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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Prudence Wade

5 new books to read this week

Charles Frazier – author of Cold Mountain – is back with his latest offering…


1. The Trackers by Charles Frazier is published in hardback by Fourth Estate, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

With The Trackers, Charles Frazier, author of American Civil War tale Cold Mountain, for the first time sets his sights beyond the American South, with a story set across the country in the Great Depression. Narrator Val has travelled from home in Virginia to rural Wyoming to paint a mural as part of a programme to give work to struggling artists. His hosts are wealthy rancher and aspiring politician John Long, and his wife Eve. When Eve goes missing, Long enlists Val as one of several trackers sent to find her, travelling to Florida, San Francisco, Seattle and many places in between, as Frazier evokes the misery and marvels of the era – from the menacing danger of the Hoovervilles to the sparkling public works projects. It is a vivid tale, in which the search for Eve becomes the search for America’s promise during one of its darkest periods.7/10(Review by Ian Parker)

2. Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead is published in hardback by Fleet, priced £20 (ebook £11.99). Available now

Crook Manifesto is a highly-charged follow-up to Harlem Shuffle from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead. In this instalment, the action moves from the 1960s to the 1970s, and is again centred around furniture store owner Ray Carney – previously embroiled in criminal activity, he’s been straight for a few years, but finds himself lured back to the underworld. The book is in three different parts, each telling a different story in miniature, from Carney trying to get his daughter Jackson 5 tickets, and finding himself captive to a crooked cop, to his old friend Pepper hunting for a missing starlet. Whitehead’s writing is colourful and captivating – the characters jump off the page, second only to the bold setting of Harlem. Yet similar to the first book, there’s perhaps a bit too much going on – every second page seems to have fleeting mentions of a new character or side story, meaning it’s easy to lose the thread of things. A fun read, but would benefit from more focus.7/10(Review by Prudence Wade)

3. 73 Dove Street by Julie Owen Moylan is published in hardback by Michael Joseph, priced £16.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Three women, one house: 73 Dove Street, a place of broken hearts and shattered dreams. Edie Budd is no exception. Bearing a suitcase stuffed with secrets and the scars of tragedy, she is determined that her stay in 73 Dove Street will be the first stop on the road to a new life. But as she grows closer to the enigmatic Tommie and the strait-laced Phyllis, she discovers that breaking away from her past may not be as easy as she first believed. Brimming with 1950s detail and atmosphere, 73 Dove Street is a pacy and evocative account of the struggles facing women of that era – struggles which are not so far removed from those which still resonate through society today. Edie is an authentic and well-drawn character who invites empathy; Tommie is the embodiment of destructive habits and frustrated love. Their individual journeys merge in with seeming inevitability, and whilst the conclusion was not as dramatic or shattering as the initial premise suggests, it’s still a satisfying end to an enjoyable read.7/10(Review by Hannah Colby)


4. Art Monsters: Unruly Bodies In Feminist Art by Lauren Elkin is published by Chatto & Windus, priced £25 (ebook £12.99). Available now

Mixing examples of conceptual and performance art trailblazers from the 1960s and 1970s with a fiery personal polemic, Lauren Elkins’ Art Monsters makes the case for a new approach to the problem of how to represent the female body in art. Elkins believes the answer lies in a “monstrous” method of women’s storytelling that rejects tired historical tropes and binary assumptions. Calling the works she chronicles – from Carolee Schneemann’s body art to Kathy Acker’s expletive-laden tirades – controversial risks emphasising the central point Elkin is making: that such opinions are the consequence of centuries of viewing art through patriarchal eyes. It is tempting to see Elkins’ proposal as a potent antidote to so-called ‘cancel culture’, and she does not disguise the view that elements of radical feminism are often complicit in the problems facing female artists. It’s a heavy read at times, and one might question the absence of references to the likes of Tracey Emin, whose work surely defines the “monstrous” as much as anyone, but this is not a book for taking the easy route – and is all the more rewarding for it.8/10(Review by Mark Staniforth)

Children’s book of the week

5. Ten-Word Tiny Tales by Joseph Coelho and friends is published in hardback by Walker Books, priced £14.99 (ebook £14.99). Available August 3

Don’t be fooled by this picture book. It’s not for toddlers, but children aged seven upwards – and it’s not exactly a storybook either. It’s a collection of the shortest of short stories. Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho’s 10-Word Tiny Tales create imaginative worlds – each pictured by a different illustrator. But these aren’t cosy worlds – there are skulls, burials, rogue hamsters and bears riding snowmobiles. And it’s not for readers but for creative imaginative storytellers and illustrators. Coelho crams whole worlds into his 10 words, but also exhorts his readers to fill in the gaps – to take the 10-word stories and fill in new beginnings, middles and ends. He sets readers a story lengthening challenge. But it doesn’t have to be words, there’s encouragement to draw or tell stories too. It will be great for firing the imagination for children to fill in the spaces. It won’t suit every child, but for the right child it will open doorways into new worlds. Give this to your kids and they’ll hopefully be inspired to start telling you stories from the prompts provided at bedtime.7/10(Review by Bridie Pritchard)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros2. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell3. Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong4. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang5. Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs6. A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles7. The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook For Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson8. The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer9. The Ghost Ship by Kate Mosse10. The List by Yomi Adegoke(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. Beyond The Story: 10-Year Record of BTS by BTS & Myeongseok Kang2. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken3. Pax by Tom Holland4. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell5. What About Men? by Caitlin Moran6. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy7. The Wager by David Grann8. Thunderclap by Laura Cumming9. Earth by Chris Packham & Andrew Cohen10. The Future Of Geography by Tim Marshall(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell2. Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor3. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken4. Atomic Habits by James Clear5. The Trial by Rob Rinder6. Mythos by Stephen Fry7. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman8. Outlive by Peter Attia & Bill Gifford9. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien10. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith(Compiled by Audible)

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