Looking for a great read? Here are 10 new books we loved in May
By Louise Nealon
Snowflake is well-written: Louise Nealon has the knack of neat similes. The pace is brisk and the narrative has an eye for comedy even when the narrator is enjoying a moment of self-pity. Snowflake is much more than the tribute act suggested by its hype. It a sweet, clever coming-of-age novel that finds charity and depth for its older characters as well as the young.
Lean, Fall, Stand
By Jon McGregor
In 2017’s Costa Prize-winning Reservoir 13, the life of a village was narrated in unparagraphed, polyphonic blocks of text, in which McGregor unobtrusively united the perspectives of various members of the community in a single flow. His latest employs a similar drift in its focus from section to section, and demonstrates similar unshowy accomplishment. McGregor has a reputation for being a writer’s writer, and he can make ineloquence stunningly eloquent. Moments of less pronounced virtuosity go the furthest, however.
By Jhumpa Lahiri
From the very first episode, there is an overwhelming confidence in the execution of this work. Not one word is wasted. A total absence of exposition ensures each microfiction is surgically edited to its barest, most beautiful bones. And yet there is a warmth here that encourages great affection for the anonymous narrator. Written with intelligence, elegance, empathy and hypnotic power, Whereabouts is destined to become a book of the year.
The Rules of Revelation
By Lisa McInerney
The style of the new book is in keeping with Lisa McInerney’s previous work – bold, busy and energetic, with the swagger necessary to maintain a narrative that switches between five characters, all of whom will be familiar to fans of the author. As with her previous books, McInerney is attuned to matters of class, gender and race. Despite these central preoccupations, the book is never preachy in tone. The storytelling is bright and inventive, the dialogue funny, sharp and revealing of character.
By Paul Perry
Contemporary novelists from Barbara Kingsolver to Richard Powers have responded with urgency to the challenge and reality of the Anthropocene, and The Garden belongs with such writing. “Call it theft or call it trespass,” says Swallow: and, as we endure an increasingly extreme world of climate breakdown, Paul Perry has underscored our own responsibility for the context within which we live now, and offered an urgent and eloquent rebuke to our commodification and unsustainable pillage of the natural world.
By Sinéad O’Connor
This is all Sinéad, so deftly written, so fundamentally in and of her own voice (its singing version encapsulated by Anita Baker describing it here as “cavernous”), that it’s almost a song in and of itself, giving us the backstory, context, truth, trimmings and transmission of what makes her such a revolutionary, singular, incomparable artist. Rememberings shirks the cliches of music memoirs. It’s not so much about a career as it is about a life. Yes, there’s pain, but it’s also brimming with brilliant punchlines, barbs and thigh-slapping moments of hilarity.
The Partition: Ireland Divided, 1885-1925
By Charles Townshend
For almost 50 years the British historian Charles Townshend has specialised in the political and military history of Ireland and of Anglo-Irish relations. This is largely a study of high politics; a layered and mostly fair assessment of the dynamics, deals, prejudices and delusions that created the Border in Ireland. This is a timely and important book, not just because of the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland but also because so much of its content remains relevant to understanding contemporary preoccupations and controversies.
By Deborah Levy
This is quintessential Levy. The languid yet precise prose, the fine mind she allows to wander through a series of ideas and connections before getting to the nub: she is in search of a house. In other hands this could read like a script for afternoon TV’s A Place in the Sun, but Levy’s ideal home is one she constructs and reconstructs in her imagination, what she calls her “unreal estate”. What is a life if not the sum of who we love, how we live, the objects with which we surround ourselves? When attention is paid to the details, it can be a life lived well. Levy doesn’t need to add a house with many rooms and a pomegranate tree to her property portfolio. She is already loaded.
The Anthropocene Reviewed
By John Green
John Green’s skills as a novelist and communicator are put to good use in The Anthropocene Reviewed, his first nonfiction book. He blends the personal and political with ease. Green has a Malcolm Gladwell-style ability to explain complex phenomena to the masses. The broad and seemingly random scope of his book also bears comparison to the writings of Bill Bryson. Green’s sense of humour and eye for life’s absurdities bring lightness to difficult and sometimes harrowing topics.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
By Patrick Radden Keefe
While the book is a damning portrait of the Sackler family, Empire of Pain also raises questions about the other bad actors that helped stoke the United States’ opioid crisis. As the US comes to terms with the devastating pandemic, an investigation into the US pharmaceutical regulators and the thousands of doctors who prescribed drugs such as OxyContin should be next.