The moment we saw the trees begin to blossom, we knew it was time to throw the curtains wide and shake off those winter blues. (At least, we thought it was… until it began to snow here in London. But begone! Nothing can bring us down!) We are ready for spring, and what better way to put a bounce in our step than by showing off the blooming beautiful fiction titles we have sprouting this month!
Jamie MacGillivray: A Renegade’s Journey by John Sayles
Melville House Publishing, 9781612199887, HB, £25, 2/3/2023
Following the sprawling adventures of highlander Jamie McGillivray across smoke-filled, bloody battlefields and across continents in a thrilling historical and cinematic epic.
It begins in the highlands of Scotland in 1746, at the Battle of Culloden, the last desperate stand of the Stuart ‘pretender’ to the throne of the Three Kingdoms, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and his rabidly loyal supporters. Vanquished with his comrades by the forces of the Hanoverian (and Protestant) British crown, the novel’s eponymous hero, Jamie MacGillivray, narrowly escapes a roadside execution only to be recaptured by the victors and shipped to Marshalsea Prison (central to Charles Dickens’s Hard Times) where he cheats the hangman a second time before being sentenced to transportation and indentured servitude in colonial America ‘for the term of his natural life.’ His travels are paralleled by those of Jenny Ferguson, a poor, village girl swept up on false charges by the English and also sent in chains to the New World. The novel follows Jamie and Jenny through servitude, revolt, escape, and romantic entanglements pawns in a deadly game.
The Gospel of Orla by Eoghan Walls
Seven Stories Press, 9781838415990, PB, £10.99, 9/3/2023
A grieving, spirited, and often in trouble teenage girl named Orla McDevitt meets a man called Jesus who can raise the dead in this stunning debut novel about family, faith, and loss by an acclaimed Northern Irish poet.
Fourteen-year-old Orla’s mum is dead. She lives in England with her unemployed father and baby sister Lily, but she’s planning to run away to live in Northern Ireland, where her mother is buried. Preoccupied with trouble at home and at school, she accidentally crashes her bike into a man who calls himself Jesus and says he is the Son of God. He has never seen a smartphone. He can raise animals from the dead by blowing into their mouths, including Orla’s cat Sneaky. Orla convinces Jesus to come with her to Ireland to bring her mum back to life and she teaches him how to ride a bike to get there. But Jesus has plans of his own, and after one of his revivals goes horribly wrong, Orla must decide how far she is willing to go to save her mother. A hilarious coming-of-age story, road novel, and meditation on the mysteries of faith and grief, this debut novel heralds an important new voice in world literature.
The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Conde, translated by Richard Philcox
World Editions, 9781912987368, PB, £13.99, 9/3/2023
A captivating new novel from the Queen of Caribbean Storytelling.
One Easter Sunday, Madame Ballandra puts her hands together and exclaims: ‘A miracle!’ Baby Pascal is strikingly beautiful, brown in complexion, with grey-green eyes like the sea. But where does he come from? Is he really the child of God? So goes the rumour, and many signs throughout his life will cause this theory to gain ground. From journey to journey and from one community to another, Pascal sets off in search of his origins, trying to understand the meaning of his mission. Will he be able to change the fate of humanity? And what will the New World Gospel reveal? For all its beauty, vivacity, humour, and power, Maryse Conde’s latest novel is above all a work of combat. Lucid and full of conviction, Conde attests that solidarity and love remain our most extraordinary and lifesaving forces.
By Way of Sorrow by Robyn Gigl
Verve Books, 9780857308351, PB, £9.99, 16/3/2023
Erin McCabe is a New Jersey criminal defense attorney doing her best to live a quiet life in the wake of a profound personal change — until a newsworthy case puts both her career and her safety in jeopardy…
Erin McCabe has been referred the biggest case of her career. Four months ago, William E. Townsend Jr, son of a New Jersey State Senator, was found fatally stabbed in a rundown motel near Atlantic City. Sharise Barnes, a nineteen-year-old transgender sex worker, is in custody, and given the evidence, there seems little doubt of a guilty verdict. As a trans woman herself, Erin knows that defending Sharise will blow her own private life wide open and doubtless deepen her estrangement from her family. Yet she feels uniquely qualified to help Sharise and duty-bound to protect her from the possibility of a death sentence. Because Sharise admits she killed the senator’s son — in self-defense. As Erin works with her law partner, former FBI agent Duane Swisher, to build a case, Senator Townsend begins using the full force of his prestige and connections to publicly discredit everyone involved in defending Sharise. And behind the scenes, his tactics are even more dangerous. For his son had secrets that could destroy his own political aspirations — secrets worth killing for…
Brother & Sister Enter the Forest: A Novel by Richard Mirabella
Catapult, 9781646221172, HB, £25.99, 16/3/2023
Opening like a fairy tale and ending like a nightmare, this cannonball of a queer coming-of-age novel follows a young man’s relationship with a violent older boyfriend — and how he and his sister survive a terrible crime.
After years of severed communication, Justin appears on his sister’s doorstep needing a place to stay. When they were children, Willa played the role of her brother s protector, but now, afraid of the chaos he might bring, she’s reluctant to let him in. Willa and Justin’s relationship has always been strained yet loving, frustrating and close. But it hits a new breaking point when Justin spirals out of control, unable to manage his sobriety and the sustained effects of a brain injury. Years earlier, in high school, desperate to escape his home life and his disapproving, troubled mother, Justin falls into the hands of his first lover, a slightly older boy living on his own. When Justin’s boyfriend commits a terrifying act of violence, the two flee on a doomed road trip, a journey that will damage Justin and change his and his family’s lives forever. Weaving together these two timelines, Brother & Sister Enter the Forest unravels the thread of a young man’s trauma and the love waiting for him on the other side.
Dr. No by Percival Everett
Influx Press, 9781914391248, PB, £9.99, 16/3/2023
A new novel from Booker 2022 Shortlisted author Percival Everett, this is a satirical caper of supervillains with a philosophical enquiry into the meaning of nothing.
Wala Kitu is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for the aspiring villain John Sill, who wants to break into Fort Knox to steal, well, not gold bars but a shoebox containing nothing. With the help of the brainy and brainwashed astrophysicist-turned-henchwoman Eigen Vector, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. In the process, Wala Kitu learns that Sill’s desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real all-American villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. As Sill says, ‘Professor, think of it this way. This country has never given anything to us and it never will. We have given everything to it. I think it’s time we gave nothing back.’ Dr. No is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of America’s most inventive, provocative, and productive writers. That it is about nothing isn’t to say that it’s not about anything. In fact, it’s about villains. Bond villains. And that’s not nothing.
I’ll Do Anything You Want by Iolanda Batalle, translated by Mara Faye Lethem
3TimesRebel Press, 9781739823627, PB, £14.99, 23/3/2023
This is a story about one woman’s courage and determination to live deliberately; to value what she wants, and to achieve it.
After 25 years of marriage and a life that seemed perfect, an accidental love affair will unexpectedly push Nora into a universe of abuse and luxury prostitution. From there, she will have to face her deepest fears in a journey that will put her world upside down. Sex without constraints will be the trigger for Nora to get back in the driver’s seat of her own life. A story that talks about a woman’s journey, from submission to freedom, from I’ll do anything you want to I’ll do anything I want.
FLUX by Jinwoo Chong
Melville House Publishing, 9781685890346, HB, £20, 23/3/2023
A blazingly original and stylish debut novel about a young man whose reality unravels when he suspects his employers have inadvertently discovered time travel and are covering up a string of violent crimes.
FLUX is a brilliant debut in the vein of William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Ling Ma’s Severance, Jinwoo Chong introducing us to three characters — Bo, Brandon and Blue. After 8-year-old Bo loses his mother in a tragic accident, his white father, attempting to hold their lives together, begins to gradually retreat from the family. 28-year-old Brandon loses his job at a legacy magazine publisher and is offered a new position. Confused to find himself in an apartment he does not recognise, and an office he sometimes cannot remember leaving, he comes to suspect that something far more sinister is happening behind the walls. 48-year-old Blue participates in a television exposé of Flux, a failed bioelectric tech start-up whose fraudulent activity eventually claimed the lives of three people and nearly killed him. Blue, who can only speak with the aid of cybernetic implants, stalks his old manager while holding his estranged family at arms-length.
Intertwined with the saga of a once-iconic 80s detective show, Raider, whose star has fallen after decades of concealed abuse, the lives of Bo, Brandon and Blue intersect with each other, to the extent that it becomes clear that their lives are more interconnected and interdependent than the reader could have ever imagined.
The Book of Queens by Joumana Haddad
Interlink Books, 9781623718473, PB, £16.99, 30/3/2023
A book of history, heritage, loyalty, religion, feminism, families, and the Armenian genocide.
The Book of Queens is a family saga that spans four generations of women caught up in the tragic whirlwind of turf wars and suffering in the Middle East — from the Armenian genocide and the Israeli occupation of Palestine to modern-day civil wars and the struggles between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon and Syria.
Dreaming in Color by Uvile Ximba
Interlink Books, 9781623717964, PB, £15.99, 30/3/2023
A coming-of-age/coming-of-queer story navigating the confusion that is intimacy, sex, and identity.
In her debut novel, Dreaming in Color, Uvile Ximba explores with subtlety, humour, and probing insight, the connections between the joyful reclaiming of pleasure and the healing of buried traumas. As students at university of Makhanda, South Africa during the #RUReferenceList campaign, Langa and her lover Khwezi have a passionate and complex relationship. Puzzling gaps in her memory haunt Langa, yet her dreams are vivid with colours and symbols that hint at a nightmare of forgotten violations and losses. So many secrets — and Langa has had enough of secrets and silences. Who can she turn to? Her mother? Her grandmother? Khwezi? Or herself? Dreaming in Color is Langa’s story of coming out to herself, of discerning the history behind the closed door of conscious memory.