Refresh Your Shelf: New Fiction

If your fiction shelves need a little sprucing up this new year, we’ve pulled together five new reads – four novels and one fiction anthology – that will look right at home. From the first book in a sweeping tetralogy, to an anthology of disabled superhero tales, to an account of the women who brought Emily Dickinson’s poems to life, find your next fiction read right here.

Refresh Your Shelf: New Fiction! Only on All Lit Up.


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Zulaikha by Niloufar-Lily Soltani (Inanna Publications)

The titular character in Niloufar-Lily Soltani’s debut novel is a mother, leaving Amsterdam for Tehran after a visit with her son. At the airport, she’s confronted with Kia, an old friend of her brother Hessam, who has been missing for many years. After meeting with Kia, their flight home is unexpectedly cancelled, and Zulaikha is briefly detained by airport authorities. What follows is a tense political thriller, where Zulaikha’s freedom and security is threatened, as well as a thoughtful examination of the effects of geopolitical conflict on individual people, especially women, as Soltani goes back in time to the events of Zulaikha’s childhood in oil-rich Khuzestan.

Find Zulaikha here on All Lit Up, or via your local bookseller.

City Rising by David Rotenberg (At Bay Press)

Originally published in 2008 as a single, door-stopping book titled Shanghai, City Rising represents the first in a completely reimagined and re-edited series of four books, following two Baghdadi Jewish boys and their descendants over the generations. This first book is set in the mid-1800s, when the Opium wars between locals and British colonial forces take over Shanghai, and features the real historical figure of Silas Hardoon, a wealthy businessman and public figure in the city.

Find City Rising here on All Lit Up, or via your local bookseller.

Mighty: An Anthology of Disabled Superheroes, edited by Emily Gillespie and Jennifer Lee Rossman (Renaissance Press)

We are well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe era, and all too often, disabled people in superhero stories are reduced to tropes of “overcoming” their disability as part of their hero journey (if they’re not portrayed as a villain, that is). Not so in these 15 stories that subvert tired tropes, where disabilities are just an everyday part of these heroes’ not-so everyday lives, by writers from various disabled communities.

Find Mighty here on All Lit Up, or via your local bookseller.

Liquid Fire by Devakanthan, translated by Nedra Rodrigo (Mawenzi House)

The third in an award-winning series of five novels about the Sri Lankan civil war, Liquid Fire shows the impact of the war on the country’s Tamil minority; provoking mass diaspora, imprisonment, and death. Now residing in Toronto, writer Devakanthan taps into his own experiences of conflict and exile in this eye-opening and devastating book.

Find Liquid Fire here on All Lit Up, or via your local bookseller.

Pale Shadows: A Novel of Emily Dickinson by Dominique Fortier, translated by Rhonda Mullins (Coach House Books)

Releasing early this February, Dominique Fortier’s Pale Shadows continues where her 2019 novel Paper Houses left off, after the death of famed poet Emily Dickinson. In this novel, three women – Dickinson’s sister Lavinia, her best friend, Susan, and her brother’s mistress, Mabel – take up the cause of getting Emily’s poetry published. Up against a male-dominated industry (to say nothing of a male-dominated society) the three women navigate these barriers, as well as their immense grief. As with her other works, Fortier demonstrates a deep love of the written word and shows the delicate, intentional, and yet almost flukey way that literary masterpieces make their way into the canon.

Pre-order Pale Shadows here on All Lit Up, or via your local bookseller.

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Catch up on Refresh Your Shelf with our non-fiction selection, and stay tuned for more, including poetry and kids’ books.