Read, The World: April Pre-Orders
It's a particularly exciting month for fiction in translation with debuts, science fiction, short stories, returning giants like Al Aswany, Binet and Murakami, and previously unpublished gems. Get away, in gorgeous prose at the very least. 10% off all titles, all month! Including stellar signed books from some of our faves…
Kayo Chingonyi, A Blood Condition (pre-order & get a link for the launch on 24 April!)
Essential existential poems in this second collection by BF fave Kayo Chingonyi. Traversing rivers, continents and veins, this is a hymn to the complexities of psychic and physical inheritance from an award-winning poet.
Jessie Greengrass, The High House
One family against climate catastrophe: Francesca is a scientist, a mother and a step-mother. She's got a generator, a seed bank and a greenhouse. But is it enough to save her family – and is saving one family enough?
Steve Hollyman, Lairies (pre-order & get a link for the launch on 8 April!)
A vivid punch of a book that looks in on the larger-than-night-life of the early noughties, and a vigilante lads' quest gone wrong. Sings when it's winning, keens in the aftermath.
Chris Power, A Lonely Man
Face/Off, but make it literary. A struggling writer, Robert, meets an enigmatic stranger, himself a paranoid ghostwriter for a murdered oligarch. Is he for real? Robert decides to use his story anyway. Whose story? What truth? Who decides?
Leone Ross, This One Sky Day (indie bookstore edition + signed bookplate)
If you haven't read Come Let Us Sing Anyway, welcome to the unique Leone Ross 'verse – and if you have, you'll still marvel at this jaw-dropping novel set in the Popisho archipelago, where love, gifts and mystery envelop everyone.
Richard Thompson, Beeswing (signed bookplate)
It's subtitled "Fairport, Folk Rock and Finding My Voice 1967-75" but it's so much more: a blazing personal take on the heady highs and horrors of the Woodstock years, by one of music's great storytellers.
Fiction in Translation
Alaa Al Aswany, The Republic of False Truths, translated by S.R. Fellowes
What we've all been waiting for: Egypt's greatest living novelist on the Revolution. All the euphoria and brilliant energy is here – and the dark forces of the status quo that tried to keep it down.
Eva Baltasar, Permafrost, translated by Julia Sanches
Had us at "no-bullshit lesbian narrator". Kept us enthralled with an au-pair's impassioned cry for freedom (shades of Jane Eyre), its espresso-dark humour, and its portrait of a woman constantly searching for herself.
Laurent Binet, Civilisations, translated by Sam Taylor
We all play "what if?" with the big jonbar hinges, but Laurent Binet just goes there hell for leather. Witness the Incas and Aztecs fighting for control of Renaissance Europe. Big, bold, bloody, bonkers.
Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, The Passenger, translated by Philip Boehm
Written in the shadow of Kristallnacht in 1938, Ulrich Boschwitz's breakneck thriller of a Jewish businessman, his identity erased, trying to flee Germany, is translated into English for the first time. Essential, exciting reading.
Kim Bo-Young, I'm Waiting for You, translated by Sophie Bowman and Sung Ryu
Two intertwined pairs of short stories imagine infinite possibilities through lovers' galactic travel and the time paradoxes it generates. Recommended by Bong Joon-Ho and millions of Korean readers, I'm Waiting for You is finally here.
Lina Meruane, Nervous System, translated by Megan McDowell
Galaxies and families are both mapped in this novel by an outstanding member of the new generation of Chilean writers. Galaxy-brain intelligence meets atomic-level sensitivity to language and feeling.
Haruki Murakami, First Person Singular: Stories, translated by Philip Gabriel
Murakami, in mouthfuls. Eight first-person stories – or are they memoirs – that, naturally, feature talking monkeys, invented jazz albums, and a narrator whose voice is uncannily familiar.
Lavie Tidhar, ed., The Best of World SF: Volume 1
Some absolute faves here: Tade Thompson, Cristina Jurado, Hannu Rajaniemi, Ekaterina Sedia, Lauren Beukes, Karin Tidbeck, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Han Song, Zen Cho – & that barely scratches the surface of this epic anthology!
Sarah Bernstein, The Coming Bad Days
The book of now because:
Uncanny mood of dread ☑️
Unseasonal weather getting worse ☑️
Women's lives in danger ☑️
Friendship might save us ☑️
Violence might tear us apart ☑️
Elizabeth Bowen, Selected Stories
Simply the best: on disappointment, downward mobility, discomfort, desire, dirt, delusions of faded grandeur, hats and awkwardness. Every sentence is a threat and a treat.
Elizabeth Chakrabarty, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes
A heart-racing novel that's terrifying in the ordinariness of the crime it investigates, which is both a racist, sexist assault and the gaslighting that tries to push it aside. Instead of cold forensics, Chakrabarty offers a sure song of survival.
Sam Cohen, Sarahland
As picked by on our podcast by Sara Jaffe! Short stories of multiple Sarahs: origin myths, growing roots, writing Buffy fanfic, finding pleasure, defying consumerism and the algorithm & its insistence on a single, quantifiable self. Amazing.
Cherie Dimaline, Empire of Wild
The Marrow Thieves is one of our faves, and this astounding rewriting of the rogaru (loup-garou) myth does not disappoint, with its melding of realities and its passionate heroine on a quest to save her family. Stunning.
Gabriela Garcia, Of Women and Salt
Entwining her family's histories and the stories she learned as a migrant organiser fighting deportations, Garcia's poetic, non-linear debut is an epic accounting of Cuban and Cuban-American matrilineage, resistance & survival.
Crystal Jeans, The Inverts
It starts with a moonlit kiss – one that Bettina and Bart can't get away from quick enough. But as queers in the interwar years, they enter into a lavender marriage that takes them round the world, solving murders and partying wildly. Delicious.
Jon McGregor, Lean Fall Stand
A timely and timeless novel about the intimate complexities of becoming a carer – and of becoming cared-for, as an accident leaves an explorer and his wife re-evaluating their relationship and themselves.
Benjamin Myers, Male Tears
Myers follows up BF faves The Gallows Pole and The Offing with these stunning shards of stories that wrap violence and bravado around a hidden tenderness in portraits of lonely men in lonely places.
Kevin Power, White City
Welcome to rehab, disinheritance, and what comes after when you're Ben, desperate enough to wheeler-deal with some gangsters on a property deal. Combines romp and rueful reflection in equal measures.
Rosa Rankin-Gee, Dreamland
Chance's family trade London for Margate, gaining space, open skies… and rising seas. Climate chaos and familial chaos overlap, even as Chance finds herself falling in love and fate with a strange girl called Franky…
Gwendolyn Riley, My Phantoms
Bridget is a grown-up: an adult, an academic. So why is she still so haunted by her chaotic mother Helen, when she only sees her once a year? How does she handle Helen needing more from her? Hits extra home this year.
Claire Thomas, The Performance
Three women – an ageing professor, a wealthy mother, a young usher – watch a performance of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days as bushfires burn. Their inner monologues intersect and fragment, reflecting Winnie's on stage.
Jeff VanderMeer, Hummingbird Salamander
Opening a storage unit sets off a weird, tense, thrilling thriller in the latest from the author of Annihilation, as a security consultant follows the taxidermied trail left by a reputed ecoterrorist, with the fate of the planet itself at stake (as it, indeed, is).
Dawnie Walton, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
A love letter to rock music in the form of a fictional biography of "Afro-Punk ancestor" singer Opal Jewel & songwriter Nev Charles on the eve of their reunion, written by music journo (& Nev's secret daughter) S. Sunny Shelton.
Action Bronson, F*ck It, I'll Start Tomorrow: A True Story
Anyone else looking to reckon with a post-pandemic body, wanting to focus on health, self-acceptance and a good relationship to great food? Action Bronson offers a no-fucks-given approach to being with yourself. Tomorrow.
Edmund de Waal, Letters to Camondo
The Camondos were Parisian near neighbours of the Ephrussis, the ancestors whose story de Waal told in The Hare with the Amber Eyes. Be prepared for more revelations via the spectacular Musee Nissim de Camondo.
Jacky Colliss Harvey, Walking Pepys' London
With 5 detailed maps and several illustrations, Harvey's handbook brings 17th century London to vivid life through the paths taken and documented by Samuel Pepys. Get out there with this book in hand.
Tez Ilyas, The Secret Diary of a British Muslim, Age 13 3/4
Blackburn, 1997, in a big family in the heart of a working-class British Asian Muslim community: Tez Ilyas is the proverbial 13 3/4, gearing up for GCSEs at a struggling school & hanging out with many nicknamed cousins. Read on…
Musa Okwonga, One of the Them: An Eton College Memoir
How did one school come to grant so much power and do so much harm? As a former student, Okwonga looks deep into Eton's history and networks of privilege to tell a searching story about how we got into the mess we're in.
Grace Paul, The Urban Vegetable Patch: A Modern Guide to Growing Sustainably, Whatever Your Space
Grow green, whether you have a windowsill or an allotment. Paul talks you through organic composting and growing, cutting back on plastic waste, and how to eat what you grow.
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred
Whether your take on science is more Star Trek or CERN, this outstanding book has something for you, from a scientist & activist who brings together quantum physics and critical race theory to show how we are all entangled.
Anita Sethi, I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain
Determined to face down a race hate crime, Anita Sethi walks the Pennines, immersing herself deeply in the place that calls her home. A reckoning with the physical and psychic backbone of the island, in small detail & big picture.
Tracey Thorn, My Rock n Roll Friend
More Tracey Thorn, the best musician-memoirist! This time she's looking back over her four decade friendship with Lindy Morrison, drummer for The Go-Betweens and her mentor as they faced down industry sexism.
Dr Jess Wade, Nano: The Spectacular Science of the Very (Very) Small, illustrated by Melissa Castrillon
Brilliant for inquisitive small-to-medium-sized readers (and bigger readers looking to keep up with the curiosity!). Images and words work together gorgeously to make sense of a bogglingly cutting-edge area of science.