Happy New Year!
Start the year off right with a new book — maybe one of these ones being released this month.
City of Thorns: nine lives in the world’s largest refugee camp by Ben Rawlence (January 5). Timely reading from a journalist who has written for The Guardian and others. “To charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it’s a “nursery for terrorists”; to the western media, it’s a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort. Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, in the midst of the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of the individuals who have sought sanctuary in the camp. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for soccer; Nisho, who scrapes together an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education.”
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa (January 12): Start the new year with a new novelist! Here’s a story set in the very recent past, with themes that are still very much a part of the present. “On a rainy, cold day in November, young Victor–a nomadic, scrappy teenager who’s run away from home–sets out to sell as much marijuana as possible to the throng of WTO demonstrators determined to shut down the city. With the proceeds, he plans to buy a plane ticket and leave Seattle forever, but it quickly becomes clear that the history-making 50,000 anti-globalization protestors–from anarchists to environmentalists to teamsters–are testing the patience of the police, and what started out as a peaceful protest is threatening to erupt into violence. Over the course of one life-altering afternoon, the fates of seven people will change forever: foremost among them police Chief Bishop, the estranged father Victor hasn’t seen in three years, two protesters struggling to stay true to their non-violent principles as the day descends into chaos, two police officers in the street, and the coolly elegant financial minister from Sri Lanka whose life, as well as his country’s fate, hinges on getting through the angry crowd, out of jail, and to his meeting with the President of the United States. When Chief Bishop reluctantly unleashes tear gas on the unsuspecting crowd, it seems his hopes for reconciliation with his son, as well as the future of his city, are in serious peril.”
Dining with the Famous and Infamous by Fiona Ross (January 16). “Dining with the Famous and Infamous is an entertaining journey into the gastronomic peccadilloes of celebrities, stars, and notorious public figures. From outrageous artists to masterpiece authors, from rock stars to actors – everybody eats. Based on the findings of the British gastro-detective Fiona Ross, this volume explores the palates, the plates, and the preferences of the famous and infamous. Including recipes and their stories in the lives of those who cooked, ordered or ate them, Ross invites you to taste the culinary secret lives of people like Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Sinatra, and Woody Allen, among many others. “
Real Tigers by Mick Herron (January 19): A new title in UK author Herron’s award winning Slough House spy thriller series. “London: Slough House is the MI5 branch where disgraced operatives are reassigned after they’ve messed up too badly to be trusted with real intelligence work. The “Slow Horses,” as the failed spies of Slough House are called, are doomed to spend the rest of their careers pushing paper, but they all want back in on the action. When one of their own is kidnapped and held for ransom, the agents of Slough House must defeat the odds, overturning all expectations of their competence, to breach the top-notch security of MI5’s intelligence headquarters, Regent’s Park, and steal valuable intel in exchange for their comrade’s safety. The kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg, however—the agents uncover a larger web of intrigue that involves not only a group of private mercenaries but the highest authorities in the Secret Service. After years spent as the lowest on the totem pole, the Slow Horses suddenly find themselves caught in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens not only the future of Slough House, but of MI5 itself.”
The Lovers: Afghanistan’s Romeo and Juliet, the true story of how they defied their families and escaped an honor killing: by Rod Nordland (January 26). “A riveting, real-life equivalent of KITE RUNNER – an astonishingly powerful and profoundly moving story of a young couple willing to risk everything for love that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world. Zakia and Ali were from different tribes, but they grew up on neighbouring farms in Afghanistan. By the time they were young teenagers, they had fallen in love. Defying their families, sectarian differences, cultural conventions, and Afghan civil and Islamic law, they ran away together only to live under constant threat.”