In brief: Dandelions; Good Reasons to Die; Notes on Grief – reviews

An erudite Italian memoir, a suspenseful Chornobyl-set thriller, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s moving essay about the death of her father


Thea Lenarduzzi
Fitzcarraldo Editions, £12.99, pp288

This eloquent combination of family history and memoir, underpinned by musings on migration, homesickness and fractured identities, begins with Lenarduzzi sitting at her elderly Nonna’s kitchen table in rural Italy asking for stories. Nonna’s life takes us to mid-20th-century Manchester and Sheffield, and the “many Italys” – some unpalatable – that exist in her clan and the country’s consciousness. Lenarduzzi, “an archivist of family lore”, allows herself to disappear down any number of fascinating blind alleys on this erudite and wise journey of discovery.

Good Reasons to Die

Morgan Audic (translated by Sam Taylor)
Mountain Leopard, £18.99, pp352

Set in the Chornobyl exclusion zone and packed with various lower-level Ukrainian and Russian conflicts, Sam Taylor’s translation of French writer Audic’s 2019 thriller is clearly timely. The author knows his way around a good manhunt too – a mutilated body is found near the infamous power plant and it’s up to a dying Moscow police officer to try to find (and execute) the killer. The geopolitical contexts that could have given the book real intrigue lack nuance, but it’s still a suspenseful, atmospheric ride.

Notes on Grief

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4th Estate, £10, pp96 (paperback)

How to make sense of the death of a parent? As Adichie grasps for the one thing she does understand, language, in the immediate aftermath of her father’s passing, she likens the feeling to a “vicious uprooting… a cruel kind of education”. Initially, in this remarkable diary of her bereavement, Adichie cannot bring herself to use the past tense to describe her dad. That changes by the closing pages, but in between, the author paints a picture of a brilliant, graceful man and her adoration of him. Angry, moving and lovely.

• To order Dandelions, Good Reasons to Die or Notes on Grief go to Delivery charges may apply


Ben East

The GuardianTramp

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