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New Year, New Books: What to Read in January

The latest hot fiction, from "Fargo" writer Noah Hawley's pandemic thriller "Anthem" to a debut novel that takes mom-shaming to new heights / BY Nathalie Atkinson / January 5th, 2022


This month’s notable new fiction features dystopian chillers and nasty thrillers that suit the frost in the air, but there are heartwarming family dramas and charming rom-coms, too

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1The Last Beekeeperby Siya Turabi

Everyone’s excited about this buzzy (pun intended) literary debut set in 1974, which has been likened to the work of Yann Martel (Life of Pi) and Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns). The poignant coming-of-age story is about Hassan, a Pakistani teenager torn between his love of nature, duty to his mother (for whom he harvests precious black honey from a forbidden forest) and a scholarship that holds the promise of forging his own identity in England. It has incredible evocations of the inner workings of bees and the natural world. (Jan. 4)


2All Of You Every Single Oneby Beatrice Hitchman

In the 35 years covered by this novel, ending in 1946, Vienna goes from a relatively liberal haven for two women trying to build a life together to dangerous ground, against a backdrop of rising fascism and war. Hitchman, a British academic and researcher, writes tenderly of the hardships and tiny, accumulated joys of queer, long-term relationships. (Jan. 4) 


3Anthemby Noah Hawley

Five years ago, this TV show runner and writer (Fargo, Legion) published Before the Fall, a pacey novel that everyone seemed to be reading in that summer. History will repeat itself with this near-future pandemic nail-biter – about a plague-like spate of opioid suicides and a cult – that’s being called a cross between a Margaret Atwood dystopia and a Stephen King thriller. (Jan. 4)


4The Maidby Nita Prose

This locked-room whodunit – not to be confused with the Netflix series – takes place around the posh Regency Grand Hotel, where Molly the maid makes a point of noticing and learning a lot about customers and their secrets. When wealthy guest Charles Black is murdered in his bed, she’s a suspect at first, and then she is on the case faster than you can say Clue by way of Grand Hotel. This charming cosy mystery, with an emotional personal journey at its heart, is the first novel by Prose (the pen name of Nita Pronovost, the vice-president and editorial director of Simon & Schuster Canada); Little Women’s Oscar-nominated Florence Pugh will star in the film adaptation. (Jan. 4)


5The School for Good Mothersby Jessamine Chan

Think of this speculative novel as Handmaid’s Tale adjacent. A recently divorced, single parent is caught leaving her toddler home alone in order to work. Before her parental rights are restored, she must pass a regimented, live-in program that rehabilitates “bad” mothers by having them care for surrogate children. It’s a harrowing story and a searing indictment of the erasure of mothers as human beings, flaws and all. You can’t look away. (Jan. 4)


6A Hero of Our Timeby Naben Ruthnum

Fans of Rumaan Alam (Leave the World Behind) and Joshua Ferris (To Rise Again at a Decent Hour) will appreciate this literary takedown of racial politics, diversity initiatives and tech culture. This novel from the award-winning author and screenwriter, who also pens crime novels as Nathan Ripley, is about a son banished from his family for working at an automated, higher-education start-up.  (Jan. 11)


7To Paradiseby Hanya Yanagihara

Yanagihara’s follow-up to his 2015 bestseller is just as complex and challenging, and is sure to divide critics, who either loved or hated A Little Life. The editor of T: The New York Times Magazine tells a sprawling story of epidemics, same-sex love and intergenerational support in three “books” set in New York, from fin de siècle Washington Square through the 1980s AIDS crisis to a bleak, pandemic-ravaged city in 2093. (Jan. 11)


8Mouth to Mouthby Antoine Wilson

When two former college classmates meet by chance at JFK airport as their flights are delayed, one spends the evening regaling the other with a tale of rescue and obsession. Is he a deluded, unreliable narrator, or is the truth even more sinister? This psychological novel, which takes a page from American crime writer Dorothy B. Hughes, is an exciting, seamy pleasure to read. (Jan.11)


9The Great Mrs. Eliasby Barbara Chase-Riboud

The award-winning historical novelist of Sally Hemings sets this true story – about a former sex worker who built a real estate empire in Harlem and was one of the richest Black women in America – at the turn of the last century. Chase-Riboud brings the era and the neighbourhood to life in this tale of blackmail and an unsolved murder, which brings the police into Hannah Elias’s orbit, threatening to topple her carefully constructed life. (Jan. 11)


10Love & Other Disastersby Anita Kelly

This winsome and unabashedly charming rom-com sees desperate and recently divorced Dahlia Woodson, a competitor on TV show Chef’s Special, falling for London Parker, the first openly non-binary contestant on the wildly popular amateur cooking show. It is as entertaining and absorbing as watching a culinary competition show in real life. (Jan 18)


11Hotel Portofinoby J.P. O’Connell

This novel seems written just for Downton devotees: Bella moves her English family to the Italian Riviera in the 1920s to open an upper-class hotel. It caters to entitled rich holidaying Brits and there’s not much money to spare to meet their demands. The idyllic setting, rising fascist political climate and family tensions make for a juicy historical drama. (Soon airing as a PBS Masterpiece series, starring Natasha McElhone and Anna Chancellor). (Jan. 22)


12Free Loveby Tessa Hadley

Thanks to her six acclaimed novels (including Late in the Day and The Past), this British author is much admired – you could call her a cult novelist. In this story set in 1967, a bored housewife gives it all up for one of her son’s friends, who becomes her lover. Hadley evokes the heady atmosphere in London, and the tension between a generation’s newfound freedom in the city and the suffocation of staid suburban life. (Jan. 25)


THE SCROLL

Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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