A woman known for her viral social media posts travels the world speaking to her adoring fans, her entire existence overwhelmed by the Internet – or what she terms ‘the portal’. Are we in hell? the people of the portal ask themselves. Are we all just going to keep doing this until we die? Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: ‘Something has gone wrong,’ and ‘How soon can you get here?’ As real life and its stakes collide with the increasing absurdity of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.
Swedish immigrant Kristin won’t talk about the Project growing inside her. Her Brazilian-born Scottish boyfriend Ciaran won’t speak English at all; he is trying to immerse himself in a Swedish sprakbad language bath, to prepare for their future, whatever the fick that means. Their Edinburgh flat is starting to feel very small. As this young couple is forced to confront the thing that they are both avoiding, they must reckon with the bigger questions of the world outside, and their places in it.
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.
Even when you come out of bloodshed and disaster in the end you have got to learn to live. Winona is a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. Living with Thomas and John on the farm they work in 1870s Tennessee, she is educated and loved, forging a life for herself beyond the violence and dispossession of her past. But the fragile harmony of her unlikely family unit, in the aftermath of the Civil War, is soon threatened by a further traumatic event, one which Winona struggles to confront, let alone understand.
When Indian journalist Taran Khan arrives in Kabul in 2006, she imagines it as a return – a journey to the land her forebears hailed from centuries ago. She finds an unexpected guide in her grandfather who – despite never visiting the city – knows it intimately through books and stories, poetry and myth. With his voice in her head, and falling in with poets, doctors and other Kabulis, Khan uncovers a place quite different from the one she anticipated. Her wanderings reveal a fragile city in a state of flux: stricken by near-constant war, but flickering with the promise of peace, a shape-shifting place governed by age-old codes but experimenting with new modes of living. These walks take her to the unvisited tombs of the dead, and to the land of the living: the booksellers, archaeologists, intrepid film-makers and entrepreneurs who are remaking and rebuilding this ancient 3000-year-old city.
On Boxing Day 1962, when Juliet Nicolson was eight years old, the snow began to fall. It did not stop for ten weeks. It was one of the coldest and harshest winters for 300 years. The drifts in East Sussex reached twenty-three feet. In London, milkmen made deliveries on skis. On Dartmoor 2,000 ponies were buried in the snow, and foxes ate sheep alive. It wasn’t just the weather that was bad. The threat of nuclear war had reached its terrifying height with the recent Cuban Missile Crisis. Unemployment was on the rise, de Gaulle was blocking Britain from joining the European Economic Community, Winston Churchill, still the symbol of Great Britishness, was fading. These shadows hung over a country paralysed by frozen heating oil, burst pipes and power cuts which are explored here.
Dogs and humans: in the last 200 years no inter-species relationship has developed so fast nor come so far. Dogs accompany us in every walk of life, usually three times a day. How and why did this relationship begin? How has it changed over the centuries? And who’s getting the upper hand? This title investigates this unique bond by revisiting some of the most important milestones in our shared journey. It begins with the earliest visual evidence on ancient rock art, and ends at the laboratory that sequenced the first dog genome.
If you loved Rivers of London, this fantastic mystery set in Edinburgh’s magical underworld will be the perfect next read. And anyone who enjoyed Stranger Things will root for Ropa, as she discovers secrets hidden in the darkness . . .
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.
This is a bitingly funny collection of stories united around a single, crumbling apartment building in Ukraine that heralds the arrival of a major new talent. A bureaucratic glitch omits an entire building, along with its residents, from municipal records. So begins Reva’s ingeniously intertwined narratives, nine stories which span the chaotic years leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union. But even as the benighted denizens of 1933 Ivansk Street weather the official neglect of the increasingly powerless authorities, they devise ingenious ways to survive.
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.
Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two vast lakes joined by underground rivers. Two lakes that seem to hold both the turbulent memories of the region’s past, and the secret of its enduring allure. Two lakes that have played a central role in Kapka Kassabova’s maternal family. As she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin, Kassabova encounters a civilisational crossroads. The Lakes are set within the mountainous borderlands of North Macedonia, Albania and Greece, and crowned by the old Roman road, the via Egnatia. Once a trading and spiritual nexus of the southern Balkans, this lake region remains one of Eurasia’s most culturally diverse areas. By exploring on water and land the stories of poets, fishermen, and caretakers, misfits, rulers, and inheritors of war and exile, Kassabova uncovers the human history shaped by the Lakes.
‘Rainbow Milk’ is a coming-of-age story told from the point of view of a young black man from a religious background, who identifies several major contradictions between himself, his family life, and his beliefs. Upon rejecting the doctrine, he is shown the need to form a new centre of gravity, and uses his sexuality to explore new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality.
A woman, accompanied by her lover, searches for her lost brother, who may have been a revolutionary, and who may have been tortured, imprisoned or killed. Roving through a Mediterranean landscape, they live out their entangled existences, reluctant to give up, afraid of the outcome. Reflecting the schizophrenia of its characters, the novel splits into alternating passages, switching between the sister and her lover’s perspective. The lover’s passages are also fractured, taking the form of a diary with notes alongside the entries. An intricate system of repetition and relation builds across the passages.