Book choice for May

26a by Diana Evans [suggested by Hayley Jones]

front cover

Identical twins, Georgia and Bessi, live in the loft of 26 Waifer Avenue. It is a place of beanbags, nectarines and secrets, and visitors must always knock before entering. Down below there is not such harmony. Their Nigerian mother puts cayenne pepper on her Yorkshire pudding and has mysterious ways of dealing with homesickness; their father angrily roams the streets of Neasden, prey to the demons of his Derbyshire upbringing. Forced to create their own identities, the Hunter children build a separate universe. Older sister Bel discovers sex, high heels and organic hairdressing, the twins prepare for a flapjack empire, and baby sister Kemy learns to moonwalk for Michael Jackson. It is when the reality comes knocking that the fantasies of childhood start to give way. How will Georgia and Bessi cope in a world of separateness and solitude, and which of them will be stronger?

Diana Evans is the new literary voice of multicultural Britain. Her unforgettable first novel has all the heartbreak of Brick Lane and all the vibrancy of White Teeth, but a very special magic of its own.

 

Shortlisted for this month

We Need To Talk About Kevin [suggested by Louisa Morgan]

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Synopsis

Two years ago, Eva Khatchadourian's son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Because he was only fifteen at the time of the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is now in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York. Telling the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault? Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story while framing these horrifying tableaux of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy - the tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.

About the Author

Lionel Shriver is a novelist and has written for The Economist, the Wall Street Journal and the Philadelphia Enquirer, among other publications. She writes a weekly column for the Guardian. Born in the US, she has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast. She is married to a jazz drummer and is based in London and New York. Her earlier novels include The Female of the Species, Ordinary Decent Criminals, A Perfectly Good Family and Game Control. We Need to Talk About Kevin is her seventh novel.

My Name Is Asher Lev [suggested by Sue Owens]

My Name Is Asher Lev

Synopsis

The book charts Asher Lev growing up in a very strict Hassidic community, endowed with a God given artistic talent that is entirely at odds with the beliefs of his family and his people. The conundrum that Lev faces is that he is at all times a devout and scholastically outstanding Hassid, and yet at the same time a brilliant artist, who initially tries to deny his talent before growing to embrace it. The quality of this book is that it shows equal sympathy for, on the one hand, Lev's artistic journey and on the other hand, his religious struggle. Just as importantly, Potok brilliantly depicts the context of the community and family. In particular, as with other Potok books, the father-son relationship is lovingly drawn, showing both the pride and pain that arises here.

About the Author

See his Wikipedia entry