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Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

These disjointed stories of drug and alcohol addicts might seem hard-going to begin with. But you get to see the human face behind the statistics and, as the characters find their voice, the tales coalesce and won't let you go. Behind all the misery and hopelessness, a picture emerges: the spiral which links the opium grower, the soldier in the killing fields of Afghanistan and the addict. It all builds to a stunning canvas and makes for uncomfortable but unforgettable reading.

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The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson

I was completely captivated by this gentle and thoughtful novel about a young man and an elephant. Themes of sexuality, humanity and confinement along with a wonderfully evoked 18th century setting make this more than just another animal story or indeed, another love story. A remarkable and rewarding reading experience.

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Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill by Dimitri Verhulst

This quirky little tale of a widow's love for her husband, stray dogs, table football and classical music set in a village full of interesting characters is an absolute joy to read. Poignant and hugely entertaining, its sombre themes of loss and ageing are handled in a hugely agreeable way.

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Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne

It is difficult to do justice to this novel in a few lines. The story begins in Sri Lanka - beautiful, but torn apart by racial and civil strife and then moves to London where the Sri Lankans struggle to assimilate into an alien culture. A book with everything - great story, beautiful descriptions; the words glow like jewels on every page. The interesting and diverse characters are totally believable. All in all, a wonderful reading experience - but, be warned, have your box of tissues ready.

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A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven by Karl O Knausgaard

Odd, but enthralling description of the history and decline of angels as seen through the eyes of Antinous Bellori, who meets an angel as a boy. And then you get the cherubim guarding Eden from the evicted Adam and Eve, Cain murdering Abel, a drunken Noah after the flood, Abraham and the meeting at the oak trees of Mamre, Lot fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah and then leaping a few hundred years at least to Ezekiel and his dry bones. You don't have to know the Old Testament to enjoy this book, but you will know a lot about the Old Testament after reading it.

And none of this gives the story away. Although why it ends up in Norway is anyone's guess.

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