THE BEST nEw ficTion
Georgina Harding Bloomsbury £16.99
At the end of World War II, Charlie Ashe returns from fighting in the jungles of India and Burma a changed man. Haunted by memories of violence and the moral lines he has crossed, he takes his young wife to Norfolk, to the stark landscape where he grew up, and where he now intends to farm.
In somber, elegant prose, Harding wonderfully describes Charlie’s sense of dislocation, his emotional unease and the impossibility of communicating his complex feelings and fears to those closest to him.
Akwaeke Emezi Faber £10
A girl named Ada is born in Nigeria with a chorus of spirits in tow. The interventions of these unruly beings make for a choppy infancy, but their potency gains new heights when Ada is raped as a teenager after moving to America. In her scorching debut, Emezi turns to Igbo spirituality to make sense of multiple identities – Ada lies somewhere in between the male/female binary, and she is both a chaste Christian and a voracious lover. While it plunges into themes of suicide, self-harm and assault, Freshwater is ultimately an exhilarating fable about the healing power of self-knowledge. Gwen Smith