The Scottish Mail on Sunday

THE BEST NEW FICTION

- Maxine Harris

The Painter’s Friend Howard Cunnell

Picador £16.99 Working-class artist Terry Godden could have been a contender,

but now, reclusive and forgotten, he has rented a boat off an island inhabited by similarly damaged oddballs. When the island’s owner attempts to evict the community, Terry uses his art as a powerful weapon of protest.

Beautifull­y written in painterly prose, this is an intense, moving meditation on the role of art in our increasing­ly profit-focused society.

Simon Humphreys

Interviews With An Ape Felice Fallon Century £14.99

Set in an unspecifie­d war zone, this eyeopening novel centres on a gorilla who learns to use sign language to recount the distressin­g stories of how he and other animals in his zoo have been

poached and tortured. We also get to see the perspectiv­e of the perpetrato­rs, not merely villains but impoverish­ed victims whose survival depends on acting as middlemen in the chain of abuse. A thoughtful, audaciousl­y panoramic novel, told with a brio that belies the horror.

Anthony Cummins

Dream Girl Laura Lippman Faber £14.99

Lippman’s latest is a dark satire of the literary world and psychologi­cal thriller. Eminent novelist

Gerry Andersen is confined to bed with a broken leg in his Baltimore penthouse. In the middle of the night he receives phone calls from a woman claiming to be the inspiratio­n for his best-loved novel, Dream Girl. Could one of his ex-wives be gaslightin­g him? Maybe his oddly devoted nurse can help? Clever, funny and supremely readable.

John Williams

Hope Nicely’s Lessons For Life Caroline Day

Zaffre £12.99

Hope Nicely is a 25-year-old dog-walker living with her mum, Jenny. But

Hope isn’t your average millennial – she was born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and abandoned by her birth mother. Now, in an effort to unravel the mysteries of her beginnings, she’s decided to write a memoir. Step one: join a creative writing class. This touching, bighearted debut is funny, sensitive, and has lessons for us all about optimism

and perseveran­ce.

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