Exceptional January Books Out in the UK

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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

Start this new year with a carefully curated list of the best UK books out this January. From the sweltering heat of Seoul to the dangerous streets of Mumbai, these eclectic reads offer something for everyone. Happy reading!

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy (Harvill Secker)

An enlightening book about how actively listening is a key foundation for connecting and understanding others. Drawing on Murphy’s conversations with people from diverse walks of life – from CIA interrogators to bartenders – this is a useful handbook for communication.

Untold Day and Night By Bae Suah (Jonathan Cape)

Unfolding over a sultry day and night in Seoul, this is a dreamlike tale of a woman walking the streets of the city after completing her last shift at an audio theater. A poignant read about the hazy boundaries of reality and our present world.

Diary of a Murderer by Kim Young-ha (Atlantic)

From a prize-winning and critically acclaimed Korean talent comes this satisfyingly versatile short story collection. The stories in this collection usually feature unreliable narrators and are spiked with mordant humor and surrealism.

Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait (Riverrun)

A father kills his entire family except for one of his sons. This devastating, tenderly written novel follows the surviving son into his late adulthood and examines survivors’ guilt and impact of violence on a community.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Viking)

The premise of this novel is very parent’s worst nightmare – a school is held hostage by a group of masked intruders. A taut and urgent portrait of the precarious times we live in.

Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth (The Borough Press)

A crackling portrait of a thirtysomething woman navigating the world of false perfections and filtered reality in the age of social media. Adults is a thoroughly engaging read!

Braised Pork by An Yu (Harvill Secker)

A surreal and melancholic tale of a woman struggling to find her bearings after the sudden (and mysterious!) death of her husband. Discerning insights about love, identity and loss makes this an ethereal read.

A Good Man by Ani Katz (William Hienemann)

A chilling story of a man who seemingly has a perfect life – a high-end job and a loving family – but is led by his inability to reconcile with his past to destroy everything. This is a shrewd examination of toxic masculinity and the legacy of childhood trauma.

Low by Jeet Thayil (Faber)

After the death of his wife, a man seeks to find solace in a new drug on the streets of Mumbai. This is a madcap, trippy ride to the dark abyss of grief.

Threshold by Rob Doyle (Bloomsbury)

This semi-autobiographical novel is a wildly charged journey of self-discovery. Doyle explores drugs, literature and our mortal condition in this engaging, brazenly written book.

 Little Bandaged Days by Kyra Wilder (Picador)

This is an unnerving tale about a woman on the verge of madness after moving to Geneva with her husband and two young children.  A harrowing and clear-eyed portrait of the challenges of motherhood.

The Edge by Jamie Collinson (Oneworld)

A keenly observed portrait of the global 21st century music industry, written by an insider. Collinson provides blistering commentary on L.A. and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Europa Editions)

Translated from Farsi, this is a mesmerizing and richly textured novel about Iranian history post Islamic Revolution. A sublime tale about how a nation’s past defines its national and personal narratives, written by one of Iran’s rising literary talents.

Happy Ever After by C. C. MacDonald (Harvill Secker)

Naomi’s life is a dream with her picture perfect house and family. However, everything disintegrates into chaos after she makes one mistake. This domestic noir is full of dramatic twists and turns.

The Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara Gould (Myriad Editions)

A layered, atmospheric ghost story about post-natal depression, set in a haunting 1920s country Bungalow.