EVENING STANDARD‘S ‘BEST FICTION BOOKS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2022’
What do you do, when you find the perfect family…
…and it’s not yours?
‘Rare and delightful . . . A beautifully crafted novel about female relationships. I couldn’t put this book down’
The only thing Abi ever wanted was a proper family. So when she falls pregnant by an Australian exchange student in London, she cannot pack up her old life in Croydon fast enough, to start all over in Sydney and make her own family.
It is not until she arrives, with three-week-old Jude in tow, that Abi realises Stu is not quite ready to be a father after all. And he is the only person she knows in this hot, dazzling, confusing city, where the job of making friends is turning out to be harder than she thought.
That is, until she meets Phyllida, her wealthy, charming, imperious older neighbour, and they become almost like mother and daughter.
If only Abi had not told Phil that teeny tiny small lie, the very first day they met…
1996: in a Ugandan dive bar, the ‘freight dogs’ gather. An anarchic group of mercenary pilots from Texas, Russia, Kenya and Belgium who transport weapons between warring African nations, without allegiance. And tonight they have a new recruit – Manu, a 19-year-old cowherd fleeing Congo’s bloody war.
Taken in by this band of unlikely brothers, he’s soon seeing his vast country from above and falling in love with flying. But no matter how fast he flies, trouble follows closely behind. And when the past erupts back into this new life, Manu is forced to leave behind African skies for the chilly embrace of northern Europe. Will Manu be able to reinvent himself yet again? And is Belgian volcanologist Anke Desseaux the answer to his problems – or simply another one of them?
From the writer of The Last King of Scotland comes an unforgettable story of survival – about how to live and love after trauma, set against a backdrop of world-shaking conflict.
‘A writer innately drawn to paradox, and to the moral questions inherent in the relationships between richness and poverty, mind and body, history and imagination’ Ali Smith
‘As cunning and rich as anything Ozick’s written’ Wall Street Journal
‘One of our era’s central writers. About a man ensnared by history, Antiquities is at once a warning against the hazards of nostalgia and an invitation to take a longer view of how we got to where we are’ The New Yorker
‘Ozick’s prose urges the breathless reader along, her love of language rolling excitedly through her sentences like an ocean wave’ New York Review of Books
I remember nothing. I remember everything. I believe everything. I believe nothing.
In 1949, Lloyd Wilkinson Petrie returns as a Trustee to the long-defunct boarding school that he attended as a child. There he is preparing a memoir about the subtle anti-Semitism that pervaded the school, about his fascination with the Egyptian archaeological adventures of his distant cousin, about the passions of a boyhood friendship with named Ben-Zion Elefantin, a mystifying older pupil.
In this novella, and the three stories published alongside it, one of our most preeminent writers weaves together myth and mania, history and illusion to capture the shifting meanings of the past.
A W&N Essential
‘Darkly comic, beautifully written and full of surprises’
‘Really funny. David is a great writer’
Paula Hawkins, Good Housekeeping
‘A riotously good novel, witty and earnest, brimming with sharply drawn characters and creeping suspense. David Thewlis is a fabulous writer’
Anna Bailey, Sunday Times bestselling author of Tall Bones
‘A deliciously smart, hilarious human drama with the pace and intrigue of a gripping thriller. One of the year’s most memorable novels’
B P Walter, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Dinner Guest
Celebrated director Jack Drake can’t get through his latest film (his most personal yet) without his wife Martha’s support.
The only problem is, she’s dead…
When Jack sees Betty Dean – actress, mother, trainwreck – playing the part of a crazed nun on stage in an indie production of The Devils, he is struck dumb by her resemblance to Martha. Desperate to find a way to complete his masterpiece, he hires her to go and stay in his house in France and resuscitate Martha in the role of ‘loving spouse’.
But as Betty spends her days roaming the large, sunlit rooms of Jack’s mansion – filled to the brim with odd treasures and the occasional crucifix – and her evenings playing the part of Martha over scripted video calls with Jack, she finds her method acting taking her to increasingly dark places.
And as Martha comes back to life, she carries with her the truth about her suicide – and the secret she guarded until the end.
A darkly funny novel set between a London film set and a villa in the south of France.
A mix of Vertigo and Jonathan Coe, written by a master storyteller.
PRAISE FOR DAVID THEWLIS’S FICTION
‘David Thewlis has written an extraordinarily good novel, which is not only brilliant in its own right, but stands proudly beside his work as an actor, no mean boast’ Billy Connolly
‘Hilarious and horror-filled’ Francesca Segal, Observer
‘A fine study in character disintegration… Very funny’ David Baddiel, The Times
‘Exquisitely written with a warm heart and a wry wit… Stunning’ Elle
‘Queasily entertaining’ Financial Times
‘A sharp ear for dialogue and a scabrously satiric prose style’ Daily Mail
‘Laugh-out-loud, darkly intelligent’ Publishers Weekly
‘This is far more than an actor’s vanity project: Thewlis has talent’ Kirkus
‘A tender horror story, all the more haunting for being so familiar . . . Lau’s voice is cool, precise yet unfailingly human, taking aim at mall culture, work culture and consumer culture, and revealing them as excuses we whisper to ourselves as we lurch slowly towards a luxurious void‘ Roisin Kiberd, author of The Disconnect
‘Jamie Marina Lau’s sensibility is elliptical and it is unique; here is a new existence among the malls of instant consumerism’ Alan Warner
The suburbs of Par Mars. Two shopping centres, rows of estates and thematically designed neighbourhoods.
Twenty-four-year-old Leen is going to open an ear-cleaning and massage studio in the Topic Heights Shopping Centre, taking her mother’s Chinese ritual to the West to bring people back to their bodies.
But something is not quite right in Par Mars. Managers are being attacked, and when Leen befriends Jean Paul, a pharmacist who is obsessed with a cryptic online forum, she finds herself involved in a community that is intent on disrupting the routines of capitalism in increasingly troubling ways.
With a fierce intellect and masterful storytelling, Jamie Marina Lau brings to life a world that is devastatingly close to our own. Taking aim at consumerism and class, orientalism and the Zen movement, violence and middle-class boredom, GUNK BABY is inventive, unforgettable and from a voice younger, newer and more critical than most.
Observer‘s ‘Ten Debut Novelists’ of 2021
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
Shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award
Harper’s Bazaar‘s ‘Five Debut Female Authors to Read This Summer’
‘Powerful and heartbreaking’
‘Gripping… Razak painstakingly paints a portrait of a family; their rituals, their private languages, their shared lives’
‘Heartbreaking and heart-warming… The character portrayal is so intricate that as the plot twists and turns, you’ll truly care what happens to them’
‘Assured and powerful’
‘One of the best debuts I’ve ever read. It made my heart swell’
Sarah Winman, author of Still Life
‘A stunning, powerful work by a brave new voice in British fiction’
Anna Hope, author of Expectation
‘Powerful and moving… Every character springs from the page’
Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures
Ma and Bappu teach at the local university. Their fourteen year-old daughter Alma is soon to be married but she is mostly interested in spinning wild stories for her beloved younger sister Roop.
Times are bad for girls in India. The long-awaited independence from British rule brings unrest that threatens to unravel the rich tapestry of Delhi, and when Partition happens, Ma, Bappu, Alma and Roop are forced to find increasingly desperate ways to survive.
But the the power of hope is an extraordinary thing…
MEET THE FAMILY AT THE HEART OF MOTH:
Alma: the beating heart of the novel. We meet her as a precocious 14-year old who becomes entangled with the chaos of Partition with devastating consequences
Roop: Alma’s younger sister. Obsessed with death, she is a fierce, funny and rather wild child trying to make sense of the destruction that has befallen her family
Ma and Bappu: their dream of an independent India collapses under the weight of History. Ma’s experience mirrors that of the many Indian women who were hoping for new freedom under an independent India – and had to face more harassment and insecurity instead
And many more: the Muslim nanny, forced to hide in a water tank; the widowed house-keeper whose mission is to keep the family together; the old grandmother, obsessed with the family’s honour and determined to preserve it no matter the cost…
‘A dark and funny exploration of the fears and anxieties embedded in domestic suburban life’
‘Bringing to mind Flann O’Brien or Charlie Kaufman. You find yourself at the mercy of your craving for the next page. O’Connor’s debut novel has knocked the ball out of the park’
‘O’Connor’s addled language adds to the delirious impression of a man untethered from reality. Quite where that leaves the reader is all part of the fun’
It come out of nowhere – said the woman who found Michael, knocked into a coma by a rogue golf ball.
He remembers nothing of the life he wakes up to.
And there is something he can tell no one: that he can imagine things out of existence. That he only has to imagine a brick and it vanishes, that he only has to picture the catastrophes threatening his children and they are safe.
As Michael’s hold on reality loosens, his sense of self and the world around him starts to fray at the edges, teetering on the brink of nothingness.
A BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR THE GUARDIAN: ‘DEEPLY PLEASURABLE’
A BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR THE SPECTATOR: ‘WHAT A JOY’
‘A towering achivement’ Financial Times
‘Inventive, bold, unexpected’ Sunday Times
‘Everything that makes the novel worthwhile and engaging is here: warmth, wit, intelligence, love, death, high seriousness, low comedy, philosophy, subtle personal relationships and the complex interior life of human beings’
‘Not since William Boyd’s Any Human Heart has a novel captured the feast and famine nature of a single life with such invention and tenderness’
‘There is a pleasing sense of having grappled with the real stuff of life: loss, grief, love, desire, pain, uncertainty, confusion, joy, despair – all while having fun’
The Sunday Times
‘Instantly immersive, playfully inventive, effortlessly wise’
‘Masterly: a cabinet of curiosities and delights, packed with small wonders’
‘A real masterpiece. A funny, touching, profound book that made me cry like a little girl on the last page’
‘A remarkable accomplishment, a true gift to the world’
‘Ardent, gripping, and inventive to the core’
Marco Carrera is ‘the hummingbird,’ a man with the almost supernatural ability to stay still as the world around him continues to change.
As he navigates the challenges of life – confronting the death of his sister and the absence of his brother; taking care of his parents as they approach the end of their lives; raising his granddaughter when her mother, Marco’s own child, can no longer be there for her; coming to terms with his love for the enigmatic Luisa – Marco Carrera comes to represent the quiet heroism that pervades so much of our everyday existence.
A thrilling novel about the need to look to the future with hope and live with intensity to the very end.
THE NO. 1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
Over 300,000 copies sold
Soon to be a major motion picture
Winner of the Premio Strega
Winner of the Prix du Livre Etranger
Book of the Year for the Corriere della Sera
‘The Iliad meets Friday Night Lights in this muscular, captivating debut’
‘A gorgeous debut that conjures one small town and the big emotions of its wealthiest family, the Briscoes, whose saga plays out over six days of pain, rage and love’
People, Best of Summer
‘I read without breathing – OK, maybe I gasped – and I experienced the characters’ grief and regret as if they were my own’
New York Times
‘The novel is based on Greek myths but you don’t need to know your Zeus from your Apollo to enjoy this saga full of deceit and drama’
‘Beautifully written and filled with atmosphere… a hugely accomplished debut’
‘Secrets, lies and deceptions with Greek myth-like undertones… A literary family saga that spans one week and packs in everything from infidelity to a shooting’
‘A total page-turner’
Kirkus (starred review)
‘The most wildly entertaining novel I’ve read in a long time’
Richard Russo winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
When March Briscoe returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife, the Briscoe family becomes once again the talk of the small town of Olympus. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms: her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change?
But within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold the Briscoes together might be exactly what drag them all down.
An expansive tour de force, Olympus, Texas combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. After all, at some point, we all wonder: what good is this destructive force we call love?
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION
THE BOOK EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT
‘Just read it. It’s unforgettable’
India Knight, The Sunday Times
‘It is impossible to read this novel and not be moved. It is also impossible not to laugh out loud… Extraordinary’
‘Full of snappy one-liners but, at the same time, remarkably poignant’
‘Probably the best book you’ll read this year’
Mail on Sunday
‘Completely brilliant. I think every girl and woman should read it’
‘Exactly the book to read right now, when you need a laugh, but want to cry’
‘The most wonderful, heartbreakingly gorgeous novel of the year’
Elizabeth Day, author of Magpie
‘A raucously funny, beautifully written, emotion-bashing book’
‘I was making a list of all the people I wanted to send it to, until I realised that I wanted to send it to everyone I know’
Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
‘One of those “read it in one sitting and tell all your friends” kind of books‘
‘Patrick Melrose meets Fleabag. Brilliant’
Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures
Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her adult life by one man, her husband Patrick. A gift, her mother once said, not everybody gets.
So why is everything broken? Why is Martha – on the edge of 40 – friendless, practically jobless and so often sad? And why did Patrick decide to leave?
Maybe she is just too sensitive, someone who finds it harder to be alive than most people. Or maybe – as she has long believed – there is something wrong with her. Something that broke when a little bomb went off in her brain, at 17, and left her changed in a way that no doctor or therapist has ever been able to explain.
Forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents (but without the help of her devoted, foul-mouthed sister Ingrid), Martha has one last chance to find out whether a life is ever too broken to fix – or whether, maybe, by starting over, she will get to write a better ending for herself.
THE BOOK OF THE YEAR
An instant Sunday Times bestseller and a book of the year for the Times and Sunday Times, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard, Spectator, Daily Express, Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Irish Daily Mail, Metro, Critic, Sydney Morning Herald, Los Angeles Times, Stylist, Red and Good Housekeeping
‘Mordant, torrential, incantatory, Bolano-esque, Perec-ian, and just so explosively written that I had to stop and shake the language-shrapnel from my hair and wipe it off my eyeglasses so I could keep reading’ Jonathan Lethem
‘Full of clever postmodern flourishes, self-referential winks and riotous set pieces. It’s funny, smart and beautifully written’ Alex Preston, The Guardian
‘I absolutely adored Dead Souls. Reading it felt like overhearing the most exhilarating, funny, mean conversation imaginable–which is to say it made me extremely happy and I dreaded it ending’ Megan Nolan, author of Acts of Desperation
‘I first heard about Solomon Wiese on a bright, blustery day on the South Bank…’
Later that evening, at the bar of the Travelodge near Waterloo Bridge, our unnamed narrator will encounter that very same Solomon Wiese.
In a conversation that lasts until morning, he will hear Solomon Wiese’s story of his spectacular fall from grace.
A story about a scandal that has shaken the literary world and an accusation of serial plagiarism.
A story about childhood encounters with nothingness and a friend’s descent into psychosis; about conspiracies and poetry cults; about a love affair with a woman carrying a signpost and the death of an old poet.
A story about a retreat to the East Anglian countryside and plans for a triumphant return to the capital, through the theft of poems, illegal war profits and faked social media accounts – plans in which our unnamed narrator discovers he is obscurely implicated…
A story that will take the entire night – and the remainder of the novel – to tell.
‘Reading Dead Souls feels like discovering the British Bolaño, and not just for the gleeful dismantling of the cultural ego: the restless, searching sensibility; the precise tuning-in to contradictory voices. I haven’t been so excited by a debut novel in a long time’ Luke Kennard, author of The Transition
‘Elegant, ambitious, very serious and very funny’ Katharine Kilalea, author of OK, Mr. Field
‘Sublime, legendary, delightfully unhinged. A rare and brilliant pleasure’ Nicolette Polek, author of Imaginary Museums
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK – SOON TO BE A MAJOR NETFLIX PRODUCTION
‘You’ll devour Northern Spy . . . I loved this thrill ride of a book’
‘A sharp, moving thriller: you lose your breath for adrenalin’
Abigail Dean, author of Girl A
‘A chilling, gorgeously written tale’
New York Times
‘Thrillingly good… Flynn Berry shows a le Carré-like flair for making you wonder what’s really going on at any given moment’
A producer at the Belfast bureau of the BBC, Tessa is at work one day when the news of another IRA raid comes on the air: as the anchor requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for this latest attack – a robbery at a gas station – Tessa’s sister Marian appears on the screen, pulling a black mask over her face.
The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa knows this is impossible. But when the truth of what has happened to her sister reveals itself, Tessa will be forced to choose: between her ideals and her family.
Praise for Flynn Berry
‘Breathtaking . . . Berry writes thrillingly’
New York Times
‘Beautifully paced and satisfyingly ominous’
‘A thrilling page-turner’
Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
‘Berry’s clever, thrilling writing wound me in and left me heartbroken’
Fiona Barton, author of The Widow
‘What a book! A skillful and compelling exploration of families, crime, and class’
Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go