Four excellent debut novels

Spain! Our holiday in sunny Andalucia seems like a different world now we are back in London and very much ‘back to school’. Ezra has just started going to a nanny share on the two days a week that Vita goes to nursery, and I finally have some proper time to think. Well, I say think, but really I mean sleep. These are probably the most expensive naps I will ever have, given the cost of double childcare, but I try to justify it with the lurking throb of shingles threatening to resurface and, more often than not, one child or the other wakes up screaming in the night, either hungry or with a nightmare.

Life has very much shrunk to a family scale, only every now and then I come up against the bigger reality, such as the other day when our greengrocer wouldn’t take my old pound coin, and only then did I realise we have shiny new ones. The other major event of recent times has been our first trip to A&E. Ezra dived off the climbing frame and I managed to catch him just in time, thereby saving a smashed skull, but dislocating his arm in the process. We were seen straight away, the arm was clicked back and we were back to normal within an hour or so. Thank you NHS.

Usborne shakespeareMeanwhile, Vita has become obsessed with Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet – we have this beautiful Usborne edition of Shakespeare stories – and so we spend most of our time playing at killing each other in various roles. I’m not sure this is especially healthy, but I am certainly enjoying revisiting the stories, and it leads to some funny comments, e.g. this morning when I explained that snoring Dad must be in a very deep sleep, and she said, ‘Just like Juliet.’

I have been reading various debut novels, which I always find so exciting – glimpsing these writers full of promise at the start of their careers. I wrote about four of them for a big review in last week’s Spectator. I was intrigued to see that so many of them engaged with the experience of migration – clearly the big issue of the day. Or, I ought to say, the bigger issue of the day, as opposed to how to launder a load of Ezra’s vomit out of every single piece of bedding in the house in time for bedtime. I am assuming you would rather read more about these novels than Ezra’s sick bug, so just click on the pic below to read the Spectator review – and I’d love to know if you too have recently come across any compelling fresh new voices.

Black Rock, White City



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8 Responses to “Four excellent debut novels”

  1. sultanabun Says:

    Go sleep, Woman, while you can!

  2. Cosy Books Says:

    Your honesty and humour make the ‘ick’ moments of motherhood seem not quite so bad. And Vita’s fondness for Shakespeare and fight scenes made me laugh….she sounds adorable!

    • emilybooks Says:

      Thanks so much, it’s lovely to hear from you. And yes all ick moments are manageable (even laughable) when one has had a bit of sleep! Hope you are very well.

  3. Ben Shiriak Says:

    I would like to hear your thoughts on Nathan Englander’s Dinner at the Center of the Earth.

    Is it too late for you to take the shingles vaccination?

    • emilybooks Says:

      Thanks Ben, I will have to have a look at it –
      sounds intriguing. The doc hasn’t said anything about a vaccination, so I’m assuming it is alas too late, but thank you for the idea.

      • Ben Shiriak Says:

        Shingles vaccinations are heavily promoted with TV advertising in the USA accompanied by gruesome photographs.

  4. BookerTalk Says:

    I remember reading a review of Black Rock White City on an Australian blog a while ago – it’s taken a long time to get to the UK. It does sound like he is an author to watch

    • emilybooks Says:

      Yes, funny how books often take a while to travel. I’d say he is certainly one to watch. Hope all is well in your reading world.

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