Richard Powers – Bewilderment, £9.99 paperback
The breath-taking new novel from the author of The Overstory. Theo Byrne is a promising young scientist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. But after a violent outburst from Robin at school, the strength of their close bond will be tested to its limits. What can a father do, when those around him refuse to understand his rare and troubled child? And how can he reveal to his boy the truth about our beautiful, bewildered world?
Louise Erdrich – The Sentence, £9.99 paperback
In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author, Louise Erdrich, creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage and of a woman’s relentless errors. It asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading ‘with murderous attention,’ must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation and furious reckoning. The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020.
Jennifer Egan – A Visit from the Goon Squad, £9.99 paperback
Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life-divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house-and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang-who thrived and who faltered-and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.
Jennifer Egan – The Candy House, £9.99 paperback
This novel re-visits all the characters from ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’. Staggeringly successful and brilliant tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton is desperate for a new idea. He’s forty, with four kids, and restless when he stumbles into a conversation with mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalising” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, Own Your Unconscious–that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others–has seduced multitudes. But not everyone. In spellbinding linked narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling and extraordinarily moving, The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. With a focus on social media, gaming, and alternate worlds, you can almost experience moving among dimensions in a role-playing game.
Patrick Gale – Take Nothing With You, £9.99 paperback
A compassionate, compelling novel of boyhood, coming of age, and the confusions of desire and reality. 1970s Weston-Super-Mare and ten-year-old oddball Eustace, an only child, has life transformed by his mother’s quixotic decision to sign him up for cello lessons. Music-making brings release for a boy who is discovering he is an emotional volcano. He laps up lessons from his young teacher, not noticing how her brand of glamour is casting a damaging spell over his frustrated and controlling mother. When he is enrolled in holiday courses in the Scottish borders, lessons in love, rejection and humility are added to daily practice. Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale’s novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives.
Mick Herron – Slow Horses, £8.99 paperback
Spooks are supposed to be stealthy, but those who make a noisy mess of their careers end up in Slough House. This is Jackson Lamb’s kingdom: a dumping ground for spies who’ve screwed up. Once high fliers, they’re now slow horses, condemned to a life of pushing paper as punishment for crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal. In drab and mildewed offices, these highly trained spies moan and squabble, stare at the walls, and dream of better days – not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a slow horse, and the one thing they have in common is their desire to be back in the action. So when a young man is kidnapped and held hostage, his beheading scheduled for live broadcast on the net, the slow horses aren’t going to just sit quietly and watch. And unless they can prove they’re not as useless as they’re thought to be, a public execution is going to echo round the world.
Josephine Tey – To Love and be Wise, £9.99 paperback
A classic from the Golden Age of crime fiction. When Hollywood-star photographer Leslie Searle disappears from a remote English village, gifted inspector Alan Grant is called in to investigate. But what would bring such a successful individual to the village? And was his vanishing his own doing, or did something eerie occur at the hands of an unsuspected culprit?
Barbara Kingsolver – Unsheltered, £9.99 paperback
Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against a world which seems to hold little mercy for her and her family – or their old, crumbling house, falling down around them. Willa’s two grown-up children, a new-born grandchild, and her ailing father-in-law have all moved in at a time when life seems at its most precarious. But when Willa discovers that a pioneering female scientist lived on the same street in the 1800s, could this historical connection be enough to save their home from ruin? And can Willa, despite the odds, keep her family together?
Tove Jansson – Comet in Moominland, £7.99 paperback
A comet is speeding towards Earth and nobody in Moominvalley knows what to do! Will it destroy everything and everyone? Moomintroll decides to find out. So, with Sniff, he sets off on an expedition to ask the Professor if a comet is really on its way to destroy the Earth. On their journey they meet some interesting people – such as Snufkin the super tramp, and the Hemulen who rescues them from an underground tunnel, and have narrow escapes from such menaces as crocodiles and giant lizards! And on their way back Moomintroll meets the beautiful Snork Maiden and is a changed Moomin for ever after. But what about the comet – and is the World Wiped Out?
Claire Fuller – The Memory of Animals, £16.99 hardback
A gripping, haunting, novel about memory, love and survival – perfect for readers of Never Let me Go and Leave the World Behind. Neffy is a young woman running away from grief and guilt, and the one big mistake that has derailed her career. When she answers the call to volunteer in a controlled vaccine trial, it offers her a way to pay off her many debts and, perhaps, to make up for the past. But when the London streets below her window fall silent, and all external communications cease, only Neffy and four other volunteers remain in the unit. With food running out, and a growing sense that the strangers she is with may be holding back secrets, Neffy has questions that no one can answer. Does safety lie inside or beyond the unit? And who, or what is out there? While she weighs up her choices, she is introduced to a pioneering and controversial technology which allows her to revisit memories from her life before: a childhood divided between her enigmatic mother and her father in his small hotel in Greece. Intoxicated by the freedom of the past and the chance to reunite with those she loves, she increasingly turns away from her perilous present. But in this new world where survival rests on the bonds between strangers, is she jeopardising any chance of a future?