Tag Archives: Paperbacks published in April 2019

Paperbacks to Look Out for in April 2019: Part Two

Cover imageI’ve read none of the paperbacks in this second part of April’s preview which I’m kicking off with Patrick Gale’s Take Nothing with You set in 1970s Weston-Super-Mare where ten-year-old Eustace finds a passion for the cello when his mother signs him up for lessons with a glamorous teacher. Lessons of another kind are learned when Eustace enrols on a holiday course in Scotland, apparently. ‘Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale’s new novel explores a collision between childish hero-worship and extremely messy adult love lives’ according to the blurb. I’ve long been a fan of Gale’s writing, going right back to The Aerodynamics of Pork in the ‘80s.

S. K. Perry’s Let Me Be Like Water is also set in a British seaside town, this time Brighton where Holly is hoping to escape the loss of her boyfriend. There she meets Frank, a retired magician with his own grief to bear. ‘A moving and powerful debut, Let Me Be Like Water is a book about the humdrum and extraordinariness of everyday life; of lost and new connections; of loneliness and friendship’ say the publishers which may not sound particularly original but Perry’s a poet so I’m hoping for some lyrical writing.

Death is also the theme of Laura Lindstedt’s Oneiron but from the other side of the divide. Seven women meet in an undefined, timeless white space. None of them are known to each other, none of them remember what has happened to them. Together they try to fathom who they are and what they did in their past lives. ‘Deftly playing with genres from essay to poetry, Oneiron is an astonishing work that explores the question of what follows death and delves deep into the lives and experiences of seven unforgettable women’ say the publishers. This one’s here purely out of curiosity. Could be wonderful, could be dire but definitely worth investigating.

Ceridwen Dovey’s In the Garden of the Fugitives examines a past life, too, as Vita is catapulted back twenty years when she answers an email from the man who funded her university scholarship. ‘Profoundly addictive and unsettling, In the Garden of the Fugitives examines the complex power structures between men and women, between the powerful and the voiceless. Ceridwen Dovey takes us deep into the heart of a dangerous game, where there are always two sides to every story’ say the publishers promisingly although I’m much more persuaded by Kate’s review at Books Are My Favourite and Best.Cover image

My final paperback choice for April is The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories edited by Jay Rubin, known to many as one of Haruki Murakami’s translators. ‘Ranging over myth, horror, love, nature, modern life, a diabolical painting, a cow with a human face and a woman who turns into sugar, The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories is filled with fear, charm, beauty and comedy’ according to the blurb which promises to include stories from names unfamiliar to many of us as well as well-known Japanese writers such as Akutagawa, Murakami, Mishima and Kawabata. I’m looking forward to exploring this one.

That’s it for April. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you be interested. If you’d like to catch up with the first part of the month’s paperback preview it’s here, and new titles are here.

Paperbacks to Look Out for in April 2019: Part One

Cover imageI’m delighted to tell you that whereas there were just a few brand spanking new titles that took my fancy for April, it’s choc-a-bloc with tasty-looking paperbacks most of which I’ve yet to read. I’ll begin with one that I have: David Chariandy’s Brother, an eloquent story of grief and loss set against a backdrop of urban immigrant poverty. Returning to her home town, Aisha finds that Michael has become a recluse since the death of his brother Francis in a shooting ten years ago and is determined to bring him back into the world. Exploring themes of grief, racism and social deprivation while weaving Michael’s memories of Francis through Aisha’s visit, Brother packs a quietly powerful punch for such a short book.

Having been shortlisted for a multitude of literary prizes, including the Man Booker, Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize for which Brother was longlisted in 2017. The eponymous eleven-year-old is chosen as a personal servant to one of the brothers who have taken over a Barbados sugar plantation, a man obsessed with the idea of flying which results in disaster for him. ‘From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life’ say the publishers.

Carys Davies’ West sounds entirely different but has also met with a great deal of acclaim. When widower Cy Bellman hears of the discovery of huge ancient bones in Kentucky he takes himself off to investigate, leaving his young daughter behind in Pennsylvania. Davies’ novel tells the story of Cy’s journey and of Bess, waiting at home for his return. ‘Written with compassionate tenderness and magical thinking, it explores the courage of conviction, the transformative power of grief, the desire for knowledge and the pull of home, from an exceptionally talented and original British writer’ say the publishers promisingly.Cover image

Thomas Bourke’s The Consolation of Maps seems to explore similar themes of loss and the desire for knowledge. Kenji Tenabe sells antique maps in a prestigious Tokyo gallery but is presented with an unexpected offer of a job in America working for a woman who has never recovered from the death of her lover. ‘Moving across countries and cultures, The Consolation of Maps charts an attempt to understand the tide of history, the geography of people and the boundless territory of loss’ say the publishers which sounds interesting if a little woolly.

Louisa Hall’s Trinity is about the pursuit of a different kind of knowledge, telling the story of Robert Oppenheimer, who oversaw the development of the atomic bomb, from the perspective of seven fictional characters and revealing the contradictory nature of this brilliant scientist. ‘Blending science with literature and fiction with biography, Trinity asks searing questions about what it means to truly know someone, and about the secrets we keep from the world and from ourselves’ according to the blurb. It sounds fascinating and Annabel’s review over at Annabookbel has whetted my appetite further. I’ve not read much fiction about the development of the bomb which shaped the second half of the twentieth century apart from TaraShea Nesbit’s The Wives of Los Alamos, Lydia Millett’s Oh Pure and Radiant Heart and Joseph Kanon’s Los Alamos.

Cover imageI’ll end this first instalment with Gun Love by Jennifer Clement, author of the impressive Prayers for the Stolen, published in the UK a few years ago. Fourteen-year-old Pearl lives in the front seat of a wrecked car in a Florida trailer park while her mother lives in the back. Under the driver’s seat sits a gun given to Margot by her boyfriend, a regular visitor to the back seat. ‘Gun Love is a hypnotic story of family, community and violence. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenager, it exposes America’s love affair with firearms and its painful consequences’ say the publishers. I remember circling Prayers for the Stolen for some time, expecting unremitting grimness given that it was about kidnapped girls but it surprised me, and I’m hoping for the same with this one.

That’s it for the first batch of April’s paperbacks. A click on the first title will take you to my review and to a more detailed synopsis for the other five should any pique your interest. If you’d like to catch up with the month’s new titles they’re here. More soon…