The Old Spring, By Richard Francis

A pub that specialises in strong shorts

Exploring one day in the lives of the staff and customers of the Old Spring pub, this marvellous novel highlights the humour, pathos and sheer quiddity of human existence.

Richard Francis gets more tension out of whether Darren will be able to change the barrel in the cellar than other writers could get out of kidnap and murder (though there is also a murder, tucked away in a sub-plot).

Most writers prefer to write about clever people (they're easier) but some – notably short-story writers such as Chekhov – get inside the minds of dim characters and find inner lives as rich and complex as anyone's. Francis is one of these writers. He also views the mundane with the eye of a poet. Funny, charming and utterly original.