Kafka meets The Thick Of It in a bitingly funny new political satire from Ian McEwan. That morning, Jim Sams, clever but by no means profound, woke from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic creature. Jim Sams has undergone a metamorphosis. In his previous life he was ignored or loathed, but in his new incarnation he is the most powerful man in Britain – and it is his mission to carry out the will of the people. Nothing must get in his way: not the opposition, nor the dissenters within his own party. Not even the rules of parliamentary democracy. With trademark intelligence, insight and scabrous humour, Ian McEwan pays tribute to Franz Kafka’s most famous work to engage with a world turned on its head.

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When a thirty-something portrait painter is abandoned by his wife, he holes up in the mountain home of a famous artist. The days drift by, spent painting, listening to music and drinking whiskey in the evenings. But then he discovers a strange painting in the attic and unintentionally begins a strange journey of self-discovery that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt and a haunted underworld. A stunning work of imagination, Killing Commendatore is a surreal tale of love and loneliness, war and art.

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In the summer of 1959, an Antiguan immigrant in north west London lives the last day of his life, unknowingly caught in someone else’s story of hate and division, resistance and revolt. A mother looks back on her early forays into matters of the human heart – and other parts of the human body – considering the ways in which desire is always an act of negotiation, destruction, and self-invention. A disgraced cop stands amid the broken shards of his life, unable to move forward into a future that holds no place for him. Moral panic spreads like contagion through the upper echelons of New York City – and the cancelled people look disconcertingly like the rest of us. A teenage scion of the technocratic elite chases spectres through a premium virtual reality, trailed by a little girl with a runny nose and no surviving family.

We all take a much-needed break from this mess, on a package holiday where the pool’s electric blue is ceaselessly … More

What happens when we leave the places we’re from? What do we lose, and who do we become, and what parts of our pasts are unshakeable? Linda Mannheim’s second short story collection focuses on people who have relocated – both voluntarily and involuntarily. Opening with Miami-set political thriller, ‘Noir’, this exquisitely rendered set of stories will leave you reeling. THIS WAY TO DEPARTURES is a deeply affecting portrait of American society and the constant search for a place to call ‘home’.

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Born OTD in 1916, British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot, Roald Dahl. From Roald Dahl, the master of the sting in the tail, a newly collected book of his darkest stories. ‘There is a pleasure sure in being mad, which none but madmen know’ Our greatest fear is of losing control – of our lives, but, most of all, of ourselves. In these ten unsettling tales of unexpected madness master storyteller Roald Dahl explores what happens when we let go our sanity.

Among other stories, you’ll meet the husband with a jealous fixation on the family cat, the landlady who wants her … More

‘Butterfly’s Tongue’ tells of the friendship between a schoolboy and an anarchist schoolmaster, born of a shared interest in animal and insect life, which is destroyed by the eruption of the Spanish Civil War in the summer of 1936. Other stories are woven around characters who appear in this central story. In ‘A Saxophone in the Mist’, a young musician discovers the meaning of music and of love in the face of a girl he meets one foggy night at a fair.

In ‘Carmina’ a boy listen as a man relates how a dog frustrated him in his attempts to woo his … More

In 1988 Saul Adler (a narcissistic, young historian) is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then break up, but not before she has photographed Saul crossing the same Abbey Road. Saul leaves to study in communist East Berlin, two months before the Wall comes down. There he will encounter – significantly – both his assigned translator and his translator’s sister, who swears she has seen a jaguar prowling the city.

He will fall in love and brood upon his difficult, authoritarian father. And he will befriend a hippy, Rainer, who … More

Born OTD in 1890, mid-20th-century novelist who was born and grew up in the Caribbean island of Dominica, Jean Rhys. Good Morning, Midnight is experimental in design and deals with a woman’s feelings of vulnerability, depression, loneliness and desperation during the years between the two World Wars. The book initially sold poorly—critics thought it well written, but too depressing—and after its publication Rhys spent a decade living in obscurity. It was not until it was adapted by Selma Vaz Dias into a radio play, first broadcast by the BBC in 1957, that Rhys was once again put into the spotlight.

Saved, rescued, fished-up, half-drowned, out of the deep, dark river, dry clothes, hair shampooed and set… Set in a 1930s … More

Spring 1944, the south coast of England. The Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment wait patiently and nervously for the order to embark. There is boredom and fear, comedy and pathos as the men – all drawn from different walks of life – await the order to move. From The City, From The Plough is a vivid and moving account of the fate of these men as they set off for Normandy and advance into France. The novel is not about the actual fighting alone; the larger part of it paints a picture of what happens in between battles and before: the training, the discipline, the boredom; about how the military machine uproots individuals, throws them together in new environments and forces them to establish new personal relationships.

The novel contains many living character sketches of seemingly quiet and timid individuals who grow in stature in the face … More

David Keenan’s first novel is populated by about 30 beautifully believable and appallingly sad local legends – including that great band (Memorial Device), that drug-dealer survivalist and that expat romantic. The book’s subtitle gives the most succinct description of the whole enterprise: “An Hallucinated Oral History of the Post-Punk Scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and Environs, 1978‑1986”.

Ross Raymond and Johnny McLaughlin are two fanboys dedicated to the Airdrie post-punk scene of the early ’80s – the … More