Books to Look Out For Out for in September 2022: Part One

Cover image for Shrines of Gaiety by Kate AtkinsonNo prizes for guessing which novel will be piled sky high in bookshops this Christmas with the announcement of a new Kate Atkinson. Shrines of Gaiety is set in London in 1926 with the city’s nightlife back in full swing after the war. Nellie Coker is making the most of the opportunities on offer, determined to advance her six children, not least Niven, deeply scarred from his experiences at the Somme, but such ambition brings with it enemies. ‘With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson brings together a glittering cast of characters in a truly mesmeric novel that captures the uncertainty and mutability of life; of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems’ promise the publishers. Naturally, I jumped at this as soon as it was offered. Review shortly…

It’s five years since Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire dropped through my letter box. I’ve read all her novels and, despite enjoyingCover image for Best of Friends each of them, Burnt Shadows remained my favourite but with its exploration of ‘80s Pakistan and contemporary Britain through two friends who meet aged four Best of Friends offers some stiff competition. Zhara and Maryam’s lives take very different turns, not least in their politics, but both are marked by an event which happened on the night of Benazir Bhutto’s inauguration in 1988. Decades later that night is brought back into sharp focus threatening a schism in this long, intimate friendship. Shamsie excels at melding the personal with the political and this absorbing, enlightening and astute novel is no exception. Review to follow…

Cover image for Daughters Beyond Command by Veronique OlmiVeronique Olmi’s Daughters Beyond Command follows three young women from a Catholic family, living in Aix-en-Provence, between May 1968 and the election of Francois Mitterrand in 1981, a period of tremendous social change in France not least for women. ‘The three each find their own means of succeeding in this new world and living an independent life, free from the morals, education and religion of their childhood. Their story resonates all the more poignantly as many of these freedoms, as established as we may have thought they were, are now under threat’ says the blurb, promisingly. I do like that title with all it implies..

I was very struck by Hanne Ørstavik’’s beautifully expressed, poignant novella, Love, back in 2019. Ti Amo sounds equally wrenching if not more so given it echoes Ørstavik’’s own experience. When the protagonist’s beloved husband is diagnosed with cancer, they try to carry on as best they can. Then she’s told he has less than a year to live, a prognosis that’s kept from him. ‘Ti Amo is an incredibly beautiful and harrowing novel, filled with tenderness and grief, love and loneliness. It delves into the complex emotions of bereavement, and in less than 100 pages manages to encapsulate an extraordinary scope and depth, asking how and for whom we can live, when the one we love best is about to die’ say the publishers reminding me a little of Amy Bloom’s poignant memoir, In Love.

Cover image for Total by Rebecca MillerSeptember’s first short story collection, Total, comes from Rebecca Miller, filmmaker and author of Personal Velocity and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, all three of which I’ve enjoyed. Miller’s characters are compelling, sometimes a little eccentric, their worlds drawn in vivid colours. There’s a pleasing sly wit running through many of the stories which are peppered with striking, occasionally provocative images and sometimes end a little disconcertingly leaving the reader with much to think about. Review to come…

That’s it for the first instalment of September’s new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more. Part two soon…

19 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in September 2022: Part One”

  1. I don’t need telling twice to read the new Kate Atkinson and Kamila Shamsie. But your other three titles sound intriguing too. I think I’ll be looking for the Veronique Olmi first.

  2. I’m a big fan of Kamila Shamsie so I shall have to read her new one. Home Fire will be a tough act to follow though. Daughters Beyond Command by Veronique sounds excellent too.

  3. Very interesting books. Daughters Beyond Command gets my vote: “Their story resonates all the more poignantly as many of these freedoms, as established as we may have thought they were, are now under threat.” Amen to that here in the USA and not just due to the obvious one.

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