I want Crescent Waves to remain a place for escapism during the current climate and while I am definitely not advocating avoiding the news (it's really important we all educate ourselves as best as we can), I want to offer a space where people can read about something else for a while. That said, our independent bookshops need our help more than ever right now what with many of them having to close their doors and so this month I've made a conscious effort to buy books from my wishlist in order to support them and I'm hoping to encourage you to do the same. After all, books provide an excellent source of entertainment in times like these!
This month’s purchases are made up of a combination of books from the Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist and the International Booker Longlist, as well as one book which has been on my radar for a while and a pre-order that I simply can’t wait to be published.
Chia-Chia Lin - The Unpassing
In Chia-Chia Lin's debut novel, The Unpassing, we meet a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. The father, hardworking but beaten down, is employed as a plumber and contractor, while the loving, strong-willed, unpredictably emotional mother holds the house together. When ten-year-old Gavin contracts meningitis at school, he falls into a deep, nearly fatal coma. He wakes a week later to learn that his younger sister, Ruby, was infected too. She did not survive. Routine takes over for the grieving family, with the siblings caring for one another as they befriend the neighbouring children and explore the surrounding woods, while distance grows between the parents as each deals with the loss alone. When the father, increasingly guilt-ridden after Ruby's death, is sued over an improperly installed water well that gravely harms a little boy, the chaos that follows unearths what really happened to Ruby.
Shokoofeh Azar - The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree
Set in Iran in the decade following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this moving, richly imagined novel is narrated by the ghost of Bahar, a thirteen-year-old girl, whose family is compelled to flee their home in Tehran for a new life in a small village, hoping in this way to preserve both their intellectual freedom and their lives. But they soon find themselves caught up in the post-revolutionary chaos that sweeps across their ancient land and its people. Bahar’s mother, after a tragic loss, will embark on a long, eventful journey in search of meaning. Through her unforgettable characters, Azar weaves a timely and timeless story that juxtaposes the beauty of an ancient, vibrant culture with the brutality of an oppressive political regime.
Jing-Jing Lee - How We Disappeared
Jing-Jing Lee’s novel is set in Singapore, 1942 as Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore. After a village is ransacked only three survivors remain, one of them a tiny child. In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. In the year 2000, her mind is still haunted by her experiences there, but she has long been silent about her memories of that time. It takes twelve-year-old Kevin, and the mumbled confession he overhears from his ailing grandmother, to set in motion a journey into the unknown to discover the truth.
Jacqueline Woodson - Red at the Bone
It's 2001, the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer, Melody's mother, for her own ceremony - a celebration that ultimately never took place. Unfurling the history of Melody's parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they've paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives - even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
Sophie Mackintosh - Blue Ticket
Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you've taken your ticket, there is no going back. But what if the life you're given is the wrong one? Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood.