Damon Galgut's The Promise (Chatto & Windus) came out on top in this week's reviews, with the twice Booker-shortlisted author picking up nods from the Guardian, Times and New York Times.
Reviewer Jon Day chose the title as a Book of the Week in the Guardian, calling the novel one of Galgut's "most directly political" and his "most formally inventive, borrowing many of the narrative techniques he developed so effectively in In a Strange Room".
In the New York Times, Rand Richards Cooper noted that the novel — which stages a family saga in South Africa from 1986 to 2018 — "adopts a protean tone, now menacing, now darkly mirthful". He added the novel "registers seismic rumbles of a changing South Africa".
In the Times, John Self said: "Galgut’s style is quiet but the book feels bursting with life because of all the off-page, between-times details he hints at". He concluded: "This is so obviously one of the best novels of the year."
Nancy Tucker's The First Day of Spring (Hutchinson) was another standout title this weekend. The first novel from the author of two non-fiction books was named a One to Watch by The Bookseller's Alice O'Keeffe and was selected as a "best recent crime and thriller" title by the Guardian's Laura Wilson, who said: "Perceptive and compassionate, this is a tale of human devastation, superbly told."
Over in the New York Times, Girl A author Abigail Dean commended Tucker's strong narrative voice, writing: "By the end of the novel, the voices of Chrissie and Julia reside deep in your skull: visceral and wicked, sad and wonderful, all at the same time."
In non-fiction Anne Sebba's Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy (W&N) and Adam Andrusier's Two Hitlers and a Marilyn (Headline) picked up two reviews apiece, with The Bookseller's Caroline Sanderson selecting both titles as an Editor's Choice this month. She called Sebba's biography "enthralling" and Andrusier's memoir "funny, bittersweet and big-hearted".
Sebba's title, billed as an "intimate account of an alleged miscarriage of justice in Cold War-era America", picked up its second review in the Telegraph and was given four out of five stars by Jake Kerridge, who found the title emotionally moving: "Sebba gets her readers under the skin of both Ethel and her era so effectively that this shameful saga had me alternately close to tears and boiling with rage."
Andrusier's title details the author's North London Jewish childhood and adolescence, much of which was spent in pursuit of autographs from celebrities and noteworthy people. In the Guardian Anthony Quinn said that "The obsessiveness – the downright creepiness – of the collector is amusingly skewered in this memoir of rueful self-absorption" and that the author has "put his own spin on this chronicle of filial dysfunction and compulsive collecting."
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