I failed miserably to find a link between titles for the first batch of September’s paperbacks but this one could be described as about relationships. I’ll begin with friendship and Sigrid Nunez’s What Are you Going Through which explores grief through a terminally ill woman who asks her friend to help her to die, promising ‘to make it as fun as possible… …What follows is an extraordinary tale of a friendship put to the greatest test: to witness, unflinching, its end. It is also a portrait of the way we live now, in a world endlessly troubled by crises, and the dramatically changing nature of human relationships in our time’ say the publishers promisingly.
Peter Ho Davies’ A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself tackles themes of parenthood and marriage, questioning the decision of whether to have a child, or at least that’s what it appears to do from the slightly oblique blurb. Two pregnancies are surrounded by health problems, the second delivering a beloved child who faces a barrage of hospital tests. ‘This spare, supple narrative chronicles the flux of parenthood, marriage, and the day-to-day practice of loving someone’ according to that blurb. I’ve enjoyed several of Davies’ previous novels and this one deals with interesting questions by the sound of it.
Natasha Randall’s Love Orange takes a very different look at family life through what sounds like a slice of satire which follows the Tinkleys who are settling into their new home. While Hank feels a failure at work, Jenny’s urge to do some good results in a correspondence with a prison inmate which takes a dodgy turn. Meanwhile, the children get entangled in the dark net in what the publishers are describing as ‘a comic cocktail, an exuberant skewering of contemporary anxieties and prejudices.’
In Danielle McLaughlin’s debut, The Art of Falling, Nessa, whose marriage is recovering from her husband’s affair, is excited at the prospect of curating a retrospective exhibition of a much-revered sculptor’s work. Two incidents threaten her future – the possible revelation of a past betrayal and a claim that the late sculptor’s most renowned work was not by him at all. ‘As Nessa finds the past intruding on the present, she must decide whether she can continue to live a lie – or whether she’s ready to face the consequences once everything is out in the open’ say the publishers. As ever, that art theme is irresistible for me.
I’m finishing with Ian Williams’ 2019 Giller Prize-winning Reproduction which I’ve had in my sights for a while, having spotted it on both Marcie’s Buried in Print and Naomi’s Consumed by Ink during their shadowing stints. It tells the story of nineteen-year-old Felicia, a West Indian student, and Edgar, son of rich German parents, who meet when their mothers share a hospital room. ‘Reproduction tells a crooked love story which takes strange, winding paths shaped by community, family and fleeting interactions that leave an inedible imprint’ say the publishers enticingly. If you’d like to know more Naomi’s review is here and Marcie’s is here.
That’s it for September’s paperback preview which has a distinctly orange tinge to it, perhaps preparing us for autumn. As ever a click on a title will take to a more detailed synopsis should you wish to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with part one it’s here. New titles for the month are here.