Gabriel Bell is a grumpy 44-year-old web journalist irritated by the accumulating disappointments of life. He and his girlfriend Ellie want to start a family but Gabriel has so few sperm he can name them and knit them flippers. So it’s IVF, which is expensive. If losing his job was bad enough getting run over and waking up to find himself in a therapy group run by Angels just beneath heaven really annoys him. And it doesn’t do much for Ellie either. Gabriel is joined therapy by Kevin a professional killer, Yvonne, Kevin’s last victim, a rarely sober but successful businesswoman and Julie, an art teacher who was driving the car that put Gabriel in a coma. In a rural therapeutic community set in an eternal September the group struggles with the therapy. If they do well they may be allowed to go back to earth to finish their lives, or pass into heaven. If they don’t it’s Hell or worse: lots more therapy.
GABRIEL’S ANGEL was the Guardian readers’ book of the year 2011.
Gaudeamus (Let us Rejoice) is the second autobiographical novel written by the author about his university years, and follows on from his Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent, described by the Guardian’s Nick Lezard as ‘Romania’s Adrian Mole’. In this exuberant and touching portrait of youth, Eliade recounts the fictional version of his university years in late 1920’s Bucharest. Marked by a burgeoning desire to ‘suck out all the marrow of life’, the protagonist throws himself into his studies; engaging his professors and peers in philosophical discourse, becoming one of the founding members of the Student’s Union, and opening-up the attic refuge of his isolated teenage years as a hotspot for political debate and romantic exploration. Readers will recognize in these pages the joy of a life about to blossom, of the search for knowledge and the desire for true love. Already an accomplished writer as a young man, this follow-up to his Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent reveals a keen observer of human behaviour, a seeker of truth and spiritual fulfilment whose path would eventually lead him to become the ultimate historian of 20th-century religions.
Samhain is a young, angry and bewildered squatter living in an abandoned hotel in the North of England. One day he receives a message: his father – a man he never knew – was an undercover policeman infiltrating the Green movement of the 80s. What’s more, he finds out that he too is now a father. As Sam leaves for Europe, he pursues freedom and flees from his responsibilities. Responsibility, however, is hard to escape. Guest is a story of disillusionment, protest and, eventually, redemption.
SJ Bradley is a writer from Leeds and one of the organisers behind Fictions of Every Kind. She won the Willesden Herald Short Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Gladstone Writers in Residency Award. Her debut novel, Brick Mother, was published by Dead Ink in 2014.
Hair Everywhere is the story of one family and how they manage to cope when the mother is diagnosed with cancer. It is a delicate tale that balances itself between the generations, revealing their strengths and weaknesses in times of trouble. It is also a story about how roles within a family can change when things become challenging, due to sickness or death, allowing some to grow and others to fade. Ultimately, this is a book about life; full of humour and absurdity as well as sadness, and set against an everyday background where the ordinary takes on new significance and colour. Tea Tulic’s debut novel is a brave glance at the human condition.
This is a book that lives in two parts – one set in the Ottoman empire of the 16th century, and the other in our own 21st century reality. Here we have the story of two friends, both taken as children from their homes and inducted into the Turkish Sultan’s private guard: Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, the Serbian shepherd boy who rose to the position of Grand Vizier and Koca Mimar Sinan, the ‘Michelangelo of the East’. Between them they represent both destruction and creation, while at the same time providing us with a harrowing insight into the heart of religion and identity. Back in our own time, we hear the voice of the author, sharing with us his experiences in the modern world, and his musings on faith, identity and nation. This is a truly ambitious book that rewards the reader with insights into some of the great questions of our time.
From Booker-Prize winning novelist Stanley Middleton.
Thomas Harris is on the cusp of success as a classical composer with a growing reputation.
When his father, a coal miner, dies Thomas decides to write a requiem for him which is also a thinly veiled attack on the powerful elite. In spite of opposition he finally succeeds in getting his work performed but how will the critics react?
A coming-of-age tale with a twist: a clinically depressed Trinidadian teenager, who has attempted suicide, is banished by her mother to Canada to live with her aunt. She feels lonely and in exile. But with the help of her lesbian aunt, a gorgeous-looking boy and her Skyping best friend “back home” in Trinidad, she begins to realise that loving families can exist in different shapes and sizes. Then her mother arrives and threatens to take her back to Trinidad. Where then is home?
Luísa from Nothing, born Matilde Boshoff in 1911, is the last living heiress of Nothing, a vast estate in the wine countryside north of the Portuguese capital. Without heirs of her own, the only way to save Nothing from the nothingness of disappearance is to accept living. In anonymous company, Luísa tells the story of Nothing and the paradox of a place name that nullifies existence. Luísa is also a non-existence, with a name she never took but in which she has lived from birth.
Going back to the early 19th century when Nothing was created out of the chaos of the Napoleonic Invasions, Luísa traces the story of her family and its intersection with Portuguese and world history in a place where oddities and unpronounceable possibilities were always as natural occurrences as ghosts and werewolves. After a life of losses and brushes with the unfathomable, Luísa realises Nothing is her own eternal self.
Ibrahim is a young Muslim guy walking from Cardiff to London. He has his own reasons, and his own mental and physical struggles to deal with along the way. What he hadn t counted on was a chance meeting with 75-year-old East Londoner Reenie before he s hardly started. With her life s luggage in a shopping trolley, complete with an orange tent and her pet cockatiel, Reenie is also walking the M4, and not for charity. As they share a journey their paths stretch out before and behind them into the personal and political turns of European history in ways neither could have foreseen. An impressive and daringly human book from novelist David Llewellyn.
Long Listed for The Asian Man Literature Prize when published in India as THE LAST PRETENCE. When Malika loses her longed-for daughter at birth, it is not the only loss in the family: the surviving twin -a boy – loses the love of his mother. He grows up needing to be the daughter his mother wants, the son his scientist father accepts, and more, with the guilt of being the one who survived. In a recently independent India, haunted by its colonial past and striving to find its identity, he struggles to find his own self. Sarayu Srivatsa has created a moving family portrait, richly-coloured by the vibrant culture and landscape of India, where history, religion and gender collide in a family scarred by the past and struggling with the future.
J SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do.
Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog.
Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the American National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with Jack, the final in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction.
Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the loved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard and a ne’er-do-well. In segregated St. Louis sometime after World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African-American high school teacher, also a preacher’s child, with a discriminating mind, a generous spirit and an independent will. Their fraught, beautiful story is one of Robinson’s greatest achievements.
‘Jack is the fourth in Robinson’s luminous, profound Gilead series and perhaps the best yet’ OBSERVER
In the woods the earth made myths. Angry myths. Savage myths. Myths that could kill…
Set on the outskirts of Bradford over the course of a single day, Killing The Horses follows Ryan and Liam, teenagers skiving off school in the woods at the edge of the city. But the woods hold secrets. Dark secrets. And the landscape aches with the violence of all that has been done there.
There is blood on the ground and a sickness in the earth. As the memory of what has happened there climbs back out of the hillside, the boys learn that they are too entangled in the savagery of the land around them to be able to separate themselves from it.
Killing The Horses is rooted in the landscape and dialect of West Yorkshire and fuses realism with the mythical. It brings the macabre and darkly-religious world of the American Southern Gothic to the north of England.
A stranger appears out of nowhere in a prison library and assaults a guard. Locked in solitary confinement, he relates his story to a listener over the course of one night.
Kingdom, the third novel from Russ Litten, spins together magical realism and hard-boiled psychodrama into a heartbreaking urban fable of human awakening. Ghosts may not exist – but sometimes they are real. Do you believe in life before death?
Combining life-writing with poetic prose, Anthony Joseph gets to the heart of the man behind the music and the myth, reaching behind the sobriquet to present a holistic portrait of the calypso icon Lord Kitchener.
The poet and musician Anthony Joseph met and spoke to Lord Kitchener just once, in 1984, when he found the calypso icon standing alone for a moment in the heat of Port of Spain s Queen’s Park Savannah, one Carnival Monday afternoon. It was a pivotal meeting in which the great calypsonian, outlined his musical vision, an event which forms a moving epilogue to Kitch, Joseph’s unique biography of the Grandmaster.
Lord Kitchener (1922 – 2000) was one of the most iconic and prolific calypso artists of the 20th century. He was one of calypso’s most loved exponents, an always elegantly dressed troubadour with old time male charisma and the ability to tap into the musical and cultural consciousness of the Caribbean experience. Born into colonial Trinidad in 1922, he emerged in the 1950s, at the forefront of multicultural Britain, acting as an intermediary between the growing Caribbean community, the islands they had left behind, and the often hostile conditions of life in post War Britain. In the process Kitch, as he was affectionally called, single handedly popularised the calypso in Britain.
1914, and an English archaeologist called Somerville is fulfilling a lifelong dream: to direct an excavation in the desert of Mesopotamia. Yet forces beyond his control threaten his work.
The Great War is looming, and various interest groups are vying for control over the land and its manyprizes. And Somerville, whose intention is purely to discover and preserve the land’s ancient treasures finds his idealism sorely tested. Naked ambition, treachery and greed are at play, in a thrilling adventure from the master of the historical novel.
Set in the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea, Lark and Termite is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us.
At its centre are: Lark and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk but full of radiance; their mother, Lola; their aunt, Nonie, who raises them; and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, who finds himself caught up in the early chaotic months of the Korean War.
Told with enormous imagination and deep feeling, the novel invites us into the hearts and thoughts of each of the leading characters; even into Termite’s intricate, shuttered consciousness. We are with Leavitt, trapped by friendly fire. We see Lark’s hopes for herself and Termite, and how she makes them happen. We learn of Lola’s love for her soldier husband and children, and unravel the mystery of her relationship with Nonie. We discover the lasting connections between past and future on the night the town experiences an overwhelming flood, and we follow Lark and Termite as their lives are changed for ever. This is the first novel for nine years by one of America’s greatest writers, Lark and Termite is rich, rewarding and unforgettable.
AN OBSERVER BEST DEBUT NOVELIST OF 2021 ‘Seductive . . . Gorgeous’ The Times ‘A fresh perspective on an age-old tale’ Irish Times
‘I am the queen of two crowns, banished fifteen years, the famed and gilded woman, bad-luck baleful girl, mother of three small animals, now gone. I am fifty-five years old. I am Lear’s wife. I am here.’
Word has come. Care-bent King Lear is dead, driven mad and betrayed. His three daughters too, broken in battle. But someone has survived: Lear’s queen. Exiled to a nunnery years ago, written out of history, her name forgotten. Now she can tell her story.
Though her grief and rage may threaten to crack the earth open, she knows she must seek answers. Why was she sent away in shame and disgrace? What has happened to Kent, her oldest friend and ally? And what will become of her now, in this place of women? To find peace she must reckon with her past and make a terrible choice – one upon which her destiny, and that of the entire abbey, rests.
Giving unforgettable voice to a woman whose absence has been a tantalising mystery, Learwife is a breathtaking novel of loss, renewal and how history bleeds into the present.
Tesya has reasons to feel hopeful after leaving her last job, where she was subjected to a series of anonymous hate crimes. Now she is back home in London to start a new lecturing position, and has begun an exciting, if tumultuous, love affair with the enigmatic Holly. But this idyllic new start quickly sours. Tesya finds herself victimized again at work by an unknown assailant, who subjects her to an insidious, sustained race hate crime. As her paranoia mounts, Tesya finds herself yearning for the most elemental desires: love, acceptance, and sanctuary. Her assailant, meanwhile, is recording his manifesto, and plotting his next steps.
Inspired by the author’s personal experiences of hate crime and bookended with essays which contextualise the story within a lifetime of microaggressions, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes is a heart-breaking, hopeful, and compulsively readable novel about the most quotidian of crimes.
A young man is found lying unconscious on the outskirts of Bucharest. No one knows who he is and everyone has a different theory about how he got there. Within the pages of this charming book, the stories of a variety of characters unfold, each closely interwoven with the next, and outlining the features of what ultimately turns out to be the most important and most powerful character of all: the city of Bucharest itself. The plot of Life Begins on Friday takes place during the last 13 days of 1897 and culminates in a beautiful tableau of the future as imagined by the characters we have come to know and love. We might even say that it is we who inhabit their future, and so too does Dan Creţu, alias Dan Kretzu, the present-day journalist hurled back in time by some mysterious process for just long enough to allow us a wonderful glimpse into a remote, almost forgotten world. Parvulescus’ book is a magical tale full of enchanting characters who can carry the reader to another time
Meet the Ramdin-Chetan family: forged through loneliness, broken by secrets, saved by love.
Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household. Happy in their differences, they build a home together. Home: the place keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world – until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.
Brave and brilliant, steeped in affection, Love After Love offers hope to anyone who has loved and lost and has yet to find their way back.
‘I am alone in the dark, turning the world around in my head as I struggle through another bout of insomnia, another white night in the great American wilderness.‘
Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident in his daughter’s house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would rather forget – his wife’s recent death and the horrific murder, in Iraq, of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus. Brill, a retired book critic, imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the Twin Towers did not fall on 9/11, and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill’s story grows increasingly intense, and what he is so desperately trying to avoid insists on being told. Joined in the early hours by his granddaughter, he gradually opens up to her and recounts another hidden story, this time of his own marriage. After she falls asleep, he at last finds the courage to revisit the trauma of Titus’s death.
Passionate and shocking, political and personal: Man in the Dark is a novel that reflects the consequences of 9/11, that forces us to confront the blackness of night even as it celebrates the existence of ordinary joys in a world capable of the most grotesque violence.
Under the intense summer sun on the Essex coast a gull falls from the sky and strikes an unassuming local council worker sitting on the beach below. From that moment on he is obsessed, a crazed visionary repeatedly depicting the scene and the unknown figure within it who filled his view at the moment of impact. The mysterious beauty of his creations draw others to him, but can they lay hold of that which possesses him? And what of his anonymous muse? MAN WITH A SEAGULL ON HIS HEAD is an insightful exploration of art, love and creativity. We follow Ray Eccles and his unlikely muse, their lives becoming intertwined with others as they advance on their bizarre journey through the London art scene. We meet Grace Zoob, an insecure heiress in search of meaning, validation and love; Amanda Parsons, an ambitious girl from the suburbs who suspects there’s more to life than marriage and children but finds herself consumed by both; and Grace’s daughter, Mira, a beautiful, damaged young woman. Five very different lives, linked by a common thread, for all have experienced the true and extraordinary beauty of life, bursting through the veil of daily existence, only to disappear again before it can be fully grasped.
Memories fade but a flame-haired boy remains. May can’t remember where she is or how she got there, but one thing she does know; he’s coming back. The boy. Ned. She has to be ready for him. In Naomi Kruger’s debut novel, it is only by reliving the past that its secrets can be revealed.
In a story that spans five decades, those closest to May revisit the definitive moments of their lives, and in doing so, unintentionally uncover a truth that has haunted May for most of her life. Who was the boy with hair like fire and what happened to him?
For the characters in May, living in the present is almost impossible when the past seems like yesterday and its consequences are far-reaching. Their memories are connected by similar feelings of guilt and regret, and by the growing realisation that they can’t go back. In life, there are no second chances.
A walk through the park reminds Afsana of her estranged family and the things she has sacrificed, a postcard prompts Alex to consider a reality where he travelled the world instead of staying home, Karen attempts to relive a fateful meeting that ended in heartbreak, and Arthur stumbles across a discovery about the woman he once determinedly wooed that makes him an appreciate the present. Years may increase the distance but the past is never very far away, and is easily brought to the surface.
May is a poignant exploration of memory, history and the burden of the past. It is a story that is just as much about the things that stay with us as the things we forget.
The second in Laura Purcell’s captivating and acclaimed series of novels chronicling the lives and loves of the consorts and mistresses of Britain’s rash and reckless Hanoverian kings.
Her first novel in the series, Queen of Bedlam, was shortlisted for Best Historical Romance 2014 and was Editor’s Pick, in Historical Novels Review.
Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne. Henrietta’s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince’s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?
Whatever George’s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit even if it costs her pride and her marriage. Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II’s reign.
Mysticism is history. Chinna de Kock has awoken to the fact that she cannot override the virus mutating at warp speed inside her. Traumatised by events in her Cambridge lab, she has stopped eating and speaking, but her calculations allow her to feel, map and assess her way forwards. With her estranged mother Elektra riding out the pandemic in Bali, these mathematical incantations are her only hope for survival.
Enter Jill Purce, a cult ’70s documentary maker who Chinna, from her grandmother’s bed in Sumatra, watches fervently. Chinna is enamoured: by Jill and her belief in the vitality of change, and by the piercing gaze of her son, Chinna’s professor Merlin, whose vision of fungi as flesh, life as polyphony, has turned viral.
Exuberant and unforgettable, Nada Holland takes the reader beyond easy stoicism and into more puzzling terrain. Uncovering the mysteries that bring together East and West, future and past, and mother and daughter, Motherborn is a celebration of our emergent and entangled life on earth.
My Father’s Dreams: A Tale of Innocence Abused, is a controversial and shocking novel by Slovenia’s bestselling author Evald Flisar, and is regarded by many critics as his best. The book tells the story of fourteen-year-old Adam, the only son of a village doctor and his rather estranged wife, living in apparent rural harmony. But this is a topsy-turvy world of illusions and hopes, in which the author plays with the function of dreaming and story-telling. The story reveals an insidious deception, in which the unsuspecting son and his mother are the apparent victims; and yet who can tell whether the gruesome ending is reality or just another dream…. ‘My Father’s Dreams’ can be read as an off-beat crime story, a psychological horror tale, a dream-like morality fable, or as a dark and ironic account of one man’s belief that his personality and his actions are two different things. It can also be read as a story about a boy who has been robbed of his childhood in the cruelest way. It is a book which has the force of myth: revealing the fundamentals without drawing any particular attention to them. It tells a story about good and evil, and our inclination to be drawn to the latter.
Nightmarish and fiercely funny, William Burroughs’ virtuoso, taboo-breaking masterpiece Naked Lunchfollows Bill Lee through Interzone: a surreal, orgiastic wasteland of drugs, depravity, political plots, paranoia, sadistic medical experiments and endless, gnawing addiction. One of the most shocking novels ever written, Naked Lunch is a cultural landmark, now in a restored edition incorporating Burroughs’ notes on the text, alternate drafts and outtakes from the original.
‘A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire’ Newsweek
‘Naked Lunch is a banquet you will never forget’ J. G. Ballard
Think Harry Potter with no magical powers, or friends, living in south london, doing a job he hates, stressed, paranoid and lonely. I loved Mark Kottings bleak, funny and poetic tale of a london cab driver…
Like Travis Bickle sedated by the Tindersticks, a man simmering on the edge…
A funny and moving tale of a man working too hard, for too long, for too little –Sean Lock
In the morning, they gave Reacher a medal. And in the afternoon, they sent him back to school.
It’s just a voice plucked from the air: ‘The American wants a hundred million dollars’.
For what? Who from? It’s 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there’s a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big.
Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission and a big win. The Army pats him on the back and gives him a medal. And then they send him back to school. It’s a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he’s selling. And to whom. There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad.
Night School takes Reacher back to his army days, but this time he’s not in uniform. With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders, in a wired, fiendishly clever new adventure that will make the cold sweat trickle down your spine.
This title tells the moving story of the end of a marriage, set, at a politically charged moment in Danish-German relations, in the household of a German landowner on the coast of Schleswig-Holstein and at the court of a Danish royal princess in Copenhagen.
“On a housing estate called ClonduffSiberia deep in the middle of nowhere really, the body of a horse named RottingDead lies buried in the garden of a house that no family has moved into yet. The body of this horse does not have the head attached but it does have a heart, and its heart is lonely and filled with longing.”
John and his Mother, grieving for his Father, move to ClonduffSiberia. John meets Angela at a youth club disco and she introduces him to kissing, Bowie and cigarettes. Suddenly a girl goes missing and the answer seems to lie in the grown-up world of love and loss John is struggling to navigate.
Pursued by, vivid ghosts, anxious visions and ne’er-do-wells, John takes us with him as he finds himself, in the wrong place.