The most significant development on the blog in July was the Sunday Story Society. This is a book club for short stories, which I’m hosting here every two weeks. We’ve already discussed Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box”; this Sunday, we’ll start talking about Rotimi Babatunde’s Caine Prize-winning story “Bombay’s Republic“. Take a look at our schedule for the rest of the year.
One of my favourite reads this month – and of 2012 so far – was Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo, a Senegalese folktale extended and spliced with chaos theory. Gav and Simon of The Readers podcast invited me on to discuss it, and I also posted a review of the novel.
Another candidate for ‘book of the month’ – although completely different – was Keith Ridgway’s Hawthorn & Child. Where Lord’s novel revolves around storytelling, Ridgway’s is the opposite: an anti-detective novel that fragments as you read it, and where all attempts to impose narrative on the world fail.
Katie Kitamura’s The Longshot was a great debut: an intense study of a mixed martial artist and his trainer, pinning their hopes on one last fight. Other fine debuts came in the shape of Kerry Hudson’s coming-of-age tale, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma; and Katy Darby’s Victorian-set fusion of melodrama and social commentary, The Whores’ Asylum.
The Madman of Freedom Square by Hassan Blasim and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain were a couple of excellent books – one a story collection, one a novel – offering perspectives on different aspects of the Iraq War. I reviewed them in a double feature.
This month, I also reviewed Stuart Evers’ If This Is Home; Xiaolu Guo’s UFO in Her Eyes; Nikita Lalwani’s The Village; Toby Litt’s Ghost Story David Logan’s Half-Sick of Shadows (at The Zone); Rosy Thornton’s Ninepins; and Benjamin Wood’s The Bellwether Revivals.