In brief: Signal Fires; If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal; Love Marriage – review

A thoughtful novel about a family secret, an insightful investigation into animal intelligence and Monica Ali’s clever comedy of manners

Signal Fires

Dani Shapiro
Chatto & Windus, £16.99, pp288

On the way home from a party, 15-year-old Theo Wilf crashes his parents’ car, killing one of the passengers. His sister, Sarah, claims she was driving to protect her brother, and over the following 30 years, their mutual guilt affects the siblings in different ways. Meanwhile, their father befriends a neglected but intellectually prodigious boy obsessed with the cosmos. Shapiro’s tender and philosophical novel oscillates between timeframes and perspectives, exploring loneliness, penitence and the connectedness of human experience.

If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity

Justin Gregg
Hodder & Stoughton, £22, pp320

In a fascinating work of popular science, Gregg explores the enormous gulf between how humans and other animals experience the world. While we perceive our cognitive development and capacity for reasoning as advantages, Gregg persuasively argues that not only do they make us less happy, but can also lead to horrific acts such as genocide. Accessible and insightful, it’s a thought-provoking read.

Love Marriage

Monica Ali
Virago, £9.99, pp512 (paperback)

Twenty-six-year-old Yasmin still lives with her Muslim parents and is training to be a doctor to please her father. She is engaged to a white boyfriend, Joe, and finds herself caught between two cultures and wildly disparate maternal figures. Ali’s immense skill is evident in her exquisite social observations and beautifully rounded characterisations, in a compelling and compassionate comedy of manners about race, class and the weight of parental expectations.

• To order Signal Fires, If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal or Love Marriage, go to Delivery charges may apply


Hannah Beckerman

The GuardianTramp

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