May Curation: A Month of Diverse & Captivating Novels

May 01, 2020

Many of us are finding it difficult to focus or maintain our reading habits right now, so May's curation is dedicated to novels. Be absorbed and transported by these 5 captivating novels.

Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin
Trans. by Megan McDowell
Oneworld, 2020

Fiction | In translation

From the Argentian author of Fever Dream and the incredible short story collection Mouthful of Birds, Schweblin's second novel Little Eyes is set to be equally as unnerving and brilliant as her previous works.

Something - "not pets, or ghosts, or robots" according to the blurb - has infiltrated lives around the world. That something is human. In an exploration of the increasing interconnectedness of our world, Little Eyes creates a world in which people are able to permeate the lives of others from across the globe. Someone can be in your living room or having breakfast with your children without really being there at all and, worrying, they remain unknown and untraceable.

I'm intrigued and excited; I'm sure Schweblin won't disappoint.

Riverhead Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House) is releasing an edition of Little Eyes soon but personally this panda edition from Oneworld is more fun and it has a photo-like texture!

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

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa
Trans. by Stephen Snyder
Harvill Secker, 2019

Fiction | In translation

The Memory Police is a dystopia from prize-winning Japanese author Yoko Ogawa for you to become absorbed in. Don't worry; this is not a contagion-themed dystopia.

The Memory Police is about a community compelled to erase memories, to forget things that once existed, to the point that they forget that their island ever existed. The act of forgetting is strictly controlled by the memory police. But in true dystopian style there is one person who's different from the majority and he remains unaffected by the widespread memory erasure. In order to avoid capture by the memory police, he must hide his memories.

The blurb doesn't tell us why or how the erasure of things and memories occurs; the initial world-building will provide these answers and we'll follow the journey of a classic dystopian protagonist as he recognises that something's wrong, tries to hide his identity and navigate his way to a better future.

The Yogini, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay
Trans. by Arunava Sinha
Titled Axis Press, 2019

Fiction | In translation | Independent publishing

The plot sounds simple and fun, yet it's a vehicle for exploring identity and existential questions. A young woman becomes convinced that a yogi she meets on the streets is a manifestation of fate and she proceeds to desperately try to prove that her life is controlled by her own will.

The protagonist's identity, relationships and middle-class Kolkata life come into question and ultimately disintegrate as a result of the actions she takes in her pursuit to prove free will.

Titled Axis Press is an independent and not-for-profit publisher translating innovative books that wouldn't otherwise make it into English. The Yogini is the third of Bandyopadhyay's novels to be published by Titled Axis though she is a widely published Bengali author and columnist.

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

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo
Hamish Hamilton, 2019

Fiction | Race | Gender

The Destination Books blog aims to curate book lists which offer something different to what's available from chain retailers and aims to expose underrepresented texts and themes. Girl, Woman, Other is everywhere right now, as it won the 2019 Booker Prize and has recently been shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction. However, it's an intersectional representation of black, British, female experience and I've been on the look out for a contemporary portrayal of race and class in Britain (as much of my intersectional reading tends to be US-based) so I'm overlooking its popularity and instead focusing on the importance of the stories this book represents.

The book follows twelve interconnected, sometimes related, characters, to provide an intersectional snapshot of contemporary Britain. It seems to have gained nothing but positive reviews.

Now available in paperback: though apparently there was a shortage of paperbacks with my supplier and I wonder if this is due to its popularity.

Get this popular paperback here

Adua, Igiaba Scego
Jacaranda Books, 2019

Fiction | Independent Publishing

From Somali Italian novelist Igiaba Scego, Adua is set in Italy and spans the years from pre-WW11 to present day as its protagonist Adua, a Somali who immigrated to Italy, reflects on her life as she considers whether to return to Somalia after the end of the Somalian civil war.

It's a reflection on Adua and her father's lives which have been affected by colonialism, racism and immigration. I expect this book to be slower paced, full of details, characterisations and history and one I will certainly learn from.

Jacaranda's ethos is to publish "ground-breaking writing with a dedication to creating space on the bookshelf for diverse ideas and writers." This ethos is aligned with the objectives of Destination Books and so I'm looking forward to reading Adua from this diverse and independent publisher.

Get hold of a copy here

Which of these novels will you be reading? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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