Paperbacks to Look Out For in November 2022

Cover image for Small Things Like These by Claire KeeganNo contest as to which book to begin November’s paperback preview. Shortlisted for this year’s Booker, Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These was one of my books of last year. Set in 1985, it follows Bill Furlong who finds himself faced with a moral dilemma. Bill’s illegitimacy marks him out in New Ross but he’s done well thanks to the generosity of Mrs Wilson, his mother’s employer. On the Sunday before Christmas, he delivers a load of coal to the local convent and makes a dreadful discovery. There’s long been gossip about the young girls taken in for ‘training’ in the convent laundry, often pregnant when they arrive, but the people of New Ross have looked the other way. Keegan tells her story from Bill’s perspective, a decent man well aware that life would have been very different for him. Fingers crossed for tonight’s Booker announcement.Cover image for The Falling Thread by Adam O'Riordan

Adam O’Riordan’s The Falling Thread caught my eye partly because he’s a poet, raising hopes for some fine writing. In the summer of 1890, Charles is spending the university vacation at home in Manchester relieving his boredom with an affair with his sisters’ governess for which there will be lifelong consequences. His sisters grow up in the new century, a very different world in prospect from their brother’s until the outbreak of war changes everything. ‘A captivating portrait of a family in time, The Falling Thread is a hauntingly evocative debut novel from one of our most exciting literary talents’ say the publishers promisingly.

Cover image for The Fugitives by Jamal MahjoubJamal Mahjoub’s The Fugitives sees erstwhile Khartoum jazz band The Kamanga Kings invited to perform in Washington D.C. The son of one of the band’s original members sets about trying to reassemble the band who find themselves in an unaccustomed spotlight. ‘As they move from the familiarity of Khartoum to the chaos of Donald Trump’s America, Jamal Mahjoub weaves a gently humorous and ultimately universal tale of music, belonging and love’ according to the blurb. It’s the sheer outlandishness of this premise that makes me want to read it.Cover image for The Flying Shadow by John Llewelyn Rhys

Handheld Press have brought some absolute corkers back into print over the past few years, one of the most successful of which is Jane Oliver and Ann Stafford’s Business as Usual which cheered me up no end during lockdown. First published in 1936, John Llewelyn Rhys’ love story The Flying Shadow is the latest from them, following young Welshman Robert Owen, late of the Royal Air Force, now teaching at an English flying school where overly confident pupils present a challenge. Rhys’ writing was frequently compared with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s when his work was first published, apparently.

Cover image for Look for Me and I'll Be Gone by John Edgar WidemanNovember’s paperback short story collection is John Edgar Wideman’s Look For Me and I’ll Be Gone about the current state of America. ‘Historical and contemporary, intimate and expansive, the stories here represent a pioneering writer whose innovation, form and imagination know no bounds’ say the publishers. Not much else to be deduced from the blurb but it’s a theme that has a perennial interest for me.

I’m rounding off November’s paperbacks with an unusual one for me in that it’s a set of essays. Ann Patchett’s These Precious Days explores family, writing, marriage, love, friendship and death, with which her collection begins and ends, all written in anCover image for These Precious Days intimate warm style, full of insight, humour and compassion. These are lovely pieces, like sitting down with a friend blessed with the skill of drawing you in with a warm welcome, just as Patchett does with her fiction. She has a knack of writing about an apparently inconsequential pleasant memory, making a point at the end as if tying a package up with a satisfying bow. I loved it.

That’s it for November. As ever, a click on a title will take you either to my review or to a more detailed synopsis if you’d like to know more, and if you want to catch up with the month’s new titles they’re here and here. December next when I’m expecting slim pickings.

24 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out For in November 2022”

  1. I’ve just finished – and loved – the Keegan. Though the setting seemed earlier than the 80s to me, but that’s the most minor of quibbles. Your other choices are ones to look out for – thanks for the round up.

  2. Small Things Like These is so good, I still think about it. A perfect tiny gem. The Flying Shadow also sounds really good, I will definitely look out for that.

    1. Such a great premise for The Fugitives. It sounds as if it’s got a touch of the Buena Vista Social Clubs about it to me. I’ve yet to read the Garner but I’m sure it would also make a worthy winner.

  3. Great to see Small Things Like These coming out in paperback, just in time for the run-up to Christmas. It’s been a good seller in h/b, so hopefully the p/b will expand Keegan’s readership even further. The Flying Shadow sounds really interesting, and a great cover to boot!

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