April Curation: Diverse Book Recommendations

April 01, 2020

A conscious curation of contemporary literature - 5 books to read in April 2020

Virago, 2019

Life-writing | LGBTQIA+

A joint memoir from Canadian musicians and twin sisters Tegan and Sara, High School expands the memoir form to include the perspectives of both authors in alternating chapters. Tegan and Sara revisit their high school years, share their experience of coming out as gay in the late 90s and provide insight into the early development of their music.

Deep understanding and compassion of the other is required to write a joint memoir, and delving into Tegan and Sara's relationship as sisters and bandmates will be fascinating and enlightening for our own close relationships. Many of us have complicated feelings, shame and embarrassment surrounding our high school years and would much rather forget than write a memoir about that time and so it will be interesting to see how the authors approach their past selves; perhaps Tegan and Sara can teach us how to be compassionate towards former versions of ourselves. The raw emotion of Tegan and Sara's music promises for an honest and enlightening memoir.

Read the book review here - 5/5

Attrib. and other stories, Eley Williams
Influx, 2017

Short stories | Independent publishing

British author Eley Williams's debut short story collection Attrib plays with language and explores the limits of communication. The collection contains fictional, mostly first-person narratives filled with the random, weird and perhaps neurotic internal thoughts we all have but never mention to others. Those internalised thoughts control the form of some of the stories, and even slip into some of the story titles: example; 'Smote (or When I Find I Cannot Kiss You In Front Of A Print by Bridget Riley). It promises to be a playful, exciting and unique collection.

Read the book review here - 4/5
Buy the collection here

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour, ed. by Nisi Shawl
Solaris, 2019

Short stories

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term for narratives that are based in the real world but include elements of fantasy, horror, science fiction, dystopia; the spiritual, the strange, the un-real. The title of this collection is based on a quotation from Octavia E. Butler, a figurehead of black speculative fiction. New Suns, however, includes short stories from lesser-known authors and will be an introduction to the genre, or a broadening of horizons for those that have only read some of the more mainstream, white speculative fiction authors such as Margaret Atwood.

Other similar anthologies have been published recently including Black From the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing which has received some attention on Bookstagram. Black From the Future was my original choice for the April curation until my local bookstore - Category Is Books in Glasgow - suggested this alternative collection. As a new reader in speculative fiction, the short story form in New Suns appeals to more than the broader scope of Black From the Future, as narrative will provide a familiar anchor whilst getting to grips with this new genre.

Pick up a copy here

Plastic Emotions, Shiromi Pinto
Influx Press, 2019

Fiction | Independent publishing

Plastic Emotions is Pinto's second novel and is inspired by real-life Sri Lankan architect and feminist Minnette de Silva. Pinto imagines de Silva's life and love affair with the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The novel introduces us to a forgotten twentieth century figure, uncovering her career and fictionalising her life. The narrative shifts perspective, time and location, moving between London, Paris, India and the newly independent Sri Lanka, from the post-war period into the sixties. Architecture, modernism, globalisation, and post-colonialism are key themes and serve as backdrop to the novel's romance plot.

Read the book review here - 3/5
Click to download your copy

Man Tiger, Eka Kurniawan
Trans. by Labodalih Sembiring
Verso Books, 2015

In translation | Fiction | Independent publishing

A short novel about a young man with a supernatural female white tiger within him. Set in a small, Indonesian coastal town, the novel shifts between two interconnected family and narratives. Violence and betrayal drive the unfolding plot: at once mirroring and subverting the crime novel genre. Kurniawan won the 2016 Financial Times Emerging Voice Fiction Award and Man Tiger has been touted as experimental and political.

Translated from Indonesian, Man Tiger features as April's in-translation read.

Read the book review here - 1/5

Check back throughout the month of April for reviews of all of the books featured in April's curation.

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