THIS week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Anthill by Julianne Pachico and Everybody by Olivia Laing.
These new releases will sort out your May reading list…
1. The Anthill by Julianne Pachico is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.99. Available now
Julianne Pachico’s The Anthill follows childhood friends born in Medellin, Colombia: Lina is returning after two decades away, while Matty stayed throughout the intervening period of national violence.
From the start, their reunion is marked by caginess and deception: are they hiding from suspicion, or is this just the emotional impact of years apart?
The mysteries gradually resolve, but Pachico is intelligent enough not to offer simple explanations.
The story flirts with fantasy and horror without ever fully leaving the real world.
While the characters’ emotional breakdowns are traced in all their vivid complexity, the book can also be read as a national parable for Colombia, a newly peaceful country with intense status anxiety dealing with a conflicted past.
As the story skips between different scenes, Pachico’s experience as a short story writer is evident and contributes to an intense and artful read.
(Review by Joshua Pugh Ginn)
2. Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner is published in hardback by Raven Books, priced £12.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now
Greenwich Park is a delicious thriller with twists coming thick and fast
Set against the backdrop of the beloved London park, the main characters tell their stories in a diary format – baring not only their souls but also their betrayals.
Pregnant Helen has a seemingly perfect life – until she meets Rachel at her antenatal class, and soon has to figure out who she can and can’t trust.
Faulkner leans on her own backstory as a journalist as she weaves in a courtroom drama to add spice to the plot.
The stories of Helen and her family and friends become so intertwined they infect everyone, the venom of lies stinging even the innocent.
(Review by Roddy Brooks)
3. Everybody by Olivia Laing is published in hardback by Picador, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now
In this exploration of what it means to be free, Olivia Laing delves deep into the human body.
She doesn’t just study bones and organs, but the link between the horrifying treatment bodies receive and the power they hold to cut the shackles.
Drawing on influential names from the past century – including Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Malcom X and Nina Simone – she assesses and compares their contributions (or damages) to various freedom movements.
The life of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich is used as a structural backbone for the investigation, but the concept of the body shines through as the main character.
While the book can jump from one thing to the next, the injection of Laing’s own experiences and opinions throughout keep it thought-provoking and engaging.
Everybody inadvertently offers an honest history lesson with a truly specific focus, as well as a nod to present and future struggles.
(Review by Hannah Millington)
Children’s book of the week
4. The Plesiosaur’s Neck by Dr Adam S Smith and Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Adam Larkum is published in paperback by UCLan Publishing, priced £7.99 (no ebook). Available now
Why did plesiosaurs – kings of the ocean when dinosaurs ruled the Jurassic world – have such long necks?
That remains a major mystery of science, with researchers unable to pin down one satisfactory answer: was it to scoop up schools of fish, to empty crevices of crabs, or even to electrocute would-be predators?
Nottingham Natural History Museum palaeontologist Dr Adam S Smith is one such expert, and in The Plesiosaur’s Neck he and co-author Jonathan Emmett attempt to solve the seven-metre puzzle.
The many possibilities are entertainingly presented and vividly illustrated, marrying the key facts with rhyming asides to keep children fully engaged.
(Review by James Cann)
1. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
2. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
4. The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor
5. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
6. Turn A Blind Eye by Jeffrey Archer
7. The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
8. First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami
9. Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor
10. Sooley by John Grisham
1. The Power Of Geography by Tim Marshall
2. The Power Of Hope by Kate Garraway
3. Pinch Of Nom Quick & Easy by Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson
4. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
5. Philip: The Final Portrait by Gyles Brandreth
6. The Madness Of Grief by Reverend Richard Coles
7. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
8. Guinness World Records 2021 by Guinness World Records
9. One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones
10. Simply Raymond: Recipes From Home by Raymond Blanc
(Compiled by Waterstones)