THESE DIVIDING WALLS
FRAN COOPER (HACHETTE, $34.99)
This is a Paris few tourists see – a rundown apartment block in an unfashionable part of the city with disparate residents struggling through a heatwave. First-time novelist Fran Cooper portrays the apartment block as a microcosm of the city: rising political tensions, racism, religion and the threat of terrorism. Into this powder keg comes Edward, a young Englishman escaping his own tragedy who gets involved in the secrets, loneliness and loss of the inhabitants. Cooper sensitively unpicks the aftermath of a terrorist attack at Notre Dame, including the violent reaction of the Far Right and the drift into extremism for those looking for someone to blame. But the novel’s real strength is its characters, ordinary people who are infuriating, heartbreaking and utterly believable.