This is it. The place for the greatest writing: stories that transcend all other ‘genres’. Literary fiction goes above and beyond any specific genre in order to deliver stories that strike at the heart of what it means to be human.
In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming. As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao's ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai struggle during China's relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to. Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming - and for Marie.
Tracing an arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, All That Man Is brings these separate lives together to show us men as they are - ludicrous and inarticulate, shocking and despicable; vital, pitiable, hilarious, and full of heartfelt longing. And as the years chase them down, the stakes become bewilderingly high in this piercing portrayal of 21st-century manhood. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 | April 2017 Debut of the Month. Here is a woman, Mary, who desperately needs something and even we, the reader, are not entirely sure what. She has just split with a long-term boyfriend, Mark, the final bitter row being over commitment and not wanting a child. The next door neighbours have a toddler and a new baby girl. Mary babysits and forms an attachment with the baby which becomes complicated when the child is dumped on her later. It is the age old dilemma; no she does not want a child ... but then maybe she does. A magnificent dog fox appears in her overgrown garden, an area that backs onto a bit of scrub land. There are passages when we become aware of his thoughts and so eventually discover he is mourning his vixen. We are in East London. Mary develops an friendship with the fox, as indeed does he with her, or so we are led to believe. But again is he real or is she suffering from some delusion, edging on a mental breakdown? Is the fox a symbol for a need to care, nurture, protect, belong, or is he actually there? This is fascinating stuff. A tale of obsession which is unsettling, powerful and hypnotic. An original debut. I was fascinated to learn that there are ten thousand foxes roaming London.
As is the case with so many good Irish literary novels, this is poignant, breathtaking and very sad. Following three stories told in three different voices that do eventually come together, it covers the years 1901 to 1941 through the tales of Jewish Lithuathian immigrants bound for New York who inadvertently disembark in Cork (sounds like New York) in Ireland. Ruth is eight years old. The second story is Shem’s who is mute, struck so at his Bar Mitzvah. When we meet him he is eighteen. His is the saddest story of all for his life is irrevocably changed by a misinterpretation of circumstances. The third story is set today where Aisling, an Irish Catholic in love with a Jew, has a huge dilemma. Can she make the ultimate sacrifice and convert to Judaism? She is given a book by her prospective inlaws that outlines the path she must take. It belonged to another and she seeks out the original owners with much then being revealed to us, the reader. It is not an easy read but it is certainly an impressive one. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
An edgy, astute, robustly dynamic tale, taking snapshots of a life and allowing them to parade provocatively in front of you. Andrea is nearly 40, she doesn't have children, or a partner, she continuously battles expectations and other peoples judgement. Andrea opens windows into her world, with time not running concurrently, we slide backwards and forwards in an almost chaotic but incredibly powerful way. At first I wasn't sure what to make of Andrea, she can be abrasive and fatalistic, yet as I got to know her, any initial concerns about her, altered to being concerned for her, to caring about her. Jami Attenberg somehow encouraged hidden voices and thoughts skulking in a sealed shut wardrobe in my own mind to open the door and let themselves be heard. Her writing is incredible powerful, there is a beguiling sense of freedom and candour skimming the pages. Prodding, slashing, hammering at your awareness, ‘All Grown Up’ is a mesmerising tale, it’s short yet contains a lifetime of living. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read a letter from Jami Attenberg about this book.
April 2017 Debut of the Month. An emotional, heart-stopping, and mesmerising debut novel. 34 year old retired banker and burgeoning artist Barry from New York, and 28 year old just-married Parisian architect Sophie, are the sole survivors of a plane crash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Stranded on a small uninhabited island, with only themselves and a small survival kit for company, can they withstand the trials that nature and the universe hurls at them? Chapter one was an unexpected and intriguing start, setting questions hovering in my mind, before I was propelled straight into the middle of a boiling, seething mass of water. Dane Huckelbridge’s clear, strong writing planted me firmly on the island, I witnessed shock, awe, and fear, laughter blurted out of me, I looked up at the sky, discovered joy, counted the days, felt hearts flutter. ‘Castle of Water’ is a gorgeous, captivating, surprising novel, one that storms your senses, yet encourages whispers of thoughts to escape your mind, and I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
May 2017 Book of the Month. A striking thriller from an established US author and Golden Globe award winner of the Fargo TV series scriptwriter. When a private aircraft returning from a wealthy holiday hideout plunges into the sea off New York and there are only two survivors: the young son of a powerful media mogul and a painter with a troubled past, speculation grows rife as to true story behind the tragedy, because of the presence on board of the TV network head and a wealthy banker who was about to be indicted for fraud. Accident or sabotage? The mystery behind the accident is not just the only theme of the novel, but also the way the American media moves. Through flashbacks to the various passengers in the days leading up to the crash, a tangled network unfolds, making this a complex and meditative examination of both the corridors of power and the affective ties that bind the two unlikely survivors. Ambitious and rewarding. ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Just stunning! A novel that surprises, seduces, and impresses. A private plane crashes into the ocean on a trip back to New York. Struggling artist Scott Burroughs not only survives, he also rescues 4 year old JJ, the son of the family who chartered the jet. This novel tells the story of each person on the plane, the investigation after the crash and focuses on Scott, is he a hero or villain? The writing dances across the characters, floating yet somehow reaching into their innermost depths and revealing hidden thoughts, desires and feelings. Noah Hawley takes us backwards and forwards in time, the writing is strangely beautiful, even when in the depths of the nightmare, the descriptive detailing has the ability to caress your senses. I found myself spinning unexpectedly as the focus changed direction, ensuring I was on high alert, seeking and grasping for answers. Occasionally, outside of each individual story, little jolting snapshots can be found, that sow both seeds of disquiet and empathy. ‘Before the Fall’ is a striking and completely captivating read, do I recommend it, yes, yes, yes…wholeheartedly! ~ Liz Robinson
April 2017 Debut of the Month. Oh my word, this is an eyebrow raising, mouth openingly good read. A contemporary tale about three women, muddling and battling their way through this world as best they can. Emotional growing pains can occur at any age, life doesn't run smoothly, and these three women hold out the hand of friendship to all of us. We see and feel deeply hidden thoughts, witness shockingly embarrassing moments, and I found myself wincing at their pain, snorting with laughter, and cheering them on. Dawn O’Porter has written a stonkingly good read, I stayed up well past my bedtime into the early hours in order to finish it in one sitting. My feelings went into free fall and occasionally tied themselves up in knots as I read. ‘The Cows’ slams with impact, slaps adversity in the face, and offers supportive understanding in our modern world. Highly recommended! ~ Liz Robinson
Category Winner of the Costa Book Awards 2017, Costa Novel Award | One of our Books of the Year 2017 April 2017 Book of the Month. Aged 13 a girl goes missing. The whole village turns out to search. Over the course of thirteen chapters and thirteen years we follow the affect of this tragedy on the villagers. We meet them all through brief snippets of their lives. In single chapters, with just their names to guide us, a picture of their village, their rural life, the pattern of the year, through lambing, panto, cricket, pub and New Year fireworks is built up. Miss a few lines and you could miss huge revelations. Kids grow, become teenagers, go to university. Couples come together, couples split. Babies are born, the old die, and nature rolls on. The style is abrupt, staccato, yet gets under your skin and sings to you. The novel centres on the missing girl but it is really about human nature, village life and the rhythm of a year. It is outstanding, stunning and immensely beautiful. ~ Sarah Broadhurst The Costa Judges say: ‘An extraordinary novel – poetic, haunting and hypnotic.’
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 Book of the Month. A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored. The writing here is exquisite, the story evolves so simply, gradually revealing the complications that life has to offer. Sara Taylor placed me in the seat next to Alex, I joined this intimate, evocative journey meandering from the east to west coast of the USA, and I didn’t want it to end. The wonderfully sensitive writing creates blasts of feeling, and woke my awareness as prickles of revelation travelled up my arms from the page. These characters feel so touchingly real, Alex opened my eyes, I smiled, I ached, I wept. ‘The Lauras’ is an absolute delight of a read, and it touched my heart. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to download some Reading Group questions for The Lauras.
With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman's extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.
Here are nine men. Each of them is at a different stage in life, each of them is away from home, and each of them is striving - in the suburbs of Prague, in an over-developed Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a crap Cypriot hotel - to understand just what it means to be alive, here and now. Vibrating with detail and intelligence, pathos and surprise, All That Man Is is a portrait of contemporary manhood, contemporary Europe and contemporary life from a British writer of supreme gifts - the master of a new kind of realism.
Insightful, International, Thought-provoking
Literary fiction is a bit of a “catch-all” phrase. Some call it “Serious Fiction” but we prefer to think of it as all of the greatest stories ever told, all in one place. This is where you will find literary classics from literary masters past and present.
Why not have a look at our monthly featured titles for inspiration? Revisit old friends? Discover new ones? Or finally read that book that your friends have been banging on about for ages? Whatever your reasons, settle down with your favourite tipple, unwind and open your mind with the home-spun brilliance of authors like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, David Nicholls and Zadie Smith; or those from further afield: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Ben Okri, Jostein Gaarder and so many more. There are obviously so many to choose from, you could get lost in the Sea of Choices.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’re never too far away from your next great read, great events, competitions and discounts? Sign up for our free emails and let the passion of our experts guide you to some wonderful new reading.
That book you loved has finally come to an end. Where do you go next? With our unique Author Like for Like tool, you’ll discover other authors guaranteed to be right up your street. Login, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.
Reading Groups! Let us help you find your next hot topic. Visit our Special Section bursting with thought provoking titles and get an extra 5% discount if you buy 5 or more copies.
A selection of authors who will feature in this Lovereading category include: