Perry and her friends must make right – for her ancestors and the community.
Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson – Ghana, London / 11 May
An exhilarating and expansive new novel about fathers and sons, faith and friendship from Caleb Azumah Nelson, the no.1 bestselling, award-winning author of Open Water
The one thing that can solve Stephen’s problems is dancing. Dancing at Church, with his parents and brother, the shimmer of Black hands raised in praise; he might have lost his faith, but he does believe in rhythm. Dancing with his friends, somewhere in a basement with the drums about to drop, while the DJ spins garage cuts. Dancing with his band, making music which speaks not just to the hardships of their lives, but the joys too. Dancing with his best friend Adeline, two-stepping around the living room, crooning and grooving, so close their heads might touch. Dancing alone, at home, to his father’s records, uncovering parts of a man he has never truly known.
Stephen has only ever known himself in song. But what becomes of him when the music fades? When his father begins to speak of shame and sacrifice, when his home is no longer his own? How will he find space for himself: a place where he can feel beautiful, a place he might feel free?
Set over the course of three summers in Stephen’s life, from London to Ghana and back again, Small Worlds is an exhilarating and expansive novel about the worlds we build for ourselves, the worlds we live, dance and love within.
Ordinary Human Failings by Megan Nolan – London / 15 June
Set in 1990s, ambitious reporter Tom Hargreaves stumbles across a scoop: a dead child on a London estate, with the suspicion of one reclusive family of Irish immigrants swirling in the background.
The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane – New York State / 6 July
There are two sides to every story – and every marriage in crisis . . .
Malcolm, bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar, and when his boss finally retires, he seizes his chance. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to make it a bigger success.
His wife, Jess, has devoted herself to her law career, but after years of trying for a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood might not be in her future. She finds herself slipping away from both her career and her marriage. The bar is Malcolm’s dream, and as she feels her youth start to fade, she wonders how to reshape her own life.
When a blizzard hits their upstate New York town on the same day that Malcolm learns some shocking news about Jess, and a regular at the bar goes missing, everyone is frozen in place for a single, pivotal week. In The Half Moon, award-winning author Mary Beth Keane carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.
One tumultuous week. One marriage in crisis. One chance to begin again…
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano – New York / 13 July
A rich, compassionate tale of four sisters and the love affair that fractures their family
Best friends and sisters, the four Padavano girls are seen as inseparable by everyone in their close-knit Italian-American neighbourhood. Julia, the eldest, is the ‘rocket’ of the family – she always has a destination in mind and clear plans for how to get there. Sylvie, the dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book, dreaming of the kind of love you only read about in literature. Cecelia and Emmeline, the twins, are the artist and the caregiver. From childhood, the four sisters complete each other.
When Julia falls in love with William Waters, a history student and college sports star, she’s delighted by the way her plans for adulthood are coming to fruition: a husband, a house, a family of her own. But when darkness from William’s past begins to block the light of his future, it is Sylvie, not Julia, who becomes his closest confidante – and the ensuing betrayal tears the sisters apart.
Heart-breaking and heart-mending, HELLO BEAUTIFUL paints a vivid portrait of the unique bond and devastating betrayals of sisterhood.
Evil Eye by Etaf Rum – Brooklyn / 5 September
The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Woman Is No Man returns with a striking exploration of the expectations of Palestinian-American women, the meaning of a fulfilling life, and the ways our unresolved pasts affect our presents.
Raised in a conservative and emotionally volatile Palestinian family in Brooklyn, Yara thought she would finally feel free when she married a charming entrepreneur who took her to the suburbs. She’s gotten to follow her dreams, completing an undergraduate degree in Art and landing a good job at the local college. As a traditional wife, she also raises their two school-aged daughters, takes care of the house, and has dinner ready when her husband gets home. With her family balanced with her professional ambitions, Yara knows that her life is infinitely more rewarding than her own mother’s. So why doesn’t it feel like enough?
After her dream of chaperoning a student trip to Europe evaporates and she responds to a colleague’s racist provocation, Yara is put on probation at work and must attend mandatory counseling to keep her position. Her mother blames a family curse for the trouble she’s facing, and while Yara doesn’t really believe in old superstitions, she still finds herself growing increasingly uneasy with her mother’s warning and the possibility of falling victim to the same mistakes.
Shaken to the core by these indictments of her life, Yara finds her carefully constructed world beginning to implode. To save herself, Yara must reckon with the reality that the difficulties of the childhood she thought she left behind have very real—and damaging—implications not just on her own future but that of her daughters.
Enjoy your 2023 reading!
Tony for the TripFiction team
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