September Fiction Highlights

Autumn is upon us, and as the nights draw in we turn our attention to a bumper crop of new books. Did you know that September one of the biggest publishing months of the year? Well this year that’s something of an understatement, with over 600 new books being published on just one day! So, where to begin? How about with these ten?

Famished by Anna Vaught
(Influx Press, 9781910312490, £7.99)

Seventeen stories to whet your appetite and ruin your dinner.

In this dark and toothsome collection, Anna Vaught enters a strange world of apocryphal feasts and disturbing banquets. Famished explores the perils of selfish sensuality and trifle while child rearing, phantom sweetshop owners, the revolting use of sherbet in occult rituals, homicide by seaside rock, and the perversion of Thai Tapas. Once, that is, you’ve been bled dry from fluted cups by pretty incorporeals and learned about consuming pride in the hungriest of stately homes.

City of Margins by William Boyle
(No Exit Press, 9780857304056, £8.99)

A Technicolor noir melodrama pieced together in broken glass.

In City of Margins, the lives of several lost souls intersect in Southern Brooklyn in the early 1990s. These characters cross paths in unexpected ways, guided by coincidence and the pull of blood. There are new things to be found in the rubble of their lives, too. The promise of something different beyond the barriers that have been set out for them. This is a story of revenge and retribution, of facing down the ghosts of the past, of untold desires, of yearning and forgiveness and synchronicity, of the great distance of lives lived in dangerous proximity to each other.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth by Meryem Alaoui, trans. by Emma Ramadan
(Other Press, 9781892746795, £14.99)

A hilarious, colourful portrait of a prostitute navigating life in modern Morocco introduces a promising new literary voice.

Like many of the women in her working-class Casablanca neighbourhood, Jmiaa struggles to earn enough money through sex work to support herself and her family – often including the deadbeat husband who walked out on her and their daughter. This daily grind is interrupted by the arrival of an aspiring young director, Chadlia. Chadlia enlists Jmiaa’s help on a film project, initially just to make sure the plot and dialogue are authentic. But when she’s unable to find an actress who’s right for the starring role, she turns again to Jmiaa, giving the latter an incredible opportunity for a better life.

One Day I’ll Tell You Everything by Emmanuelle Pagano
(Text Publishing, 9781922268914, £10.99)

A startling and powerful French novel translated into English for the first time.

Adele and her younger brother Axel grew up in a hamlet in the spectacular mountains of the Ardèche region in south-east France. Ten years later they have returned to their childhood home, and Adele now drives the school bus. Adele is desperate to keep the secret of her past – of when she was a boy. No one recognises her here now, but teenagers have a way of getting to the truth… When a terrifying snowstorm strands the bus on the mountain, Adele and her passengers take shelter in a cave, and that’s when the stories come out.

New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent edited by Margaret Busby
(Myriad Editions, 9781912408740, £14.99)

Now in paperback, this landmark anthology celebrates the work of 200 women writers of African descent and charts a literary landscape as never before.

Twenty-five years after Margaret Busby’s historical Daughters of Africa was published to international acclaim, this companion volume brings together the words of writers from across the globe – Antigua to Zimbabwe, Angola to the USA – to honour a unifying heritage while showing the remarkable range of creativity from the African diaspora. Arranged chronologically, New Daughters of Africa illustrates an uplifting sense of sisterhood and the links that endure from generation to generation, as well as common obstacles writers still negotiate around issues of race, gender and class.

The Party Wall by Stevie Davies
(Honno Welsh Women’s Press, 9781912905157, £8.99)

A thrilling domestic noir from Wales Book of the Year winning and Booker Prize longlisted author.

Mark gradually ingratiates himself into the life of his next-door neighbour Freya, who is struggling with the death of her own husband. Freya, lost in a sea of grief, only slowly begins to realise that Mark’s motives may not be quite as compassionate as they seem and her eyes are opened to the threat she has guilelessly invited into her home.

Harrow the Boys by Paul Whyte
(Maverick House, 9781908518668, £8.99)

A thrilling, prescient debut set in a near-future flooded Ireland.

In a not too distant future, much of Ireland’s midwest has been flooded by rising sea water. Life goes on, people adapt, live their lives, survive. Ram and his friends spend their days scavenging and selling the scrap they find amongst the flooded world. After a stroke of good fortune, they secure a job laying fibre for a corporate contractor, but decide to take one last wade down into the glen. What appears on the surface to be an opportunity for a lucrative payday takes a dark turn when a group of armed men close in and the secrets of the glen are slowly revealed.

The Nicotine Chronicles edited by Lee Child
(Akashic Books, 9781617758591, £11.99)

Lee Child recruits Joyce Carol Oates and others to reveal nicotine’s scintillating alter egos.

In recent years, nicotine has become as verboten as many hard drugs. The literary styles in this volume are as varied as the moral quandaries herein, and the authors have successfully unleashed their incandescent imaginations on the subject matter, fashioning an immensely addictive collection. Featuring brand-new stories by: Lee Child, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Eric Bogosian, Achy Obejas, Michael Imperioli, Hannah Tinti, Ariel Gore, Bernice L. McFadden, Cara Black, Christopher Sorrentino, David L. Ulin, Jerry Stahl, Lauren Sanders, Peter Kimani, and Robert Arellano.

The AKO Caine Prize For African Writing 2020 Shortlist
(New Internationalist, 9781780265797, £4.99)

Five shortlisted short stories from Africa’s most important literary award, now in its 21st year.

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is African’s leading literary prize, and is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere. The collection brings together the five stories on the 2020 shortlist. The authors shortlisted for the 2020 AKO Caine Prize are: Erica Sugo Anyadike (Tanzania) for How to Marry an African President; Chikodili Emeladu (Nigeria) for What to do when your child brings home a Mami Wata; Jowhor Ile (Nigeria) for Fisherman’s Stew; Rémy Ngamije (Rwanda/Namibia) for The Neighbourhood Watch; Irenosen Okojie (Nigeria) for Grace Jones.

Your Still Beating Heart by Tyler Keevil
(Myriad Editions, 9781912408627, £12.99)

A young widow becomes unwittingly entangled with an organ trafficking gang in Eastern Europe and must find a way of saving a young boy’s life as well as her own.

Bethan is anti-heroine we root for – flawed, vulnerable, and uncomfortably familiar. In Prague, the city where she and her husband got engaged, a chance meeting leads to an intriguing proposition. There’s a small job for someone like her: someone without a criminal record or personal connections; someone willing to take a minor risk. All she needs to do is pick something up, and drive back. Just once. Only ever once. Her mission takes her to a place where life is cheap and sordid deals are done. Risking her own life to save another, she must confront unspeakable evil and outrun those who would betray her.

As booksellers across the UK re-open their doors they need your help to stay afloat.

If anything you’ve read about on our blog catches your eye, consider ordering from your local bookshop. Find yours here. #ChooseBookshops

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