“Loners are the opposition. Pensive, thoughtful & furious, marooned with stories that need to be spoken out loud and no one to listen, curries to be cooked & no one to taste, days & days of traffic signals to be manoeuvred & no one to congratulate except other loners: they find each other because like all good maps there are familiar signs that lead the way. The loner who both observes & creates worlds necessarily speaks with many tongues. It is with these tongues that she explores the contours of the centre & the margins, the signs for somewhere & elsewhere & here & now.”

Like her namesake Jack Kerouac, J.K. is always on the road, travelling Europe with her typewriter in a pillowcase. From … More

The dark, doomy humour of Care of Wooden Floors mixed with the fantastical, anarchic sense of possibility of The Way Inn, brought together in a fast moving story set in contemporary London. Jack Bick is an interview journalist at a glossy lifestyle magazine. From his office window he can see a black column of smoke in the sky, the result of an industrial accident on the edge of the city.

When Bick goes from being a high-functioning alcoholic to being a non-functioning alcoholic, his life goes into freefall, the smoke … More

First published OTD in 1949, George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. The title of the novel, its themes, the Newspeak language and the author’s surname are often invoked against control and intrusion by the state, and the adjective Orwellian describes a totalitarian dystopia that is characterised by government control and subjugation of the people.

Orwell’s invented language, Newspeak, satirises hypocrisy and evasion by the state: the Ministry of Love (Miniluv) oversees torture and brainwashing, … More

I want to find out how they behave when they’re free. Len Howard was forty years old when she decided to leave her London life and loves behind, retire to the English countryside and devote the rest of her days to her one true passion: birds. Moving to a small cottage in Sussex, she wrote two bestselling books, astonishing the world with her observations on the tits, robins, sparrows and other birds that lived nearby, flew freely in and out of her windows, and would even perch on her shoulder as she typed.

This moving novel imagines the story of this remarkable woman’s decision to defy society’s expectations, and the joy she drew … More

Born OTD in 1943, English writer & novelist who has won many awards for her fiction, which centres on themes of memory, trauma, survival & recovery, Pat Barker. “When the Greek Queen Helen is kidnapped by Trojans, the Greeks sail in pursuit, besieging the city of Troy. Trapped in the Greek soldiers’ camp is another captured queen, Briseis. Condemned to be bed-slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her family, she becomes a pawn in a menacing game between bored and frustrated warriors.”

“In the centuries after this most famous war, history will write her off, a footnote in a bloody story scripted … More

`I really am so very, very sorry about this,’ he says, in an oddly formal voice… They strike the side of a grain silo. They are travelling at seventy miles per hour. A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash. She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world. When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail… So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears.

A novel that leaps from the modern era to ancient times; a novel that soars, and sails, and burns long … More

Ash before Oak, the winner of the inaugural Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize, is written in the form of a journal written by a solitary man on a secluded Somerset estate. Ostensibly a nature diary, chronicling the narrator’s interest in the local flora and fauna and the passing of the seasons, Ash before Oak is also the story of a breakdown told slantwise, and of the narrator’s subsequent recovery through his re-engagement with the world around him.

The title derives from an old country rhyme forecasting rain. Written in prose that is as precise as it is … More

Born OTD in 1957, English writer and lyricist, Nick Hornby. “Rob Fleming is a London record shop owner in his mid-thirties whose girlfriend, Laura, has just left him. At his record shop, called Championship Vinyl, Rob and his employees, Dick and Barry, spend their free moments discussing mix-tape aesthetics and constructing desert-island, “top-five” lists of anything that demonstrates their knowledge of music. “

Rob, recalling his five most memorable breakups, sets about getting in touch with the former girlfriends. Eventually, Rob’s re-examination of … More

As the First World War shatters families, destroys friendships and kills lovers, a young Palestinian dreamer sets out to find himself. Midhat Kamal navigates his way across a fractured world, from the shifting politics of the Middle East to the dinner tables of Montpellier and a newly tumultuous Paris. He discovers that everything is fragile: love turns to loss, friends become enemies and everyone is looking for a place to belong.

`A sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful’ – Zadie Smith Isabella Hammad delicately untangles … More

Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power & Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding. Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life & dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality.

This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever – a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a … More