5 new books to read this week

Scottish author Ali Smith is back after the success of her Seasonal Quartet…


1. Ali Smith’s Companion Piece is published in hardcover by Hamish Hamilton, priced at £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available April 7

After his ambitious seasonal quartet, Ali Smith returns with Companion Piece, centered on Covid-19 and the seemingly endless lockdown. Smith’s signature wordplay dominates as Sandy (aka Shifting Sand) grapples with the anxieties of the time. While caring for a hospitalized father from afar, Sandy is contacted by former classmate Martina – it’s clear they were never friends – who shares a strange experience, but won’t let her. not alone until her whole family has taken over the house. Writing with a sharp wit and an equally sharp tongue, Smith vacillates between reality and vision, bookworm Sandy taking solace in literary companions to guide her and answering Martina’s question with a story that pulls together many strands without tying them together. in a knot. In Companion Piece, Smith continues to ask the most important questions of our time.9/10 (Review by Ian Parker)

2. Paradais by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes, is published in paperback by Fitzcarraldo, £10.99 (ebook £4.99). Available now

Set in the author’s native Mexico, Paradais is a short but relentless read about a pair of dispossessed young people, whose all-consuming fury for their place in the social system leads them down a sinister path. Polo, a 16-year-old dropout, is forced to work as a cleaning lady in the bourgeois estate of Paradais. Here he meets Franco, a wealthy but deplorable outcast, whom Polo uses for free booze and cigarettes, while being forced to listen to Franco’s benign sexual fantasies about his middle-aged neighbor. As the weeks pass, Franco becomes more and more obsessed with the idea that he can conquer his neighbour, and Polo cannot help but accompany him. Written in an all-consuming modernist style, Paradais immerses the reader in the thoughts of Polo, dragging you with him into a spiral of loneliness that can only be filled with alcohol, rebellion and a bitter nostalgia for his deceased grandfather. .7/10 (Review by Scarlett Sangster)

3. Yinka, where is your husband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is published in hardcover by Viking, priced at £14.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now

A young woman navigates a demanding family desperate to find her a husband, especially since her younger sister got married before her. Yinka struggles to balance her family’s more traditional Nigerian culture with her job at an investment bank. Although centered on finding a husband – or ‘huzband’ – it’s quickly apparent that Yinka is more than just a love life. His story is told smartly and wittily, with occasional goofy moments, but the main character remains lovable – if a bit incredibly naive – throughout the novel. The book is firmly anchored in its environment: London, more precisely Peckham. Readers unfamiliar with the town may have a harder time identifying with it, but it’s still a funny, light-hearted novel overall. 7/10 (Review by Sonia Twigg)


4. This Woman’s Work: Essays On Music edited by Kim Gordon & Sinead Gleeson is published in hardcover by White Rabbit, priced at £20 (ebook £9.99). Available April 7

If this collection’s approach expects feminist criticism of the music industry, readers will be surprised but not necessarily disappointed to find a series of nostalgic ruminations from critics, essayists and industry professionals. on the personal importance of music in their lives. This eclectic collection invites you to indulge in the fandom, influence, and experiences (good and bad) brought about by the artists each contributor admires the most. A word of advice for readers – don’t read in order. You won’t know every artist and many are hard to find on streaming libraries. This can be off-putting to some and makes certain chapters harder to understand – but if you can find them, listening to the artist as you read gives the collection a whole new level of immersion. Who knows, maybe future editions will be released with a mixtape.7/10 (Review by Scarlett Sangster)

Children’s book of the week

5. The Drama Llama by Rachel Morrisroe, illustrated by Ella Okstad, is published in paperback by Puffin, priced at £6.99 (ebook £3.99). Available April 14

The Drama Llama is a bright and engaging picture book for preschoolers, tackling the burden of anxiety. Like most children, Alex Allen worries about some things – but unlike others, his worries materialize into a real llama. As Alex tries to have fun, play and go about his daily business, he finds this troublesome beast keeps getting in his way – but how can he shake his mischievous new companion and associated frets? ? Warm, sweet and practical, The Drama Llama is an entertaining and colorful book, which even contains age-appropriate advice on how to deal with fears and anxiety. While it might not be an original on the market, it’s certainly a sweet and dignified addition, and a whole lot of fun too. 8/10 (Review by Holly Cowell)


RECORDED (FICTION)1. Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May2. Galatea by Madeline Miller3. French braid by Anne Tyler4. Olivie Blake’s Atlas Six5. Gallant by VE Schwab6. Yinka, where is your husband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn7. Lucy Foley’s Paris apartment8. The House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas9. Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson10. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (compiled by Waterstones)

RECORDED (NON-FICTION)1. Why hasn’t anyone told me this before? by Dr. Julie Smith2. Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby3. Feeling Good Eating by Joe Wicks4. Butler to the World by Oliver Bullough5. Queen of Our Time by Robert Hardman6. Otherlands by Thomas Halliday7. Taste by Stanley Tucci8. Shadowlands by Matthew Green9. When the Dust Settles by Lucy Easthope10. Comedy, comedy, comedy, drama by Bob Odenkirk (compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIO BOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. Why hasn’t anyone told me this before? by Dr. Julie Smith2. Happy Mind, Happy Life by Dr Rangan Chatterjee3. The storyteller by Dave Grohl4. Atomic Habits by James Clear5. Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman6. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah7. Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly8. The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien9. Bridgerton: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn10. The Man Who Died Twice (Uncut Version) Richard Osman (Compiled by Audible)

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