Now parks and pub gardens are open, it’s officially okay to read in public again. So what are you in the mood for this August? I twisty horror story, literature-in-translation, queer short stories, a rich literary fantasy? Whatever your in the mood for we’re sure to have you covered in this month’s rich and wide-ranging selection.
Mordew by Alex Pheby
(Galley Beggar Press, 9781913111021, p/b, £14.99)
The first in a monumental new trilogy from the Wellcome Book Prize-shortlisted author, Alex Pheby.
GOD IS DEAD, his corpse hidden in the catacombs beneath Mordew. In the slums of the sea-battered city a young boy called Nathan Treeves lives with his parents, eking out a meagre existence by picking treasures from the Living Mud and the half-formed, short-lived creatures it spawns. Until one day his desperate mother sells him to the mysterious Master of Mordew. The Master derives his magical power from feeding on the corpse of God. But Nathan, despite his fear and lowly station, has his own strength – and it is greater than the Master has ever known.
The Bitch by Pilar Quintana
(World Editions, 9781912987054, p/b, £9.99)
The English-language debut of an outstanding Colombian writer about the many meanings of motherhood and love.
Colombia’s Pacific coast, where everyday life entails warding off the brutal forces of nature. Damaris lives with her fisherman husband in a shack on a bluff overlooking the sea. Childless and at that age ‘when women dry up,’ as her uncle puts it, she is eager to adopt an orphaned puppy. But this act may bring more than just affection into her home. The Bitch is written in a prose as terse as the villagers, with storms – both meteorological and emotional – lurking around each corner. Beauty and dread live side by side in this poignant exploration or the many meanings of motherhood and love.
Between Beirut and the Moon by A. Naji Bakhti
(Influx Press, 9781910312551, p/b, £9.99)
An exuberant and hilarious debut from the hugely talented young Lebanese author, Naji Bakhti.
A young boy comes of age in post-civil-war Beirut, with conflict, and comedy lurking round every corner. Adam dreams of becoming an astronaut but who has ever heard of an Arab on the moon? He battles with his father, a book-hoarding journalist, his closest friend, Basil, a Druze who is said to worship goats and believe in reincarnation, and a host of other misfits in a city attempting recover from years of political violence. Adam’s youth oscillates from laugh out loud escapades, to near death encounters, as he struggles to understand the turbulent and elusive city he calls home.
The Covenant by Thorne Moore
(Honno Welsh Women’s, 9781912905232, £8.99)
The prequel to the bestselling A Time for Silence.
Set 35 before the events of A Time for Silence in 1833, the Owens are set to lose tenancy of the family farmstead of Cwmderwen following the death of the eldest son. As patriarch Thomas slides into religious obsession, Leah tries to keep the legacy of her brother alive for his son John. As the forces of religion, morality, greed and family feuds gather, Leah finds herself torn between her duty to others and her duty to herself.
Bezoar & Other Unsettling Stories by Guadalupe Nettel; trans. by Suzanne Jill Levine
(Seven Stories Press UK, 9780995580725, £9.99)
Nettel’s stories are dazzlingly enjoyable to read for their deep interest in human foibles.
Intricately woven masterpieces of craft, mournful for their human cries in defiance of our sometimes less than human surroundings, Nettel’s stories and novels are dazzlingly enjoyable to read for their deep interest in human foibles. Following on the critical successes of her previous books, here are six stories that capture her unsettling, obsessive universe. Each narrative veers towards unknown and dark corridors, and the pleasures of these accounts lie partly in the great surprise of the familiarity together with the strangeness.
Large Animals by Jess Ardnt
(Cipher Press, 9781916355309, £9.99)
A bold, soupy, and cannily queer collection of stories that confronts what it means to have a body.
Daring, witty, and strange, the twelve stories in Large Animals confront what it means to have a body. Jess Arndt’s narrators battle with inhabiting a form that makes them feel deeply uncomfortable and detached, constantly challenging the limits of gender and reality. These are stories that rebel against accepted ideas of human identity and present a new normal that is as ambiguous as it is messy. Soupy, visceral, and often disconcerting, Large Animals sets a new standard for language, challenging our concepts of gender and body in a way that feels radical, insightful, and incredibly relevant.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
(Text Publishing, 978191123136, £8.99)
Stephen King meets metafictional mystery in this terrifying literary horror novel.
Jake and his girlfriend are on a drive to visit his parents at their remote farm. After dinner at the family home, things begin to get worryingly strange. And when he leaves her stranded in a snowstorm at an abandoned high school later that night, what follows is a chilling exploration of psychological frailty and the limitations of reality. Iain Reid’s intense, suspenseful debut novel will have readers’ nerves jangling. A series of tiny clues sprinkled through the relentlessly paced narrative culminate in a haunting twist on the final page. Reminiscent of Michael Faber’s Under the Skin, Stephen King’s Misery and the novels of Jose Saramago, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an astonishing and highly original literary thriller that grabs you from the start – and never lets go.
The Innocents by Michael Crummey
(No Exit Press, 9780857304261, £8.99)
A riveting story of hardship and survival, and an unflinching exploration of the bond between brother and sister.
A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland’s northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family’s boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them. Muddling through the severe round of the seasons, through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But soon, even that loyalty will be tested.
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If anything you’ve read about on our blog catches your eye, consider ordering from your local bookshop. Find yours here. #ChooseBookshops