Somehow January is flying by and it's time for a look at some of the fantastic independently published books coming out in February (if you missed January's round up, check it out here). For a short month, there's a lot of great sounding books! In order to give as wide a range of books as possible, we've only included one from each publisher, so you know it's something we're really looking forward to getting our hands on.
Another Planet by Tracy Thorn (Canongate Books)
In a 1970s commuter town, Tracey Thorn’s teenage life was forged from what failed to happen. Her diaries were packed with entries about not buying things, not going to the disco, the school coach not arriving.Before she became an acclaimed musician and writer, Tracey Thorn was a typical teenager: bored and cynical, despairing of her aspirational parents. Her only comfort came from house parties, Meaningful Conversations and the female pop icons who hinted at a new kind of living.Returning more than three decades later to Brookmans Park, scene of her childhood, Thorn takes us beyond the bus shelters and pub car parks, the utopian cul-de-sacs, the train to Potters Bar and the weekly discos, to the parents who wanted so much for their children, the children who wanted none of it. With endearing wit and great insight, Thorn reconsiders the Green Belt post-war dream so many artists have mocked, and yet so many artists have come from.
Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence (Icon Books)
Have you ever wished you could tell your favourite books just what they mean to you? Or wanted to give a piece of your mind to the ‘must-read’ book that you wish you hadn’t? Librarian Annie Spence has done just that, writing letters to the books under her care, from love letters to Matilda and The Goldfinch, to snarky break-up notes to Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hobbit.
Annie’s letters will make you laugh, remind you why you love your favourite books, and give you lots of new entries for your reading list. She’s also on-hand to help out with your bookish dilemmas: recommendations for lazy readers; excuses to tell your friends when you’d rather stay home reading; and how to turn your lover into a reader.
Night Theatre by Vikram Palakar (Serpent's Tail)
As dusk approaches, a former surgeon goes about closing up his dilapidated clinic in rural India. His day, like all his days, has been long and hard. His medical supplies arrive late if at all, the electrics in the clinic threaten to burn out at any minute, and his overseer, a corrupt government official, blackmails and extorts him. It is thankless work, but the surgeon has long given up any hope of reward in this life.That night, as the surgeon completes his paperwork, he is visited by a family - a teacher, his heavily pregnant wife and their young son. Victims of a senseless attack, they reveal to the surgeon wounds that they could not possibly have survived.And so the surgeon finds himself faced with a preposterous task: to mend the wounds of the dead family before sunrise so that they may return to life. But this is not the only challenge laid before the surgeon, and as the night unfolds he realises his future is tied more closely to that of the dead family than he could have imagined.
The Face Pressed Against a Window by Tim Waterstone (Atlantic Books)
Tim Waterstone is one of Britain’s most successful businessmen, having built the Waterstone’s empire that started with one small bookshop in 1982.
In this charming and evocative memoir, he recalls the childhood experiences that led him to become an entrepreneur and outlines the business philosophy that allowed Waterstone’s to dominate the bookselling business throughout the country.
Tim explores his formative years in a small town in rural England at the end of the Second World War, and the troubled relationship he had with his father, before moving on to the epiphany he had while studying at Cambridge, which set him on the road to Waterstone’s and gave birth to the creative strategy that made him a high street name.
Does Islam call for the oppression of women? The subjugation of women in many Muslim countries is often used as evidence of this, while many Muslims read the Qur’an in ways that seem to justify sexual oppression and inequality. In this paradigm-shifting book, Asma Barlas argues that, far from supporting male privilege, the Qur’an actually affirms the complete equality of the sexes.
Offering a historical analysis of religious authority and knowledge, Barlas shows how, for centuries, Muslims have read patriarchy into the Qur’an to justify existing religious and social structures. In this seminal volume, she takes readers into the heart of Islamic teachings on women, gender and patriarchy, offering an egalitarian reading of Islam’s most sacred scripture.
Harvest Home by Hilda Vaughan (Honno Press)
One fine morning Daniel Hafod rides home from England to become Master of ‘Great House’ after the death of his uncle. But his obsessive pride and his dark desire for the pretty dairy-maid Eiluned lead to his downfall, as he and his sailor cousin, Dan, compete for her love. One of Vaughan’s most appealing heroines, Eiluned herself strives to remain steadfast under pressure.
Outstanding in its lyrical evocation of a bygone Welsh rural life, Harvest Home is also a tautly-written psychological study of a man driven mad by desire. It draws on tales of the wreckers then active on the Welsh sea-coast, the legend of Blodeuwedd from the Mabinogi, and superstitions associated with ‘Nos Galan Gaeaf’ (All Hallows Eve) when spirit voices call out the names of those soon to die. Hilda Vaughan’s portrayal of ‘Abercoran’ (an ancient name for Laugharne where she often stayed) vividly depicts its haunting estuarine landscape as well as weaving in some of the folklore and folk-customs associated with the area
Happening by Annie Ernaux (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
In 1963, Annie Ernaux, 23 and unattached, realizes she is pregnant. Shame arises in her like a plague: understanding that her pregnancy will mark her and her family as social failures, she knows she cannot keep that child. This is the story, written forty years later, of a trauma Ernaux never overcame. In a France where abortion was illegal, she attempted, in vain, to self-administer the abortion with a knitting needle. Fearful and desperate, she finally located an abortionist, and ends up in a hospital emergency ward where she nearly dies. In Happening, Ernaux sifts through her memories and her journal entries dating from those days. Clearly, cleanly, she gleans the meanings of her experience.
Inborn by Thomas Enger (Orenda Books)
When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?
Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?
It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.
But can we trust him?
The Year After You by Nina de Pass (Black & White Publishing)
On New Years Eve in San Francisco, Cara is in a deadly car crash. Incredibly she survives, but her best friend Georgina is not so lucky.
Consumed by guilt and grief, Cara is sent to a Swiss boarding school by her mother, believing it will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back.
Up in the Alps, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows her past and she intends to keep it that way. But classmates Ren and Hector have other ideas. Cara keeps her distance, but she’s drawn to the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are breaking down the walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to.
The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Year’s Eve. But Cara is quite sure she doesn’t deserve a second chance. This refreshing, deeply affecting debut from Faber Academy graduate Nina de Pass is insightful and engaging, exploring themes of grief, guilt, friendship and empathy.
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li (Pushkin)
The popular Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland has been serving devoted regulars for decades, but behind the staff’s professional smiles simmer tensions, heartaches and grudges from decades of bustling restaurant life.
Owner Jimmy Han has ambitions for a new high-end fusion place, hoping to eclipse his late father’s homely establishment. Jimmy’s older brother, Johnny, is more concerned with restoring the dignity of the family name than his faltering relationship with his own teenaged daughter, Annie. Nan and Ah-Jack, longtime Duck House employees, yearn to turn their thirty-year friendship into something more, while Nan’s son, Pat, struggles to stay out of trouble.
When disaster strikes and Pat and Annie find themselves in a dangerous game that means tragedy for the Duck House, their families must finally confront the conflicts and loyalties simmering beneath the red and gold lanterns.
From Severn to the Sea by Jayne Joso (Seren Books)
From Seven to the Sea explores the emotions of childhood and an almost limitless capacity for imagination, invention, and fearlessness as it charts the survival of seven-year-old Esther as she negotiates her mother and stepfather’s dysfunction, and a school environment that exposes her to further prejudice and injustice.
It is a window onto the world of a child who rejects convention and expectation, and who embarks on an expedition into liberty and freethinking; and who, each day, in place of school, sets out to sea.
February seems to be the month of fantastic sounding memoirs! Are there any other titles you're excited about in February? Let us know in the comments, and if you've not yet joined the Indie Challenge you still can!