In the Media, March 2016, part one

In the media is a fortnightly round-up of features written by, about or containing female writers that have appeared during the previous fortnight and I think are insightful, interesting and/or thought provoking. Linking to them is not necessarily a sign that I agree with everything that’s said but it’s definitely an indication that they’ve made me think. I’m using the term ‘media’ to include social media, so links to blog posts as well as traditional media are likely and the categories used are a guide, not definitives.

Jackie Kay

It’s Mothers’ Day in the UK today, so inevitably there’s been lots of writing about mothers – being one, having one, not having one – this week. Contributors including Jackie Kay, Jeanette Winterson and Helen Simpson wrote about ‘… my mother before I knew her‘ inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Before You Were Mine’ in The Guardian; Liz Dashwood asks, ‘What do I *really* want for Mother’s Day?‘ on The Pool; Rivka Galchen talked about ‘The Only Thing I Envy Men‘ in The New Yorker; Robyn Wilder wrote, ‘Maternity leave: the reality versus the expectations‘, Emily Eades wrote, ‘Becoming a mother without your own mother to rely on‘ and Sinéad Gleeson wrote, ‘Mothers, and the pram-in-the-hall problem‘ all on The Pool (Do follow the link to the Anne Enright clip on that last piece. Spot on and very funny); Susan Briante wrote, ‘Mother Is Marxist‘ on Guernica; Kate Townshend asked, ‘Is it possible for a mother and daughter to be *too* close?‘, Samira Shackle said, ‘Returning to my mother’s homeland helped me to make sense of my place in the world‘, Cathy Rentzenbrink said, ‘There is no such thing as a smug mother, we’re all terrified and struggling‘ and Rosalind Powell wrote, ‘I didn’t give birth, but I became a mother‘ all on The Pool; Sarah Turner wrote, ‘Mother’s Day Without Mum‘ on The Unmumsy Mum

Louise Rennison

Sadly, Louise Rennison died this week. Philip Ardagh wrote, ‘My Hero: Louise Rennison‘ in The Guardian. Shannon Maughan wrote her obituary for Publishers Weekly.

11821090_1633978253527697_1712846982_a

The woman with the most coverage this fortnight is Sanjida Kay with ‘Where’s the Diversity in Grip-Lit?‘ on The Asian Writer; ‘on Switching Genres‘ on The Literary Sofa, and ‘Fairytales‘ on Women Writers, Women’s Books

Exciting news as forthcoming novels from Jilly Cooper, Zadie Smith and Ali Smith were announced this fortnight.

And I’ve added Kaushana Cauley’s new Intersections column for Catapult to the regulars list at the bottom of the links. It’s well worth a read.

joanna-russ-007

The best of the rest:

On or about books/writers/language:

sunny_singh_cropped

Rosalind Jana

 

Personal essays/memoir:

rebecca-traister-62924196

Feminism:

churchwell

Society and Politics:

venus-williams-vs-samantha-stosur-in-cincinnati-masters-2012

Film, Television, Music, Art, Fashion and Sport:

Author Petina Gappah 'brilliantly exposes the gap between rich and poor.'

The interviews:

cauley01

The regular columnists:

Young Writer of the Year Award Shortlist Event + giveaway

Giveaway now closed.

IMG_0283

Photograph by Chris Bone

On a grey, dreary Saturday afternoon in London I’ve been told to look for a yellow door. This particular yellow door is the entrance to The Groucho Club, legendary hang-out of the likes of Noel Gallagher, Alex James and Lily Allen. Unfortunately, I don’t spy anyone looking remotely famous on the way up to the second floor where the event I’m here for is taking place.

I’m here for a bloggers’ event for the Young Writer of the Year Award, the shortlist for which was announced last week. The shortlisted writers – Ben Fergusson, Sarah Howe, Sara Taylor and Sunjeev Sahota – are all here as are some of my favourite bloggers – Eric from Lonesome Reader, Erica from The Book Shop Around the Corner and Clare from A Little Blog of Books. We get time to talk to the writers as well as Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of the Sunday Times before the more formal part of the event takes place.

IMG_0275

L-R: Sunjeev Sahota, Sara Taylor, Sarah Howe, Ben Fergusson, Andrew Holgate

Each of the four writers are introduced and read a two-minute extract from their books. These are The Spring of Kasper Meier, a (literary?) thriller by Ben Fergusson; Loop of Jade, a poetry collection by Sarah Howe; The Shorea fragmented novel/interlinked short story collection by Sara Taylor, and The Year of the Runaways, a literary novel by Sunjeev Sahota. Andrew Hogan describes it as ‘the strongest shortlist we’ve ever had’. He also comments on the variety of forms/genres that make up the shortlist. As he’s talking about this, I notice that the list is balanced in terms of gender and writers of colour to white writers. Well done the (all white) judging panel of Andrew Holgate, Peter Kemp and Sarah Waters. [After the readings, I was discussing this with a couple of people when Andrew Holgate overheard me and came over. The judges hadn’t even thought about it, he says. It’s interesting that this is the case and makes me wonder what was submitted and whether the shortlist is a reflection of a pool of young, diverse writers or whether the best books rose to the top of a sea of white men. Either way, this is a good thing.]

Because this blog’s all about women writers, I’m only going to discuss Sarah Howe and Sara Taylor’s books. However, I do urge you to read the other books too. I haven’t read The Spring of Kasper Meier yet but it sounds fantastic and is set in Berlin, one of my favourite cities, and The Year of the Runaways, which you’re probably already aware of as it was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize this year, is wonderful and set in the city I live in (Sahota lives here too).

IMG_0276

The writers read in alphabetical order, so Sarah Howe’s the first of the two women with her Forward Prize and T.S. Eliot Prize shortlisted collection Loop of Jade. She begins by talking about China’s one child policy which, as you probably know, has recently been altered to allow people to have two children. Howe tells us that one of the results of the policy is that 30 million children and women are missing and her own mother was one of those missing children. Midwives used to have a box of ashes next to the birthing bed so a baby girl could be smothered quickly after birth. She uses this fact to introduce her poem ‘Tame’ which begins:

‘It is more profitable to raise geese than daughters.’
– CHINESE PROVERB

This is the tale of the woodsman’s daughter. Born with a box
of ashes set beside the bed,
in case.

Howe doesn’t read the poem, she performs it. It’s a joy to watch and listen to her.

IMG_0281

Sara Taylor reads the opening of her Bailey’s longlisted, Guardian First Book Award shortlisted The Shore. It begins with news of a murder breaking and the narrator of this chapter, Chloe, hearing the chatter in the local shop. She ends with:

“And that ain’t even the half of it.” The lady leans in close, but her whisper is almost as loud as her talking voice. “They done cut his thang clean off!”

Andrew Holgate begins the Q&A by saying he thinks that all four books are very bold, very ambitious and they all take risks. He says that Howe’s book took eight years to write and encompasses a variety of styles. Is there freedom in that risk?

Howe says, ‘I think risk is a really interesting lens to look at that.’ She says the poem the collection takes its title from has very bare, cut down, fragmented prose sections. With them she was trying to give the barest testimony of what happened to her mother, or at least her understanding of what happened to her mother. These sections are interspersed with high flourishes of Chinese myth. She structured the poem this way as she wanted to square her mother’s upbringing with Chinese myth. She said it was a difficult thing to do because her mum ‘is a real person’ and she was terrified of what her parents would think. She says there’s gaps in her history, some of which are because she doesn’t know her whole history and some are because her mother doesn’t want her to talk about them. She says that the collection’s an elliptic telling of her mother’s story and there are revelations towards the end of the book. ‘I like the idea that mine might be the thriller!’ she says.

Howe was inspired by Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes. She’s wearing a necklace, the pendant part of which is the loop of jade from the collection’s title. It was given to her by her mother but was actually a present from the woman who adopted Howe’s mother. It’s a bracelet for toddlers, the idea being that when a toddler falls over, the bracelet will shatter and save the child from harm. She tells us that they think the woman who took her mother in did so because she was also a lost girl.

Sara Taylor says she took the risk of writing The Shore because she was coming to the end of university and ‘I was tired of doing what people wanted me to do’. She wanted to know what ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ means. ‘The risk was I couldn’t not take that risk.’

She wrote the book without a plan beginning with the first story which led her to write the mother’s story and then to where her husband was from and what happened to her parents. She says her agent was the first person to mention creating a family tree for the book to her but she says it’s more a wreath than a tree.

They’re asked if there’s anything they felt they weren’t able to write and has having some early success trapped them or given them greater freedom?

Howe says, ‘It’s actually a strange notion that people are reading it.’ She says when she was writing in a darkened room at 2am, she lulled herself into the illusion that no one would ever see them. She conceived of herself as a poet’s poet so finds it extraordinary that the book’s reaching beyond the poetry world to a wider audience.

Taylor says she avoided ‘wonderful, horrifying family secrets’. They’re in the second book though! She says she won’t be pigeonholed because she can’t write another fractured novel without a break. ‘I do wonder what the world’s going to make of the next novel.’ [How keen am I to read it right now?]

Hogan rounds off the Q&A by saying he revived the prize along with Caroline Michel, CEO of PFD Literary Agency, because he became aware that lots of potential young British writers were no longer writing books but going into film, digital media and television instead. He asks the shortlisted writers if they’re tempted by other media?

Sara Taylor says she’s seen many writers make that choice as its a tangental necessity to building a career. It’s easier to do a screenplay, magazine copy or other shorter forms instead. They’re ‘more zeitgeisty’.

Well, thank goodness these writers did write books because they’re great. If you want to hear more from them and previous winners Adam Foulds, Andrew Cowan and Helen Simpson, there’s a free shortlist event at Foyles – including beer and pizza! – on Monday 23rd November. The details for which are here.

If you’d like to read some of the books, I have a copy of Loop of Jade and a copy of The Shore by Sara Taylor to give away. To enter, leave a comment below stating which book you’d like to win (you can enter both draws if you wish). I’ll accept worldwide entries. The competition closes at 5pm UK on Wednesday 18th November after which the winners will be drawn at random.

The winners:

I’ve allocated everyone a number in order of entry so for The Shore that’s:

1 – Niall McArdle
2 – snoakes7001
3 – jenniferheidi
4 – isabellisima
5 – Helen Lloyd
6 – Claire Stokes
7 – Naomi
8 – Candyfloss
9 – Sheridarby
10 – Erdeaka
11 – Helen Jones
12 – isis1981uk
13 – Keith Hunt
14 – Victoria Prince
15 – Karen Richards
16 – schietree

and the winner is…

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 16.55.56

 

 

Congratulations, Naomi!

 

 

 

And for Loop of Jade:

1 – snoakes7001
2 – Cathy746books
3 – jenniferheidi
4 – Marianthi
5 – Amy Pirt
6 – Elle
7 – Candyfloss
8 – bellarah
9 – isis1981uk
10 – Victoria Prince
11 – Helen S
12 – schietree

and the winner is…

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 16.59.12

 

 

Congratulations, Elle!

 

 

 

Winners check your emails for what to do next. Thanks to everyone else for entering.

Thanks to the Young Writer of the Year Award for the prizes.

 

The Bailey's Prize Shadow Panel Shortlist

Twenty books, five weeks, six readers and a lot of discussion later (some of it heated – ask six passionate readers how they each feel about a book and prepare to stand back!), here’s the Shadow Panel’s choices for the shortlist. (In alphabetical order by author.)

If you click on the books, they will take you to my reviews. My reviews of all the longlisted books are linked to here. Let us know what you think of our decisions. The official shortlist is announced tonight across all the Bailey’s Prize social media channels at 7.15pm.

The Shore – Sara Taylor

The Shore is as flat as a fried egg; on a clear day from our upstairs porch it feels like you can see into tomorrow, and usually you can just about see the dark smear that is Chincoteague Island off to the northeast. We are one of three islands, off the coast of Virginia and just south of Maryland, trailing out into the Atlantic Ocean like someone’s dripped paint. We take the force out of hurricanes, grow so much food that a lot of it rots on the vine because there’s too much to pick or eat, but people say the government doesn’t ever remember we’re here, that we get left off when they draw the big maps.

The Shore begins in 1995 when Chloe, 13, is out buying chicken necks to use for crabbing. Chloe overhears a customer and the cashier discussing the murder of Cabel Bloxom. He’s ‘ “had his face shot to pieces”…[and] “They done cut his thang clean off!” ‘ By the middle of the chapter we know who’s shot him and why; by the end of the chapter there’s a second killing. It’s an explosive and shocking start to the book but the scenarios that surround both killings are sadly all too familiar.

Chloe, her younger sister, Renee, and their father live in a small house on Accomack Island, the largest of the three islands that make up The Shore.

It’s a little house, our house, one room downstairs and two rooms upstairs and a porch for each, and according to the phone company and the electric company and the taxman it doesn’t exist.

They’re poor. The girls are crabbing because there’s no food in the house. Their father works on the killing floor at one of the chicken plants because it’s the only work available. Their childhood is brutal – more so because they’re girls.

But this isn’t Chloe and Renee’s story; it’s the story of two families and the islands from 1876 to 2143.

In thirteen connected stories, Taylor tells us of women who leave and return, who can control the weather, who are smart and fight for their freedom from men, who find ways to survive despite the brutality that’s inflicted upon them. They’re tales of family and survival.

What’s most impressive about the book is the way Taylor moves between different characters and stories, making them and their voices unique. She experiments with different types of story telling – moving between past and present tense, using conventions of different genres. It’s this that’s led to the book being compared to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which – and I say this as a huge fan of David Mitchell’s work – does Taylor a disservice; she nods to different genres rather than immersing the stories in them and the links between the tales are much subtler and require more work from the reader than those in Cloud Atlas. One of the joys of the book is working out how the characters link together.

However, on occasion, this is also the book’s downfall. There was one story in particular which seemed out of place and although at the end of the novel, it’s clearly connected, it took me out of the story and the atmosphere created before that point.

Regardless, The Shore is an impressive debut. It shows Taylor has an ability to write many different stories – there is no lack of ambition here and that more than makes up for any perceived shortcomings.

Fellow shadow Bailey’s Prize panel member Eric has also reviewed The Shore on his blog.

Thanks to William Heinemann for the review copy.

The Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist 2015

It’s here! The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2015 is as follows:

Rachel Cusk: Outline

Lissa Evans: Crooked Heart

Patricia Ferguson: Aren’t We Sisters?

Xiaolu Guo: I Am China

Samantha Harvey: Dear Thief

Emma Healey: Elizabeth is Missing

Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven

Grace McCleen: The Offering

Sandra Newman: The Country of Ice Cream Star

Heather O’Neil: The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

Laline Paull: The Bees

Marie Phillips: The Table of Less Valued Knights

Rachel Seiffert: The Walk Home

Kamila Shamsie: A God in Every Stone

Ali Smith: How to be both

Sara Taylor: The Shore

Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread

Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests

Jemma Wayne: After Before

PP Wong: The Life of a Banana

I’ve read and reviewed six of those already, if you hover over the titles, I’ve linked to my reviews.

Initial thoughts are I’m absolutely thrilled for Lissa Evans whose book I love and made my end of year list last year. Also very pleased for Sara Taylor whose debut I’ve read but not posted my review of yet (it’s published later this month), which is very good. I’ve got lots of reading to do but many of the books there are books I’ve had in my to be read pile for a while! (I also need to apologise to the person who commented on my wish list and mentioned Heather O’Neill’s book; I didn’t think it was eligible and clearly I was wrong. I’m pleased it comes highly recommended though.)

I’m looking forward to reading the rest and discussing with the rest of the shadow panel. Please do join in and let us know what you think of the list and any of the books you read.

Ones to Read in 2015

There are a number of preview lists in the media at the moment. Rather than tell you what’s coming up, I’ve been reading 2015 titles since October so I can recommend books I think you should watch out for in the first half of 2015. Bar the bottom three titles – which are by three of my favourite writers and therefore, highly anticipated by me – I’ve read everything included on here; all of these books are very good and some are superb.

Full reviews will follow on the week of publication. All publication dates are UK and subject to change.

An Untamed State – Roxane Gay

On a visit to her parents in Haiti, Mireille is kidnapped in front of her husband and baby son. When her father holds out on paying the ransom, she’s subjected to brutal attacks. Her family will have to come to terms with the consequences but Gay clearly makes the personal political and An Untamed State is also about the treatment of women by men; the relationship between Haiti and America, and poverty versus wealth. This is an incredible book, if I read many better this year, I’ll be surprised.

Published 8th January by Corsair Books

Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum

Anna, an American, has lived in Dietlikon, a quiet suburb of Zurich for nine years but she’s never felt as though she belongs despite being married to a Swiss man and having had three children there. When her therapist suggests she attend a German language class, she meets Archie and begins an affair. Essbaum interweaves lessons about language and passivity with Anna’s thoughts and behaviour and adds her work to a line of women going against society’s expectations.

Published 26th March by Mantle

A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler

The Whitshank family could be any family on the surface – Abby and Red and their four children, son Denny causing problems and disappearing for long periods until someone needs him. The novel begins with Abby’s story and her descent into forgetting things before moving to how her and Red met and then to his parents and their story. A number of family secrets are revealed along the way and Tyler writes families as only she can – with a keen eye and an acute understanding of how the bonds between family members work.

Published 10th February by Chatto & Windus

The Gracekeepers – Kirsty Logan

Callanish is a gracekeeper, someone who performs the burial of the dead. North and her bear are part of the Circus Excalibur, a circus that sails around performing – there is no place on what’s left of the land for them. But North is betrothed to the son of Red Gold, the circus owner, who wants them to have a house on land and restore his family line to the earth. Not everyone likes his plan though and North and Callanish’s paths are going to cross and set them on a different course. Logan builds upon the promise she showed in her short story collection, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales. The Gracekeepers places her somewhere between Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood.

Published 7th May by Harvill Secker

The Ship – Antonia Honeywell

London is burning. The British Museum is occupied. The Nazareth Act is in force and if you can’t produce your identity card in seconds you’re going to be shot. Lalla’s mother has tried to show her some of the reality but she’s sheltered by her wealthy father, Michael Paul, who’s been building a boat and selecting the people who will travel on it. When her mother’s shot, the boat sets sail but where are they going and what will Lalla discover along the way? A thoughtful, genre crossing, page turner.

Published 19th February by W&N

Vigilante – Shelley Harris

Jenny Pepper’s fed up of tidying up after her graphic designer husband, Elliot and teenage daughter, Martha. When she’s on her way to her friend’s fancy dress party as a superhero and prevents a mugging, she gets a buzz from acting as a vigilante protecting other women. Add to this the graphic novel designed by Elliot, containing a female victim with an unrealistic body; the graffiti picture of a girl in the uniform of the school Martha attends, and a man who’s attacking girls in Martha’s year and Jenny has a purpose in life. Hard to put down.

Published 8th January by W&N

Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller

Peggy’s father is a member of the North London Retreaters, discussing strategies for surviving the end of the world. While her mother, professional pianist, Ute, is on a tour of Germany, Peggy’s father tells her Ute is dead and takes her to live in die Hütte somewhere in Europe. The structure of the novel moves between Peggy’s present when she has returned to London and her mother and her time in die Hütte and how she and her father survived. Fascinating and terrifying.

Published 26th February by Fig Tree.

 

The Vegetarian – Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

When Yeong-hye begins to have nightmares about meat and murder she decides to turn vegetarian, something highly unusual in South Korean society. It strains her relationship with her husband and her father but makes her highly attractive to her brother-in-law. Told in three linked novellas, each from a different point of view, The Vegetarian becomes odder and more unnerving as Yeong-hye deteriorates mentally and physically.

Published 1st January by Portobello Books.

The Chimes – Anna Smaill

Simon goes to London with his bag of objectmemories, and the name and tune of a woman his mother told him to find. Lives are run by The Order who tell them Onestory every day and erase their memory with Chimes every evening. There is no writing, no shared stories and communities are difficult to forge; music rules everything. But Simon has a purpose, he just needs to remember what it is. An extraordinary story told in a brave and unusual way.

Published 12th February by Sceptre.

 

Before the Fire – Sarah Butler

Stick and Mac are leaving Manchester for Spain. Stick’s had enough of the memories of his sister, dead in a fire; his father who left him and his mother after his sister’s death and now has a posh house with his new wife and kids, and his mum’s OCD which is giving them both sleepless nights. But the night before they’re due to leave, Mac’s attacked and now Stick’s going nowhere and life looks a whole lot worse, especially as the 2011 riots are about to take place. A great addition to working class literature.

Published 12th March by Picador.

 

The Shore – Sara Taylor

Some families just don’t work out. The Shore is a collection of three islands off the coast of Virginia. There live a group of people related to each other. The book begins by introducing Chloe and Renee, daughters of Ellie and Bo. There’s been a murder and people in the local store are gossiping about it. By the end of the first chapter, there will have been three. The book then goes on to tell the stories – past and future – of those related to this central family. The reader travels back to 1876 and Medora and forward to 2143 and Simian. Ambitious with plenty to say about the treatment of women.

Published 26th March by William Heinemann.

The Hourglass Factory – Lucy Ribchester

Frankie George, reporter for the London Evening Gazette, is sent to write a profile of Ebony Diamond, trapeze artist and suffragette, but that evening, Ebony disappears and a woman mistakenly identified as her is murdered. Weaving a murder investigation with the activities of the suffragettes, The Hourglass Factory is a satisfying, multi-strand story with some serious points to make about women and gender roles.

Published 15th January by Simon & Schuster

 

All This Has Nothing to Do With Me – Monica Sabolo (translated by Georgina Collins)

When MS interviews XX she hires him because he’s quirky, tall, young and a mess. MS falls into an obsessive, largely unrequited love which she fuels by keeping notes about XX and taking ‘mementos’ from their after-work drinks. These are documented in diary entries, emails and photographs. The book then moves to tell the story of MS’s childhood and her parents. Sabolo interweaves her own photographs and uses her own initials in this novel which seems to blur the boundaries of fiction and autobiography in a similar way to Sheila Heti and Leanne Shapton.

Published 9th April by Picador.

And the three I haven’t read but am very much looking forward to:

A God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson

In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

I’ve been reading Kate Atkinson’s novels since Behind the Scenes at the Museum won the Whitbread Award (now the Costa) in 1995 and she’s never disappointed.

Published 5th May by Doubleday.

The Wolf Border – Sarah Hall

For almost a decade Rachel Caine has turned her back on home, kept distant by family disputes and her work monitoring wolves on an Idaho reservation. But now, summoned by the eccentric Earl of Annerdale and his controversial scheme to reintroduce the Grey Wolf to the English countryside, she is back in the peat and wet light of the Lake District.

The earl’s project harks back to an ancient idyll of untamed British wilderness – though Rachel must contend with modern-day concessions to health and safety, public outrage and political gain – and the return of the Grey after hundreds of years coincides with her own regeneration: impending motherhood, and reconciliation with her estranged family.

The Wolf Border investigates the fundamental nature of wilderness and wildness, both animal and human. It seeks to understand the most obsessive aspects of humanity: sex, love, and conflict; the desire to find answers to the question of our existence; those complex systems that govern the most superior creature on earth.

Hall’s been my favourite female novelist since I read The Electric Michelangelo; I think she’s one of the UK’s greatest.

Published 26th March by Faber & Faber

The Story of My Teeth – Valeria Luiselli (translated by Christina MacSweeney)

Gustavo ‘Turnpike’ Sanchez is a man with a mission: he is planning to replace every last one of his unsightly teeth. He has a few skills that might help him on his way: he can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums, he can interpret Chinese fortune cookies, he can stand an egg upright on a table, and he can float on his back. And, of course, he is the world’s best auction caller – although other people might not realise this, because he is, by nature, very discreet.Studying auctioneering under Grandmaster Oklahoma and the famous country singer Leroy Van Dyke, Highway travels the world, amassing his collection of ‘Collectibles’ and perfecting his own specialty: the allegoric auction. In his quest for a perfect set of pearly whites, he finds unusual ways to raise the funds, culminating in the sale of the jewels of his collection: the teeth of the ‘notorious infamous’ – Plato, Petrarch, Chesterton, Virginia Woolf et al.Written with elegance, wit and exhilarating boldness, Valeria Luiselli takes us on an idiosyncratic and hugely enjoyable journey that offers an insightful meditation on value, worth and creation, and the points at which they overlap.

I reviewed Luiselli’s debut novel, Faces in the Crowd, back in 2012 and it was one of my books of the year. I’m looking forward to entering her strange, clever world again.

Published 2nd April by Granta.

 

Thanks to Mantle, Chatto & Windus, Harvill Secker, W&N, Fig Tree, Portobello Books, Sceptre, Picador, William Heinemann and Simon & Schuster for the review copies.