There’s a nicely varied bunch of paperbacks to look forward to in August kicking off with Beatrice Hitchman’s All of You Every Single One. Set in Vienna, it spans over three decades from 1910 to 1946, telling the story of two same sex couples who become each other’s family against a background of tumultuous change and horrific persecution. Vienna is summoned up in gorgeously atmospheric, cinematic descriptions. A wee bit too long for me, but that said Hitchman’s characters are engaging, despite their many flaws, and her storytelling engrossing. Pleased to see that the paperback cover is as striking as the hardback’s, too.
I still have a very strong memory of Katie Kitamura’s A Separation which I reviewed back in 2017. It’s the kind of book that gets under your skin; not a comfortable read but a thought-provoking one. Her new novel, Intimacies, sounds as if it might have a similar effect as an interpreter at the International Court in the Hague finds herself drawn into a series of complicated personal relationships and interpreting for a former president accused of war crimes. ‘She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her, forcing her to decide what she wants from her life’ say the publishers.
Amber Medland’s Wild Pets follows Iris, Ezra and Nance through the years immediately after they graduate as they attempt to negotiate their way into adult life by day and party hard by night. Despite their many apparent advantages they’re floundering. ‘A bold, honest novel, Wild Pets is about the fragility of mental health, power imbalances in friendship and sex, and creative ambition fused with destruction – and the lingering power of first loves’ according to the blurb of a novel squarely aimed at Millennials. Hardly my demographic, but I like the sound of it, particularly as it’s much praised by the likes of Jenny Offill and Andrew O’Hagan for its smart wit and insight.
For some reason, I’ve not kept up with Helen Oyeyemi’s fiction, having lost track after Boy, Snow, Bird which I loved. Her new novel, Peaces, tells the strange story of Otto and Xavier who board a train of many carriages, each very different from the other, inhabited by two people who could be passengers or prisoners. ‘We discover who orchestrated the journey, hurtling them all into their past for clues. This is a brilliant, wise, strange and, above all, beautiful novel’ says the blurb, intriguingly.
The month’s first paperback short story collection comes from a writer unknown to me, although her daughter is one of my favourite novelists. Introduced by Elizabeth Strout, Hilma Wolitzer’s Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket is a set of linked short stories, many published in the ‘60s and ‘70s, which explore the intimate world of domesticity. ‘Wolitzer captures the tensions, contradictions and unexpected detours of daily life with wit, candour and an acutely observant eye’ say the publishers promisingly of a collection much praised by the likes of Lauren Groff and Emma Straub. It sounds right up my street.
That’s it for the first batch of August’s paperbacks. As ever, a click on a title will take you to either to a more detailed synopsis or to my review should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with the month’s new fiction it’s here and here. Part two soon…