Falling is Like Flying is Manon Uphoff’s autobiographical exploration of the traumatic sexual abuse experienced at the hands of her tyrannical father. With a courageous and extraordinary story to share, Uphoff returns to the dark labyrinth of her childhood to ‘catch sight of what I was there: the final doll in the matryoshka. The doll you can’t open.’ Despite her initial reticence, the recollections gather momentum as she relentlessly relives the trauma endured within a family that was both ordinary and deeply disturbed.
John Muckle (Shearsman Books Ltd., 2020); pbk, £12.95 There is nothing extraordinary about Highfields housing estate in Honiton, near Dunkswell, situated close to a military airfield in Devon which acts like a centrifugal force on the lives of the residents. Yet John Muckle, poet, writer, editor, animates the lives of the most ordinary characters in Read More
Some books lead readers gently by the hand and others push them in at the deep end. In her latest novel, The Night-Side of the Country, Meaghan Delahunt opens with a standalone sentence designed to launch you firmly into the post #metoo waters: ‘The days drew in and the men fell hard.’ From that moment on, the novel delivers a highly charged and fast paced read.
Elizabeth Chakrabarty’s first novel, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes takes the reader on a journey of racial hate crimes, through various lenses and differing angles. A surprising combination of charming romance and tense criminal investigation to narrow down a predator, these two genres put into play by Chakrabarty have a somewhat abrasive relationship with each other throughout the text, but their opposing forces are a perfect pairing.
Weather, the third novel from Jenny Offill, reveals a juxtaposition of modern anxieties: marriage and motherhood demand microscopic introspection at one end of the scale, while the amorphous threat of indistinct global destruction looms large at the other.
I read Summerwater in January 2021, on the eve of Brexit, and the shock has yet to wear off. Sarah Moss has six novels to her name and this, her most recent, poetically portends the dangers of casual prejudice. Set in a cabin park in the Highlands, a day of dreadful summer rain stretches out the solstice for the holiday makers.
Maaza Mengiste’s second novel, The Shadow King, was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2020 and bears all the hallmarks of the accolade. ‘Beautiful and devastating’ is Marlon James’ endorsement. What he means, we can assume, is that the writing is beautiful but its content devastating; the prose is vibrantly lyrical but the subject matter roams the darkest corners of conflict, something hard to reconcile with the word beautiful.
Face to face conversation has been a rarity this past year, and sadly my time spent getting to know author and poet Oliver K. Langmead was no exception. He agrees, ‘I feel as if I’m spending half my life in Zoom meetings, or typing away in a Word document – staring at the same screen Read More
The Midnight Library focuses on the life of Nora Seed, a 35-year-old woman whose life appears to be without meaning or love. A life of regrets. After losing what little she feels she has left, Nora decides that life is no longer for her. Instead of dying, she finds herself in an in-between world – a place that is neither life nor death. Here, Nora is presented with the Midnight Library along with the opportunity to change every choice she’s ever made.
Kevin Barry’s most recent collection of short stories, That Old Country Music, once again proves his stronghold in the industry. The highly-acclaimed Irish writer uses this collection to explore many narratives that flow alongside the perils of passion. Barry creates this standpoint as a sort of anti-romantic. Each of the eleven stories proves of great interest in this way: from the heartbreak of a loveless life in ‘The Coast of Leitrim’ to the lost narrative of a runaway child in ‘Roma Kid’.