Setting the Trend: Fiction Titles to Read in August Before it’s Cool

The weather might not be as hot as we’d like, but at least we’ve got the perfect, rainy-day excuse to stay in with a good book… And our publishers aren’t holding back with the incredible fiction they’ve got hitting the shelves this month. Check out our August fiction highlights below!

Malarkoi by Alex Pheby
9781913111441, Galley Beggar Press, Paperback, £10.99, 17/8/2023

Nathan’s companions are scattered, making for Malarkoi, the city of the Mistress, the Master’s enemy. They are hoping to find welcome there, or at least safety. They find neither — and instead become embroiled in a life and death struggle against assassins, demi-gods, and the cunning plans of the Mistress. Only Sirius, Nathan’s faithful magical dog, has not forgotten the boy, and, bent on revenge, he returns to the shattered remains of Mordew. He senses something in the Manse at its pinnacle — the Master is there, grieving the loss of his manservant, Bellows — and in the ruins of the slums he finds a power capable of destroying his foe, if only he has the strength to use it. So the stage is set for battle, sacrifice, magic and treachery in the stunning sequel to Mordew… Welcome to Malarkoi.

The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan
9781915798046, Bedford Square Publishers, Hardback, £16.99, 3/8/2023

Meet Henri and Louise. Two strangers, traveling alone, on the train from Belgrade to Istanbul. Except this isn’t the first time they have met. It’s the 1960s and Louise is running. From her past in England, from the owners of the money she has stolen — and from Henri, the person who has been sent to collect it.

Across the Continent — from Granada to Paris, from Belgrade to Istanbul — Henri follows, desperate to leave behind his own troubles. The memories of his past life as a gendarme in Algeria that keep resurfacing. His inability to reconcile the growing responsibilities of his current criminal path with this former self. But Henri soon realises that Louise is no ordinary mark. As the train hurtles toward its final destination, Henri and Louise must decide what the future will hold — and whether it involves one another.

Fear and Lovely by Anjana Appachana
9780857308320, Verve Books, Paperback, £10.99, 31/8/2023

Mallika is a painfully shy young woman growing up in the heart of a lively, sometimes stifling New Delhi colony. After suffering a trauma aged nineteen, Mallika loses three days of her memory and slowly spirals into a deep depression. She must find a way out of the abyss, back to herself and those she cares about. But she must also hide her mental illness from her community.

In a narrative that unfolds elliptically from the perspectives of Mallika and the seven people closest to her, the astonishing story of these characters lives emerges. For Mallika’s family, childhood friends and the two men she loves are also hiding truths. As each gives voice to contending with their own struggles, secrets and silences shatter.

My Weil by Lars Iyer
9781685890605, Melville House Publishing, Paperback, £14.99, 29/8/2023

My Weil follows a group of twenty-something PhD students of the new-fangled subject Disaster Studies at an inferior university in Manchester, the post-industrial city of so much great music and culture. They’re working class, by turns underconfident and grandiose (especially when they drink) and are reconciled to never finishing their dissertations or finding academic jobs. And they’re working together on a film, through which they’re trying to make sense of their lives in Manchester and, in particular, to the Ees, a mysterious patch of countryside that appears to have supernatural qualities.

Into their midst arrives Simone Weil, a PhD student, a version of the twentieth century philosopher, who becomes the unlikely star of their film. Simone is devout, ascetic, intensely serious, and busy with risky charity work with the homeless. Valentine, hustler-philosopher, recognises Simone as a fellow would-be saint. But Gita, Indian posh-girl, is suspicious: what’s with Simone’s nun-shoes? And Marcie, the leader of the pack, is too busy with her current infatuation, nicknamed Ultimate Destruction Girl, to notice. The narrator, Donny, who was brought up in care and is psychologically fragile, and deeply disturbed by the poverty of his adopted city, gradually falls in love with Simone. But will his love be requited? Will Simone be able to save the souls of her new friends and Manchester itself from apocalypse?

How to be a French Girl by Rose Cleary
9781739260125, Weatherglass Books, Paperback, £11.99, 10/8/2023

She’s from Southend. She wanted to be an artist and ended up at the best art school in the country. But that didn’t work out. Now she works as a receptionist in an IT firm, where her only creative outlet is arranging the sandwiches she’s ordered in for other people’s meetings. And she still lives in Southend. Outside work, soulless sex has become a symptom of her boredom. Then Gustav appears: older, perceptive, attentive. And French. He’s her way out, she thinks. But more than that, a chance to be creative again: to become someone new. How to be a French Girl is a fierce, disturbing and funny debut novel about desire, art and what we’ll risk to change ourselves.

We Are Light by Gerda Blees, translated by Michele Hutchinson
9781912987511, World Editions, Paperback, £16.99, 1/8/2023

In the middle of a summer night, Elisabeth, the oldest resident of the Sound & Love Commune, dies. Her sister Melodie and their two other housemates are arrested: the group’s attempts to stop eating and start living on light and love alone appears to have been fatal to Elisabeth. From unworldly idealists on the fringes of society, the three suddenly become suspects in a criminal case. Through the eyes of the night, the neighbours, doubt, the scent of an orange, and many other characters and entities, we see how each of those involved gives a different answer to the question of how Elisabeth came to die. Who is to blame? And does the commune still have a future? We Are Light is a highly original novel about manipulation, vulnerability, and what leads people to reject science as they try to be better.

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter
9780857308511, Verve Books, Paperback, £9.99, 15/8/2023

A year into her dream job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley startup, Cassie is trapped in a corporate nightmare. Between the long hours, toxic bosses and unethical projects, she struggles to reconcile the glittering promise of a city where obscene wealth lives alongside abject poverty. Ivy League grads complain about the snack selection from a conference room with a view of houseless people bathing in the bay. Startup burnouts leap into the paths of commuter trains and men literally set themselves on fire in the streets. Though isolated, Cassie is never alone. From her earliest memory, the black hole has been her constant companion. It feeds on her depression and anxiety, its size changing in relation to her distress. The black hole watches, but it also waits. Its relentless pull draws Cassie ever closer as the world around her unravels. When her CEO’s demands cross an illegal line and her personal life spirals towards a dismal precipice, Cassie must decide whether the tempting fruits of Silicon Valley are worth the pain, or succumb to the black hole.

Oh God, the Sun Goes by David Connor
9781685890629, Melville House Publishing, Paperback, £16.99, 3/8/2023

The sun has disappeared from the sky. No one can explain where it has gone, but one wayward traveler is determined to try. As our unnamed narrator begins his odyssey across the parched landscapes of the American Southwest, he is drawn into a web of illusion and mystery, a shifting astral mindscape that shimmers with the aftermath of loss — and the promise of redemption. Apocalyptic, mesmerizing, and utterly unique, Oh God, the Sun Goes introduces readers to a young and keenly inventive mind.

Namaste Trump and Other Stories by Tabish Khair
9781623717483, Interlink Books, Paperback, £16.99, 1/8/2023

The short story Namaste Trump’ starts in a deceptive domestic setting, where a servant from the hinterlands is patronised and exploited by an upwardly mobile urban family. But as the nation celebrates Trump’s visit and copes with the pandemic, it ends up becoming a prophecy of endless haunting. This sets the agenda for a series of stories that delve into fracturing or broken lives in small-town India over the past fifty years. By turns poetic, chilling, and heartbreaking, ranging from understated realism to gothic terror, this is a book of stories about precarious lives in a world without tolerance.

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