This month has been hard on most people with virtually the whole world shutting down amid the pandemic outbreak. Lucky for us, books are ever present to take our minds off our anxious reality. Are you looking to seek some respite from the harrowing onslaught of corona-virus related news? Dive into these fantastic April books out in the UK and available worldwide digitally.
How To Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa (Bloomsbury)
This is a top contender for my favorite book of 2020. Heralding the arrival of a major new talent, this short story collection features prose that is incredibly poignant yet meticulously succinct. The writer draws our attention to the trivial events in the day-to-day lives of immigrants which make them question their identity and their place in the world they inhabit.
Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud (Faber)
A captivating debut with a richly textured story set against the vibrant backdrop of Trinidad. Refreshingly colloquial and earnest, this unconventional Ramdin-Chetan family saga is a delightful portrayal of love and loss.
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Virago)
This singular debut carves a niche in the American Western for immigrants. Two Chinese American orphans try to survive the Gold rush in an ambitious, sprawling adventure story.
What’s Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott (W&N)
This is one of the most distinctive debuts I’ve read this year. An extraordinary story inspired by a true crime which is set against the covert marriage break-up industry in Japan. Propulsive and psychologically astute, Scott has written an unforgettable story about the limits of love.
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler (Chatto and Windus)
From the bestselling writer comes another deeply humane story about the nuances of human connection. Here she astutely imagines the solitary life of an ordinary middle aged man with remarkable tenderness. Also this story says something specially resonant about the human cost of social distancing.
Sharks in the Time of Saviours by Kawai Strong Washburn (Canongate)
An electrifying debut that combines Hawaiian myth with the reality of the American dream. This story illustrates generational trauma and cultural awakening with stunning simplicity.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (W&N)
Whipsmart, droll and relatable, this debut about three cynics living in Hong Kong is the perfect quarantine read! Dolan coolly dissects social interactions and interpersonal dynamics with lacerating candor, reminiscent of Fleabag.
Hashim & Family by Shahnaz Ahsan (John Murray)
A riveting debut inspired by the writer’s personal immigrant experience. This is the story of two cousins who arrive in the UK from East Pakistan in the ’60s. An exquisite epic about the ties each of us share with our family and homeland.
The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous (Harvill Secker)
A poignant novel about life in contemporary Syria from a promising new voice. The plot follows Suleima and Nassim, who meet in their therapist’s tiny waiting room in Damascus. They embark on a tenuous relationship but the civil war forces them to go their separate ways. Eventually Nassim sends Suleima a book where the experiences of the protagonist mirrors Suleima’s life to a frightening degree. This book is definitely a page-turner!
Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth (And Other Stories)
On the surface this is a madcap tale of two auditors in the U.S. egg industry going rogue. On a whole this is a wryly intelligent, urgent moral parable and an innovative work of eco-fiction.
Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster UK)
I absolutely loved Anatomy of a Scandal and couldn’t wait to read Vaughan’s follow up novel. Tackling the grave issue of the trials of new motherhood, the bestselling author uses her razor-sharp prose and a compelling narrative to drive her point home.
Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner (Piatkus)
This is an entertaining saga about the Kaufman sisters growing up in 1950s Detroit while the world around them rapidly evolves. Fans of social novels and multi generational epic will enjoy this richly plotted story.
Conjure Women by Afia Atakora (4th Estate)
Fans of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing will love this vividly imagined historical debut. With a plot revolving around the American civil war and spanning generations, this is an urgent story about slavery.
A Girl’s Story by Annie Ernaux (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
In this book Ernaux revisits her younger self in the summer of 1958, which was her first one away from home. A Girl’s Story is a fascinating journey back into adolescence and a thought-provoking meditation on first love, nostalgia and the defining experiences of womanhood.
And Their Children After Them By Nicolas Mathieu (Sceptre)
Winner of the Prix Goncourt, this novel is set during the sultry summers of the 1990s in a French valley community. An alluring and intensely written coming-of-age tale about life lived on the margins of society.
The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey (Orbit)
From the bestselling author of The Girl With All the Gifts comes the first book in an exciting trilogy. It is set beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly seeds that will kill you where you stand. If you are a fan of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy then this coming-of-age novel needs to be on your TBR pile.
The Portrait by Ilaria Bernardini (Allen & Unwin)
During the final days of her secret lover of 30 years, a woman commissions the man’s wife to paint her portrait so that she can be close to his family home and life. The two women swap stories and reveal secrets. Exquisitely written, this is a beguiling novel by an Italian powerhouse that will appeal to fans of Ferrante.
Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony (Doubleday)
Republican congressman Alexander Paine Wilson receives a large parcel via FedEx which contains a gigantic taxidermied aardvark. This biting satire combines the politics of repressive Victorian England with that of contemporary America and the results are predictably off-centre yet mordantly humorous.