August Fiction Preview

Well, here we are in August. Summer is slowly slipping out of our grasp. How best to make use of the last of these long bright days? Might we make some suggestions? 

The Bead Collector by Sefi Atta
(Myriad Editions, 9781912408344, p/b, £8.99)

A new novel from the Wole Soyinka Prize-winning author of
Everything Good Will Come.

Lagos, January 1976, six years after the Nigerian Civil War. A new military regime has been in power for six months, but rumours are spreading that a counter-coup is imminent. At an art exhibition in the affluent Ikoyi neighbourhood, Remi Lawal, a Nigerian woman who runs her own greeting-card shop, meets Frances Cooke, who introduces herself as an American art dealer, in Nigeria to buy rare beads. They become friends and over the next few weeks confide in each other about their aspirations, loyalties, marriage, motherhood – and Nigeria itself.

Cornelius Sky by Timothy Brandoff
(Akashic, 9781617757082, p/b, £13.99)

An elegant picaresque that beautifully captures a city on the edge of ruin.

Cornelius Sky is a doorman in a posh Fifth Avenue apartment building that houses New York City’s elite, including a former First Lady whose husband was assassinated while in office. It is 1974 and New York City is heading toward a financial crisis. At work, Connie prides himself on his ability to buff a marble floor better than anyone, a talent that so far has kept him from being fired for his drinking. When Connie’s wife changes the locks, he finds himself wandering the mean streets of the city in his doorman’s uniform, where he encounters unlikely angels who offer him a path toward redemption.

Everything Good Will Come by Sefi Atta
(Myriad Editions, 9781912408528, p/b, £8.99)

Now a classic of world literature, a funny, piercingly honest story of a contemporary Yoruba woman’s coming-of-age in Lagos.

It is 1971, a year after the Biafran War, and Nigeria is under military rule. The politics of the state matter less to eleven-year-old Enitan than whether her mother, now deeply religious since the death of Enitan’s brother, will allow her friendship with the new girl next door, the brash and beautiful Sheri Bakare. Everything Good Will Come charts the unusual friendship and fate of these two girls; one who is prepared to manipulate the traditional system and one who attempts to defy it.

The Homeless Heart-Throb by Crystal Jeans
(Honno Welsh Women’s Press, 9781912905010, p/b, £8.99)

A journey into contemporary Wales lit up with the full gamut of human relationships: platonic, romantic and sexual.

Hilarious, shocking and sad, Crystal Jeans’ latest novel is set in Cardiff. Each chapter is narrated by different characters, linked by the street on which most of them live and the appearance in them all (to greater or lesser extent) of the titular alcoholic vagrant, who for one of the neighbours is an unusual subject of desire. Set in various homes, streets, parks, and a nearby care home for the demented elderly, the story lines are darkly humorous and occasionally rude and crude. This is an unputdownable journey into the underside of contemporary Wales.

No Place of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan
(No Exit Press, 9780857301994, p/b, £9.99)

The Syrian refugee crisis becomes personal for Inspector Esa Khattak
and Sergeant Rachel Getty.

NGO worker Audrey Clare, sister of Esa Khattak’s childhood friend, is missing. In her wake, a French Interpol Agent and a young Syrian man are found dead at the Greek refugee camp where she worked. Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty travel to Greece to trace Audrey’s last movements in a desperate attempt to find her. In doing so, they learn that her work in Greece had strayed well beyond the remit of her NGO… Had Audrey been on the edge of exposing a dangerous secret at the heart of the refugee crisis – one that ultimately put a target on her own back?

Patience by Toby Litt
(Galley Beggar Press, 9781910296998, p/b, £9.99)

A remarkable story of love and friendship, courage and
adventure – and finding joy in the most unlikely of settings.

Elliott is something of a genius. More than that, Elliott is an ideal friend, and to know him is to adore him. But few people do know Elliott, because he is also stuck. He lives in a wheelchair in an orphanage. It’s 1979, and Elliott is forced to spend his days in an empty corridor, either gazing out of the window at the birds in a tree or staring into a white wall – wherever the Catholic Sisters who run the ward have decided to park him. So when Jim, blind and mute but also headstrong, arrives on the ward and begins to defy the Sisters’ restrictive rules, Elliott finally sees a chance for escape.

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