Zucchini by A. Naji Bakhti
May 20, 2018
White Bear by Eloise CC Shepherd
May 28, 2018

May Reads

Two themes emerge in this month’s reads: race and the British ‘establishment’. Enjoy.



"Now a three-part BBC adaptation, this is timely reminder of dangers of establishment – specifically Old Etonian – entitlement (looking at you: Boris, Jacob and Dave). And proof it’s not just contemporary politics that can out-do fiction. Simultaneously funny and awful: Thorpe was serious about wanting Norman Scott killed, even if he wasn’t willing to do the job himself. The most sympathetic character is Peter Bessell, a man with exceedingly poor judgment." - James Kennedy

A Very English Scandal by John Preston


"A whirlwind rant of a book with such a strong voice, that tackles themes of racism and identity with absurd humour and a fresh perspective. At times I was laughing out loud, yet is an emotional story very well told, a rumination on American culture and just a really interesting contemporary read." - Kat Vik

The Sellout by Paul Beatty


"Like the author’s work: concise, precise and evocative – it manages to cover much ground in its 171 pages. We visit the Edinburgh of her youth, the New York of her early success and the Tuscany of her later years – all in the company of Muriel, writer and friend. The private person – daughter, mother, lover, companion – remains elusive. Which, you suspect, is how she would have wanted it." - James Kennedy

Appointment in Arezzo: A friendship with Muriel Spark by Alan Taylor


"Set in South London, 2008, just after Obama’s historic election, two couples find themselves on the brink of crisis. Taking its title from the John Legend track, this is a moving novel about ordinary people living ordinary lives but wanting something more." - Louise Hare

Ordinary People by Diana Evans


"Sly as ever, Spark speculates as to what became of Lord ‘Lucky’ Lucan, the Old Etonian murderer of Sandra Rivett and would be wife-killer. Did rich establishment friends aid and abet his flight from justice? A slim volume that still manages to be a probing enquiry into the nature of identity. A writer who acted the part to the full wondering if we aren’t all just role-playing." - James Kennedy

Aiding & Abetting by Muriel Spark


"What does it really mean to be British, especially for people of colour, in our modern society? Afua Hirsch’s personal and informative investigation into what makes a person ‘British’ is a must read." - Louise Hare

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch


"Kit de Waal's international best-seller and debut novel of 2016 is written in a raw, honest style that perfectly resonates with the mind-set of its ten-year-old protagonist as he negotiates the flawed but well-meaning world of foster care against a backdrop of 1980s urban racial tension. Grieving the loss of his baby brother as he comes to terms with a new kind of family Leon takes the reader with him on his uplifting journey towards love and belonging. " - Stella Klein

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal


"Although Davis has some nice things to say about Owen Jones, this short book is far better argued than Jones’s ‘The Establishment’. If you’ve been wondering just what has gone wrong in the UK over the last 30 years, this contains some of the answers." - James Kennedy

Reckless opportunists: Elites at the end of the Establishment by Aeron Jones