Contemporary Dramas: Citizens by Kevin Curran examines the legacy of the Easter Rising on the youth of Dublin today. The Cold War of the 1960s is the setting for Helen Dunmore’s latest novel Exposure, and the hot summer of 1976 provides fertile ground for Joanna Cannon’s debut novel – The Trouble with Goats and Sheep. C.J. Fisher looks at the 1930s, 1960s, and 2010s in her novel When We Were Alive. Travis Mulhauser’s debut Sweetgirl channels Winter’s Bone – but with a dark sense of humour, whereas Meg Rosoff’s new novel Jonathan Unleashed is a gloriously funny comedy. The Forgetting Tree by Sharon Guskin may concern reincarnation, but don’t let that put you off this enjoyable novel. Yann Martel revisits Portugal after Pi in his new novel The High Mountains of Portugal which weaves around three lives.
Crime & Thrillers: Eva Dolan’s new novel After You Die is set in a Fenland commuter village and we go futher into East Anglia for the latest by Elly Griffiths – The Woman in Blue. Meanwhile Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes concerns trafficking. Fever City by Tim Baker takes on JFK conspiracy theories to create a fast-moving thriller with three timelines including November 1963. Laura Lippman’s 9th outing for Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan, Hush Hush, doesn’t disappoint. Those who prefer legal thrillers will enjoy Alafair Burke’s new novel The Ex. Sophie Hannah is back with another dizzingly twisty plot in The Narrow Bed.
Historical Novels: Firstly, two set in the 1800s – renowned biographer Janet Todd’s first fiction novel A Man of Genius is set in Venice and Tracy Chevalier’s At the Edge of the Orchard is a pioneer tail starting in Ohio. We move to turn of the century Australia for Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett, a tale of whaling, and to a mental asylum in Yorkshire in 1918 for The Ballroom by Anna Hope. Julian Barnes takes the life of Shostakovich as the basis of his novel The Noise of Time.
Speculative Fiction: Imagine if you lost the ability to sleep – that’s what Adrian Barnes’ post-apocalyptic Nod does, whereas Ali Shaw’s The Trees turns the world into a giant forest with fantastical post-catastrophic effect.
Translated Fiction: We have a pair of reviews of Man Booker International Prize longlisted books: Mend the Living by Frenchwoman Maylis De Kerangal follows 24hrs in the life, death and life of a heart destined for transplant; Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mukilla is set in a nightclub somewhere in Africa. Javier Marias new novel, Thus Bad Begins, has been looked forward to with much anticipation.
Finally, we also include a children’s novel – the extraordinary Finnsh Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff; short stories in Treats by Lara Williams; and in this issue’s ‘Shakespeare slot’ is Howard Jacobson’s retelling of The Merchant of Venice – Shylock is my Name.
Annabel, Fiction editor