Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov

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Time Shelter

Memory, nostalgia and the cave of the past

A distinctly European novel, the award-winning Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov combines philosophy and satire with a fascinating premise. Enigmatic therapist, Gaustine, opens a pioneering dementia clinic in Zurich, wherein each floor recreates a different decade, allowing patients to find peace and comfort in their own temporal sanctuary. As the business gains in reputation, even healthy clients begin flocking to this clinic of the past, desirous of escaping their dysfunctional present. In Gospodinov’s emblematic take on 20th century Europe, Gaustine’s experiment morphs into something dangerous as he notes ‘…when you have no future, you vote for the past.’

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Celebrating Pride Month on Bookstoker – Our Favourite Queer Books

The Whale Tattoo by Jon Ransom

The Whale Tattoo

Evocative, brutal and strangely beautiful

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo

Validation and freedom in 360 wonderfully poetic pages

This Book is Gay

An honest and illuminating guide for LGBT teens and their families

The End of Eddy

A punch of a book

Less

Playful Pulitzer Prize winner

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Young Mungo

A darker, quieter follow up to Shuggie Bain

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

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Young Mungo

A darker, quieter follow up to Shuggie Bain

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart follows on from Stuart’s outstanding Booker Prize winning debut Shuggie Bain.  Although the setting is very much the same – Glaswegian tenements, dysfunctional families, absent fathers and alcoholic mothers – the story feels different enough to engage even those who’ve read Shuggie Bain. A burgeoning love between Mungo and fellow loner James is at the core of this book, the moving tenderness of their relationship in stark contrast to the rough realities on the street and at home. In true Stuart style, characters and places rise from the page but I felt some of the pace and immediacy of his debut was missing in this book. Still a good read, but not the mind-blower that was Shuggie Bain. Read full Review

The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant

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The Tenants of Moonbloom

A bizarre epiphany in bygone New York

The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant is an unjustly neglected American gem. A deliciously peculiar novel, comic and melancholic in equal parts, it takes us to a down-at-heel New York at the turn of the 1950’s and the dreary life of daydreamer and rent collector, Norman Moonbloom. Norman’s days are spent chasing rent from hapless tenants, whilst attempting to dodge their numerous demands, complaints, and often riotous domestic dramas. Too sensitive for the world of the mercenary slumlord, he will undergo a quiet epiphany against a disintegrating backdrop of leaking taps and treacherous wiring.

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All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami

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All the Lovers in the Night

Melancholy and metamorphosis

When 34-year-old Fuyuko Irie catches a glimpse of herself in a shop window, the drab and defeated figure she sees reflects her shrunken spirit. The only thing that sparks joy in this sad young woman’s heart is the luminosity of Tokyo at night, its dazzling lights a bitter irony when she considers how the monotony of life has extinguished any glimmer of brightness within herself. In All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami, we join Fuyuko as she reaches crisis point and a chance encounter shows her the potential for change.

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The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks

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The Shepherd’s Life

Eloquence, integrity, and lots of sheep

In 1804, when William Wordsworth was wandering lonely as a cloud across the Lake District, he couldn’t have envisaged how his work, along with a merry handful of nineteenth-century artists and writers, would shape public perception of this beautiful landscape for centuries to come. In The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks, we’re given an alternative vision. This beguiling book describes Rebanks life as a sheep farmer. In it he reveals a traditional world, often out of step with modern Britain, and a unique perspective of his beloved Lake District and the invisible, hardworking families who sustain it. Read full Review

Elena Knows by Claudia Pineiro

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Elena Knows

Gripping on illness and women's rights

A cantankerous Parkinson’s sufferer is the unlikely heroine of International Booker Prize short-listed novella Elena Knows by Claudia Pineiro. Elena is crippled by Parkinson but that doesn’t stop her from travelling across Buenos Aires to find out if her daughter Rita’s death was murder or suicide. Elena Knows is not a murder mystery, rather, it’s a story about determination, ageing, religious hypocrisy, illness and most of all, women’s bodies. I’ve rarely read a more convincing portrayal of debilitating illness which in this book becomes the very symbol of who controls women’s bodies.

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The Whale Tattoo by Jon Ransom

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The Whale Tattoo

Evocative, brutal and strangely beautiful

Death follows Joe Gunner wherever he goes. He knows this because the whale told him so. Washed up on a Norfolk beach on ‘a halo of dirty blood,’ its terrible majesty conveys a personal message. Joe must return to his childhood fishing community, where fisherman and ex-lover, Tim Fysh, still lives and memories wait to be dredged from the shifting tidal waters. A stunning debut, The Whale Tattoo by Jon Ransom gives us a vivid portrait of queer, working class life, in a community riven by repressive conformity and familial trauma.

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