Paperbacks to Look Out For Out for in June 2022: Part One

Cover image for Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally RooneyEnough June paperbacks to more than make up for the lack of new titles that caught my eye I’m pleased to say, beginning with a book surrounded by huge amounts of brouhaha last year.

Readers would have to have been living on Mars not to know about Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You. She’s an author who arouses feelings of antipathy in some, adoration in others. This one’s about four people, still young but aware that youth is slipping away as they fall in and out of love and lust. ‘Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?’ asks the blurb. Having enjoyed both Conversation with Friends and Normal People, I’m keen to find out but you may be suppressing a yawn, or worse.Cover image for Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin

Not quite so much excitement surrounding Sarah Gilmartin’s Dinner Party although it did pop up in my Twitter feed a good seven months or so ahead of publication. It begins with the titular gathering then explores the fraught family dynamics leading up to it. Sixteen years after her twin’s death Kate has decided to host the annual anniversary dinner party inviting her family but knowing her mother won’t attend. A year later there’s another dinner party but things are very different for all three siblings. Gilmartin’s novel explores the well-trodden literary ground of family tragedy but does it refreshingly well.

Cover for Iron Annie by Luke CassidyI managed to miss Luke Cassidy’s Iron Annie when it was published last year but I’ve noticed lots of readers whose opinions I trust singing its praises on social media. Aoife and Annie set off on a road trip around Britain with the aim of disposing of ten kilos of cocaine for Aoife’s business partner. Then Annie horrifies Aoife by deciding not to return to Ireland. ‘Tender, tragic but ultimately hopeful, Iron Annie is a breakneck journey that crackles with energy, warmth and heart, and marks the arrival of a truly original new voice in literary fiction’ says the blurb which sounds excellent.

Anna Glendenning’s An Experiment in Leisure sees a young woman reinventing herself, moving from West Yorkshire to Cover image for An Experiment in Leisure by Anna GlendinningLondon by way of Cambridge, tweaking her image and cutting herself off from her family in the process. The shine begins to wear off Grace’s urban fantasy and she’s left facing an identity crisis in what the publishers are describing as ‘a witty, bold debut, at once a tender portrait of youth and a piercing insight into the political, cultural and economic fault lines dividing Britain today’.

Cover image for Fault Lines by Emily ItaniEmily Itami’s Fault Lines (see what I did there) sees Mizuki, ground down by domesticity, drawn into an affair with Kiyoshi with whom she rediscovers herself and the excitement of living in a city she’s always loved. Inevitably, the strain of a leading a double life begins to tell and a choice must be made. ‘Alluring, compelling, startlingly honest and darkly funny, Fault Lines is a bittersweet love story and a daring exploration of modern relationships from a writer to watch’ say the publishers of a novel which might sound a little clichéd but I’ve seen good things on Twitter from readers I trust about this one.

I wasn’t at all sure about Emily Austin’s Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead then Naomi’s review at Consumed by InkCover image for Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin persuaded me. Obsessed by death, Gilda responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local church in a desperate effort to escape her anxiety then finds herself hired to replace the deceased receptionist. ‘A blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration – and the expiration of those you love – is the only certainty’ says the blurb.

Based on a true story, Nadifa Muhamed’s The Fortune Men was shortlisted for both last year’s Booker and the Costa Novel Cover image for The Fortune Men by Nadifa MuhamedAward. Set in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay in 1952, it follows Mahmood Mattan, a man with an eye to the main chance and none too fussy about its legality, who finds himself charged with a murder he didn’t commit. At first Mattan isn’t worried, convinced that justice will be done but it becomes clear that his faith is both misplaced and naive. A powerful story, reviewed here by HeavenAli.

One of my books of last year despite it being a pandemic novel, Sarah Hall’s Burntcoat tells the story of a sculptor who survives the novavirus but knows that her time is limited as she contemplates the loss of her lover just as they were beginningCover image for Burntcoat by Sarah Hall to explore a life together. Halit had returned from a foray for supplies during lockdown badly beaten and infected by a mob intent on looting. Years later, as her symptoms reassert themselves, Edith sets about assembling the national memorial she’s been commissioned to deliver. Hall tells Edith’s story in a long series of short, richly textured paragraphs, often completing them with an image or an idea which stopped me in my tracks. I found it powerful, moving and oddly comforting.

That’s it for the first part of June’s paperback preview. As ever, a click on a title will take you either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with new fiction it’s here. Part two soon…

22 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For Out for in June 2022: Part One”

  1. Rachel Moffitt

    Well I think you know my feelings on Sally Rooney! Dull writing. But not every book is for everyone so good luck to her. Might give the Sarah Hall a try although not entirely sure I am ready for a pandemic novel. But I have enjoyed previous books by her and I listened to a really interesting interview with her last year about this book.

    1. Ah, Rachel. I bet you’ve been secretly binging Conversations with Friends! I felt the same about pandemic novels but Burncoat and The Fell are exceptions worth making.

  2. Great selection. I’ve read and enjoyed Dinner Party as I’m a fan of Irish fiction. I’m going to add Iron Annie, An Experiment in Leisure and Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead (brilliant title!) to my tbr list.

  3. I’m afraid I am one of those who is ambivalent towards Sally Rooney. It’s probably unfair as I haven’t read a word of her. Jaqui sent me Normal People ages ago, but I couldn’t make myself read it, and ended up passing it on. I haven’t watched the TV adaptations either. I can’t decide what it is that puts me off.
    I did enjoy The Fortune Men, so powerful and memorable.

    1. Perhaps it’s all the hype surrounding her. I usually find that very off-putting but read Conversations with Friends before it really took off. I remembered your review when I spotted The Fortune Men in the paperback schedules.

  4. I am very ambivalent towards Rooney even though I’ve not read any. I tried watching the series but couldn’t get through the first episode!
    I’ve got Burncoat on my TBR and The Fortune Men so will get to them eventually!

  5. Claire Stokes

    I’ll have to weigh in here as I really enjoyed both previous Rooneys! It will be interesting to see whether this one is as good. Really looking forward to the Hall.

  6. Fortune Men sounds good, and I love the title of Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead! Haven’t read any Rooney, but then I also haven’t ever eaten marmite… 😉

  7. Added Beautiful World & Dinner Party to my must-read list. They sound brilliant. Haven’t read anything by Rooney before but with all the hype, it’s time to take the plunge. Was also interested in Dead + Fault Lines, but after chatting with friends that read both books, I’m taking a pass.
    Happy reading!

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