Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading – and forgetting. But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a legendary creature, Ren is inexorably drawn into an impossible mission. As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt – as myth merges with reality – both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.
Easy Meat is a glimpse of a young man and a country on the verge of a momentous decision. The South Wales Valleys, 23rd June, 2016. ItÂs another long day chopping beef carcasses up at the slaughterhouse for former reality TV star and Iron Man contender, Caleb Jenkins, whose untroubled world unravelled when his old man’s carpet…
Set on a farming estate in the upper reaches of the River Spey,Â Of Stone and SkyÂ follows several generations of a shepherding family in a paean to the bonds between people, their land and way of life. It is a profound mystery, a passionate poem, a political manifesto, shot through with wisdom and humour.
In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways. But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer. In a series of spellbinding, interlocking narratives – with styles ranging from manga to footnotes – Nick Bradley has hewn a novel of interplay and estrangement; of survival and self-destruction; of the desire to belong and the need to escape.
Nearing the end of his life, Baron Bela Wenckheim decides to return to the provincial Hungarian town of his birth. Having escaped from his many casino debts in Buenos Aires, where he was living in exile, he wishes to be reunited with his high-school sweetheart Marika. What follows is an endless storm of gossip, con men and local politicians, vividly evoking the small town’s alternately drab and absurd existence. Meanwhile, the Professor – a world-famous natural scientist who studies mosses and inhabits a bizarre Zen-like shack in a desolate area outside of town – offers long rants and disquisitions on his own attempts to immunise himself from thought. Spectacular actions are staged, death and the abyss loom, until finally doom is brought down on the unsuspecting residents of the town.
Through childhood hopefulness, teenage delinquency, faded first love and middle-aged disillusionment, James Clarke’s extraordinary novel in stories takes us into the Hollow in the Land, a Lancashire valley no longer than ten miles end to end. If you’re born here, you’ll likely spend the rest of your life here, and even those who do make it beyond the bypass often find themselves drawn back. This is a place where the realities of regional decline and political indifference play out in people’s lives: in run-down pubs and sitting rooms, dead-end jobs and black-economy gigs, for-profit care homes, Traveller sites and abandoned warehouses. Clarke’s writing is unsentimental but retains a fierce empathy for the lives it is describing. Through a wide range of characters at every stage of life, Clarke shows us how much of what we become is defined by where we are from.
In Paradise Block, mould grows as thick as fur along the walls, alarms ring out at unexpected hours and none of the neighbours are quite what they seem. A little girl boils endless eggs in her family’s burnt-out flat, an isolated old woman entices a new friend with gifts of cutlery and cufflinks, and a young bride grows frustrated with her unappreciative husband, the caretaker of creaking, dilapidated Paradise Block. With a haunting sense of place and a keen eye for the absurd, these thirteen surreal stories lure us into a topsy-turvy world where fleatraps are more important than babies and sales calls for luxury coffins provide a welcome distraction. Lonely residents live in close proximity while longing for connection.
Reese nearly had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she didn’t hate. She’d scraped together a life previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then everything fell apart and three years on Reese is still in self-destruct mode, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men. When her ex calls to ask if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds herself intrigued. After being attacked in the street, Amy de-transitioned to become Ames, changed jobs and, thinking he was infertile, started an affair with his boss Katrina. Now Katrina’s pregnant. Could the three of them form an unconventional family – and raise the baby together?