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Homesick by Eshkol Nevo

At first you might think that this group of characters share a neighbourhood and nothing else, but as the author brings us inside their experiences, you can't help but see the connections instead of the differences. This is no happy ever after fairytale, but a story where relationships gain strength because the people in them choose to work at finding ways to be happy together. It's a warm and sunny read, which builds a richly textured big picture from the details of everyday life.

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The Truth Commissioner by David Park

Episodes from the lives of four very different men weave together to reveal what happened to disappeared Belfast teenager, Connor Walshe. These are men guilty of corruption and brutality, but I was quickly drawn into tender sympathy with all four. Their deeply personal vulnerabilities, strengths and desires will determine whether Connor's family will finally hear the truth.

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The Dirty South by Alex Wheatle

You might guess a novel of Brixton, drugs and crime would be a recital of gang violence and race politics. Yes, the life-on-the-street background is there, but from the start you are inside Dennis's head. It's his awareness of loving relationships that others are deprived of, his romantic longing for true love, and his agonising over taking revenge for his friend Noel's death, that make him much more than a two-dimensional badman.

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Little Hut of Leaping Fishes by Chiew-Siah Tei

I quickly got used to the unusual, staccato style of prose in this book as I became totally immersed in the life of Mingzhi. Bound from birth by filial responsibilities, he silently shies away from his Opium-growing grandfather, hoping that his education will allow him a way out, a new opportunity to search for truth and justice. This coming of age family saga brings to life late 19th century China, where the new and frightening Western influences clash violently with centuries of tradition, ritual and expectation.

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