After a Dance, Bridget O’Connor
Bridget O’Connor was one of the great short story writers of her generation. She had a voice that was viscerally funny and an eye for both the glaring reality and the absurdity of the everyday.
In After a Dance, we meet a selection of O’Connor’s most memorable characters often living on the margin of their own lives: from the anonymous thief set on an unusual prize to the hungover best man clinging to what he’s lost, to the unrepentant gold-digger who always comes out on top. From unravelling narcissists to melancholy romantics all human life is here – at its best and at its delightful worst.
The Blueprint, Rae Giana Rashad
Solenne Bonet lives in Texas where choice no longer exists. An algorithm determines a Black woman’s occupation, spouse, and residence. Solenne finds solace in penning the biography of Henriette, an ancestor who’d been an enslaved concubine to a wealthy planter in 1800s Louisiana. But history repeats itself when Solenne, lonely and naïve, finds herself entangled with Bastien Martin, a high-ranking White government official. Solenne finds the psychological bond unbearable, so she considers alternatives. With Henriette as her guide, she must decide whether and how to leave behind all she knows.
One Hour of Fervor, Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson
One night at a party of artists and intellectuals in Kyoto, Japanese art dealer Haru encounters a woman who unsettles him more than anyone else ever has and he is compelled to know her. Maud, a French woman passing through Japan, is distant. Her cold gaze challenges any exchange, yet she is drawn to Haru.
After spending ten intense nights together, Maud leaves without a word. When he learns that she is carrying his child, Haru is determined to find her. But his advances are unwelcome. Maud wants to raise the child alone and extracts a heartbreaking promise from him to stay out of their lives.
Muriel Barbery explores beauty and the deep love of a father, but also captures the darkness that pushes people apart.
The Lodgers, Holly Pester
After a year away, a woman arrives back in her hometown to keep an eye on her wayward mother, Moffa. Living in a precarious sub-let, she is always on edge, anticipating a visit from the landlord or the arrival of the other resident. But her thoughts also drift back to the rented room she has just left, now occupied by a new lodger she has never met, but whose imagined navigations within the house and home become her fascination.
Cahokia Jazz, Francis Spufford
On a snowy night at the end of winter, Barrow and his partner find a body on the roof of a skyscraper. Down below, streetcar bells ring, factory whistles blow, Americans drink in speakeasies and dance to the tempo of modern times. But this is Cahokia, the ancient indigenous city beside the Mississippi living on as a teeming industrial metropolis, filled with people of every race and creed. Among them, peace holds. Just about. But that corpse on the roof will spark a week of drama in which this altered world will spill its secrets and be brought, against a soundtrack of jazz clarinets and wailing streetcars, either to destruction or rebirth.
The Lagos Wife, Vanessa Walters
Nicole Oruwari has the perfect life: a handsome husband, a palatial house in the heart of Lagos and a glamorous group of friends. She left London and a troubled family past behind to become part of a community of expat wives.
But when Nicole disappears without a trace after a boat trip, the cracks in her so-called perfect life start to show. As the investigation turns up nothing but dead ends, her aunt Claudine flies to Nigeria to take matters into her own hands. As she digs into her niece’s life, she uncovers a hidden truth. But the more she finds out about Nicole, the more Claudine’s own buried history threatens to come to light.