Books to Look Out For in April 2024: Part One

Cover image for You Are Here by David NichollsI’ve yet to read any of the books in April’s first preview post including the one I’m kicking off with, likely one of the biggest titles of 2024. I tend towards literary rather than commercial fiction but David Nicholls’ writing always hits the spot for me. His new one, You Are Here, sees Marnie feeling stuck and Michael left by his wife. A determined mutual friend succeeds in getting them to take a walk together which, apparently, turns into something of an epic. ‘A new love story by beloved bestseller David Nicholls, You Are Here is a novel of first encounters, second chances and finding the way home’ says the blurb which may sound nothing to get particularly excited about but I’m sure Nicholls’ legions of fans will be delighted at the prospect. I certainly am.Cover image for The Spoiled Heart by Sunjeev Sahota

I enjoyed Sunjeev Sahota’s last novel, The China Room, although not as much as The Year of the Runaways. His new one, The Spoiled Heart, sees an idealistic trade unionist, about to run for leadership, drawn to a woman who has returned to their town with her teenage son. Nayan lost his own family in an accident two decades ago and, as he becomes closer to Helen, the possibility of a past connection becomes clear. ‘A magnificent and multi-layered account of one man’s inexorable fall, The Spoiled Heart is an explosively contemporary story of secrets and assumptions whose consequences could never have been imagined’ says the blurb rather grandly.

Cover image for Lost in Ibiza by Rebecca FraynRebecca Frayn’s Lost in Ibiza sounds like a road novel, something I’ve often enjoyed in the past. Alice, an environmental activist, has a shock on her twenty-first birthday when she finds out her biological father is not the man who helped raise her but a property developer based in Ibiza currently working on a deal which will greatly increase his wealth. When they meet, they take off on a journey across the island during which past secrets are revealed. ‘Seen from the perspective of four characters with widely divergent world views, Lost in Ibiza offers an intimate meditation on family dynamics, set against the larger canvas of an island utopia that teeters on the brink of environmental catastrophe’ according to the blurb.Cover image for The Alternatives by Caoilinn Hughes

I gave up Caoilinn Hughes’ The Orchid and the Wasp but had better luck with The Wild Laughter so have my fingers crossed for The Alternatives. Olwen took on the care of her three sisters when their parents died, all four now adults leading very different lives. When Olwen disappears, her siblings return to the family home to confront their difficult past and look to an uncertain future. ‘Fiercely witty and unexpectedly hopeful, The Alternatives is an unforgettable portrait of a family perched on our collective precipice, told by one of Ireland’s most gifted storytellers’ promises the blurb.

Cover image for Caledonian Road by Andrew O'HaganAndrew O’Hagan’s Caledonian Road comes billed as a state-of-the-nation novel which I always find appealing. Opening in May 2021, it follows Campbell Flynn, an art historian and celebrity intellectual who enjoys stirring things up, and Milo Manghasa, his student, who also likes to be provocative. ‘Over the course of an incendiary year, a web of crimes, secrets and scandals will be revealed, and Campbell Flynn may not be able to protect himself from the shattering exposure of his privilege and his connections. But then, he always knew: when his life came tumbling down, it would occur in public’ says the publisher which sounds like fun although it’s a bit of a doorstopper.

Cover image for Manny and the Baby by VaraidzoVaraidzo’s Manny and the Baby is partly set in my home town on the eve of the Olympics in 2012, and partly in London in 1936 where two sisters are determined to make a splash, one as a writer, the other as a dancer who finds herself attracted to a Jamaican trumpeter. Many years later, Itai has holed up in his late father’s Bath flat realising how little he knows about him while pondering his new friendship with Josh, an athlete feeling the pressure of the Olympics. ‘Manny and the Baby is a character-driven debut novel, full of heart, about what it means to be Black and British, now and in the past’ says the blurb promisingly.

That’s it for April’s first batch of new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis for any that take you fancy. Part two soon…

31 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For in April 2024: Part One”

  1. Well, Caledonian Road is on order at the library, so I’ve popped myself in the queue. I think I’ll head for the Rebecca Frayn too These look quite a tasty bunch of books, though I’m not in the David Nicholls paid-up fan club. Yes, he writes well, but I’m not sure why he has gained such universal currency.

    1. Having had to read a reasonable amount of commercial fiction when I was a reviews editor, I’d say he’s one of the best at that game. Hope you enjoy Caledonian Road!

  2. I dithered about requesting the new Sahota (loved Year of the Runaways) but decided against it in the end—I can’t quite believe the grandness of the jacket claims and fear the novel will spend too much time deliberately aiming for profundity. Caledonian Road looks interesting if potentially infuriating, and I love the cover for Manny and the Baby!

  3. Not sure how I missed the news that Nicholls had a new book out. Will certainly read it. Also looking forward to The Alternatives (if only for the gorgeous cover).

    1. Definitely commercial fictoon rather than literary if you know what I mean but very smartly done and empathetic, too. I particularly fancy Lost in Ibiza out of those two,

  4. These all sound good to me. Especially intrigued by Sahota’s. The concept of the Frayn novel more suits my current mood however. And you’ve also got me thinking about whether I’d enjoy a “state of the nation” novel about Canada…I’m just not sure it’s a thing over here, and it’s hard to appreciate the nuances of that kind of story from afar…interesting!

    1. A road novel on a sunny island at the end of winter is very appealing. The ‘state of the nation novel’ seems to be more of a favourite over here and in the US now you come to mention it.

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