Paperbacks to Look Out For in March 2020: Part One

March looks like another great month for paperbacks which will either please you or make you groan at the prospect or yet more additions to the TBR, or perhaps both. I’m beginning with a book many of you may well have already read but I’ve yet to do so. Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other surprised and delighted many last year by winning the Booker Prize. The judges chose to call it a tie with The Testaments, something which Margaret Atwood graciously acknowledged while managing to suggest that Evaristo ought to be the sole winner, or at least that’s how I chose to interpret her speech. It tells the story of twelve very different characters, most of them black British women.Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible’ promise the publishers. Evaristo’s Mr Loverman was an absolute joy raising my hopes for this one.

Letitia Colombani’s The Braid tells the story of three, rather than twelve, very different women all of whose lives intersect unbeknownst to each other. Smita is a Dalit, an untouchable, determined that her six-year-old will have a better life. Giulia works for her father in Sicily, preparing hair for wig makers in a family business whose finances are revealed to be precarious. Sarah is a partner in a Montreal law firm who hides her cancer diagnosis, scheduling her treatment to fit in with work. All three of these women change their lives for the better on their own terms in this heartening fable-like story.

Set in rural Malaysia, We, the Survivors tells the story of a man born into poverty, a decent man whose attempts to better himself end in tragedy. When the staff of the fish farm he manages succumb to cholera, Ah Hock turns to an old friend for help. On the night Keong has arranged to meet his Bangladeshi contact, Ah Hock is horrified to find that he’s armed with a knife. Aw’s writing is contemplative and perceptive, his characters well drawn and convincing.

Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans explores the fallout from a hit and run accident which kills a Moroccan immigrant who had been running his restaurant in a small Californian desert town for decades. Lalami tells her story in short chapters through a diverse set of characters whose backstories are meticulously sketched in. It’s a quietly powerful novel which seemed to have had less coverage than it deserved here in the UK.Cover image

It was its Berlin setting that first attracted me to Adrian Duncan’s Love Notes From a German Building Site, an irresistible backdrop for me. Duncan’s debut follows a couple in their mid-thirties who have left Ireland for Germany. Paul is a structural engineer refurbishing a building in the old East Berlin while Evelyn is waiting to start a job in a Cologne museum. As the project nears its end, tempers on site become dangerously frayed, crises flare and Paul feels himself increasingly out of kilter, grappling with a language which constantly eludes him. Written in spare, elegant prose, this beautifully crafted novella is wonderfully atmospheric.

That’s it for this first part of March’s paperback preview. A click on any title that catches your eye will take you either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis, and if you’d like to catch up with the month’s new novels they’re here and here. Second instalment soon…

24 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For in March 2020: Part One

  1. Rachel

    I think I liked Mr Loverman more than Girl although I very much enjoyed that as well. And it is a much better book than The Testaments and I am huge Atwood fan as you know.

    Reply
  2. BookerTalk

    The Evaristo must be a re-release because I thought it had already come out in paperback by the time of the Booker prize announcement (the only one of the shortlisted books in that format)?

    Reply
  3. JacquiWine

    I really hope you enjoy the Evaristo. It’s a very cleverly constructed portrait of black British women reaching back into the past hundred years. I love the way the author encourages us to look beyond the stereotypes typically presented to us through various media, prompting us to see these individuals for who they really are…

    Reply
  4. buriedinprint

    Love Notes would have caught my attention for the title as much as for the setting, I think. It reminds me a little of that Lewycka (sp?) novel, A Short History of Tractors. As for the Evaristo, i don’t think we had it in trade cloth, straight to paper after the prize. She’s going to be in the city next month….I hope I can get tickets. *rubs palms* Enjoy your March reading!

    Reply

Leave a comment ...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.