Haven’t been including many book posts recently. Here’s one with fun (and quick) reading.
5 New 2019 Fiction Releases That Are So Good, You’ll Finish Them In A Day
Like many, I have been ruined by the internet. Where once, I could read novels back to back, a flight of stairs away from my phone and not remotely concerned about it, now I am obliged to Google every fleeting question the book inspires (“jeans styles in the ’80s,” for example), or read eight reviews of the book instead of simply forming some opinions myself. Once, I would read books on the bus or tube or long car journey; now, I read articles and Twitter threads and submit to the hands-free ease of a podcast. But with the help of these new 2019 fiction releases, so compelling I inexplicably finished them in a day, I’ve successfully reacquainted myself with a much-missed hobby. Turns out books are great, friends!
To be clear: I have no intention of relinquishing my internet habit (as long as there are dramatic advice columns to feel a little guilty about enjoying, I will continue to enjoy them). And neither should you! But if your bookshelf is looking neglected, allow me to introduce you to five mesmerising novels to revitalise it. An almost guarantee (I don’t know your lives!): begin one of the books below, and you’ll (probably) find yourself taking the long route to work for a few more uninterrupted moments with it.
‘Lost Children Archive’ by Valeria Luiselli
A family of four travel south through the U.S., from New York to Apacheria, once home to the people of the Apache tribes. At the same time, thousands of children from South and Central America are moving north, hoping to cross the border between Mexico and the U.S.; many die or go missing on the way. The novel confronts its audience with unsparing questions: how can we ignore the horrors inflicted on refugee children? Why do refugee children, in Luiselli’s words, lose “the right to a childhood”?
‘The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls’ by Anissa Gray
The Butler family are of high standing in their communinty, until Althea and her husband Proctor are arrested and imprisoned. Althea’s sisters, Lillian and Viola, grapple with their own difficulties (Viola suffers from bulimia; Lillian is the victim of abuse). As they care for Althea’s teenage daughters in the Butler family home, they’re unable to avoid their childhood trauma, or its repercussions in their adult lives.
‘The New Me’ by Halle Butler
For Millie, a temp worker, life is meaningless, and she has neither the energy nor the inclination to carry out the many activities (cleaning her apartment, taking a yoga class) that she imagines might relieve her apathy. Freelancers and temp workers will recognise themselves in Millie’s desperate conviction that a full-time job will solve her problems — and despair anew when that proves, horribly, not to be the case.
‘Where Reasons End’ by Yiyun Li
Where Reasons End is a conversation that cannot exist: a grieving mother speaks to her son, Nikolai, after his death by suicide, informed by Li’s own devastating loss. As the title suggests, the narrator doesn’t strive to understand why her son took his life; instead, she’s simply buying time with Nikolai, and spending a little longer in the love between mother and son.
‘Fruit of the Drunken Tree’ by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Technically, this came out last year, but it was only released in a UK paperback edition this month — and if my time working in Waterstones told me anything, it’s that 99 percent of the population will not countenance buying an unwieldy hardbook book for double the price (and I agree — they are aesthetically pleasing but difficult to read in the bath).
Fruit of the Drunken Tree has two narrators: seven-year-old Chula, whose peaceful childhood in Bogotá is slowly infiltrated by the spectre of brutal violence under Pablo Escobar, and 13-year-old Petrona, a maid who leaves her impoverished neighborhood to work for Chula’s family. Chula’s fascination with Petrona develops into friendship — but bigger, crueller forces are at work, and both are soon confronted with terrible choices to make.