Consumed: A Sister’s Story, Arifa Akbar
When Arifa Akbar’s sister fell seriously ill, she assumed the family would be back home after a brief spell at the hospital. But that was not to be. Only a day before Akbar’s sister dies, the family discovers that their beloved daughter is suffering from tuberculosis. Years later, the author travels around the world to track the journey of tuberculosis, from Keats’s deathbed and the tubercular women of the opera to the resurgence of the disease in today’s Britain. Consumed is a story of sisterhood, grief, and the strange mythologies that surround tuberculosis.
Somebody Loves You, Mona Arshi
Mona Arshi’s debut novel is a coming-of-age story of a British-Indian schoolgirl, Ruby. Sickly from early childhood, Ruby is grappling with her mother’s mental illness, her reticent father, and the array of relatives who swoop in to play guardians. One day Ruby simply ceases to talk, and remains silent for years to come. She becomes someone people confide in, allowing her to imagine life as she wants it to be. Ruby finds an ally in her sister Rania, who unlike her, talks a mile a minute. Somebody Loves You explores trauma in its many forms – from grief to racism to sexual assault and casual misogyny.
Gay Bar: Why We Went Out, Jeremy Atherton Lin
Gay Bar is a sparkling history of the gay bars of London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles following the post-AIDs crisis years of the 1990s to the present day. From the Black Cat riots of Los Angeles to Gay Liberation Front touch-ins, gay bars have also been witnesses to some of the most important moments in queer history. This is also the story of the author’s own experiences as a gay man. Gay Bar is a celebration of this important institution and a homage to every individual who made gay bars what they are.
Like a Tree, Walking, Vahni Capildeo
Vahni Capildeo creates a world for birds that straddles the human and the natural. Birds are still a part of our civilisation, they – and other creatures in nature – have an agenda of their own. The poems remind us how the environment serves us without our recognition or awareness. This juxtaposition of the ecological and the political is the central force in Capildeo’s Like a Tree, Walking – a delightful analysis of how humans and nature do, and should, coexist.
Keeping the House, Tice Cin
Keeping the House is a spirited tale of the London underworld, tracing the lives of children growing up among the drug trade, and the adults who surround them. The reader is presented with vignettes that are as fragmented as the lives of the characters – families from Turkey and Cyprus to London, and children who are the product of neglectful fathers raised by neighbours and their community. Keeping the House not just a story of broken families and drug trade, but also a critique of racial stereotypes, poverty, and violence that are synonyms with such illicit businesses – giving birth to cultures that devastating and timeless.
A Blood Condition, Kayo Chingonyi
Kayo Chingonyi’s second collection of poetry follows the course of a “blood condition” – from the banks of the Zambezi river to London and Leeds. The poems meditate on how distance and time, nations and history, can collapse within a body. A Blood Condition is a tribute to grief and survival, letting go, and the primal connections built through blood and body.
The Roles We Play, Sabba Khan
Two-thirds of the Pakistani diaspora in Britain trace their origins back to Mirpur – a region that witnessed mass displacement after being submerged by the waters of a dam built after Partition. As a second-generation immigrant in East London, Sabba Khan investigates British-Asian identities against the backdrop of history, race, and gender. Her debut graphic memoir presents astute observations on identity, belonging and memory through stylish illustrations.
Honorifics, Cynthia Miller
In her debut collection of poetry, Cynthia Miller invokes images of jellyfish blooms, glitch art, Greek mythology, and space shuttles to comment on family, Malaysian-Chinese cultural identity, and immigration. The poems attempt to understand our attachment to material possessions and how they make us feel belonged and beloved. A poet to watch out for, Cynthia Miller’s Honorifics is as adventurous as it is innovative.
Things I Have Withheld, Kei Miller
In this collection of essays, Kei Miller explores the silences that hold so many of our secrets. He wonders what it would mean to break these silences – the truths it would reveal, the institutions it could dismantle. Through letters to James Baldwin, encounters with Liam Neeson, Soca, Carnival, family secrets, love affairs, and more, Miller imaginatively reconstructs everyday acts of racism and prejudice. Things I Have Withheld challenges us to interrogate why we keep the secrets we keep and our – and the world’s – responses to them.
The Khan, Saima Mir
Jia Khan is a successful lawyer. Her London life is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she grew up in, where her father was in charge of the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. His ways were violent and bloody, but it made sure everyone in the community was looked after. But now her father, Akbar Khan, has been murdered and various troublemakers have sprung up to grab his place. Justice needs to be restored and Jia must return to take his place. The Khan is a riveting novel of love, family, betrayal, corruption, and being a woman in a power-hungry world.
Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home, Nikesh Shukla
Brown Baby explores themes of sexism, feminism, parenting and our shifting ideas of home. The book is dedicated to Shukla’s daughters – two mixed-race children in today’s Britain. The loss of the author’s mother is felt in every page as he grapples to comprehend her absence from his life. Brown Baby is also an attempt to explain himself – who he is and what he stands for – to his mother through the choices he’s made to raise his own children. At its heart, this is a memoir about grief and the love that is born from it.
Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love, Huma Qureshi
A daughter asks her mother to shut up, only to shut her up for good; an exhausted wife walks away from her indifferent husband; on holiday, lovers no longer seem to understand each other. Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love is a collection of stories about our most intimate relationships – the misunderstandings between families, the silences between friends, and the dissonance between lovers. Set between the countryside of England, the South of France and Tuscany, and the electrifying cities of London and Lahore, Huma Qureshi shines a light on the parts of ourselves that we prefer to keep hidden.