The Death of Vivek Oji is an exhilarating novel set in southeastern Nigeria by artist and writer Akwaeke Emezi.
It has the hallmarks of a coming-of-age story but is unique in the way it wrestles with identity, sexuality, shame and its celebratory exploration of different forms of love.
I first read German writer Jenny Erpenbeck on the recommendation of a colleague about five years ago.
End of Days – her sixth novel – was enough to get me hooked and become a full-blown Erpenbeck evangelist.
The beloved Julian of Jessica Love’s award-winning debut picture book returns in this beautiful book, also illustrated by Jessica herself, Julian at the Wedding.
In Julian at the Wedding we have another fantastically inclusive and celebratory book, full of sumptuous drawings of what looks like an incredible party celebrating the marriage of two women. Its follows Julian and his adventurous cousin Marisol as they roam around the party and get up to a little magical mischief.
When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten has everything you want in a story. It has a deep sense of place, characters that you completely believe in, and a mystery that pulls at you all the way through. I read it cover to cover in one night.
The story is set in a small village in Jamaica where we meet Clara and her friends, living a seemingly normal life, apart from that Clara can’t remember anything that happened the previous Summer. Throughout the book we get hints at what could have happened and as a new girl, Rudy, arrives from England things start to change.
I read The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliot a while ago now and it has really stuck with me.
Set in mythic Scotland, probably the Isle of Skye, two unlikely heroes must make a dangerous journey to protect their people’. The book is dually narrated by two characters, both members of the Tuath clan but with different roles within the clan structure.
The Good Hawk is an absolute must read for every fantasy fiction fan out there.
In Poor, his first poetry collection, Caleb Femi gives the reader a snapshot of growing up Black, male and poor on a North Peckham housing estate.
Part speaking truth to power, part love letter to his home Femi described the collection as ‘an ode to a troubled yet enchanted world, and the Black boys raised in it’.
In How to be a Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest, Corbett provides a brief history of craftivism alongside an in-depth manifesto and step by step guide to using craft as a form of protest.
This book is a must for any armchair activists who want to take the next step but who aren’t quite ready to scale Buckingham Palace in a Superman costume…just yet.
Having always had her nose buried in a book, Cathy Rentzenbrink is someone whose life beyond that of her imagination ought to be nothing much to write home about. However, as anyone who has read her bestselling memoir The Last Act of Love will know, the tragic death of her brother Matty was an event that profoundly affected her – and continues to do so. What’s more, although it could never quell the pain, chronicling that awful experience also confirmed her as an exceptional memoirist, with the ability to recount stories of her life with style and panache.
In Dear Reader, Rentzenbrink canters through her whole life to date, punctuating her experiences (including the time around Matty’s accident) with many of the books she read along the way. It’s a wonderfully engaging device, leaving readers with another captivating memoir and a stunningly diverse list of books to turn to in good times or bad.
Ever since he burst onto the Irish writing scene over a decade ago, Kevin Barry has entranced readers with his laconic humour, his amiable characters and his impeccable ability to tell stories. In recent years he’s been getting better and better, with his glorious recent novel Night Boat To Tangier earning him a place on the 2019 Booker longlist.
One year on, Barry returns to his beloved short story form with That Old Country Music, a collection based on some oddly delicious (and sometimes deliciously odd) characters from County Sligo on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Each and every one of these stories is irresistibly readable, vividly conjuring mental images of lives and landscapes in such high resolution, you could project them on an Imax screen.
One of the greatest living African writers, perennial Nobel Literature Prize shortlister Ngugi Wa Thiong’o has created a richly enjoyable romp of a verse novel from the origin story of the Gikuyu people of Kenya.
The Perfect Nine is an entertaining and fast-moving retelling of the myth that begins with Gikuyu (man) and Mumbi (woman), the archetypal father and mother of dazzlingly beautiful daughters known as the Perfect Nine – even though there are actually ten of them.