What to read: The best of January fiction

Juicy new novels by A.S. Byatt and Peter Carey, love and death in a Bombay apartment house, impolite stories from a young literary light and more.

Published January 11, 2001 6:56PM (EST)

For everyone else, January feels like an austere follow-up to the indulgence of the holidays, but for book critics, it's bountiful. This month, we cast off the excess poundage and empty calories of coffee-table titles and gift books and sink our teeth into literary delights of every imaginable flavor.

There are major new books by favorites such as A.S. Byatt ("Possession") and Peter Carey ("Oscar and Lucinda," "Jack Maggs"), as well as a first novel by Manil Suri that has booksellers and reviewers buzzing. One of our most-watched young writers, Rick Moody (author of "The Ice Storm"), delivers a new story collection, and Trezza Azzopardi's Booker Prize-nominated first novel is finally out in the United States. If you've been yearning for a good book -- anything from a ripping yarn to a novel of substance -- the famine is over. It's time to feast.

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The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi
A disfigured girl spins out the secrets of her family's disastrous history in this Booker Prize-nominated novel by a new Welsh writer.
Reviewed by Maria Russo

The Biographer's Tale by A.S. Byatt
A disillusioned student forsakes literary theory to unearth the truth about an enigmatic writer in the latest feast for the mind by the author of "Possession."
Reviewed by Laura Miller

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
A legendary Australian outlaw relates his adventures in this rousing tale of injustice and defiance from the prize-winning author of "Oscar and Lucinda."
Reviewed by Laura Miller

Demonology by Rick Moody
A collection of inventive and passionate stories by one of today's most acclaimed young writers.
Reviewed by Amy Benfer

The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
Life, death and forbidden love feed the feuds in a Bombay apartment building in this elegant, clever first novel.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen

Gob's Grief by Chris Adrian
History and fantasy combine in this powerful story of a twin killed during the Civil War and his brother's strange scheme to bring him back to life.
Reviewed by Mary Elizabeth Williams

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