New releases will give plenty of inspiration for your next summer read…


1. I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore is published in hardback by Faber & Faber

Credits: PA;

As a dismissed teacher, Finn ventures to the city to see his dying brother, reflects on the greatest love of his life and the meaning of grief. Lorrie Moore has created possibly one of the most mind-boggling books of the year, written beautifully and leaving the reader with question upon question – which they should expect to answer themselves. Crossing timelines and boundaries of realism into absurdity, Moore has crafted an allegory for common human experiences: unwanted loss and love without a place to go. The story is touching, poignant and political in its undertones, while also hilarious and ridiculous. Will you understand it all? No. Is it still gorgeous? Absolutely.

2. Bellies by Nicola Dinan is published in hardback by Doubleday

Credits: PA;

Novels told from multiple perspectives are all the rage in fiction right now, and Bellies is the latest addition to the trend. We start at university, where to Tom and Ming fall in love and feel safe with each other. Things get more complicated when they move to London – the previously socialist Tom selling out with a job in banking and Ming pursuing a career in theatre, and after much internal struggle, coming out as a trans woman. The book sensitively and realistically portrays how this kind of change might affect each person – and whether the relationship can survive. The main issue with Bellies is the parts told from Ming’s perspective are infinitely more interesting than those told from Tom’s – plus, there’s a slight tendency for the dialogue to fall into therapy-speak, rather than how actual people talk. But it’s a strong debut from Dinan – a beautiful and moving story about trauma and love that will leave you satisfied at the end.

3. The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape

Credits: PA;

Brandon Taylor’s The Late Americans is a thought-provoking exploration of class, identity politics, and sexuality. Written from the point of view of students at the University of Iowa and locals who live near the prestigious university, its episodic format more closely resembles a short story collection than a typical novel. Taylor’s characters are at turns humourous, furious, and lost. The novel begins with a chapter from the perspective of white working-class poetry student Seamus, who funds his studies by working as a line cook. Seamus’ chapters are among the strongest in the novel, and the funniest, as he takes aim at his classmate’s crude reliance on personal experience and trauma in their work. References to Trump and social media are rarely clunky, and help place the novel in the context of the contemporary campus wars. Unfortunately, the quality of The Late Americans rises and falls with each character. Meat factory worker Fyodor suffers in particular from being unrealistic and jarring. However, there are more than enough moments of brilliance to make The Late Americans worth it. It may not be a great American novel, but it is certainly a timely one.


4. Rental Person Who Does Nothing by Shoji Morimoto, translated by Don Knotting

Credits: PA;

There’s really only one way to describe the premise of this book: unique. A memoir of sorts, it follows Shoji Morimoto’s travails in his unusual job – that of a ‘rental person who does nothing’. This means he’s available for anything someone requests of him – as long as his role is relatively passive. The requests are vast in range – from the dull (someone wants him to sit next to them while they work, as they struggle with focus) to the sweet (someone would like him to come visit their childhood home with them) and occasionally the more serious or sad (someone wants him to witness court proceedings; someone wants to talk to him about how great her girlfriend is – she feels like she can’t tell her friends about her lesbian relationship). Morimoto doesn’t take any money for his services, and the book follows a series of requests and what happened with them. It’s an unusual premise, but one that manages to dive into the human condition in a meaningful way, unveiling people’s secret longings, loves and needs.

Children’s book of the week

5. The Thing At 52 by Ross Montgomery, illustrated by Richard Johnson

Credits: PA;

This is a truly beautiful book that will cause many an insightful conversation between a young child and their parent, or teacher, when read together. It tells the story of a young girl who sees a monster living on his own – she takes pity and decides to befriend him. The little girl takes him a flower to cheer him up and their adventures begin, taking them from her mum’s old sofa to trips to the seaside, and even a party with lots of dancing. The book takes the little girl through several emotions, starting with making friends, learning about loneliness, and saying goodbye. Each page is stunningly illustrated and so pleasing to the eye, which everyone will enjoy.