In brief: Stay With Me; Eat the Apple; Trajectory – review

Nigerian novelist Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s vivid debut, an inventive Iraq memoir from Matt Young and an introduction to the genius of Richard Russo

Stay With Me

Ayòbámi Adébáyò
Canongate, £8.99, pp304 (paperback)

Shortlisted for the women’s prize for fiction and rightly figuring on most end-of-year lists in 2017, Nigerian novelist Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s debut is a wonderfully vivid, tragicomic exploration of what happens when a seemingly happy couple in a Yoruba community struggle to have children. Much has been made of Adébáyò’s personal journey to Stay With Me – written in snippets on her mobile while she worked at a bank. She received feedback from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Margaret Atwood, but the result is all her own: a neat combination of domestic drama, expertly handled politics in 1980s Nigeria and vibrant dialogue. Oh, and a scene where our indomitable, endearing heroine Yejida breastfeeds a goat to try to get pregnant. It’s that kind of book.

Eat the Apple

Matt Young
Bloomsbury, £14.99, pp272

The rich seam of Iraq war stories from former US marines turned creative-writing hopefuls continues with Matt Young’s raw and powerful Eat the Apple. It’s strictly categorised as a memoir, but Young attempts something much more formally daring. Snappy chapters detailing the macho hell of life as a blindly obedient soldier are written not just in the first person, but as excerpts from screenplays, straight dialogue and even scrawled drawings. Though there’s nothing particularly new in this war-is-hell-when-it’s-not-really-boring narrative, the cumulative effect of all these short, bleakly funny excerpts is remarkable. This is a sweeping chronicle of a boy looking for a purpose in life who finds war makes him even more vulnerable.


Richard Russo
Atlantic, £17.99, pp256

This collection of four short stories by the Pulitzer prize-winning US novelist actually only contains one new work. The first story, Horseman, a tale of academic plagiarism, was published 12 years ago. Still, if nothing else, Trajectory functions as a neat introduction to Russo’s oeuvre and interests, exploring the constant friction between his uncertain yet thoughtful characters and the brashly confident people they rub up against. And the new story, Milton and Marcus, is worth the cover price alone, Russo finding a rare soulfulness in the life of a down-on-his luck Hollywood screenwriter, when he’s not being brilliantly excoriating about the mucky business of stardom and ambition.

• To order Stay With Me for £6.99, Eat the Apple for £12.74 or Trajectory for £15.29 go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99


Ben East

The GuardianTramp

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