Quick book picks for May

A new month means a whole new bunch of books coming out (probably more books than sun coming out, at least in the UK). To help you choose what to read, here are some of my favourites coming out this month, with quick summaries and links to reviews.

  • Little Gold by Allie Rogers – A moving and life-affirming tale of growing up different in Brighton in the 1980s.
  • House of Names by Colm Toíbín – A retelling of the House of Agamemnon in modern prose, with tense character relationships and intense revenge.
  • Girlhood by Cat Clarke – A fantastically tense YA novel about friendship and grief in a Scottish boarding school, with a gripping and funny narrative.
  • New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – The next in the Hogarth Shakespeare series is an unforgettable retelling of Othello in a single day in a Washington schoolyard.
  • Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallet – A time-spanning novel about changes and connections, set mostly in the grounds of an old house after the Restoration and during the Cold War.
  • The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi – A darkly comic and characteristic new novella from Hanif Kureishi, trapped in the head of an increasingly bed-bound aging filmmaker.
  • Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee – A powerful memoir of a trans man dealing with ideas of masculinity in the wake of violence.
  • I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland – The female-led modern version of 80s and 90s alternative American satirical fiction like American Psycho, exposing darkness in an industry full of drugs, sex, and battles for the top (review coming soon).
  • The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace – An enchanting story about a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in Liverpool Lime Street station and has never known where she truly comes from.

The Nothing

The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi

The Nothing is Hanif Kureishi’s new novella, a characteristic piece of stream of consciousness fiction about an ill old filmmaker, Waldo, his younger wife, Zee, and the younger man and almost friend Eddie who he believes Zee is having an affair with. Written in Kureishi’s distinctive style, it is a bitesize tale of old age and helplessness combined with lust and revenge.

Waldo is a classic bitter Kureishi character with a left wing past, blunt and sex obsessed, certain that he is being taken advantage of. Through the stream of consciousness style and supplemented by Waldo’s attempts to record Zee and Eddie’s conversations, the novella is an exercise in being trapped in your own head. 

Its narrative focuses on Waldo’s attempts to get revenge on Eddie despite being confined to his flat and much of the material is very darkly comic, not necessarily to everybody’s taste. However, The Nothing feels like a microcosm of Kureishi’s work and will no doubt delight his fans.