And we are one month down into 2022. Time flew past us. Nevertheless, let us welcome February with a warm embrace. Yes, today is also the Chinese New Year; the Year of the Tiger has officially commenced. The start of a new year is a fresh start and a fresh set of new year’s resolutions. For the nth year running, it is my goal to read more and buy less. It seems that after months of failed attempts, I have finally succeeded at this goal, at least on the monthly level. Who knows what the rest of the year holds right? In January, I managed to read 10 books while minimizing my purchases to nine books. However, three are still in transit. Here are the books I have received in January 2022; I have excluded the two preordered books and the three books in transit.

Title: Paradise
Author: Abdulrazak Gurnah
Publisher: Bloombsury
Publishing Date: 2004
No. of Pages: 247

Synopsis: Born in East Africa, Yusuf has few qualms about the journey he is to make. It never occurs to him to ask why he is accompanying Uncle Aziz or why the trip has been organised so suddenly, and he does not think to ask when he will be returning. But the truth is that his ‘uncle’ is a rich and powerful merchant and Yusuf has been pawned to him to pay his father’s debts. Paradise is the story of Yusuf’s coming of age against the backdrop of an Africa of myth, dreams and Biblical and Koranic tradition, growing corrupt with violence and the influence of colonialism.

Title: The Last Gift
Author: Abdulrazak Gurnah
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publishing Date: May 2012
No. of Pages: 279

Synopsis: Abbas has never told anyone about his past – before he was a sailor on the high seas, before he met his wife Maryam in Exeter, before they settled into a quiet life in Norwich with their children, Jamal and Hanna. Now, at the age of sixty-three, he suffers a collapse that renders him bedbound and unable to speak about things he thought he would one day have to.

Jamal and Hanna have grown up and gone out into the world, yet while they were both born in England, they cannot shake a sense of apartness. When Abbas falls ill, they return home reluctantly to confront the dark silences of their father and the secret he has been hiding from them all.

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 162

Synopsis: In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it’s different…

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

Title: The Island of Missing Trees
Author: Elif Shafak
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 342

Synopsis: Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers, and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The trees is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubber, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love.

Years later a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited – her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.

A moving, beautifully written, and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history, and eco-consciousness, The Island of Missing Trees is Elif Shafak’s best work yet.