Books to Look Out For Out for in April 2022: Part Two

Cover image for The Candy House by Jennifer EganPart one of April’s preview had a nice little Celtic theme running through it whereas part two is much more of a hodge-podge thematically so I’ll start with the three I’ve already read.

Five years ago, I reviewed Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, noting that it was seven years since her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad had been published. Much like Goon Squad’s take on the music industry, The Candy House explores our ever-growing obsession with life online through Bix Boulton’s Collective Consciousness, a technology that captures our very consciousness online. I wouldn’t exactly call this a sequel but Goon Squad fans might want to think about rereading it as several of its main protagonists and their children make an appearance in the novel’s interconnecting narratives quite some way in. It’s far from an easy novel but it’s an impressive one with some pertinent things to say. Review shortly…Cover image for Other People Manage by Ellen Hawley

It was that jacket that attracted me to Ellen Hawley’s Other People Manage which is about the gradual coming to terms with a new life after the person you’ve most loved has died. Marge and Peg had been together for over 20 years, meeting at the Women’s Coffeehouse in the ‘70s long before the advent of gay bars, at least in small town Minnesota. Now that she’s alone, Marge is not sure how to be in the world. I loved this Anne Tylerish novel about the ordinary everyday with a cast of characters you might recognise and a good dollop of insight. There’s also a story behind Hawley’s book, sent unsolicited to its publishers who recognised what had landed in their laps. Review soon…

Cover image for Very Cold People by Sarah MangusoSarah Manguso’s debut novel Very Cold People follows Ruth, the child of abusive parents in a New England town, who watches everything around her, learning how to see what lies below the facades presented to the world. Ruth’s narrative is delivered in cool, crisp, clean prose which offers a detachment from her devastating account of her childhood brought up in a household where love and affection barely exist. A tough read but Manguso’s writing is superb. It came as no surprise to learn that she’s an acclaimed poet. Review to follow…Cover image for The Geometer Lobachevsky by Adrian Duncan

I may well not have included Adrian Duncan’s The Geometer Lobachevsky had I not enjoyed Love Notes from a German Building Site so much. Set in 1950, it sees Nikolai Lobachevsky, great grandson of his celebrated mathematician namesake, called to Leningrad from his work in Ireland for a ‘special appointment’, an appointment he knows it would be folly to keep. Instead, he goes into hiding on a small Irish island hoping to avoid a death sentence, wondering if he’ll ever be able to return home. Hoping for more of the quietly atmospheric writing that I loved so much in Duncan’s previous novel.

Cover image for Grand Hotel Europa by Ilya Leonard PfeijfferAt well over 600 pages, Ilja Leonard Pfeijfer’s Grand Hotel Europa weighs in far above my usual page limit but I like its premise. When a writer moves into the hotel, its heyday long since passed, he sets about reconstructing the story of his love affair with Clio, their many travels and their search for Caravaggio’s last painting. Packed with elegant, memorable guests, the hotel becomes a source of fascination for the writer, as it attempts to stave off the worst effects of mass tourism by drawing on its glorious past. Very much like the sound of that despite its chunkiness.

From intergenerational households whose elders fail to understand their grandchildren to a university dropout who knows a Cover image for We Move by Gurnaik Johalsecret about a family friend riding high in the music charts, Gurnaik Johals’s We Move is a collection of short stories set within Heathrow’s flight path. ‘Mapping an area of West London, these stories chart a wider narrative about the movement of multiple generations of immigrants. In acts of startling imagination, Gurnaik Johal’s debut brings together the past and the present, the local and the global, to show the surprising ways we come together’ according to the publishers. Very much like the sound of stories linked by neighbourhood and the immigration theme is a perennial favourite for me.

That’s it for April’s new fiction. As ever, 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 part one, it’s here. Paperbacks soon…

21 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in April 2022: Part Two”

    1. Very much in tune with several of the themes running through The Candy House, and I think I might have to steel myself for those 600+ pages for Hotel Grand Europa. That premise is just too tempting!

  1. I have a proof of Very Cold People and I’m looking forward to it — I’ve enjoyed her nonfiction (but not tried her poetry).

    I’ve thought I would skip The Candy House because Goon Squad didn’t stand up to a reread, but I’ll wait and see your review!

  2. I’m really looking forward to the Egan Susan, will keep an eye out for the review. I wasn’t overly taken with Manguso’s 300 Arguments, but do think the novel sounds like something I would enjoy.

  3. The set-up in Grand Hotel Europa sounds intriguing, but I’m balking a little at 600+ pages… I’ll be interested to hear you think if you do decide to go for it. Adrian Duncan’s sounds appealing too, especially the style of writing you’ve mentioned in your summary.

    1. I’ll be waiting for the paperback of GHE if I decide to go ahead. I think I’d need a hoist for the hardback! Duncan’s an interesting writer. He’s an engineer by trade, apparently.

    1. Other People Manage is a treat and Hawley’s backstory is also lovely. It’s certainly a contrast with Manguso’s novella although her writing outweighed the bleakness for me.

  4. Ohh, I love the idea of a connection with Goon Squad. I’ve always wondered about rereading it, to more carefully observe some of the links, so this could be the ideal opportunity!

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