What we read in January

Recommended reading for January

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Deepa Anappara spent eleven years working as a journalist in southern India reporting on the ways poverty and religious violence impact on children’s education. From the first page of her assured and empathetic debut novel, it shows. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line – which caused something of an industry frenzy when it was auctioned last year – tells the story of nine-year-old Jai, who is on the hunt for his missing schoolfriend along the railways and back alleys of Kerala. Witty, evocative and underpinned by astute commentary on class and inequality in the world’s largest democracy, fans of The God of Small Things will approve.

- Sam, Editor-in-chief

Braised Pork by An Yu 
The story opens in a wealthy suburb of Beijing, when Jia Jia finds her husband drowned in the bathtub. Next to him is a crudely drawn picture of a strange creature – a man’s head on a fish’s body. What originally appears to be a straightforward contemporary thriller soon takes an unexpected and mystical turn, with Jia Jia's search for meaning in the ‘fishman' eventually leading her to a forgotten corner of Tibet. From the lyrical prose to the utterly original plot, this was an absolute joy to read and perfect for fans of Haruki Murakami and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

- Fran, Social media editor

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
It’s one of literature’s greatest crimes: part tragedy, part mystery. When Cassandra Austen burned a trove of letters and correspondence from her sister, Jane, little did she know the act of defiance would trouble the writing world for years to come. Or perhaps she did. It’s this act of rebellion that Miss Austen is based on, a novel that, despite being a fictional account, is fully immersed in the delightfully period world of Austen. Author Gill Hornby uses the story to fondly profile Jane’s history through her sister’s narrative, and shine a spotlight on the woman who often stepped outside the boundaries of her time.  This one is perfect for Austen aficionados looking for more detail on the progressive writer.  

- Donna, Associate editor

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
Escaping a personal tragedy Ogden and Kitty Milton buy an island – despite The Great Depression – off the coast of Maine to create an idyllic retreat for their family. As the story sweeps between three generations of Miltons their family's secrets and lies begin to unravel and the consequences of their privileged lives come to light with devastating results. It is a story about hidden people throughout history and those who have ignored them, as well as a timely reminder that we all play a part in shaping a better world for everyone. 

- Sarah, Managing editor

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