February 2023 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Salman Rushdie’s Victory City, Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions for You and Samantha Shannon’s A Day of Fallen Night.

Victory City, by Salman Rushdie

The new novel from the bestselling, Booker-Prize winning author Salman Rushdie.

In the wake of an insignificant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history.

After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for a goddess, who tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga – literally ‘victory city’ – the wonder of the world.

Over the next two hundred and fifty years, Pampa Kampana’s life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga’s as she attempts to make good on the task that the goddess set for her: to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world.

But all stories have a way of getting away from their creator, and as years pass, rulers come and go, battles are won and lost, and allegiances shift, Bisnaga is no exception…

Images above: Victory City; Sir Salman Rushdie

I Have Some Questions for You, by Rebecca Makkai

From one of America’s most critically acclaimed modern writers and the Pulitzer-nominated author of The Great Believers

Bodie Kane is content to forget her past: the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the 1995 murder of a classmate.

Though the circumstances surrounding the death and the conviction of the school’s athletics coach, Omar Evans, are the subject of intense fascination online, Bodie prefers to let sleeping dogs lie. But when The Granby School invites her back to teach, Bodie finds herself inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws.

In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn’t as much of an outsider at Granby as she’d thought-if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.

Rebecca Makkai reinvents herself with each of her brilliant novels. Both a transfixing mystery and a deeply felt examination of one woman’s reckoning with her past, I Have Some Questions for You is her finest achievement yet.

Images above: Rebecca Makkai; I Have Some Questions for You

A Day of Fallen Night

From the award-winning writer of Tik-Tok sensation The Priory Of The Orange Tree comes a standalone fantasy epic that takes us back to this mesmerising, magical world.

Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory’s purpose.

The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother’s past is coming to upend her fate.

When they are suddenly thrust into an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat. A Day of Fallen Night sweeps readers back to the world of A Priory of the Orange Tree, showing us a course of events that shaped it for generations to come.

Images above: A Day of Fallen Night; Samantha Shannon

Dan Coombes

Dan Coombes is a bookseller at Bookcase, an independent bookshop open in Chiswick since 1993. A specialist in science fiction, Dan has been a bookseller for 15 years.

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