5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore and Bellies by Nicola Dinan.

Prudence Wade
Wednesday 05 July 2023 09:03 BST

New releases will give plenty of inspiration for your next summer read…


1. I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £16.99 (ebook £14.99). Available now

As a dismissed teacher, Finn ventures to the city to see his dying brother, reflects on the greatest love of his life and the meaning of grief. Lorrie Moore has created possibly one of the most mind-boggling books of the year, written beautifully and leaving the reader with question upon question – which they should expect to answer themselves. Crossing timelines and boundaries of realism into absurdity, Moore has crafted an allegory for common human experiences: unwanted loss and love without a place to go. The story is touching, poignant and political in its undertones, while also hilarious and ridiculous. Will you understand it all? No. Is it still gorgeous? Absolutely.8/10(Review by Imy Brighty-Potts)

2. Bellies by Nicola Dinan is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Novels told from multiple perspectives are all the rage in fiction right now, and Bellies is the latest addition to the trend. We start at university, where to Tom and Ming fall in love and feel safe with each other. Things get more complicated when they move to London – the previously socialist Tom selling out with a job in banking and Ming pursuing a career in theatre, and after much internal struggle, coming out as a trans woman. The book sensitively and realistically portrays how this kind of change might affect each person – and whether the relationship can survive. The main issue with Bellies is the parts told from Ming’s perspective are infinitely more interesting than those told from Tom’s – plus, there’s a slight tendency for the dialogue to fall into therapy-speak, rather than how actual people talk. But it’s a strong debut from Dinan – a beautiful and moving story about trauma and love that will leave you satisfied at the end.7/10(Review by Prudence Wade)

3. The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £18.99 (ebook £10.99). Available now

Brandon Taylor’s The Late Americans is a thought-provoking exploration of class, identity politics, and sexuality. Written from the point of view of students at the University of Iowa and locals who live near the prestigious university, its episodic format more closely resembles a short story collection than a typical novel. Taylor’s characters are at turns humourous, furious, and lost. The novel begins with a chapter from the perspective of white working-class poetry student Seamus, who funds his studies by working as a line cook. Seamus’ chapters are among the strongest in the novel, and the funniest, as he takes aim at his classmate’s crude reliance on personal experience and trauma in their work. References to Trump and social media are rarely clunky, and help place the novel in the context of the contemporary campus wars. Unfortunately, the quality of The Late Americans rises and falls with each character. Meat factory worker Fyodor suffers in particular from being unrealistic and jarring. However, there are more than enough moments of brilliance to make The Late Americans worth it. It may not be a great American novel, but it is certainly a timely one.7/10(Review by Luke O’Reilly)


4. Rental Person Who Does Nothing by Shoji Morimoto, translated by Don Knotting, is published in hardback by Picador priced £14.99 (ebook £8.49). Available July 6

There’s really only one way to describe the premise of this book: unique. A memoir of sorts, it follows Shoji Morimoto’s travails in his unusual job – that of a ‘rental person who does nothing’. This means he’s available for anything someone requests of him – as long as his role is relatively passive. The requests are vast in range – from the dull (someone wants him to sit next to them while they work, as they struggle with focus) to the sweet (someone would like him to come visit their childhood home with them) and occasionally the more serious or sad (someone wants him to witness court proceedings; someone wants to talk to him about how great her girlfriend is – she feels like she can’t tell her friends about her lesbian relationship). Morimoto doesn’t take any money for his services, and the book follows a series of requests and what happened with them. It’s an unusual premise, but one that manages to dive into the human condition in a meaningful way, unveiling people’s secret longings, loves and needs.8/10(Review by Prudence Wade)

Children’s book of the week

5. The Thing At 52 by Ross Montgomery, illustrated by Richard Johnson, is published in hardback by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.99). Available July 6

This is a truly beautiful book that will cause many an insightful conversation between a young child and their parent, or teacher, when read together. It tells the story of a young girl who sees a monster living on his own – she takes pity and decides to befriend him. The little girl takes him a flower to cheer him up and their adventures begin, taking them from her mum’s old sofa to trips to the seaside, and even a party with lots of dancing. The book takes the little girl through several emotions, starting with making friends, learning about loneliness, and saying goodbye. Each page is stunningly illustrated and so pleasing to the eye, which everyone will enjoy.8/10(Review by Joanne Brennan)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros2. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang3. A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles4. The Trial by Rob Rinder5. The Square Of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson6. Four Seasons In Japan by Nick Bradley7. Happy Place by Emily Henry8. Atlas by Lucinda Riley & Harry Whittaker9. The Shadow Cabinet by Juno Dawson10. The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. One Boy, Two Bills And A Fry Up by Wes Streeting2. Hitler, Stalin, Mum And Dad by Daniel Finkelstein3. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken4. Material World by Ed Conway5. The Extra Mile by Kevin Sinfield6. The Wager by David Grann7. Pageboy by Elliot Page8. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell9. Witchcraft by Marion Gibson10. The Earth Transformed by Professor Peter Frankopan(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. The Trial by Rob Rinder2. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken3. The Stranger Times by CK McDonnell4. Atomic Habits by James Clear5. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien6. Mythos by Stephen Fry7. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman8. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus9. Spare by The Duke of Sussex10. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver(Compiled by Audible)

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