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This is where you will find stunning books from literary masters past and present. Literary fiction doesn’t just mean good or valued, as brilliant writing can be found in any genre. These are serious stories with high artistic qualities that strike at the heart of what it is to be human.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2019 A big-hearted, funny and sad novel about the messiness of love, family and belief SHORTLISTED FOR IRISH NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD In 1979 Bridget Doyle has one goal left in life: for her family to produce the very first Irish pope. Fired up by John Paul II's appearance in Phoenix Park, she sprinkles Papal-blessed holy water on the marital bed of her son and daughter-in-law, and leaves them to get on with things. But nine months later her daughter-in-law dies in childbirth and Granny Doyle is left bringing up four grandchildren: five-year-old Peg, and baby triplets Damien, Rosie and John Paul. Thirty years later, it seems unlikely any of Granny Doyle's grandchildren are going to fulfil her hopes. Damien is trying to work up the courage to tell her that he's gay. Rosie is a dreamy blue-haired rebel who wants to save the planet and has little time for popes. And irrepressible John Paul is a chancer and a charmer and the undisputed apple of his Granny's eye - but he's not exactly what you'd call Pontiff material. None of the triplets have much contact with their big sister Peg, who lives over 3,000 miles away in New York City, and has been a forbidden topic of conversation ever since she ran away from home as a teenager. But that's about to change.
Described by Time Magazine as `a lethal comedy', Symposium centres around a dinner party and the lives of the five couples in attendance, including a burglary ring, a convent of Marxist nuns and several unexplained deaths. A devilish tale. This is one of the 22 novels written by Muriel Spark in her lifetime. All are being published by Polygon in hardback Centenary Editions between November 2017 and September 2018.
Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Make no mistake, this debut novel is startling and often painfully uncomfortable, yet it is a stunning, actually breathtaking piece of literature. 14 year old Turtle is strong, capable, different, she is also suffering… deeply and painfully. Within the first few pages I knew that ‘My Absolute Darling’ was going to be an unforgettable read. By the end of the first chapter, ice-cold fingers had run down my spine and sent my whole system into shock. I felt as though I was viewing life from an entirely different perspective, one absolutely humming with intensity. I wanted to stop the feelings of disbelief and horror that were crowding into my mind, but I knew that I had to bear witness. Gabriel Tallent’s writing is surprisingly simple, yet he paints a vibrant pulsating picture, this man sees life, sees beneath the surface, and grants you access too. The plants, wildlife, and surrounding countryside, so beautifully described, link with the reality of Turtle’s life and on occasion act as a buffer to what is happening. There were times when ‘My Absolute Darling’ made me scream inside, yet I couldn't stop reading this remarkable and actually rather beautiful novel. It will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.
This is quite simply a wonderfully gorgeous must-read! My whole being poured into ‘The Possible World’, soaked up the words, the feelings, the story. Six year old Ben is left traumatised after a violent crime, Lucy the doctor who initially treats Ben in the Emergency Room has her own issues, while Clare has lived a lifetime of secrets, is she ready to tell her story? Each chapter is headed by one of the characters, each story, stands resolute, almost isolated, and yet a transparent thread weaves between them, creating a cobweb of a connection. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz writes with such beautiful heartfelt emotion, yet is also able to communicate stark realism. At certain points, my mind clouded in confusion, before clarity hit me like a hammer blow. I adored the storyline, the mysterious, spellbinding route that is taken almost feels as though you happen upon it by chance. I read without stopping, completely consumed by the story and it hurt when I turned the final page, when I had to come back into my world. I still ache when I think about ‘The Possible World’, it truly is a beautiful read and will topping my books of the year.
Oh my, must-read needs to be stamped all over this book as it is 188 pages of simply wonderful storytelling, with each short chapter building to create a cohesive, biting, beautiful whole. Set in Romania in the 1970’s, Alina and her husband find themselves confronted by the secret service when her brother-in-law defects, can the hidden old folk ways be the answer to their problems? While this is a truly stunning read, it isn’t always comfortable or easy, there were occasions when I really flinched, took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, but each time I was drawn back in as I also smirked, laughed, felt wonder and had moments of real discovery. The first chapter sent my thoughts scuttling and seeking answers, did I believe, did I understand? Sophie van Llewyn is an award-winning flash fiction author, each chapter of ‘Bottled Goods’ is short, could almost exist in its own right, yet remove one and the entire story would fracture. The ending is utterly perfect, and had me sitting in contemplative silence. I want to shout about Bottled Goods from the rooftops, I adored this thought-provoking unique novella and have chosen it as one of my picks of the month.
Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2018 EVERY MOTHER IS A WOMAN WITH A PAST When Katharine is found dead at the foot of her stairs, it is the mystery of her life that consumes her daughter, Laura. The medical examiner's report, in which precious parts of Katharine's body are weighed and categorised, motivates Laura to write her own version of events. But as she delves deeper into Katharine's past, she is forced to confront a new version of the woman she knew only as her mother. A woman silenced by her own mother and wronged by her husband. A woman who lived in the shadows but whose secrets are now coming to light.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2019 Of everyone in her complicated family, Eva was closest to her grandfather: a charismatic painter - and a keeper of secrets. So when he dies, she's hit by a greater loss - of the questions he never answered, and the past he never shared. It's then she finds the letter from the Jewish Museum in Berlin. They have uncovered the testimony he gave after his forced labour service in Hungary, which took him to the death camps and then to England as a refugee. This is how he survived. But there is a deeper story that Eva will unravel - of how her grandfather learnt to live afterwards. As she confronts the lies that have haunted her family, their identity shifts and her own takes shape. The testament is in her hands. Kim Sherwood's extraordinary first novel is a powerful statement of intent. Beautifully written, moving and hopeful, it crosses the tidemark where the third generation meets the first, finding a new language to express love, legacy and our place within history.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD A motorcycle courier finds a cache of nude photos in her boyfriend's desk. The daughter of East German emigrants encounters her doppelganger, who has crossed another cultural divide. Twin brothers fall for the same girl. When a stripper receives an enigmatic proposal from a client, she accepts, ignorant of its terms. Shadows, doubles, and the ghosts of past and future lovers haunt these elegantly structured and often hallucinatory stories. The language is hypnotic, deadpan, intense; the sentences jewel-hard and sublime. Things to Make and Break is the work of a stylish, exuberant new voice in modern fiction. 'Quite dazzling' TLS
Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
An extraordinary feat of storytelling, the three novels that make up the West Country Trilogy will take readers on a journey from the agricultural world at the turn of the century, through to the devastation and upheaval of the First World War – an event that will transform not only the lives of Lottie and Leo, but also the fate of a nation.