April 2022 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Jessica Bloom has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Young Mungo, Companion Piece, and After Everything You Did.

 

Young Mungo

The extraordinary, powerful second novel from the Booker prizewinning author of Shuggie Bain, Young Mungo is both a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James. Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in a hyper-masculine world.

They are caught between two of Glasgow’s housing estates where young working-class men divide themselves along sectarian lines, and fight territorial battles for the sake of reputation. They should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the doocot that James has built for his prize racing pigeons. As they begin to fall in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo must work hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold.

But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, with two strange men behind whose drunken banter lie murky pasts, he needs to summon all his inner strength and courage to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future. Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism, Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.

Images above: front cover of Young Mungo, Author Douglas Stuart

Companion Piece

The unmissable new work from Ali Smith, following the dazzling Man Booker-shortlisted Seasonal quartet

‘A story is never an answer. A story is always a question.’

Here we are in extraordinary times.

Is this history?

What happens when we cease to trust governments, the media, each other?

What have we lost?

What stays with us?

What does it take to unlock our future?

Following her astonishing quartet of Seasonal novels, Ali Smith again lights a way for us through the nightmarish now, in a vital celebration of companionship in all its forms.

‘Every hello, like every voice, holds its story ready, waiting.’

Images above: front cover Companion Piece, author Ali Smith

After Everything You Did

It ends with a car crash. Two women, both maimed, their long blonde hair matted with blood.It begins with waking up, in an unfamiliar hospital bed. Bright lights, nurses – and handcuffs.

She is told her name is Reeta Doe, and that she’s been in an accident. That she’s in Florida. That the FBI have been following her since Mississippi.

That she has brutally murdered two women. College girls, who look just like her. Two more are missing, and one survived.

Reeta recalls nothing. She cannot answer the questions; all the things they want her to explain are no more familiar to her than the prison she is taken to. Her only hope is a journalist named Carol, who can follow the trail of devastation Reeta left in her wake.

All the way back to Pine Ranch, and the only family she ever knew. An astonishing debut crime novel, exploring identity and nature versus nurture, with an unforgettable character at its heart. Perfect for fans of Girl A and The Girls.

Images above: front cover of After Everything You did, Author Stephanie Sowden

Jessica Bloom

Jessica Bloom is a bookseller at her family bookshop, ‘Bookcase London’, an independent bookshop open in Chiswick since 1993.

See Anna Klerfalk’s book choices from previous months here.

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