It would potentially be hypocritical of us to ask of you to support the book publishing industry without us doing the same, and so here’s what’s going ‘straight in our baskets’ for summer reading as the Comma team works from home. Note that a number of these titles are published by and available to buy directly from indie presses, or Waterstones/Blackwells/Gardners, during lockdown [linked below]. Alternatively reserve a copy at your local indie bookshop and collect when they re-open for business.
Zoe Turner, Publicity and Outreach Officer:
A food memoir that journeys between Wellington, Kota Kinabalu and Shanghai, tracing the constants in Powles’ life: eating and cooking, and the dishes that have come to define her. Through childhood snacks, family feasts, Shanghai street food and student dinners, she attempts to find a way back towards her Chinese-Malaysian heritage.
Bonus point – you can buy direct from the independent publisher, The Emma Press!
This Booker Prize-winning novel follows the lives and struggles of twelve different characters, black, British women, as they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Matsuda Aoko (tr. Polly Barton)
A contemporary feminist retelling of traditional ghost stories by one of Japan’s most exciting writers. Winner of a PEN Translates Award and only recently published (Feb 2020).
Another one you can buy direct from the independent publisher, Tilted Axis!
Becca Parkinson, Engagement Manager:
A debut short story collection described as ‘weird, dark and funny’ that explores modern life, quiet violence, grim secrets and what is left unsaid. I know Influx have great taste in short stories having read Eley Williams’s brilliant Attrib so can’t wait to get stuck in. You can buy direct from the indie publisher, or even better sign up for their subscription service!
A short novel that’s been on my TBR list for too long, and finally picked up thanks to a full Waterstones Plus points card. It explores the triangular relationship of Ellis and Michael, who have been inseparable since boyhood, and Annie, who walks into their lives, changing nothing and everything.
The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke (tr. Jamie Bullock)
On a recent work trip I realised I had neglected reading fiction in translation for some time, but happily being involved in the Translated Fiction Online Book Club organised by Peirene Press, I was gifted* a copy of this book. A modern German classic written just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, looking at how revolutions
start, father figures and family dynamics.
Sarah Cleave, Publishing Manager:
Much loved fiction author Evie Wyld returns with this much-anticipated new novel, charting the stories of three women, far apart in time but interlinked by the eponymous rock on the Scottish coast, exploring the emotional and physical restraint imposed on them by the men in their lives.
Little Eyes by Samantha Schweblin (tr. Megan McDowell)
Longlisted for the 2020 International Booker, in this new novel Schweblin uses her trademark spine-tingling an unsettling style to write about our interconnected world, and the collision of horror and humanity.
Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada (tr. Susan Bernofsky)
A brilliant Japanese novel following the story of three extraordinary bears – a diligent memoirist forced to flee Soviet Russia, a skilled dancer in an East Berlin circus and a baby bear born and raised in Berlin Zoo at the beginning of the 21st century.