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Highlights of UK Books Out in February

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Rabeea Saleem

Staff Writer

Rabeea is a Karachi-based writer. Her two vices are cricket and literature. Book critic for various international publications including Chicago Review of Books, Irish Times and The National. She can be reached at

February for the UK is packed with not only exciting fiction but also some really impressive non-fiction. Here is a round-up of the highlights of this month.

Feel Free by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

This book is a tonic for our chaotic times. With dazzling wit, Zadie reflects on a kaleidoscopic range of topics from millennial’s social media obsession to Brexit, Jay Z to Knausgaard. Her trademark zeal and shrewdly nuanced perspective is evident in these essays which are highly relevant for our era. Feel Free is a pragmatic and thoroughly engaging read which incisively dissects pop culture, politics and contemporary society.


The Adulterants by Joe Dunthorne (Hamish Hamilton)

This is an entertaining tragicomedy about the trials and tribulations of urban life and modern relationships. Joe is a struggling freelance tech journalist trying to purchase a house for himself and his pregnant wife, whom he might have accidentally cheated on. Smartly written, The Adulterants riffs on London’s housing crisis, competitively sensitive men and social media with wry insight.


The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh (Faber & Faber)

If you are a fan of Lost or Coen brothers then this sleek 21st century noir is right up your alley. It’s a Western set in a dusty town in rural Texas, the Blinds, which is populated by criminals who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime or just witnessed one. Eerily resembling purgatory, this place is brought to life with a cast of eccentric characters and an intriguing mystery. Brimming with originality and suspense, this is a propulsive thriller.

The Break by Katherena Vermette (Atlantic Books)

This dazzling novel has already earned praise from writers like Margaret Atwood and Madeleine Thien. A layered family saga as well as an engrossing literary thriller, this debut tackles grave issues like colonial violence and cruelty against women with understated elegance.




The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin (Hodder & Stoughton)

A captivating debut that brings the squalid and sinister Georgian London to life. This is the story of an orphan Hester White and the complex relationships she forges with people along her thrilling journey to find the truth. This dark, atmospheric novel will appeal to fans of vintage gothic  à la Wilkie Collins and Sarah Waters.




Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh (Serpent’s Tail)

If you are a foodie of any sort than you need this book in you life. Eat Up is a celebration of food and is definitely one of the most fun books on the subject I have ever read. It does not adhere to the latest diet fads nor does it advocate clean eating but instead argues against the upsurge of wellness culture. Tandoh writes tantalizingly about why we love to eat and the different ways in which food enhance our lives. Interspersed between engaging chapters like why we find comfort in watching culinary shows like Master Chef and The Great British Bake-Off are an eclectic mix of recipes ranging from Toffee apple rock cakes and Vegan Chili to Hazelnut Porridge.

Monsieur Ka by Vesna Goldsworthy (Chatto & Windus)

This debut from a Serbian born novelist is a haunting portrayal of love in exile. The story revolves around a young French woman married to a British army officer and the titular Monsieur Ka, an old Russian émigré, whose life story she begins to write.The book is set in 1947 London and is an evocative and affecting tale for fans of literary fiction.


Educated by Tara Westover (Hutchinson)

Educated is a remarkably inspirational memoir about the transformative power of education and finding yourself. Tara Westover lived her life off-the-grid with her survivalist family and didn’t see the inside of a classroom until the age of seventeen. It is a heart-wrenching tale about the conflict between self-invention and fierce family loyalty.



The Melody by Jim Crace (Picador)

The latest novel from the prize winning author is the tale of Alfred Busi, famed in his town for his music and songs, who is mourning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days in the large villa he has always called home. At once a political novel about the way society treats its least fortunate and an intimate look at ageing and grief, this is an ambitious work of fiction.


The Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrímur Helgason (Oneworld)

Eighty-year-old Herra Björnsson lies alone in her garage waiting to die. As she looks back on her life, the reader is taken on a thrilling ride as we follow her life from Iceland to Germany and South America. With unsparing dark humor, this expansive historical novel is a tribute to human spirit.