RaveiNews (UK)Julia Armfield’s haunting debut novel deftly weaves a love story into creeping horror. Alternating between Leah’s account of the fateful expedition and Miri’s of its aftermath, Armfield sets two timelines hurtling towards each other as the text approaches its central question: what happened down there? ... For all its magic realism, Armfield’s debut sticks closer to what life is made of than most, mapping the grim monotony of existence, the undignified and the humdrum, as much as it does the mythical side of Leah’s story ... Exhausting and exhilarating by turns, Our Wives Under the Sea is a quiet triumph, but beware – this unsettling, saltwater-soaked story seeps deeper than you think.
PositiveiNews (UK)These nine stories of sex and trauma tread a fine line between self-parody and self-awareness ... Taddeo’s anti-heroines may feel a little adolescent at times, but they are as desperate as they are self-obsessed and petulant. I did find myself rolling my eyes at the author’s more experimental sentences ... When not overwriting, Taddeo can deliver turns of phrase so perfect they feel like they’ve been on the tip of your tongue for ever ... Taddeo’s characters are such bundles of daddy issues and self-hatred as to verge on cartoonish. But it is lazy – not to mention reductive – to read characters who are venomous and vapid, and dismiss their author in kind ... While Taddeo’s characters often embody the antithesis of mainstream feminist consensus – terrified of ageing, striving for male approval at the expense of other women – they offer an honest picture of how it feels to move through the world as a woman. And what could be more feminist than that?
RaveiNews (UK)Packed with compelling characters and thrilling plot twists, Love Marriage is surely poised to be just as big [as Brick Lane] – and, arriving a decade after her last novel,it is more than worth the wait ... Once again the book is a brilliant exploration of the complexities of human connection ... A backdrop of division proves counter-intuitively fitting for a novel about unity – between cultures, families and couples. Even as its ending looks poised to atomise its characters and their connections, Love Marriage’s final note is one of hope and togetherness.
J. R. Thorp
Positivei (UK)JR Thorp’s vivid debut novel gives voice to one of fiction’s most conspicuously absent women ... In Thorp’s lyrical novel, Learwife looks back over her past while trying to navigate an uncertain future. Slowly, she unravels the mystery of why she was disposed of in the first place ... lofty themes are bolstered by the texture of Thorp’s writing ... This makes it something of a Marmite read. Whether or not you like the book will depend on your threshold for olde-worlde syntax and compound word metaphors ... While Thorp’s distinctive style is heady and evocative for the most part...some Learwife lines remind me more of the King James Bible than of the Bard ... Learwife is a formidable character, yet she has still struggled to be heard over the din of a medieval man’s world. Listen closely and you will discern the indignant, timeless refrain of a woman ignored, displaced, forgotten.
RaveiNews (UK)... frighteningly elegant, darkly funny, horrifyingly tender ... this remarkable debut novel surveys parenthood through the prism of a parable: here, its unthinking obligations are pushed to their limits ... Chouette’s magical-realist text mirrors that slippery ambiguity; often, it is hard to decipher Tiny’s descriptions of how something feels from how something is ... Like all the best fables, Chouette locates a current of human darkness pulsing just below its surface. Filtered through Tiny’s hallucinatory descriptions and vivid musicality, Chouette’s outbursts (and her, um, taste for blood) make for a synaesthetic reading experience – this is prose to sink into, more than buoyant enough to take a reader’s full weight ... Delivering a flagrant \'screw you\' to some of society’s favourite lies – that motherhood is painless; that pain is somehow noble or clarifying; that healthfulness is the same as goodness – Oshetsky has produced a troubling triumph that is brave enough to leave its biggest questions unanswered.
Laurent Bienet tr. Sam Taylor
PositiveiNews... characteristically ambitious, brilliant, exhausting and enchanting by turns ... Combining all the pleasure of a period romp with vital questions about our shared origin stories, Civilisations takes on nothing less than an alternative history of the modern world ... Binet expertly dangles his own fiction just a perspective away from the ones we learn at school ... What is \'history\' if not a story told with such conviction, he seems to ask. Framed thus, Civilisations is a triumph: question and answer in one.
Leila Slimani tr. Sam Taylor
RaveiNews (UK)Her latest novel takes things more slowly. After all, Slimani has plenty of time— is the first in a trilogy ... The prose reaches beyond the saga’s domestic setting to illuminate questions of politics and power ... This is writing that uses a microscope to examine the cosmos and a telescope to survey a family meal. It is highly enjoyable, and dazzlingly fresh.
RaveiNews (UK)While readers familiar with Luhan’s (admittedly obscure) text will enjoy spotting overlaps, there is nothing to be lost in approaching Second Place on its own terms ... John Berger’s proclamation that men look at women while women watch themselves being looked at resounds throughout Second Place. While Cusk never falters, her characters do little else – and for M, striving to make sense of life through someone else’s eyes, L’s perspective starts to seem more hindrance than help ... Whether or not it is used here in faithful homage to that parent text, the novel’s confessional letter form is as delicious for Cusk’s readers as it is frustrating for her protagonist.