April is upon us, which means we’re already almost a quarter of the way through 2019!
Whether that brings you horror or joy it’s a great month for books all the same, with a slew of excellent literary fiction (including an anthology of working-class short stories and a psychogeographic rendering of Berlin), paperback editions of some of our 2018 favourites, and an ample dose of crime. Read on.
The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan
(World Editions, 9781642860115, p/b, £11.99)
Jarawan does for Lebanon what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan.
Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s adopted home in Germany for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. His only clues are an old photo and the bedtime stories his father used to tell him. The Storyteller follows Samir’s search for Brahim, the father whose heart was always yearning for his homeland, Lebanon.
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s by Lisa Blower
(Myriad Editions, 9781912408160, p/b, £8.99)
Lisa Blower strikes a new chord in regional and working-class fiction.
This fabulous collection of Blower’s award-winning short stories is dominated by the working-class matriarch. From the wise, witty and outspoken Nan of ‘Broken Crockery’, who has lived and worked in Stoke-on-Trent for all of her 92 years, to happy hooker Ruthie in ‘The Land of Make Believe’. Lisa Blower celebrates her characters with stories they wouldn’t want told.
Cult X by Fuminori Nakamura
(Soho Crime, 9781641290234, p/b, £8.99)
The magnum opus from a Japanese literary sensation delving into the psychology of a fringe religion.
When Toru Narazaki’s girlfriend, Ryoko Tachibana, disappears, he tries to track her down despite the warnings of the private detective he’s hired to find her. Ryoko’s past is shrouded in mystery; she lived in a compound led by a charismatic guru with a revisionist Buddhist scheme of life, death, and society. Narazaki plunges into the world of the cult, but he has no idea of the bubbling violence he is stepping into.
Let Me Be Like Water by S.K. Perry
(Melville House, 9781911545255, p/b, £8.99)
A beautifully poignant and poetic debut about love, loss, friendship, and ultimately, starting over.
Holly moved to Brighton to escape. But now she’s here, sitting on a bench, listening to the sea sway… what is she supposed to do next? How is she supposed to fill the void Sam left when he died? She had thought she’d want to be on her own. Wrecked. Stranded. But after she meets Frank, the tide begins to shift. Frank is a retired magician who has experienced his own loss but manages to be there for everyone else.
Comemadre by Roque Larraquy; translated by Heather Cleary
(Text Publishing, 9781911231288, p/b, £8.99)
A darkly funny novel experimenting with where life and love begin and end.
On the outskirts of Buenos Aires in 1907, Doctor Quintana pines for head nurse Menéndez while he and his colleagues embark on a grisly series of experiments to investigate the line between life and death. One hundred years later, a celebrated artist goes to extremes in search of aesthetic transformation, turning himself into an art object. How far are we willing to go in pursuit of transcendence?
Built on Sand by Paul Scraton
(Influx Press, 9781910312339, p/b, £9.99)
The stories of Berlin are the stories of Built on Sand.
Built on Sand centres on the personal geographies of place, and how memory and history live on in the individual and collective imagination. This novel offers a portrait of a city three decades on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the legacy of that history in a city that was once divided but remains fractured and fragmented.
The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise
(No Exit Press, 9780857302199, p/b, £16.99)
A transfixing story about an expatriate in southern China.
Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realisation: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line.
Death in Deià by David Coubrough
(Galileo Publishing, 9781903385869, p/b, £9.99)
Death in paradise in this fast-paced thriller set on a super-rich island.
Deià is a small, idyllic village on the north-west coast of Mallorca, made famous by being the home of Robert Graves for much of his life, but subsequently becoming a magnet for artists, authors and film stars. But in this fast-moving crime novel, it also becomes the centrepiece for a series of murders connected to the embezzlement of an extraordinary £100 million fortune…
If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail Rosewood
(Europa Editions, 9781787701595, p/b, £13,99)
A young Vietnamese woman’s search for home and belonging.
Isolated from the world in a Vietnamese military encampment, a young girl turns for affection to a sympathetic soldier and to the only other girl in the camp, forming two friendships that will shape the rest of her life.
Flowers of Mold & Other Stories by Ha Seong-Nan; translated by Janet Hong (Open Letter, 9781940953960, p/b, £12.99)
Unsettling, haunting short stories from a brilliant voice in Korean fiction.
A woman meets her next-door neighbour and loans her a spatula, then starts suffering horrific gaps in her memory. A landlord decides to raise the rent, and his tenants hatch a plan to kill him at a team-building retreat. In ten captivating, unnerving stories, Flowers of Mold presents a range of ordinary individuals – male and female, young and old – who have found themselves left behind by an increasingly urbanised and fragmented world.