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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

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Girl, Woman, Other

Almost...but not quite

It’s a frustrating read Booker Prize Winning (2019) Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. This book has so much going for it: the fun, effortless writing, the fresh, contemporary look at black women’s lives, even the punctuation-free writing works. Amongst the stories of 12 black women’s lives, there are some truly fabulous ones. Stories that bring you into other people’s lives in a way only the very best literature does. It’s a shame then that there are too many of them (how about 6 rather than 12, for example) and that some feel rushed leaving the reader craving for more while others snail along and fail to engage.

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The Man Booker International Prize 2020

The 29 year old Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and the translator Michele Hutchinson ran away with the International Man Booker Prize 2020 yesterday for the book The Discomfort of the Evening. Rijneveld (who prefers to be addressed as they) tells the story of a boy who dies in an accident after his sister, following an argument, wishes he’d die instead of her rabbit. Loosely based on Rijneveld’s own experiences, they grew up on a farm in a deeply religious family and also lost a brother, the book deals with the piousness, loss and delusions. Haven’t read this one myself but sounds worthwhile if you’re ready for something serious. Here’s the best of the rest:

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Exterminate All the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist

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‘Exterminate All the Brutes’

One to make you think

‘Exterminate All the Brutes’ by Sven Lindqvist has been in my to-be-read pile for quite a while (perhaps explained by its depressing title). Those who’ve read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness might recognise the title as the last sentence of that book and this is Lindqvist’s starting point. This history-cum-travel book investigates the dark history of European colonialism and brutal extermination of indigenous peoples. It’s a distressing but highly recommended read and one which explains some of the systemic racism which still haunts the Western world.

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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Where the Crawdads Sing

Hauntingly beautiful novel set in mid-century Carolina

Kya Clark lives with her family in a shack in the North Carolina marshes until her siblings and parents leave one by one and she is left at the age of 7 to raise herself. Abandoned to this solitary life with just herons and gulls for company she learns to cook, grow vegetables and eek out a living, but she has few friends and shuns society. Some years later a handsome young man is murdered and The Marsh Girl is the obvious suspect. Unfolding slowly in dual timelines, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is an immersive and captivating summer read.

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The Life Before Us by Émile Ajar

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The Life Before Us

A funny and moving 20th century French best-selling novel

The Life Before Us by Émile Ajar is a heart-breaking story narrated by Momo, a ten year-old Arab immigrant to France. Momo, who lives in an orphanage run by ex-prostitute Madame Rosa, has seen things no ten-year old should see and is far too advanced for his age. Darkly comical and wonderfully poignant The Life Before Us deserves to join the ranks of rediscovered classics. Why no UK publisher has given its cover a face-lift and republished this wonderful novel is a mystery to me. Read full Review

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A Bookclub with a Difference

From now until December, Human Rights Watch will be offering a virtual book club series exploring a range of human rights issues through the lens of award-winning novels and non-fiction. Pairing leading authors with Human Rights Watch’s brilliant researchers, the series will discuss issues of race, identity and democracy and featuring best-selling authors such as Afua Hirsch, Elif Shafak and Hisham Matar. The first in the series will be hosted by Afua Hirsch author, barrister and journalist, on the 13th August from 6.30-7.30pm BST discussing her best-selling book Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. Join here now!

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Struggling to find a good book?

Visit our archive where you’ll find more that 400 reviewed books, all hand-picked by our picky reviewers. We only recommend books we really, really like so rest assured you won’t be wasting your time. Craving something funny? Go to our ‘In the mood for…’ tab in the menu bar on our homepage. There you’ll also find our best long and short reads, thrilling books, challenging and light reads. In our ‘Review’ tab you’ll find our reviews sorted by category, fiction, non-fiction, classics, American literature etc. If you still can’t find anything, send us an email (bookstoker@gmail.com) and we’ll try to help.

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Books set in New York City

Having spent the better part of my 20s living in New York City, I have a huge soft spot for this iconic place. I crave books that bring back the noises, the buzz, the beauty, the people and the grittiness of the city.  Here’s a selection of some of the very best ones.

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