Arden, Chakraborty, Conley, Schweblin, Barbara's Fiction Picks, Jan. 2019 | Prepub Alert

This week's fiction picks include two fantasy titles (Katherine Arden, S.A. Chkraborty) and two literary titles (Susan Conley, Samanta Schweblin).

Arden, Katherine. The Winter of the Witch. Del Rey. Jan. 2019. 384p. ISBN 9781101885994. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781101886007. Downloadable. FANTASY

Gorgeous as the Firebird’s fiery tail, Arden’s medieval Russia–set The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower featured a young woman with magical gifts she uses to save the country from danger, whether mythic or politically wrought. They were both LibraryReads picks. Here’s betting that this wrap-up to the trilogy will make the list, too, as Moscow smolders and Vasya struggles to contain both the angry Grand Prince, readying for war, and a dangerous demon. 

Chakraborty, S.A. The Kingdom of Copper. Harper Voyager. Jan. 2019. 544p. ISBN 9780062678133. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062678157. lrg. prnt. FANTASY

In The City of Brass, an LJ Best Fantasy also short-listed for the Locus Award, a street hustler named Nahri in 1700s Cairo manages to summon up the dark and wily djinn warrior Dara, who takes her to the royal court of Daevabad. Now Dara has been slain in battle by Prince Ali, exiled for resisting his father, and Nahri finds herself alone and at the mercy of a king who could destroy her people. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Conley, Susan. Elsey Come Home. Knopf. Jan. 2019. 256p. ISBN 9780525520986. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525520993. Downloadable. LITERARY

Author of the memoir The Foremost Good Fortune, an O, the Oprah Magazine "Top Ten" pick, and the debut novel Paris Was the Place, a People magazine Top Pick, Conley returns with a new novel carrying the poignancy and fraught scrape of relationships that characterized them both. Ex-pat Elsey is standing in her Beijing kitchen when her husband gives her a brochure for a weeklong yoga retreat, which seems less lifeline than ultimatum about their marriage. An esteemed artist, the disaffected, suddenly hard-drinking Elsey has stopped painting in favor of a desperate attachment to her children, and her adventures in yoga and thereafter are a way of trying to get back to her husband.

Schweblin, Samanta. Mouthful of Birds: Stories. Riverhead. Jan. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9780399184628. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780399184642. Downloadable. LITERARY 

Before Schweblin’s nightmarishly eerie and abstracted debut novel, Fever Dreams, was short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize (while winning some formidable praise here), the Buenos Aires–born, Berlin-based author was already collecting honors like the Juan Rulfo Story Prize for her short stories. So it’s no surprise that there’s already literati buzz surrounding this collection of stories that play and prey on our anxieties. 

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