June 2023 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Translation State, The Trial and The Wind Knows my Name.

Translation State – Ann Leckie

The first science fiction novel in six years from a writer who won the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA and Arthur C. Clarke awards with their debut alone, Translation State is a grand-scale space opera set in an intricate far future that explores some of humanity’s most pressing themes and issues as only the best sf can.

Qven always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else is the type of behaviour that results in elimination.

But Qven rebels, and in doing so their path collides with those of two others – Enae, a reluctant diplomat hunting down a fugitive who has been missing for over 200 years and Reet, an adopted mechanic who is increasingly desperate to learn about his genetic roots. As they come together and the long-standing treaty between humans and the Presger hangs in the balance, the decisions of all three will have ripple effects across the stars.

Masterfully merging space adventure and mystery, and a poignant exploration about relationships and belonging, Translation State is a triumphant story set in Leckie’s celebrated Imperial Radch universe.

Image above: Translation State, Author Anne Leckie

The Trial – Rob Rinder

Aside from being a jet-setting international celebrity and television personality, Rob Rinder is also a practicing criminal barrister, so you’d think that having decided to add another string to his bow, writing a gripping, funny and ridiculously entertaining legal thriller would be something he’d be pretty good at – and you’d be right.


When hero policeman Grant Cliveden dies from a poisoning in the Old Bailey, it threatens to shake the country to its core. The evidence points to one man. Jimmy Knight has been convicted of multiple offences before and defending him will be no easy task.

Not least because this is trainee barrister Adam Green’s first case. But it will quickly become clear that Jimmy Knight is not the only person in Cliveden’s past with an axe to grind. The only thing that’s certain is that this is a trial which will push Adam – and the justice system itself – to the limit.

Image above: The Trial front cover, author Rob Rinder

The Wind Knows My Name – Isabel Allende

A moving and powerful new novel from the author of House Of The Spirits, one of the most critically acclaimed books of all time, whose career has spanned four decades and essentially makes her a living literary legend.

No, we’re not lost. The wind knows my name. And yours too.

Vienna, 1938. Samuel Adler is five years old when his father disappears during Kristallnacht – the night their family loses everything. As her child’s safety seems ever harder to guarantee, Samuel’s mother secures a spot for him on the last Kindertransport train out of Nazi-occupied Austria to England. He boards alone, carrying nothing but a change of clothes and his violin.

Eight decades later, Anita Diaz and her mother board another train, fleeing looming danger in El Salvador and seeking refuge in the United States. But their arrival coincides with the new family separation policy, and seven-year-old Anita finds herself alone at a camp in Nogales. She escapes her tenuous reality through her trips to Azabahar, a magical world of the imagination. Meanwhile, Selena Duran, a young social worker, enlists the help of a successful lawyer in hopes of tracking down Anita’s mother.

Intertwining past and present, The Wind Knows My Name tells the tale of these two unforgettable characters, both in search of family and home. It is both a testament to the sacrifices that parents make, and a love letter to the children who survive the most unfathomable dangers – and never stop dreaming.

Image above: The Wind Knows My Name front cover, author Isabel Allende

Dan Coombes

Dan Coombes is a bookseller at Bookcase, an independent bookshop open in Chiswick since 1993. A specialist in science fiction, Dan has been a bookseller for 15 years.

Bookcase is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme – see their current discounts for Chiswick Calendar readers here: Bookcase Club Card offer.

See all The Chiswick Calendar’s previous monthly book reviews here.

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See also: Winning photographs in the 2023 Bedford Park Festival Photography competition

See also: Shakespeare in Love Q&A with director John Madden at Chiswick Cinema

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