Quick book picks for September

Quite a short selection this month, but there’s two novels with clear connections to the modern political and media world, a look at female friendship and perspective, and a fantastic book of poetry by a young poet that tells stories of love and personal struggle in snappy and concise ways. As ever, links in titles to longer reviews.

  • The Golden House by Salman Rushdie – Rushdie’s new novel tells the story of an American immigrant real estate tycoon and his children with a background of modern politics and culture. Highly referential, it is a novel that understands fact and fiction aren’t all they seem.
  • The Beast by Alexander Starritt – The target of comic mockery is the British tabloid press, in this novel about scaremongering and prejudice that follows Jeremy Underwood, a subeditor for The Daily Beast, as he breaks what seems to be a story about a terror threat.
  • The Burning Girl by Claire Messud – Through the eyes of main character Julia, using hindsight to reflect upon the breakdown of her friendship with troubled Cassie, Messud creates a novel about reliability and perception, and whether people are how we think we see them.
  • Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward – A collection of poetry about growing up, making mistakes, and finding love that will strike a chord with teenagers and adults with its clever and emotional lines and sparsely told stories.

Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Poetry that strikes: Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Bone is a striking and moving collection of poetry that focuses on growing up, love, sexuality, being different, and working through inner thoughts and feelings in stark ways. Daley-Ward’s poems vary from telling vivid stories in a tiny space (‘the not quite love’) and addressing concerns like growing up religious in a concise, direct way (‘liking things’) to longer, heartbreaking stories like ‘some kind of man’. There are poems that will strike a chord with teenagers and adults about love not being with the right people (‘emergency warning’, ‘I’ll admit it, I’m drawn to the wolves’) and poems that can offer advice, optimism, and blunt suggestions of regret (‘things it can take twenty years and a bad liver to find out’, ‘mental health’).

Her writing is distinctive and offers stark stories and emotion. Many of the poems in the book have particular endings, a couple of lines or so that hit you right in the chest. A number of pieces near the end also consider the act of writing poetry and where creation and truth come from, highlighting storytelling and using words to work through difficult things. It is hard to talk about Bone without wanting to go through and point out the best lines in everything; it is a collection of poetry to savour in its blunt emotion and careful expression.