october-reads

September Recommended Reads


A new school term brings some more reading suggestions from the MIROnline Team. We hope you enjoy our selections.

James

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

"Kushner’s latest looks at the US prison system in uncompromising detail. Romy Hall is beginning two consecutive life sentences for murder, stemming from her previous life as a dancer at The Mars Room, a San Francisco strip club. Outside in the real world, her young son has been left in the care of her estranged mother. A darker version of Orange is the New Black." - Louise Hare

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

"An entertaining historical crime thriller set in the thirties, against the back drop of the second world war. I had some reservations about the way she structured the story, but the comic mafia sections are great. The book is worth reading not least for its scarily authentic description of deep sea diving." - Elinor Johns

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

"A Shirley Jackson-like unease permeates Fuller’s third novel. The year is 1968 and everything feels off – the characters, their emotions, and the setting: a war-ravaged English country house that functions as a character in its own right. It becomes clear that Fran, our narrator, doesn’t see the world as most people do; we can’t fully rely on her take on events. Nor can we trust those of Peter and Cara, the glamourous couple she befriends as she seeks to document the architectural features in the house’s gone-to-seed grounds. A page-turner that keeps you guessing to the end." - James Kennedy

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

"Very much grounded in reality, in that the fictional lives of her characters unfold among the very real events of recent history, Winman revels in magical realism as the narrative of this book takes on the aspect of a fairy-tale. Her imagery is delightful – a clever combination of the literal and the metaphorical." - Alison Hitchcock

A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

"In the aftermath of WW2, Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are abandoned by their parents and left in the care of their mysterious lodger, The Moth. Their Putney home becomes a haven for a gang of misfits, friends of The Moth, and Nathaniel realises that there is more to their parent’s disappearance than meets the eye. This masterful novel follows him into adulthood as he tries to uncover deep family secrets." - Louise Hare

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Reservoir 13 by John McGregor

"The disappearance of a visiting 13-year-old girl gives us entry into the lives of the people of a Peak District village and we follow their lives over the next thirteen years. There are occasional echoes from the original disappearance but it’s just one story among many. What grabs the attention in a deeply humane and sympathetic account is McGregor’s attention to the daily realities of ordinary lives; children grow up, old people die and the reader is moved. Switching seamlessly between a third person voice that’s sometimes ironic but never cold and the voices of the villagers themselves, this is a wonderful portrait of community." - James Kennedy

Reservoir 13 by John McGregor

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

"The novel spans the narrator's childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Every relationship is manipulative, every character flawed, yet Smith makes each one likeable and the story compelling. She deals with the big issues of prejudice against race, class, gender and cultural ignorance. It manages to be both satirical and moving, especially in its treatment of the complex friendship between the two central girls." - Elinor Johns

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Autumn by Ali Smith

"The playful linguistic touches. The deft melding of thinking and being and dreaming. The portrait of Brexit Britain. The sense of the autumnal. The portrait of an unconventional relationship – daughter / elderly neighbour – which supersedes all others. The ease with which Ali Smith writes. There are many reasons to love this novel and I particularly enjoyed her memorialisation of lost artists and forgotten lives: recovering what others hadn’t noticed was lost. Read it in a day and your life will be richer." - James Kennedy

Autumn by Ali Smith