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Business as Usual by Jane Oliver & Ann Stafford: A perfect comfort read

This blog tends to be all about the shiny and new but several titles reviewed on Ali’s HeavenAli blog from Handheld Press caught my eye, including Business as Usual first published in 1933. Then Covid-19 struck and the world turned upside down. Small presses seemed likely to be the hardest hit so I posted two …

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A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth by Daniel Mason: Stories of history, science, discovery and outsiders

Historical novelist Daniel Mason’s name will be well known to many readers, I’m sure. I remember The Piano Tuner causing quite a stir when it was published back in 2002 but it didn’t appeal to me. You might wonder, then, why I picked up A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth but its multitude …

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Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight: A six-cornered love story with a botanical twist

Five years ago I reviewed The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein, as she was known then, describing it as ‘a quirky bit of escapism’. You can see why, given our current predicament, I was keen to read Hex hoping for something similar. Garlanded with praise from the likes of Jonathan Safran Foer and Emma Straub, …

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The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos (transl. Sam Taylor): Tailor made

David Foekinos’ The Mystery of Henri Pick marks the beginning of a collaboration between publishers Pushkin Press and Channel 4’s Walter Presents, a streaming service which provides a good deal of my TV entertainment with its subtitled European drama. Even without that, I’d have been interested in this book whose blurb promised a novel about …

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How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa: ‘They’d had to begin all over again, as if the life they led before didn’t count’

It was that title that attracted me to this collection of stories about immigrants and refugees, cleverly exemplifying the many idiosyncratic challenges English throws at those for whom it’s a second language. Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, Laotian writer Souvankham Thammavongsa is a poet whose own facility for language is demonstrated throughout this …

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Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony: A winning combination of taxidermy and politics

Several times recently I’ve enjoyed novels I might have otherwise dismissed thanks to a puff from authors whose own work I particularly enjoy. In the case of Jessica Anthony’s Enter the Aardvark it was the ‘fresh, witty and smart’ comment from one of my all time favourites, Kate Atkinson, that sealed the deal. Without it, …

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