Kevin Jared Hosein might have a future prize-winner on his hands with Hungry Ghosts…
1. Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing
Hungry Ghosts is already predicted to be a contender in this year’s big book awards. Set in 1940s rural Trinidad, a luxury house overlooks the barrack where many families are living in pest-ridden dilapidated poverty. When the rich man from the big house goes missing, a series of ominous events portends tragedy for one of the barrack families – Hans and Shweta Saroop. Social injustice and violence is never far away. The lush, lyrical yet dense vocabulary of the novel adds to the feeling of intensity and the claustrophobia of people trapped in their lives. The other thing to revel in is the characterisation – even minor characters feel very human and complex. Powerful and oppressive, you may have to read this in small doses, but it repays the perseverance. If you read it now, you’ll be able to brag about it when it’s on all the literary prize shortlists.
2. The Garnett Girls by Georgina Moore is published in hardback by HQ
In her debut novel, Georgina Moore follows the story of the Garnett family as the breakdown of mother Margo’s marriage to alcoholic Richard impacts the lives of their daughters, Rachel, Imogen and Sasha, years after the split. The Garnett Girls takes you into the heart of the family, which centres around the seaside home of Sandcove in the Isle of Wight, as all the complications of issues past and present play out. Each of the main characters is flawed yet relatable, and the family dynamics between the strong women are portrayed perfectly by Moore. An immersive novel which leaves the reader feeling they have become part of the family.
3. Owlish by Dorothy Tse, translated by Natascha Bruce, is published in paperback by Fitzcarraldo Editions
It’s worth knowing from the outset Owlish is set in an alternate Hong Kong, the mountainous city of Nevers. It focuses on Professor Q, a middle-aged academic with a stunted career and dull marriage. He collects dolls in secret, and soon begins a passionate affair with Aliss, a life-size ballerina doll, with the encouragement of his mysterious friend Owlish. There’s far too much description of a sad 50-year-old man having sexual relations with a doll, and everything feels so loaded with meaning, it’s hard to tell what’s actually happening. The surreal style is interesting, but the content is a bit too uncomfortable, with too little plot to sustain it. Nevers is a fully realised world with a turbulent political situation unfolding in the background – it would have been a much more engaging read if only Professor Q wasn’t so caught up in his love affair to notice what was going on.
4. What Women Want: Conversations On Desire, Power, Love And Growth by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung is published in hardback by Hutchinson Heinemann
This is a collection of real-life stories about various women and their interactions with the psychotherapist Maxine Mei-Fung Chung. The myriad of stories are very relatable and shine a light on everyday issues – from identity to desire. There’s a cross-section of main characters across various social demographics, hitting home that all types of people can benefit from seeing a therapist. Each scenario feels very visual, helping you picture the rooms and settings, and immersing yourself in the lives of these women. At times, the story endings feel a bit contrived – perhaps a bit too manufactured and polished – but overall, it’s a very well-written and engaging book.
Children’s book of the week
5. The Repair Shop Stories: The Toy Bus by Amy Sparkes, illustrated by Katie Hickey, is published in hardback by Walker Books
There’s a lot to love about the latest children’s book centred around the hit TV show, The Repair Shop. It’s a story within a story: Toby and his brother Sam have come to The Repair Shop barn with their grandmother, to get a family heirloom fixed. Grandma Elsie then tells the story of this meaningful toy bus – her brother has cerebral palsy, and as children, he couldn’t run alongside the big red buses like she could. To help him feel included, Elsie bought him a toy bus – encouraging him to take his first steps. Even more sweetly, the book is based on a real-life story about a toy bus that appeared on the TV show. Even if you haven’t seen the show, it’s still a lovely read – and fans of the series will enjoy recognising everyone from Jay Blades to painter Lucia Scalisi. The illustrations are colourful and the story is uplifting – perfect for bedtime.
New books to read this week
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