Tagged: Literary

Ones to watch


by Phil Klay

First novel from the former US Marine and author of Redeployment, a collection of short stories praised by Barack Obama, is Canongate's lead title for autumn. Mason, a US Special Forces medic, and journalist Lisette are veterans of the US' long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unable to settle into civilian life, now they are heading for Colombia, where the US has partnered with local government to stamp out a vicious civil war. "Urgent, detailed, compassionate and quietly furious," says A L Kennedy of this novel about the moral cost of war. Covid-19 permitting, the author will visit the UK around publication to promote. Moves from July.

Canongate Books Ltd, £16.99, 29th October 2020, 9781838852313
Ones to watch

The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi

by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Said to be a "dazzling, feminist novel in verse" that re-imagines the origin story of the Gikuyu people of Kenya and chronicles the efforts of the founders to find partners for their 10 beautiful daughters (called "The Perfect Nine") and the challenges they set for the 99 suitors who seek their hands in marriage. A verse narrative that blends folklore, mythology, adventure and allegory, of which the author says: "The epic came to me one night as a revelation of ideals of quest, courage, perseverance, unity, family; and the sense of the divine, in human struggles with nature and nurture." Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has called him "one of the greatest writers of our time".

Harvill Secker, £10.00, 6th October 2020, 9781911215998
Editors choice


by William Boyd

Latest from the wonderful Boyd is a skilfully woven tale of three people: Elfrida, a novelist with writer's block and a drinking problem; Talbot Kydd, a debonair film producer, married and hiding his sexuality; and Anny Viklund, a glamorous young American film star with a very dodgy ex-husband. All are connected by "Emily Bracegirdle's Extremely Useful Ladder to the Moon", a "Swinging Sixties" film shooting in Brighton in the summer of 1968. As filming progresses (and the novel is fascinating on the practicalities), the extent of their secret lives are revealed.

Viking, £18.99, 8th October 2020, 9780241295953
Editors choice

What Are You Going Through

by Sigrid Nunez

Nunez's last novel, The Friend, won the 2018 National Book Award. This is narrated by an unnamed woman, a writer, who visits a friend with terminal cancer. Her friend wants to end her life on her own terms-and needs the narrator's help. A short (208pp), sparsely written but profound novel about the need for human connection in these divided times, which explores how far one person can really understand another. The title is taken from French philosopher Simone Weil: "The love of our neighbour in all its fullness simply means being able to say, 'What are you going through?'"

Virago Press Ltd, £16.99, 1st October 2020, 9780349013664
Book of the month

The First Woman

by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

The second novel from the Ugandan-born author of Kintu, and winner of the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize in 2018, is a powerful, feminist tale about a headstrong young woman's coming-of-age in 1970s Uganda. It opens in the small village of Nattetta, Uganda, in 1975, where 12-year-old Kirabo Nnamiiro is being brought up by her doting paternal grandparents. Up until now, Kirabo has been perfectly content with her life at the heart of a prosperous, extended family, but now, on the verge of her teenage years, she is starting to feel the absence of her mother, a woman she cannot remember.

The First Woman follows Kirabo on her search for her mother, as she grows from a child to a young woman, through her sexual awakening, to find her place in the world. The novel unfolds over eight years, from 1975 to 1983, under the regime of Idi Amin, and the violence of those years is subtly present in the background. But this is Kirabo's story and she is a wonderful heroine: headstrong, inquisitive and determined. The novel is rich with Luganda words, and steeped in ancient Ugandan folklore, making it an immersive read. I loved it. As one of the characters says: "Stories have such power you cannot imagine."

Oneworld Publications, £16.99, 1st October 2020, 9781786077882
Editors choice


by Sayaka Murata

Natsuki is not like other Japanese girls. She has a wand and a magical transformation mirror, and a best friend, Piyyut, who may look like a cuddly toy hedgehog but is really an emissary from Planet Popinpobopbia. This may be a childhood fantasy to protect her 11-year-old self from the abusive adults around her, but 20-odd years later, Natsuki, married to an asexual man, is no closer to conforming to society's expectations. So the pair take a radical step...Shocking, heartbreaking and very funny-in short, another cult classic from the author of Convenience Store Woman.

Granta Books, £12.99, 29th September 2020, 9781783785674

The Fig Tree

by Goran Vojnovic

Multigenerational family saga about a Slovenian family spanning three generations, from the mid-20th century, through the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, until the present day.

Istros Books, £10.99, 20th October 2020, 9781912545247

The Masochist

by Katja Perat

First novel from the Slovenian poet is a "memoir" of fictional historical character Nadezhda Moser who, in uncertain times at the end of the 19th century, chose the only path that could lead her to freedom.

Istros Books, £10.99, 20th October 2020, 9781912545179

Men And Apparitions

by Lynne Tillman

Deciding that all the old models of masculinity are broken, a cultural anthropologist embarks on a new project, studying the "new man" born under the sign of feminism. "A true force in American literature," says George Saunders.

Peninsula Press Ltd, £12.99, 25th June 2020, 9781913512002


by Guillermo Saccomanno

Billed as a dystopian literary novel about life in late-stage capitalism, this follows Clerk, who heads to his job in a city laid to waste by guerillas, hordes of starving people and murderous children, and patrolled by armed helicopters.

Open Letter, £12.99, 1st October 2020, 9781948830256
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