Xuan Juliana Wang
Atlantic, £12.99, 240pp
There’s a potent anthropological appeal to this debut collection of short stories depicting Chinese millennials at home and abroad. Their author, China-born and California-raised, confidently straddles multiple cultural divides to conjure up a succession of memorable characters, from the spoilt Beijing hipster shirking parental expectations to the country bumpkin catapulted into a life of American riches. Often, a story’s ending will bound tantalisingly into the future, scattering indelible phrases in its wake, as when a tiger stands in the night to face a boy “like a brush lifting out of the ink”. Striking, soulful and ablaze with promise.
A Frank O’Hara Notebook
No place press, £35, 278pp
Having only met Frank O’Hara on the page, the late poet and art critic Berkson was inspired enough to dedicate two poems to him. When they actually met, in 1960, he knew he’d found both a friend and a mentor. For years after O’Hara’s untimely death in 1966, Berkson planned to write a study of him, but he died with the project incomplete. This is a facsimile of Berkson’s notebook – vignettes, observations and pithy quotes, along with glimpses of jazzy parties and artistic glamour. Inventive and idiosyncratic, it’s a sublimely apt ode to O’Hara, as well as to the poetry and art scenes of 60s New York.
Granta, £8.99, 160pp
The exhilarating originality of Moss’s sixth novel makes it impossible to resist, despite a sinister denouement that’s foreshadowed from the beginning. It’s set on the Northumbrian moors, where a group of archaeology students and their professor set up camp, intent on living like iron-age Britons. Smart, cowed Silvie, 17, is dragged along by her father, a local bus driver with an obsessive interest in the past. As this tale of love and sacrifice runs its course, themes ranging from class to xenophobia are underpinned by a fierce sense of place and precise, poetic prose.
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