1. The End Of Nightwork by Aidan Cottrell-Boyce is published in hardback by Granta
Intergenerational tensions take sinister form in Aidan Cottrell-Boyce’s quirky first novel. Pol, product of an unhappy family and father to a stroppy toddler, has a medical condition that gives him a unique perspective on the struggle between young and old. When he was 13, he aged 10 years overnight. Now, waiting for his next accelerated ageing episode, he ruminates over the writings of 17th-century visionary, Bartholomew Playfere, whose apocalyptic predictions are slowly being realised as young people, cheated of resources and left with the legacy of climate change, turn on their elders. This is very much a novel of ideas, not all of which come together and, especially early on, it can feel bogged down in everyday detail. But its latter sections are thought-provoking and feature genuinely chilling moments, as Pol’s fragile existence comes under threat.
2. Alone With You In The Ether by Olivie Blake is published in hardback by Tor
This is a contemporary love story that takes a while to warm up. Once you’re into it, though, there are some thought-provoking moments. The story is based around two main characters, Aldo and Charlotte, who meet by chance. They have a turbulent relationship from start to finish, as both have strong disorders that differ from each other – hers leading to her having court-ordered psychotherapy, and his father regularly checking in on him. Their personalities and traits are quite extreme, meaning they become reliant on each other against the recommendations of people close to them. Well worth a read – the book can be quite enthralling in parts – but it’s written in quite an unusual style that isn’t for everyone.
3. The Easy Life by Marguerite Duras, translated by Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes, is published in paperback by Bloomsbury Publishing
Francine is 25 years old and lives on a farm with her family. A strange collection of people, each member of the family possesses peculiar qualities, making them hard to relate to. The story follows Francine as she goes away after a family tragedy to clear her head. Three deaths take place in this book, yet it’s as if nothing takes place at all. Any major plot points are quickly skipped over and the rest of the book is filled with Francine’s thoughts, which get more and more confusing and contradictory as the book goes on. This perhaps reflects Francine’s state of mind and confusion about her place in the world, but it makes the story very hard to follow overall.
4. Novelist As A Vocation by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen, is published in hardback by Harvill Secker
The temptation to get a glimpse into the mind and musings of one of the literary world’s most acclaimed writers is not easy to resist. Add to that Haruki Murakami’s effortless flow of copy and manner of storytelling, and the product is his highly readable (and enjoyable) latest offering, Novelist As A Vocation. The Japanese author, 73, who is by his own admission not a fan of the public glare or attention other writers may court, offers a rare glimpse into his thoughts on writing, his career so far, creativity and more. And as with all his work, there’s something magnetic that draws you into the narrative, so by the time the last page is turned, you’re invested more than you realised. For anyone wanting to embark on a writing career, it’s a highly recommended read.
Children’s book of the week
5. A Pack Of Your Own by Maria Nilsson Thore, translated by Annie Prime, is published in hardback by Pushkin Children’s Books
Who doesn’t love dogs, right? Here we find a lonely dachshund, who has been finding it hard to fit in with the other dogs in the park. They wonder if they imitate their peers, become someone different and act like the others, that they can become part of the fun-looking pack. After trying too hard to change in an attempt to make friends, the sausage dog gives up and decides maybe being yourself is best way to happiness – and then something changes. Another dog befriends them as they are also not afraid to be different from the crowd. A charming, beautifully-illustrated tale, proving we can always be ourselves and still find our way in the world without having to submit to social norms if it doesn’t feel natural to us. It’s not overly complicated – the book carries a simple message – often missed – for both children and adults to not be afraid to be yourself.
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