5 new books to read this week

September 16, 2020 8:35:35 AM

5 new books to read this week

The cult author of Fight Club is back, while Jacqueline Wilson’s new children’s book features a gay love story…

Fiction

1. Red Pill by Hari Kunzru is published in hardback by Scribner UK, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

In Red Pill, Hari Kunzru expands upon the themes of cultural appropriation and privilege explored in his previous work, White Tears. Its title is a nod to the choice of realities offered by the mysterious Morpheus in The Matrix, while the novel charts an unnamed writer’s descent into madness, as his paranoid obsession with the alt-right movement accelerates following a chance encounter with a cynical showrunner in Berlin. The mid-life New York intellectual has crippling writer’s block, despite undertaking a residency at a cultural institute in the German capital, where conditions designed to foster creativity instead send him spiralling down a rabbit hole of despair. Intense, intelligent and framed against a background of Donald Trump’s march to the White House in 2016, Red Pill is a tour de force about one man’s struggle to deal with how power is seized and retained, today.
9/10
(Review by James Cann)

2. The Invention Of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk is published in hardback by Corsair, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

The Fight Club author returns to the underground in The Invention Of Sound, which is something of a murder mystery. In an uncanny version of the Hollywood Hills, the grieving Foster Gates harbours dreams about vigilante justice, desperately scouring the dark web for child abusers to take down. This is interwoven with the tale of famed sound recordist Mitzi Ives, celebrated for her harrowingly realistic scream effects. But Mitzi has a dark secret: she commits acts in a narcotic haze that only the spiritually enlightened Dr Adamah can help her atone for. Or can he? Typically of Palahniuk, it’s not a book for the weak of stomach, not least because of the laboured syntax throughout Mitzi’s narrative. While the book has a relentless pace towards its grisly conclusion, it’s a shame the mystery itself is a little underwhelming.
7/10
(Review by Rachel Farrow)

3. Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar is published in hardback by Tinder Press, priced £18.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar appears to be making an attempt on the Great American Novel in Homeland Elegies. The sprawling story follows episodes in the life of Akhtar, taking in his parents – who move to the US from Afghanistan – Partition, 9/11 and his father’s involvement with Donald Trump. Even though the author shares similarities with the main character, a note at the start stresses it is not an autobiography. Taking stylistic tips from Jonathan Franzen and Dave Eggers in its excitable, lengthy sentences and intermittent footnotes, Homeland Elegies remains immensely readable despite the fragmented structure. It wrestles with questions of belonging, home and family – with descriptions of the narrator’s conversations with his dying mother among the most moving parts.
6/10
(Review by Laura Paterson)

Non-fiction

4. Fake Law by The Secret Barrister is published in hardback by Picador, priced £20 (ebook £9.99) Available now

A baby is condemned to death by British judges. A homeowner who defends his property from burglars somehow ends up being the one facing prison. An illegal immigrant cannot be deported by his pet cat. These stories seem familiar – but they are all untrue. The Secret Barrister is back, and this time he is here to reveal the malice and incompetence behind some of the biggest legal stories of recent years. It is a much-needed book that looks at some of the biggest myths behind the legal system. Fans of the Secret Barrister will be pleased with the latest instalment, which offers well-written insight, making difficult-to-understand laws clearer with interesting and current case studies.
7/10
(Review by Megan Baynes)

Children’s book of the week

5. Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt is published in hardback by Doubleday Childrens, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.49). Available September 17

The legendary Jacqueline Wilson, former children’s laureate and author of over 100 kids’ and YA books, breaks new ground in Love Frankie with her first ever gay romance. The book follows the fortunes of a 14-year-old girl called Frankie, who lives with her single-parent mum and two sisters. Frankie’s dad walked out shortly after her mum was diagnosed with MS. If that wasn’t tough enough, Frankie is having a hard time at school with a group of mean girls like Sally. So far, so familiar, but when Sally starts being nice to her, Frankie starts to look at her in a whole new way. Love Frankie is a moving and powerful depiction of first love, showing it’s okay to be different and own your feelings, and not to feel pressured to fall for the stereotypical ‘Prince Charming’. With believable characters, a poignant storyline and robust life lessons, Wilson certainly hasn’t lost her touch, and by her standards, you’re in for a surprisingly upbeat ending.
9/10
(Review by Isla Brotzel)

BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 12

HARDBACK (FICTION)
1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
2. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
3. Us Three by Ruth Jones
4. The Lying Life Of Adults by Elena Ferrante
5. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
6. The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves
7. Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
8. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
9. The Mirror And The Light by Hilary Mantel
10. Islands Of Mercy by Rose Tremain
(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)
1. 7 Ways: Easy Ideas For Every Day Of The Week by Jamie Oliver
2. Zero Negativity: The Power Of Positive Thinking by Ant Middleton
3. Think Like A Monk: The Secret Of How To Harness The Power Of Positivity by Jay Shetty
4. The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn
5. Sh**ged. Married. Annoyed. by Chris & Rosie Ramsey
6. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
7. More Than A Woman by Caitlin Moran
8. Fake Law by The Secret Barrister
9. Ottolenghi FLAVOUR by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage
10. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)
1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
2. Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty
3. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
4. Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith
5. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
6. Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith
7. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
8. Career Of Evil by Robert Galbraith
9. Sh**ged. Married. Annoyed. by Chris Ramsey & Rosie Ramsey
20. The Nothing Girl by Jodi Taylor
(Compiled by Audible)

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