Whereas I’d read all the first batch of March paperbacks, I’ve read none of these – something I hope to remedy shortly. I’m particularly looking forward to Ayòbámi Adébáyò‘s Stay with Me which takes us to Nigeria in the turbulent 1980s where Yejide is desperate for a child. She’s tried everything she knows, from medical consultations to pilgrimage, with no success until finally her in-laws insist on a new wife for their son. ‘Stay with Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayòbámi Adébáyò weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood’ says the publisher which sounds almost too heartrending to bear.
Edward Docx’ Let Go My Hand explores secrets and lies through the lens of three sons and their father who has asked them to join him on a last journey through Europe. While Louis has his doubts about the idea, his two half-brothers are much more reluctant, unwilling to forgive their dying father his past transgressions. ‘Let Go My Hand is a darkly comic and deeply moving twenty-first-century love story between a son, his brothers and their father. Through these vividly realized characters, it asks elemental questions about how we love, how we live, and what really matters in the end’ according to the publisher. I’ve not had much luck with Docx’ fiction in the past but the idea of exploring the dark family secrets theme from a male point of view is an unusual one.
Given all that’s been happening in the US over the past few years, it’s a brave author who decides to write a piece of fiction about contemporary America but perhaps Hari Zunzru’s White Tears isn’t the state of the nation novel it first appears, more a comment on race relations. Two very different New Yorkers, friends since college, share a passion for music and are now the rising stars of the city’s music scene. A chance discovery of an old blues song sets in train a chain of events which leaves them in grave danger. ‘Electrifying, subversive and wildly original, White Tears is a ghost story and a love story, a story about lost innocence and historical guilt. This unmissable novel penetrates the heart of a nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge and exploitation, and holding a mirror up to the true nature of America today’ say the publishers.
Daniel Magariel’s One of the Boys is about two brothers who move from Kansas to Albuquerque with their father after their parents’ acrimonious divorce. He works from home while they settle into their new school but his behavior becomes increasingly disturbing. ‘Brutal and urgent, this masterful debut is a story of survival: two brothers driven to protect each other from the father they once trusted’ say the publishers. I’ve seen several good reports of this one from people whose opinion I trust.
Wolfgang Herrndorf’s Sand is also here thanks to a trusted blogger’s opinion. It’s set in the North African desert where an amnesiac man is fleeing armed pursuers. Four Westerners are murdered in a commune and a suitcase of worthless currency disappears. ‘Enter a pair of very unenthusiastic detectives, a paranoid spy whose sanity has baked away in the sun, and a beautiful blonde American with a talent for being underestimated. Sand is a gripping thriller – part Pynchon, part Le Carre, part Coen brothers – an unsettling, caustically funny tale of pursuit and madness’ say the publishers which doesn’t sound very far up my alley but this review over at Elle Thinks is very convincing.