Too many books might sound like a humble brag, but it really is a terrible thing.
Turnaround is lucky to work with some of the leading independent publishers, who are producing the most innovative, exciting, and indispensable fiction around. So ignore all the other must-read lists, and take a look at our essential fiction roundup.
Encompassing literary fiction, crime, translated fiction, short stories, thrillers and more, this new monthly guide is all you need to know about what you need to read this month.
The Moment Before Drowning by James Brydon
(Akashic Books, 9781617756252, h/b, £16.99)
A debut crime novel by James Brydon – aka crossword setter for the Guardian (Picaroon), Spectator (Lavatch), and Times – set in 1950s Brittany.
December 1959: Captain Jacques le Garrec, a former detective and French Resistance hero, returns to France in disgrace, traumatised after two years of working in the army intelligence services, and accused of a brutal crime. As le Garrec awaits trial in the tiny Breton town where he grew up, he is asked to look into a disturbing and unsolved murder committed the previous winter. A local teenage girl was killed and her bizarrely mutilated body was left on display on the heathland. Le Garrec’s investigations draw him into the dark past of the town, still haunted by memories of the German Occupation.
First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana
(Bitter Lemon, 9781912242078, p/b, £8.99)
An impressive and very funny collection of stories by Teresa Solana where the fun is very dark indeed…
The oddest things happen. Statues decompose and stink out galleries, two old grandmothers are vengeful killers, a prehistoric detective on the verge of becoming the first religious charlatan trails a triple murder that is threatening cave life as the early innocents knew it. The volume also includes prize-winning Connections, a sparkling web of Barcelona stories – connected by two criminal acts – that allows Solana to explore the darker side of different parts of the city and their seedier inhabitants.
In This Skull Hotel Where I Never Sleep by Rob Doyle
(Broken Dimanche, 9783943196627, p/b, £10)
A fascinating biographical sketch of Irish writer Killian Turner, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in West Berlin in 1985.
Turner’s disappearance, along with the fictions, aphorisms, sketches, and less easily-categorisable writings he left behind, have ensured his lasting cult reputation. Not only writers, but visual artists, filmmakers, philosophers, and even electronic musicians have found inspiration in his singular body of work. In This Skull Hotel Where I Never Sleep – and its accompanying installation, which recreates Turner’s last known place of residence – is intended as an introduction to the life and work of this disturbing, visionary artist. The volume contains key critical and biographical texts about Killian Turner, as well as Turner’s last known work, An Investigation Into My Own Disappearance, which is widely considered to be his suicide note.
Smart Moves by Adrian Magson
(The Dome Press, 9781912534012, p/b, £8.99)
A new standalone novel from crime fiction master Adrian Magson.
International troubleshooter Jake Foreman loses his job, house and wife all in one day. And when an impulsive move lands him in even deeper water – the kind that could lose him his life – he decides it’s time to make some smart decisions. The trouble is, knowing the right moves and making them is a whole different game. And Jake, who has been happily rubbing along things he always suspected were just a shade away from being dodgy, finds it all too easy to go with the flow. Now he’s got to start learning new tricks. If he doesn’t, he could end up dead.
The Hazards of Good Fortune by Seth Greenland
(Europa, 9781609454623, p/b, £13.99)
Set during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, a witty, clear-eyed new novel is a story of interconnecting lives, in which generations, races, and religions converge and conflict.
Jay Gladstone was born to privilege. He is a civic leader and a generous philanthropist, as well as the owner of a basketball team. When a white cop shoots an unarmed black man, the reverberations reach all the way up to the highest levels of society. Combining elements of comedy and tragedy, the multi-layered narrative shifts from Jay’s gilded universe to the worlds of an opportunistic district attorney, an aging professional athlete in search of one last payday, a group of college radicals, a virtuous but unlucky cop who wants to be a lawyer, and a feisty pair of talk radio personalities.
Queer Africa edited by Makhosazana Xaba & Karen Martin
(New Internationalist, 9781780264639, p/b, £8.99)
A collection of unapologetic, tangled, tender, funny, bruising and brilliant stories.
This collection draws together twenty-five stories selected from two ground breaking anthologies published by MaThoko Books, an imprint of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) in South Africa. The first volume, Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction won the 26th Lambda Literary Award. In 2017 Queer Africa 2: New Fiction added fresh material to the LGBTIQA+ literary landscape. Stories from Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe celebrate the diversity and fluidity of queer and African identifications and expressions.
Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill
(No Exit, 9780857302670, p/b, £8.99)
Already the recipient of the Giller Prize 2017, Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square is an exceptional psychological novel that explores themes of identity, perspective and mental illness.
Jean Mason has a doppelganger. She’s never seen her, but others swear they have. Apparently, her identical twin hangs out in Kensington Market, where she sometimes buys churros and drags an empty shopping cart down the streets, like she’s looking for something to put in it. Jean’s a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving bookstore in downtown Toronto, and she doesn’t rattle easily – not like she used to. But after two customers insist they’ve seen her double, Jean decides to investigate.
Narrator by Bragi Olafsson; translated by Lytton Smith
(Open Letter Books, 9781940953823, p/b, £9.99)
A strange game of cat and mouse. A complex, introspective journey of a man struggling to complete the unfinished narrative of his own life.
On a rainy day in the middle of June, on the day England and Costa Rica meet in the World Cup, G., a thirty-five-year-old aspiring writer is waiting in line at the post office to mail off a manuscript – a story about a day in the life of a thirty-five-year-old man. That’s when he notices a man he knows. Or rather knew. Sort of knew. A man who used to go out with a girl G. loved from afar. The only girl he’s ever loved. All his hatred of this man comes rushing back – including his foolish wish that the man would die – and he takes off, following him throughout the streets of Reykjavik. This strange game of cat and mouse takes some dark turns, evolving into a complex, introspective journey of a man struggling to complete the unfinished narrative of his own life.
The Arid Sky by Emiliano Monge; translated by Thomas Bunstead
(Restless Books, 9781632061348, p/b, £12.99)
In this arid landscape the only constants are loneliness, violence, loyalty, and the struggle to create an ethical code that will return some small measure of meaning to life.
The story of German Alcantara Carnero, of the men and women who lived by his side, and of the plateau where Mexican literary rising star Emiliano Monge distills the essence of a ruthless Latin America. Narrating the signature moments of German’s life – the escape of men to other countries, the interminable war, the disappearance of a young girl, the disenchantment of believers, the confrontation between a father and his son, the birth of a sick child, the loaded chamber of a gun, and murder – The Arid Sky is a journey to the core of humankind and a challenge of the kind only great literature can pose to its readers.
The Cage by Lloyd Jones
(Text, 9781911231202, p/b, £10.99)
A strange and confronting story about the treatment of two homeless and stateless men living in a cage in the grounds of a hotel, by Man Book Prize shortlisted author (for Mister Pip) Lloyd Jones.
Two mysterious strangers appear at a hotel in a small country town. Where have they come from? Who are they? What catastrophe are they fleeing? The townspeople want answers, but the strangers are unable to speak of their trauma. And before long, wary hospitality shifts to suspicion and fear, and the care of the men slides into appalling cruelty. A fable-like novel The Cage is a profound and unsettling novel about humanity and dignity and the ease with which we’re able to justify brutality.
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
(Text, 9781925603408, p/b, £10.99)
A layered, mesmerising novel about love and art, grief and happiness, memory, legacy and the mystery of time.
Having just returned from a trip to Sicily, the art historian, Noah Glass is discovered floating face down in the swimming pool at his Sydney apartment block. His grieving grown up children Martin and Evie must deal with the shock of their father’s death but also with his involvement in a sculpture missing from a museum in Palermo.
Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes; translated by Emma Ramadan
(Feminist Press, 9781936932276, p/b, £14.99)
A pulpy, psychological tale of mismatched twins struggling to embody the role of the perfect woman, by Man Booker International 2018 nominee Virginie Despentes.
Claudine has always been pretty and Pauline has always been ugly. But when Claudine wants to become famous, she enlists gloomy Pauline – with her angelic voice – into pretending they’re the same person. Yet just as things take off, Claudine commits suicide. Pauline hatches a new scheme, pulling on her dead sister’s identity, inhabiting her apartment, and reading her mail. As the impersonation continues, Pauline slowly realises that the cost of femininity is to dazzle on the outside while rotting away on the inside – and that womanhood is what ultimately killed her sister.