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I take the titles for these monthly posts from a number of sources, including the highlighted books on The Bookseller, my own knowledge of authors to watch, and various lists around the web, and while I can’t claim to have read them, they definitely seem to have merit — or, at least, buzz. Unless indicated otherwise, descriptions are taken from Goodreads, Amazon, or the publisher’s site.
The most reliable place to find UK books in the original British English and at the date at which they come out in the UK is blackwells.com, which has free international delivery, including to the US. (If you follow my link, you’ll also be generating a few pennies to support the podcast, and I really appreciate that!) You might also have some luck with wordery.com, as well as bookdepository.com, which is owned by Amazon.
Also, you may be able to find some of these books as audiobooks on Libro.fm — enter code BRITLIT to get your first 3 books for less than $5 each!
The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré (US, 4th February, UK, 5th March, literary fiction)
As the only daughter of a broke father, she is a valuable commodity. Removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni’s life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV. When unspeakable tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni… As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless servant, fourteen-year-old Adunni is repeatedly told that she is nothing. But Adunni won’t be silenced. She is determined to find her voice – in a whisper, in song, in broken English – until she can speak for herself, for the girls like Rebecca who came before, and for all the girls who will follow.
The Mirror & the Light, by Hillary Mantel (UK, 5th March, US, 10th March, historical fiction)
England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour. Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?
Broken Greek, by Pete Paphides (UK, 5th March, memoir)
When Pete’s parents moved from Cyprus to Birmingham in the 1960s in the hope of a better life, they had no money and only a little bit of English. They opened a fish-and-chip shop in Acocks Green. The Great Western Fish Bar is where Pete learned about coin-operated machines, male banter and Britishness. Shy and introverted, Pete stopped speaking from age 4 to 7, and found refuge instead in the bittersweet embrace of pop songs, thanks to Top of the Pops and Dial-A-Disc. From Brotherhood of Man to UB40, from ABBA to The Police, music provided the safety net he needed to protect him from the tensions of his home life. It also helped him navigate his way around the challenges surrounding school, friendships and phobias such as visits to the barber, standing near tall buildings and Rod Hull and Emu. With every passing year, his guilty secret became more horrifying to him: his parents were Greek, but all the things that excited him were British.
Table Manners: The Cookbook, by Jessie Ware and Lennie Ware (UK, US ebook, 5th March)
Cooking through Table Manners is like having Jessie and Lennie at the table with you: brash, funny and full of opinions. In true Ware style, their cookbook is divided into Effortless, A Bit More Effort, Summertime, Desserts and Baking (thanks to Jessie’s brother Alex), Chrismukkah (Christmas, Hanukkah and celebrations) and, of course, Jewish-ish Food. These delicious, easy dishes are designed for real people with busy and sometimes chaotic lives with the ultimate goal of everyone eating together so unfiltered chat can flourish.
And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, by Danielle Jawando (UK, 5th March, young adult)
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan decides to retrace Al’s footsteps. As he does, he meets Megan, Al’s former classmate, who is as determined as Nathan to keep Al’s memory alive. Together they start seeking answers, but will either of them be able to handle the truth about Al’s death when they eventually discover what happened?
A Thousand Moons, by Sebastian Barry (UK, 19th March, US ebook and audio, 21st April, historical fiction)
Winona is a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. Living with Thomas and John on the farm they work in 1870s Tennessee, she is educated and loved, forging a life for herself beyond the violence and dispossession of her past. But the fragile harmony of her unlikely family unit, in the aftermath of the Civil War, is soon threatened by a further traumatic event, one which Winona struggles to confront, let alone understand.
The Best, Most Awful Job: Twenty Writers Talk Honestly About Motherhood, ed. Katharine May (UK, 19th March, Essay)
The Best, Most Awful Job brings together twenty bold and brilliant women to speak about motherhood in all its raw, heart-wrenching, gloriously impossible forms. Overturning assumptions, breaking down myths and shattering stereotypes, these writers challenge our perceptions of what it means to be a mother – and ask you to listen.
The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld (UK, 26th March, US, 1st September, historical fiction)
Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other. In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the strange waters of the local community. Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning the death of her father, catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past – and perhaps a way forward. Each woman’s choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life.