Realistically, most of us are lucky to get through one book a month. Two if there's nothing good on TV. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't give our New Year's book quota resolutions a red hot crack. For February, there's a handful of books that have caught our eye. Ronnie Scott has returned with his second novel, while Shirley Le and Sita Walker make their literary debuts. A weighty name like Salman Rushdie cannot be ignored and in light of the brutal attack that wounded him last year, the fact that his fifteenth novel will see the light of day is a triumph in itself. Keep scrolling for new book releases to pore over in February 2023.
Shirley, Ronnie Scott
Release date: February 7
Ronnie Scott, founder of The Lifted Brow and author of The Adversary is set to launch his second novel. Shirley revolves around its title character, the daughter of a famous TV food personality. Twenty years since her mother's celebrity peaked, Shirley is now an adult with a secure job and a loving partner. But change is in the air, and when Shirley's stable world shifts from all angles she must confront her desires at a time when the path forward is fractured by our apocalyptic future.
Couplets, Maggie Millner
Release date: February 7
The debut from New York-based poet Maggie Millner, Couplets is a love story told through a trail of poems. It opens with a woman in a heterosexual relationship who secretly fantasises about being with other women. One night she meets a woman at a bar and falls into an all-consuming affair that allows her to explore queerness, polyamory, kink, romantic power and loss, humiliation and freedom for the first time. Through rhyming couplets and bouts of prose, Millner explores "the strictures, structures, and pitfalls of relationships—the mirroring, the pleasing, the small jealousies and disappointments".
Victory City, Salman Rushdie
Release date: February 14
Less than a year after a brutal attack which left him blind in one eye and immobile in one hand, Salman Rushdie publishes his fifteenth novel. Although the novelist will be forgoing publicity for the book as he continues to recover, the very fact of the book's existence is a triumph. It's a magical realist tale with feminist undertones about a nine-year-old girl who has a divine encounter following her mother's death. After becoming a vessel for the goddess Parvati, the girl becomes instrumental in the rise of Bisnaga – Victory City.
Users, Colin Winnette
Release date: February 21
While this tech thriller will likely fill you with dread and serves as a cautionary tale, by all accounts it's worth the pain. Authored by Colin Winnette, Users explores the unchecked power and ambition of tech in a fictional tale with real life parallels. It follows Miles, who engineers a new virtual reality product called The Ghost Lover, which simulates a user's life save for the part where they're haunted by the ghost of an ex, and becomes hugely popular. That is until a change in company strategy puts Miles and The Ghost Lover at the centre of controversy, one which threatens to derail Miles' entire life.
Funny Ethnics, Shirley Le
Release date: February 28
Shirley Le, a Vietnamese-Australian writer from Western Sydney and member of Sweatshop Literacy Movement, unveils her debut novel. Set in the 2000s in the sprawling mini cities of Western Sydney, in particular its south western suburbs, Le introduces us to Sylvia Nguyen, an average student, an exceptional self-doubter and the only child of Vietnamese refugee parents. Everywhere she looks her own identity is mirrored back at her through stereotypes and personal interactions, but it's shifting, inconsistent and Sylvia is on a mission to pin it down for herself.
The God of No Good, Sita Walker
Release date: February 2023
It's difficult to get your head around the fact that this is Sita Walker's debut. In her memoir The God of No Good the Brisbane school teacher makes sharp observations about grief, faith, family and love, you get the sense she's been in the game for years. Through vignettes that cross generations and international borders, Walker paints a portrait of her family history and the five matriarchs that raised her, all while exploring the dwindling relationship to her Baháʼí faith and the dissolution of her marriage.