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The Best of the Best Women’s Prize for Fiction Prize Winner

The public has chosen Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of A Yellow Sun the best winner of 25 years of Women’s Prize for Fiction. This book is a magnificent read, a beautiful love story against the backdrop of the Biafran war, a terrible conflict I vividly remember from my childhood as totally incomprehensible…until I read this book. A truly amazing novel.

Read our review of Americanah, also by Adichie.

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As hope returns, some of our favourite American novels

Mrs Bridge

Hilarious satire with a darker message

Cannery Row

A little book to make you happy

A Little Life

A profoundly moving novel about friendship in the twenty-first century

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Tsarist Count surviving in revolutionary Russia

The Sympathizer

Bitingly satirical portrait of post-Vietnam America

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath

A classic worthy of a re-read

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Just in time, a saviour for your local bookshop

Just in time for the second UK lockdown comes a local bookshop saviour. Bookshop.org, an American online bookseller has launched in the UK as bookshops have to close again. Here’s how it works: find the local bookshops in your area (or anywhere else, for that matter) by entering your postcode, choose a store from the list of member bookshops and you will be directed to their website, order to your heart’s content and support your local high street and the lovely people who work there. Bye, bye Jeff!

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Chilling tales…

For those who don’t think the world is scary enough as it is, here’s a selection of our favourite spine-chilling ghost stories. If you want to freak out your children too, we have some for them as well…Enjoy!

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Life for Sale by Yukio Mishima

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Life for Sale

Darkly comic Japanese noir

The artist Marina Abramovic’s endorsement of Life for Sale by Yukio Mishima in the FT last week piqued my curiosity and, sure enough, this book really is something else. A fast-moving, surreal noir novel originally published in 1968, Life for Sale is about a man who offers his life up for sale. What he expects to be a carefree, albeit lethal, experiment, turns out to be a whole lot more complicated involving gangsters, vampires, hallucinogenic beetle powder and poisoned carrots. Darkly comic and totally twisted, this book will appeal to all fans of surreal fiction and Japanese literature.

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The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

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The Devil and the Dark Water

Pure unadulterated entertainment

Readers of this blog might have noticed that I have a soft spot for novels set on sailing ships. The wilder the storms and the longer the journeys, the better, so when I came across the recently published The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton, I wasn’t hard to convince. Set in the 17th century on a ship crossing from Batavia (Jakarta) to Holland, Turton’s book is packed with wild storms, betrayals, demons, murders and a plot to make your head spin. If you enjoyed Ian McGuire’s The North Water or indeed Turton’s last book The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, this book will be for you.

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Just Like You by Nick Hornby

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Just Like You

Just what we need right now

Just Like You by Nick Hornby provided just the kind of escape I’m craving right now. A sweet love story between a 42-year-old divorced English teacher and a 22-year-old butcher shop assistant. The former a woman, the latter a man (the opposite would have made the book a no-go these days). Hornby throws in the added twists of the woman being white and the man black, each of them from different social backgrounds. With the cards stacked against them, will their love survive?

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The Fortnight in September by RC Sherriff

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The Fortnight in September

For all fans of Stoner

As 2020 heads into autumn with no sign whatsoever of Covid relaxing its destructive grip on all that we know, this little-known novel provided me with a welcome distraction from the bombardment of grim headlines about Corona and Brexit. The Fortnight in September by RC Sherriff was first published in 1931. Sherriff was the author of Journey’s End; a First World War play that is often hailed as one of the greatest of its time. The Fortnight in September is vastly different in subject matter but shares its emphasis on real people living real lives. It charmed and delighted me with its simple yet moving narrative.

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