Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson, Corsair, £14.99 (ebook £8.99). Review by Kate Whiting
Katherine is virtually an orphan – her mother has died of cancer and her busy war correspondent father is often absent. To spite him, she decides to disappear, travelling to Berlin on a whim, having overheard the name of a man who’s recently split from his girlfriend there. Convinced she’s being sent celestial ‘messages’, she allows her interpretation of a series of random encounters to shape where she goes, a journey that takes her through Russia to Svalbard in Norway. En route she acts out conversations with her father – and her daydreams start to slowly merge with reality until the reader’s left questioning what’s fact and what’s fiction.
John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James. Oneworld, £8.99 (ebook £6.29). Review by Adam Weymouth
Ten years before winning the Man Booker Prize, Marlon James published his debut novel in Jamaica, now available for the first time in the UK. It tells the story of two priests, Pastor Bligh and Apostle York, at war over the soul of the congregation of the small town of Gibbeah. As a study of radicalisation and of how trauma plays out down the generations, it feels contemporary and necessary, exploring how religion can be used as justification for mankind’s deepest urges. The patois lends it authenticity, but it feels too two-dimensional, too superficial. It’s good, but Marlon James has better to come.
Richie Benaud: Those Summers Of Cricket 1930-2015, Hardie Grant Books, £20. Review by James Cleary
This beautifully produced publication offers a chronological snapshot of the cricketing legend as player, journalist, commentator and innovator. Short passages of first-hand reflection, stories and snippets pepper the book, with cuttings also giving some context to his achievements. His rise to Australia’s captaincy is noted, as well as his achievements in being the first man to hit 2,000 runs and take 200 wickets in Test cricket. There’s more nuggets amidst some stunning photography, including his move into paid journalism – at the sixth time of asking – and his role in helping transform the game with World Series Cricket.
Raymond Briggs: Notes From The Sofa, Unbound, £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Review by Rachel Howdle
Over the last four years, The Snowman author has turned his hand to writing regular column Notes From The Sofa for The Oldie. Collected here, he shares stories from his life, including the sombre realities of family festivities in your seventies in The Ghost Of Christmas Past. Briggs brings his famous illustration style to each tale, but most of all, this anthology is a chance to see modern life from the top end of the age spectrum, as he tackles all things digital. With Christmas fast approaching, this will be the perfect gift for anyone with a spark of humour about them.