Paperbacks to Look Out For in September 2021: Part Two

Cover image for What Are You Going Through by Sigrid NunezI 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.Cover image for Love Orange by Natasha Randall

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.

Cover image for Reproduction by Ian WilliamsI’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.

16 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For in September 2021: Part Two”

  1. They are all quite orange! It’s felt autumnal here for the last few days, even though it’s August. Hope you’re getting sunnier weather in Bath!

    The Nunez appeals to me the most, but I think I’d want someone to have read it & recommended it to me before I took the plunge…

    1. I was thinking Reproduction could be interesting until I saw Namoi’s review which included an answer the author gave about the structural organisation of his novel. And it sounded so pretentious I immediately lost interest.

    2. Sadly not, but I live in hope! Definitely a feeling that summer’s done with us, though.

      I’ve heard very good things about Nunez’s previous novels but haven’t yet got around to reading her.

  2. I recently discovered (and wrote a long post) on Nunez by reading one of her early novels. It was tremendous and I’m now a fan/follower, so I’ll add What You Are Going Through to my pile. I will say, however, that several reviews I’ve seen of it were somewhat tepid and I don’t think many consider it her best novel (that accolade appears to go to The Friend).
    Like you, I’m drawn to the art theme, which makes The Art of Falling very tempting. And, while I’m a little hesitant about Reproduction (it could easily get didactic) I like novels with characters from different worlds and this sounds interesting.

    1. I’ve heard such good reports of The Friend. Presumably, friendship is a theme close to her heart. Perhaps I should read that first. I’m guided by Naomi and Marcie with Reproduction, also the Giller is one of the few prizes I trust these days.

  3. Like you, I’m also curious about Nunez and will probably start with The Friend as it seems to be a favourite. Good to hear about this new one though; it’s always interesting to see what’s coming through.

  4. Thank you kindly for the link to my thoughts on Ian Williams, one of my favourite contemporary writers. I don’t think he’s didactic but I do see why not everyone appreciates his focus on how he’s constructing stories while he’s telling them. Reproduction, though, really does focus on people’s lives, so even if he is verging on experimental that can be overcome. That Nunez reminds me of Whereabouts (the Lahiri) in a way, although I hesitate to say so because I know you LOVED that one, but I feel like the narrators could be friends.

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