The Listeners by Jordan Tanahill

Firstly, a huge thank you to Fourth Estate for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Fourth Estate
Publication Date:
08/07/2021
Length: 272 pages
Genre:
Contemporary Fiction | Speculative Fiction

CW: references to sexual assault

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One night, while lying in bed next to her husband, Claire Devon suddenly hears a low hum. This innocuous sound, which no one else in the house can hear, has no obvious source or medical cause, but it begins to upset the balance of Claire’s life. When she discovers that one of her students can also hear the hum, the two strike up an unlikely and intimate friendship. Finding themselves increasingly isolated from their families and colleagues, they fall in with a disparate group of people who also perceive the sound. What starts out as a kind of neighbourhood self-help group gradually transforms into something much more extreme, with far-reaching, devastating consequences. 

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date:
02/05/2019
Length: 163 pages
Genre:
Translated Fiction | Japanese Fiction | Contemporary Fiction

CW: n/a

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Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old.

She’s never had a boyfriend, and she’s been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko’s family wishes she’d get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won’t get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she’s not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store…

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Godspeed by Nickolas Butler

Firstly, a huge thank you to Faber & Faber for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date:
27/07/2021
Length: 352 pages
Genre:
Contemporary Fiction

CW: drug use

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‘My daddy always told me, if it looks too good to be true – then it probably is.’

Bart, Teddy and Cole have been best friends since childhood. Having founded their own small-town construction company, they yearn to build a legacy, something to leave behind to their families. So when Gretchen Connors, a mysterious millionaire lawyer from California, approaches them with a stunning, almost formidable project in the mountains above their town, the three friends convince themselves it’s the job which will secure their future.

But what is Gretchen hiding from them? And why does the build have to be complete by Christmas, a near-impossible deadline? With the lines between ambition and greed more slippery and dangerous than the three friends ever imagined, how far will they push themselves and what will be the cost of their dream?

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Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Publisher: Picador
Publication Date:
12/05/2020
Length: 430 pages
Genre:
Translated Fiction | Japanese Fiction | Contemporary Fiction

CW: n/a

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An earlier novella published in Japan with the same title focused on the female body, telling the story of three women: the thirty-year-old unmarried narrator, her older sister Makiko, and Makiko’s daughter Midoriko. Unable to come to terms with her changed body after giving birth, Makiko becomes obsessed with the prospect of getting breast enhancement surgery. Meanwhile, her twelve-year-old daughter Midoriko is paralyzed by the fear of her oncoming puberty and finds herself unable to voice the vague, yet overwhelming anxieties associated with growing up. The narrator, who remains unnamed for most of the story, struggles with her own indeterminable identity of being neither a “daughter” nor a “mother.” Set over three stiflingly hot days in Tokyo, the book tells of a reunion of sorts, between two sisters, and the passage into womanhood of young Midoriko.

In this greatly expanded version, a second chapter in the story of the same women opens on another hot summer’s day ten years later. The narrator, single and childless, having reconciled herself with the idea of never marrying, nonetheless feels increasing anxiety about growing old alone and about never being a mother. In episodes that are as comical as they are revealing of deep yearning, she seeks direction from other women in her life—her mother, her grandmother, friends, as well as her sister—and only after dramatic and frequent changes of heart, decides in favor of artificial insemination. But this decision in a deeply conservative country in which women’s reproductive rights are under constant threat is not one that can be acted upon without great drama.

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My Brother by Karin Smirnoff

Firstly, a huge thank you to Pushkin Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication Date:
04/02/2021
Length: 320 pages
Genre:
Translated Fiction | Contemporary Fiction | Family & Relationships

CW: Domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, animal abuse, suicide, incest.

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Jana is returning to see her twin brother Bror, still living in the small family farmhouse in the rural north of Sweden. It’s decrepit and crumbling, and Bror is determinedly drinking himself to an early grave. They’re both damaged by horrific childhood experiences, buried deep in the past, but Jana cannot keep running.

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Of Magpies and Men by Ode Ray

Firstly, huge thank you to Ode Ray for sending me a copy of her novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date:
02/02/2020
Length: 330 pages
Genre:
Mystery | Thriller | Contemporary Fiction

CW: References to homophobia, domestic violence

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Can any good come of longings that a person can never satisfy? If so, good for whom?

Two corpses wash ashore in a picturesque Italian village, the violence that put them there is bound to a long-held secret and two strangers living worlds apart with seemingly nothing in common.

Benedict Grant a wealthy Londoner, leading a lonely life. Marie Boulanger a nurse and single mum, struggling to make ends meet in Marseille.

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