The Fiction section of Shiny New Books is the biggest, so to make it a little easier to find books you might particularly enjoy, we’ve grouped the reviews by theme below:
First come the big releases, some of which are short or long-listed for prizes: How to be Both by Ali Smith; J by Howard Jacobson; Orfeo by Richard Powers; The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell; The Children Act by Ian McEwan, and not forgetting The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.
Contemporary Crime and Psychological Thrillers, we have a good and varied bunch for you: All Day and a Night by Alafair Burke; An Event in Autumn – a Wallander novella by Henning Mankell; Poisoned Ground by Barbara Nadel and A Killing of Angels by Kate Rhodes are both set in London and Fall from Grace by Tim Weaver is Dartmoor bound ; two novels set in Canada – Entry Island by Peter May and The Long Way Home by Louise Penny; Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and Help for the Haunted by John Searles are both psychological thrillers.
Short Stories feature strongly in this issue – we have Margaret Atwood’s new collection Stone Mattress and Problems with People by David Guterson. Then we have Tom Barbash’s New York stories in Stay With Me; The Scatter Here is Too Great is a linked story cycle by a new voice from Pakistan in Bilal Tanweer.
Historical fiction comes from many eras: 7th Century Northumbria is the home of Hild by Nicola Griffith and we jump into the 1800s for another novel by Andrew Motion inspired by Treasure Island in The New World, plus The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin, The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull and The Grand Duchess of Nowhere by Laurie Graham.
Multiple narratives: Many books have both contemporary and historical strands, (like Ali Smith’s above). Others include The Repercussions by Catherine Hall, The Confabulist by Steven Galloway which features the life of Harry Houdini, and The Emperor Waltz by Philip Hensher.
The years from WWI to WWII continue to feature strongly. First Time Solo by Iain Maloney, In Love and War by Alex Preston, Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson and The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson all have wartime themes, or you could pick something humorous from in between with Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks.
The 1950s-1970s are an increasingly rich seam to be mined for near-contemporary novels – The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett is a tale of a magician in the 1950s (and we have a spare copy to give away too!). Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant and the delightfully funny Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe, The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop are all set in the 1970s, with the latter being in Cyprus.
Translations this issue come from Italy with a look at Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels (trans. Ann Goldstein) – translations of older novels can be found in the Reprints section (for want of a better category).
A clutch of other contemporary literary novels from around the world include: Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth (USA), House of Ashes by Monique Roffey (Trinidad), The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob (India), Man by Kim Thuy (Canada) and Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas (Australia). Alison Moore’s new novel He Wants and Mark Watson’s Hotel Alpha fly the flag for the UK.
SF & Fantasy – Choose from Age of Iron by Angus Watson – an Iron Ages Game of Thrones, or the vampires and time travel of The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. A post-pandemic world is the subject of Emily St John Mandel’s elegant Station Eleven, and The Martian by Andy Weir is full-blown SF.
Happy autumn reading! Annabel, Fiction Editor at Shiny New Books