17 Of The Best Fiction Books Out In January

by Melissa Ragsdale

January is finally here, which means a fresh load of new fiction books to sink your teeth into. And let me tell you, the literary world is really starting off 2017 reading with a bang.

This month, we're getting exciting new reads from some powerhouse authors, including Roxane Gay, Paul Auster, and Han Kang. But there are also plenty of debut authors staking their territory this month, and these new voices will make your jaw drop.

January is bringing a plethora of unique and fascinating stories to the scene, with a wonderful range of experiences to explore. From the cricket leagues of India to the dark world of Chinese prostitution to the swirling streets of Manhattan, each one of these books will take you down its own remarkable path.

Plus, if you're a sucker for a good twist, you're in luck. Many of these books are full of dark surprises and characters with shifting identities. Everything is at stake in these reads, and you'll be pulled along some intense rides.

So if you're ready to shake things up in the New Year, these unforgettable books are sure to do the trick. If these new releases are any indication, 2017 is going to be a great year for reading.


'Difficult Women' by Roxane Gay (January 3; Grove)

A new book by Roxane Gay — could there be any better news? In her new book, Gay delivers a collection of short stories that will make your spine tingle with intrigue.

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'History of Wolves' by Emily Fridlund (January 3; Grove Atlantic)

Fierce. Mesmerizing. Dazzling. All these words describe this magnificent debut novel. Set in rural Minnesota, teenager Linda is an outcast, living with her counter-culture-loving parents on a failed commune. But she soon finds herself wrapped up in a tangle of secrets — from the world of her new neighbors to a scandal surrounding her history teacher.

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'Everything You Want Me to Be' by Mindy Mejia (January 3; Atria/Emily Bestler Books)

Buckle up for this killer (see what I did there?) mystery in which identity, truth, and self-discovery take some fatal turns. High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her life playing many parts, both on stage and in real life—that is, until she's found stabbed to death. The story is told from three points of view: the local sheriff who is hell-bent on finding Hattie's killer, the new English teacher in town, and Hattie herself in the year preceding her murder.

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'Idaho' by Emily Ruskovich (January 3; Random House)

Beautiful, devastating, and not to be missed. The story begins when an unimaginable tragedy happens on a family camping trip. Years later, Wade's memory is failing and his new wife, Ann, tries to piece together the truth of that terrible day.

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'Selection Day' by Aravind Adiga (January 3; Scribner)

Arivand Adiga won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2008 for his book The White Tiger, which is just one of many reasons to get excited about his latest. The book follows two brothers rise from the slums of Mumbai towards probable stardom in the world of cricket. A great read, even if you're not a fan of cricket.

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'Human Acts' by Han Kang (January 6; Portobello Books)

After dazzling us with The Vegetarian, which won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, Han Kang is dropping another amazing read. Set in South Korea in 1980, in the wake of a student protest turned horrifically violent, the book follows a cast of characters as they deal with the harrowing consequences of that day.

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'Lucky Boy' by Shanthi Sekaran (January 10; G.P. Putnam and Sons)

Eighteen-year-old Solimar Castro Valdez crosses the US/Mexican border and finds herself in California, unexpectedly pregnant. Meanwhile, Kavya Reddy and her husband are told they cannot have children. When Soli is detained, her infant son is put in Kavya's care, unfolding a clear-eyed exploration of complex motherly love.

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'Lotus' by Lijia Zhang (January 10; Henry Holt and Co.)

Inspired by the secret life of the author's grandmother, this book follows Lotus, a Chinese prostitute determined to pull herself up by her own bootstraps. As she wires money home (lying to her family about where she got it), she tries to find the right path in the new millennium, and is faced with choices that will shape her future forever.

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'The Bear and the Nightingale' by Katherine Arden (January 10; Del Rey)

If you love a little magic in your reading, you won't be able to resist this original, fairy tale-esque debut novel. Set at the edge of the Russian wilderness, our heroine, Vasilisa, is obsessed with the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. When Vasilisa's new stepmother dangerously forbids them from honoring the household spirits, Vasilisa must call on her long-concealed gifts to save everything she knows.

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'Dragon Springs Road' by Janie Chang (January 10; William Morrow)

Set in 1908 Shenghai, this book follows young Eurasian girl, Jialing, who is abandoned by her mother and becomes a bondservant to a wealthy estate. Murder and political intrigue make Jialing's fight for survival and self-discovery all the more urgent.

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'The Second Mrs. Hockaday' by Susan Rivers (January 10; Algonquin Books)

Inspired by a true incident, this historical fiction set during the Civil War era is told through diary entries and letters. Placidia is 17 years old when she is wed to Gryffth Hockaday, a major in the Confederate Army. Major Hockaday goes to war immediately upon their marriage, and Placidia is thrust into the role of homemaker. But when her husband returns, he finds that Placidia has been accused of murdering her own child. This is a read you won't be able to put down.

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'Fever Dream' by Samantha Schweblin (January 10; Riverhead Books)

This wonderfully strange novel has been freshly translated into English, and it reads like a dream. The book centers on Amanda, who is dying in a rural hospital, and the young boy who sits with her. Together, the two attempt to recall how Amanda got there.

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'Homesick for Another World' by Ottessa Moshfegh (January 17; Penguin Press)

After the resounding success of her novel Eileen, Otessa Maoshfegh is giving us a collection of her even more remarkable short stories. Filled with dark and blazing stories of fascinating individuals, each piece in this collection has its own, unforgettable heartbeat. Maoshfegh is a master at work.

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'Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk' by Kathleen Rooney (January 17; St. Martin's Press)

This lovely novel has been compared to the writings of Dorothy Parker, and once you pick it up you'll want to soak in it forever. Set in 1984 Manhattan, we follow the unforgettable 85-year-old Lillian as she traverses the city, recalling her long, vast, and eventful life.

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'4 3 2 1' by Paul Auster (January 31; Henry Holt and Co.)

Paul Auster is a genius and a legend, known for his mind-bending New York Trilogy among other masterpieces. This is his first novel in seven years. It begins with the birth of Archibald Issac Ferguson, and continues down four simultaneous versions of Ferguson and his life — each taking different, evolving fictional paths.

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'Things We Have in Common' by Tasha Kavanagh (January 31; MIRA)

You'll never know what's coming next in this heart-pumping book. Fifteen-year-old outcast Yasmin is obsessed with the popular girl at her school, Alice. When Yasmin notices a stranger watching Alice and believes that he is going to take her, Yasmin develops a plan in which she will be the only one who can save Alice. After making a splash in the U.K., Things We Have in Common is coming stateside to wow American audiences.

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'Behind Her Eyes' by Sarah Pinborough

This twisted novel is told from two perspectives: that of Adele, the beautiful but troubled wife of a local psychiatrist; and Louise, a single mom and the mistress of the same psychiatrist. When Adele bumps into Louise on the street, she decides to strike up a friendship with the woman. But it soon becomes clear that Adele had a dark past and ulterior motive for befriending Louise.

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