The new contemporary fiction selected this month includes novels from Australia, Sweden, India, Denmark, France and Scotland. Highly recommended is the award winning novel by Su Bristow titled Sealskin.
I am behind you / John Ajvide Lindqvist ; translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy.
“Four families wake up one morning in their caravans, next to their cars, on an ordinary campsite in southern Sweden. However, during the night something strange has happened. Everything else has disappeared, and the world has been transformed into an endless expanse of grass. The sky is blue, but there is no sign of the sun; there are no trees, no flowers, no birds. And every radio plays nothing but the songs of sixties pop icon Peter Himmelstrand. As the holiday-makers try to come to terms with what has happened, they are forced to confront their deepest fears and secret desires, and in many cases expose the less appealing aspects of their character. Can any of them find a way back to reality?” (Syndetics summary)
Sealskin / Su Bristow.
“Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
These dividing walls / Fran Cooper.
“In a forgotten corner of Paris stands a building. Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. Though each of their walls touches someone else’s, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers. But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The French art of war / Alexis Jenni ; translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
“It was the beginning of the Gulf War. I watched it on TV and did little else. I was doing badly, you see. Everything was going wrong. I just awaited the end. But then I met Victorien Salagnon, a veteran of the great colonial wars of Indochina, Vietnam and Algeria, a commander who had led his soldiers across the globe, a man with the blood of others up to his elbows. He said he would teach me to paint. In return, he wanted me to write his life story. And so he talked, and I wrote, and through him I witnessed the rivers of blood that cut channels through France, I saw the deaths that were as numberless as they were senseless and I began finally to understand the French art of war.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
When I hit you ; or, A portrait of the writer as a young wife / Meena Kandasamy.
“Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealized version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back, a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Mirror, shoulder, signal / Dorthe Nors ; translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra.
“A poignant, sharp-witted tale of one woman’s journey in search of herself when there’s no one to ask for directions. Sonja’s over forty, and she’s trying to move in the right direction. She’s learning to drive. She’s joined a meditation group. And she’s attempting to reconnect with her sister. But Sonja would rather eat cake than meditate. Her driving instructor won’t let her change gear. And her sister won’t return her calls.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
A fortune foretold : a novel / Agneta Pleijel ; translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy.
“The story takes place in the 1950s in the suburbs of Stockholm, in the university town of Lund, and in the United States. Neta’s childhood is in disarray. She reads, words give form to the vagueness of existence, and is busy thinking about the female sex, family, and the stupendous diversity of people in the world. Her father, a mathematician, and her mother, a musician, are in constant conflict, but she loves them both. Gradually Neta realizes that she’s grown up in a lie and that she must step carefully through the war zone of her parents’ marriage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Fava beans for breakfast / Suzanne Salem.
“In 1974, Nayeema reluctantly leaves Sydney’s inner city to move to Burraboo, a tired coastal town, with her husband Fawzy. In doing so, Nayeema surrenders her only dream, but once there she falls under the sway of new infatuations. On a houseboat in the pristine bay nearby, she sells the comforting food of her Egyptian childhood, but keeps her income a secret from her husband. Through this act of defiance and independence, Nayeema unwittingly unlocks a mysterious connection with her new land.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Missing Fay / Adam Thorpe.
“A spirited, restless fourteen-year-old, Fay, goes missing from a Lincoln council estate. Is she a runaway, or a victim, another face on a poster gradually fading with time? The story of her last two days before she vanishes is interwoven with the varied lives of six locals, whether aware or unaware of her presence or absence, all touched in life-changing ways. All are involuntary witnesses to the lost girl; paths cross, threads touch, connections are made or lost. Is Fay alive or dead, or somewhere in between?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Kiss Carlo / Adriana Trigiani.
“It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match. Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)