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Culture

6 new novels to add to your reading list

While we search for more mediums to expand our worlds from home, reading remains the ultimate opportunity to switch off. Whether it’s traversing place, time or perspective, these are the books coming out this year that offer great escape and greater understanding

Lifestyle

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

The Chilean The House of the Spirits author is renowned for her works of magical realism. Her latest novel tells the story of a couple fleeing from the Spanish Civil War to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow”. They face trial after trial as they live a life in exile, which is endangered under the Pinochet dictatorship. In a book where Allende is once again at the height of her powers, this is an epic tale of freedom, repression and belonging.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel returns on the back of her award-winning Station Eleven (which would be an uncomfortable read in current circumstances, as it is set in a world that is devastated by a virus). In The Glass Hotel, however, she draws us into a compelling mystery surrounding a woman who goes missing at sea, years after the collapse of a major Ponzi scheme in Manhattan. An encounter between Jonathan, the owner of the five-star Hotel Caiette in rugged British Columbia, and Vincent, a bartender, marks a fated beginning. It promises to be a “captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives”.

Minor Feelings: A Reckoning on Race and the Asian Condition by Cathy Park Hong

The writer and poet’s collection of seven essays – part memoir and part cultural commentary – is urgent and honest in its examination of the Asian-American consciousness. The title, Minor Feelings, sums up “the racialized range of emotions that are negative, dysphoric, and therefore untelegenic, built from the sediments of everyday racial experience and the irritant of having one’s perception of reality constantly questioned or dismissed”.

Actress: A Novel by Anne Enright

From the Man Booker Prize-winning author comes the story of Irish theater luminary Katherine O’Dell. Told from the perspective of her daughter, Norah, who watched it all from the wings, it takes the reader from the glamour of the golden age of Hollywood to London’s West End, New York’s Broadway and the stages of Dublin. Underpinning the book is an exploration of the dangers and damage of fame – and a reflection on an intense mother-daughter bond.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante’s beloved and bestselling Neapolitan Novels immersed readers in the decades-long friendship between Lila and Lenù. In her long-awaited new novel, The Lying Life Of Adults, the pseudonymous author returns to Naples and Italian family life, intimately exploring it through the adolescent eyes of Giovanna, who is growing up in a city divided.

Little Gods by Meng Jin

Meng Jin’s debut novel is a “story of migrations, literal and emotional, spanning time, space and class”. Following the death of her mother, protagonist Liya returns to her native China to discover more about her mother’s life as a brilliant physicist with a troubled and mysterious past, and to try finding her biological father.

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