Leave the World Behind
Bloomsbury, £8.99, pp256
With all the trappings of a crime drama – mysterious strangers knock on the door and threaten to upend a family holiday – Alam’s fascinating novel throws the kitchen sink at genre convention, mutating into a locked-down, end-of-the-world disaster story, a social satire and a comment on racial inequality and climate change. Offering no easy answers but constantly posing questions, it was published during the height of the pandemic’s first wave. Now in paperback, it has lost none of its power.
The Breakup Monologues
Bloomsbury, £16.99, pp208
Spiralling out of comedian Wilby’s profound podcast series of the same name, The Breakup Monologues is a piercingly honest look at Wilby’s own relationship history, combined with hard-won (and frequently witty) life lessons from her guests as well as therapists, sociologists and scientists. Her breezy style makes this one of the more enjoyable – and frank – self-help books, complete with a breakup playlist chosen in part by ex-girlfriends, wonderful stories of post-separation rediscoveries of sexuality - and the general sense that heartbreak can lead to unexpected joy, too.
Diving for Pearls
Transworld, £14.99, pp352
A literary thriller set in Dubai among people with hidden pasts and carefully curated versions of who they would like to be is an interesting idea. And when an Emirati woman is found dead in the marina, it sets off an intricate clash of cultures as gilded lives collide with the desperation of migrant work. O’Connell’s debut does mainly reinforce the notion that expats are terribly entitled people but there’s nuance in the few characters desperately seeking a better, more meaningful life.
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