Books to Look Out For in April 2021: Part Two

Cover image for Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregorNo contest for the book with which to kick off this second instalment of April’s new fiction. I reviewed Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13 four years ago beginning with a paean of praise for this writer who seems to excel himself with each new book. Impossible, then, to resist reading Lean Fall Stand as soon as it dropped through my letterbox. It’s the story of a man returning from his beloved Antarctica, irrevocably changed, and his wife who must find a way to care for him. The title of McGregor’s novel follows the trajectory of Robert’s stroke, from the storm-hit expedition which triggered it to his rehabilitation. A quietly powerful book, unafraid to explore the boundaries of language. Review soon…

I’ve also already read Marco Missiroli’s Fidelity, attracted by its title which made me think it might make it an interesting companion to Sue Miller’s Monogamy, one of last year’s reading highlights. Set in Milan, it spans nine years in the lives of a husband and wife, beginning in 2009 when, in their mid-thirties and childless, they’re facing their first crisis after Carlo commits an indiscretion with one of his students. A bit of a slow burner for me, it’s an accomplished piece of fiction which explores marital infidelity against the background of family life. Review shortly…Cover inage for The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

Marriage of a very different kind features in The Inverts, Crystal Jeans’ first novel for a large publisher having had two published by Welsh indie Honno Press. With luck, if this one is as successful as it deserves, Honno will see a little uptick in their sales. The Inverts is about a marriage contracted between Bettina and Bartholomew in the early 1920s, one that will give them the veneer of respectability beneath which they can let their true desires rip. Theirs is a marriage as stormy as it is unconventional ruptured by a particularly vituperative row until an awful mishap leads to a reconciliation. If you’re after a bit of a romp with an unusual premise and don’t mind a bit of filth with your humour, I’d recommend this one. Review to follow…

Eva Baltasar’s Permafrost sounds like a breath of fresh air with its witty narrator leaving her conventional Barcelona family home behind and embarking on an adventure which takes her around Europe, exploring her sexuality. ‘Full of powerful, physical imagery, this prize-winning debut novel by acclaimed Catalan poet Eva Baltasar was a word-of-mouth hit in its own language. It is a breathtakingly forthright call for women’s freedom to embrace both pleasure and solitude, and speaks boldly of the body, of sex, and of the self’ say the publishers promisingly.

Entirely different, Chris Powers’ A Lonely Man sounds intriguing with its premise of a writer who meets a man claiming to be Cover image for A Lonely Man by Chris Powersthe ghostwriter for a Russian oligarch, recently found hanged, who insists someone’s following him. Should Robert believe Patrick’s unlikely story or not? ‘An elegant and atmospheric twist on the cat-and-mouse narrative, A Lonely Man is a novel of shadows, of the search for identity and the elastic nature of truth. As his association with Patrick hurtles towards tragedy, Robert must decide: are actual events the only things that give a story life, and are some stories too dangerous to tell?’ asks the blurb, whetting my appetite for an answer.

Eley Williams’ The Liars’ Dictionary was one of my books of 2020, a treat for anyone with an interest in language which is what’s drawn me to Pip Williams’ The Dictionary of Lost Words about Esme who grows up in a scriptorium where her father and a team of lexicographers are at work on the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. ‘Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words’, say the publishers which sounds right up my alley.

I was struck by both the characterisation and evocative writing in Benjamin Myers’ The Offing when I reviewed it in the summer of 2019 which seems an ageCover image for Male Tears by Benjamin Myers ago now. I’m hoping for more of that in his debut short story collection, Male Tears, which explores the theme of masculinity. ‘Farmers, fairground workers and wandering pilgrims, gruesome gamekeepers, bare-knuckle boxers and ex-cons with secret passions, the men that populate these unsettling, wild and wistful stories form a multi-faceted, era-spanning portrait of just what it means to be a man’ says the blurb suggesting a wide ranging set of stories to enjoy.

That’s it for April’s new fiction. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis for any that take your fancy and if you’d like to catch up with the first part it’s here. Paperbacks soon…

26 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in April 2021: Part Two”

  1. I’m going to be reviewing The Dictionary of Lost Words for BookBrowse. Isn’t it funny how similar the two novels sound, and that the authors’ surname is the same!?

  2. I’m not usually a reader of short story collections but I’m a big fan of Benjamin Myers’ writing so will add it to my wish list. I’ve also just bought The Dictionary of Lost Words on your recommendation and plan to read it soon.

  3. Happily, since I’ll be reading it very soon, the one that appeals most is A Lonely Man. Male Tears sound intriguing too, though short stories don’t always work for me. I might wait to see what the early reviews look like.

  4. I keep telling myself that my TBR pile is tall enough for now, and here I am adding The Dictionary of Lost Words to my mental stack!

  5. This sounds like a great bunch! There seem to be a couple of good ones for Literary Wives here. And I’m excited to read your review of Lean Fall Stand. I finally read Reservoir 13 just a few weeks ago, and it was wonderful! Review will come eventually…
    I like the cover art of A Lonely Man.

  6. Even though I still have some older McGregor books to read, of course the whisper of a new one seems even more exciting. This does sound like an exceptionally satisfying bunch, overall.

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