A Little Life / Hanya Yanagihara / Buy
I must be one of the last remaining book bloggers who hasn't read this, or even had a go at it. It's been on my reading list for ages, but I find the length daunting - that, and how incredibly harrowing everyone seems to say it is. I felt it would be a book best experienced in physical form, and I feel ready to tackle it (at some point) now I've got the paperback.
Hungry the Stars and Everything / Emma Jane Unsworth / Buy
Having adored Animals, I felt compelled to track down Unsworth's debut novel, published by the now-defunct (I think? Their website is no longer extant) indie Hidden Gem Press. The story sounds somewhat more surreal than Animals: it's about Helen Burns, a food critic who is invited to a mysterious restaurant where she's served food with the power to evoke particular memories from her past. But it's also described as 'a romantic comedy about whether it’s better to marry the love of your life with all the attendant passions and problems, or whether it is better to opt for someone loving and steady, if a little more predictable.' I'm intrigued.
70% Acrylic 30% Wool / Viola Di Grado, translated by Michael Reynolds / Buy
It was Viola Di Grado's Hollow Heart I was actually looking for, but when I found a cheap copy of 70% Acrylic 30% Wool instead, I couldn't resist it. Italian author Di Grado's debut is set in Leeds, where she lived for a time, and in a period of perpetual winter. It is a story about music, language and love, in which 'Camelia and her mother communicate in a language of their own invention, in which words play no part', and protagonist Camelia 'learns to see the world differently' when she starts to learn Chinese ideograms from the man she is falling in love with.
This Too Shall Pass / Milena Busquets, translated by Valerie Miles / Pre-order
One of two books I'm going to be reviewing for Nudge within the next couple of months, this Spanish novel has been a blockbuster hit all over Europe. It follows Blanca, who, having recently turned forty and lost her mother, decamps to the coast along with her children, best friends, and two ex-husbands. The jacket of this proof copy sells it well, ambitiously describing Busquets' prose as 'Joan Didion meets Elena Ferrante' and positioning it as a [combination] of literary fiction and an [escapist] beach read: 'the perfect literary summer escape, with a hilarious and honest narrator, an undeniably gorgeous setting, and lots of drama'.
The Wolf Road / Beth Lewis / Pre-order
I actually won this in a Goodreads giveaway - the first time that's happened since 2013 (when I freakishly won three in a row). I first heard about The Wolf Road in a report from last year's London Book Fair; the description of it as 'Mad Max meets True Grit' caught my eye, though it is now being marketed, as every post-apocalyptic novel must, as being 'perfect for fans of Station Eleven'. At the centre of the story is a young girl, Elka, whose world falls apart when she discovers that Trapper - the man who raised her - is wanted for murder. Setting off into the wilderness to find her real parents, she discovers 'a trail of blood and bodies' and a growing list of enemies. I don't know how I'm going to get on with the unique narrative voice - and it doesn't seem anything like Station Eleven at all - but I'm interested in giving it a try.
Trencherman / Eben Venter, translated by Luke Stubbs / Buy
The second book I'll be reviewing for Nudge, and the latest Eben Venter novel to be translated into English, following Wolf, Wolf. First published in Afrikaans in 2008, Trencherman blends a retelling of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness with a dystopian vision of near-future South Africa. I'm reading this right now, and it's very intense - quite tough going at times, and often bleak, but totally captivating.
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