At last, at last, the days are getting lighter and longer. We’re coming into Spring, and man does it feel good. What are we going to do with all this extra time? How to fill all these lovely, light hours? Perhaps some of our March fiction titles might help on that front.
Cosmogony by Lucy Ives
(Soft Skull Press, 9781593765996, p/b, £14.99)
Cosmogony takes accounts of so-called normal life and mines them for inconsistencies, cruelties, deceptions, and delights. Incorporating a virtuosic range of styles and genres (Wikipedia entry, phone call, math equation, encounters with the supernatural, philosophies of time travel), these stories reveal how the narratives we tell ourselves and believe are inevitably constructed, offering a glimpse of the structures that underlie and apparently determine human existence – and which we ignore at our own peril.
The Measure of Time by Gianrico Carofiglio trans. by Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press, 9781913394486, p/b, £8.99)
Guerrieri had fallen in love decades earlier with Lorenza, a beautiful older woman who was in his eyes sophisticated and intellectual, but ultimately treated him as a plaything and discarded him. One spring afternoon Lorenza shows up in Guerrieri’s office. Her son stands convicted of the first-degree murder of a local drug dealer. Her trial lawyer has died, so for the appeal, she turns to Guerrieri. Despite his misgivings, he accepts the case; perhaps to pay a melancholy homage to the ghosts of his youth.
My Heart by Semezdin Mehmedinovic trans. by Celia Hawkesworth (Catapult, 9781646220076, h/b, £22.99)
When a writer suffers a heart attack at the age of fifty, he must confront his mortality in a country that is not his native home. Confined to a hospital bed and overcome by a sense of powerlessness, he reflects on the fragility of life and finds extraordinary meaning in the quotidian. In this affecting autobiographical novel, Semezdin Mehmedinovic explores the love he and his family have for one another, strengthened by trauma; their harrowing experience of the Bosnian war, which led them to flee for the United States as refugees.
The Burning Island by Jock Serong
(Text Publishing, 9781922330086, p/b, £10.99)
Eliza Grayling, born in Sydney when the colony itself was still an infant, has lived there all her thirty-two years. Too tall, too stern – too old, now – for marriage, she looks out for her reclusive father, Joshua, and wonders about his past. There is a shadow there: an old enmity. When Joshua Grayling is offered the chance for a reckoning with his nemesis, Eliza is horrified. It involves a sea voyage with an uncertain, probably violent, outcome. Insanity for an elderly blind man, let alone a drunkard. Unable to dissuade her father from his mad fixation, Eliza begins to understand she may be forced to go with him. Then she sees the vessel they will be sailing on. And in that instant, the voyage of the Moonbird becomes Eliza’s mission too.
Damned If I Do by Percival Everett
(Influx Press, 9781910312599, p/b, £9.99)
An artist, a cop, a cowboy, several fly fishermen and even a reluctant romance novelist inhabit these revealing and often hilarious stories. Everett skewers race, class, identity, surrealism and much more in this exceptional short story collection. Published for the first time in the UK, this is truly a masterful short story collection from a genius of American storytelling. The book is introduced by critically acclaimed British author, Irenosen Okojie.
Dryland by Sara Jaffe
(Cipher Press, 9781916355347, p/b, £9.99)
It’s 1992 in Portland, Oregon. Fifteen-year-old Julie Winter moves through her days as if underwater – watching skaters through the rain, detached from her best friend’s crushes, listening to the same R.E.M. B-side on repeat. No one at home talks about her older brother, a once-champion swimmer who could be living in Berlin, or could be anywhere. She’d never considered swimming herself. Until Alexis, captain of the swimming team, tries to recruit her. What starts as an flirtation becomes a chance to join in with the world, find out what really happened to her brother, or finally let him go.
If You Kept A Record of Sins by Andrea Bajani, trans. by Elizabeth Harris (Archipelago, 9781939810960, p/b, £12.99)
A prismatic novel that records the indelible marks a mother leaves on her son after she abandons their home in Italy for a business she’s building in Romania. Lorenzo, just a young boy when his mother leaves, recalls the incisive fragments of their life – when they would playfully wrestle each other, watch the sunrise, or test out his mother’s newest scientific creation. Now a young man, Lorenzo travels to Romania for his mother’s funeral and reflects on the strangeness of today’s Europe, which masks itself as a beacon of Western civilization while iniquity and exploitation run rampant. With elliptical, piercing prose, Bajani tells a story of abandonment and initiation, of sentimental education and shattered illusions, of unconditional love.
The Mercenary by Paul Vidich
(No Exit Press, 9780857304452, p/b, £9.99)
From acclaimed spy novelist Paul Vidich comes a taut new thriller following the attempted exfiltration of a KGB officer from the ever-changing – and always dangerous – USSR in the mid-1980s. Moscow, 1985. The Soviet Union and its communist regime are in the last stages of decline, but remain opaque to the rest of the world – and still very dangerous. In this ever-shifting landscape, a senior KGB officer – code name GAMBIT – has approached the CIA Moscow Station chief with top secret military weapons intelligence and asked to be exfiltrated. GAMBIT demands that his handler be a former CIA officer, Alex Garin, a former KGB officer who defected to the American side.
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