Traces Nina Bouraoui’s blissful childhood in Algeria, a wild, sun-soaked paradise, with hazy summer afternoons spent swimming, diving, and driving across the desert. Her mother is French, her father Algerian; when racial tensions begin to surface in their neighbourhood, her mother suffers an unspeakable act of violence that forces the family to flee the country. In Paris, 18-year-old Nina lives alone. It’s the 1980s. Four nights a week she makes her way to The Kat, a legendary gay nightclub, where she watches women from the sidelines, afraid of her own desires, her sudden and intoxicating freedom. In her solitude, she starts to write – and finds herself writing about her mother.
A Chinese woman comes to post-Brexit London to start a new life, away from her old world. She knew she would be lonely, adrift in the city, but will her new relationship bring her closer to this land she has chosen – will love give her a home? ‘A Lover’s Discourse’ is an exploration of romantic love told through fragments of conversations between the two lovers as they navigate their romance on their unmoored houseboat and in a stifling flatshare in East London.
The person you are with is just like you: same background, same age, same interests. The perfect match. And it is a disaster. Then, when and where you least expect it, you meet someone new. You seem to have nothing in common and yet, somehow, it feels totally right. Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender but also brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who is not just like you at all.
Ava, newly arrived in Hong Kong from Dublin, spends her days teaching English to rich children. Julian is a banker. A banker who likes to spend money on Ava, to have sex and discuss fluctuating currencies with her. But when she asks whether he loves her, he cannot say more than ‘I like you a great deal’. Enter Edith, a lawyer. Refreshingly enthusiastic and unapologetically earnest, Edith takes Ava to the theatre when Julian leaves Hong Kong for work. Quickly, she becomes something Ava looks forward to. And then Julian writes to tell Ava he is coming back to Hong Kong. Should Ava return to the easy compatibility of her life with Julian or take a leap into the unknown with Edith?
Stuck in a dead-end job, broken-hearted, broke and estranged from her best friend, Violet’s life is nothing like she thought it would be. She wants more – better friends, better sex a better job – and she wants it now. So, when Lottie – who looks like the woman Violet wants to be when she grows up – offers Violet the chance to join her exciting start-up, she bites. Only it soon becomes clear that Lottie and her husband Simon are not only inviting Violet into their company, they are also inviting her into their lives.
Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.
Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. They’ve been together for a few years but now they’re not sure why they’re still a couple. When Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he discovers the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike’s immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it. Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they’ve ever known. And just maybe they’ll all be okay in the end.