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The Quiddity of Will Self

A whirligig of a novel, one that refuses to sit down. There is invention, fun and exuberance in abundance. What sets out as an apparent mystery centred on the enigmatic Will Self Club and the death of Sylvie, soon heads off on its bizarre journey. If nothing else you have to admire the verve of this book. And not just for fans of Will Self.

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Almost English

If you were embarrassed by your family as a teenager then spare a thought for Marina driven to a disastrous experiment by her rather pathetic mother and a host of elderly Hungarian relatives. Funny and touching on one level, but at another this is an exploration of secrecy and the damage it can do to a family. Each member has her secrets - what might their unraveling bring? I was left wanting to know.

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Chasing the King of Hearts

Written in a series of brief, headed chapters, this is a novel of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, and its aftermath. Izolda is Jewish but doesn't look it, and expends a lot of effort trying to conceal her identity. Her husband is caught by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz, and Izolda sets out to find and release him, but eventually also ends up in the camp. The author manages to convey the horrors of that time, but in a superbly understated way.

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An entertaining satire on political corruption in 1980’s Mexico, where rampant inflation has stricken even middle-class families with extreme poverty. Narrated from the offbeat perspective of the adolescent Orestes, one of seven siblings fighting for his share of the meagre food rations, this picaresque coming-of-age story goes from the absurdist to the totally surreal, engaging the reader without sentimentality. Be prepared for strong language.

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