10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in January 2022 

Happy new year and happy new books! Here are ten new works of fiction arriving in January.

Hanya Yanagihara returns with another bulky doorstopper following A Little Life, a much beloved novel that was a finalist for the Booker Prize, the National Book Award, the Women's Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. To Paradise is a speculative and dystopian set of three distinct stories, each set a century apart from the last but connected by themes, places and other threads, featuring unending Civil War, pandemics, ecological devastation, love, loss and longing for utopia. “To Paradise, though its plots are too various and intricate to even begin to capture in summary, moves smoothly and quickly... It is executed with enough deftness and lush detail that you just about fall through it, like a knife through layer cake.” (The Atlantic) 

On a plantation not far from free soil, the Stolen use their own language, stories and rituals to comfort, inspire and love one another. The daily violence of their toil and the abuses committed against them by the Thieves is interrupted by a visiting pastor whose ideas of freedom tempt them to consider escape. “A searing and redemptive story of slavery and survival... At once intimate and majestic, the prose marries a gripping narrative with an unforgettable exploration of the power of stories, language, and hope. With a bold vision, Asim demonstrates his remarkable gifts.” (Publishers Weekly)

Recently divorced Frida Liu fatefully decides to leave her 18-month-old daughter Harriet at home alone while she runs an errand, a decision that results in her child’s removal. Frida is then sentenced to a year in an authoritarian and highly surveilled rehab for bad moms before she can get her child back. “Current ideas about parenting are held up to scrutiny in a dark satire... An enthralling dystopian drama that makes complex points about parenting with depth and feeling.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Olga Dies Dreaming
Olga Acevedo is a successful high-end wedding planner and her brother Prieto is a rising politician, but things are not as easy as they seem. The siblings lost their father to drugs and their mother to radical activism as teens, and closeted Prieto is being blackmailed with compromising photos. Then Hurricane Maria strikes. “Debut novelist Gonzalez’s stinging and knowledgeable commentary about the American sociopolitical order that keeps Black and brown people poor and powerless suggests that radical remedies are called for, even if she gives the personal dramas of her appealing main characters pleasingly hopeful final acts. Atmospheric, intelligent, and well informed: an impressive debut.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

Joan is a physician in her 30s whose professional star is rising, but she is so dedicated to her job that when her father passes away, she only takes a weekend off to travel to China for his funeral. While her family members, colleagues and friends try to comprehend her enigmatic stoicism, HR forces her to take a life-altering leave of absence. “In the wrong hands, Joan’s story could have been a rom-com with familiar contours or a heavy existential drama. But Joan is such an idiosyncratic character, and Wang’s style so wry and piercing, that the novel is its own category: a character study about otherness set partly against the backdrop of early-pandemic anti-Asian sentiment that manages to be both profound and witty. A novel as one of a kind as its memorable main character.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish, Angelique and others are millennial girls of color and daughters of immigrants who collectively narrate this set of linked stories set in Queens, NY. “A daring debut that follows its characters through life and beyond... brash and talky... Andreades’s writing has economy and freshness.” (New York Times 

Journalist Smita Agarwal left India when she was 14 and vowed never to return. A fateful turn of events has her back in the country of her birth on assignment, covering the story of Meena Mustafa, a Hindu woman seeking justice against family members who violently assaulted her and murdered her Muslim husband. “What results is a courageous and sometimes gut-wrenching picture of rigidly held caste and religious hatreds, preening male privilege, extreme misogyny, and age-old corruption that spill into horrific violence. Yet Umrigar gives us a rounded perspective that shows how India still resonates with Smita and how it leads her to imagine a new and better nation... Highly recommended.” (Library Journal) 

Ham is a 19-year-old orphan from New Orleans who becomes a refugee in the wake of Hurrican Katrina. The spirit of Peruvian monk St. Martin de Porres, inhabiting a relic kept in a locket around Ham's neck, narrates this story while he guides the young man on his search for home. “In this stunning debut, James brings together several beautifully drawn characters, each of whom is working to reconcile the tensions between belonging and exile, freedom and entrapment, while also trying to reckon with the ghosts (both literal and figurative) of the past. And yet, as Martin’s spirit comments regarding this struggle: “I know that we do not belong only to ourselves, that what loves us also seizes us.” A mesmerizing story told by an impressive and captivating voice.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

Mandanipour is an acclaimed Iranian author whose works include Censoring: An Iranian Love Story (2009) and Moon Brow (2018). His latest is a collection of stories depicting daily lives and recent Iranian history, accented with magical realism and populated with animals. “Alternately spectral and somber but altogether subversive... A skilled storyteller with a bent for the quietly macabre and the burdens of those crushed by totalitarian rule.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

This debut offers nine stories featuring queer and genderqueer characters who are seeking something—be it an answer, reinvention, insight or fortifying tidbits of the historical record. “The characters in these stories feel fully alive; they reveal their rich and endlessly vibrant interiors through indefatigable exploration and textured thoughts. As inventive as some of Thomas’ storytelling decisions can be, they are never precious or self-indulgent but serve to cast light on the characters’ complex and ever shifting desires. Innovative stories that probe the ineluctable bond between storytelling and identity.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

Is there a new book you're looking forward to? Please share in the comments.