In brief: Tell Me How to Be; The Go-Between; Time Song: Searching for Doggerland – review | Fiction


Neel Patel
Trapeze, £14.99, pp336

A fresh take on the split-perspective novel, Patel’s debut is written in short, sharp chapters narrated by Akash and his mother, Renu, both of whom are trying to work out their place in the world. Akash, a wannabe R&B songwriter and heavy drinker, is plagued by shame for being gay, while Renu guiltily searches for her first love after her husband’s death. What this poignant tale lacks in finesse, it makes up for with soulful and convincing Indian-American characters .

Osman Yousefzada
Canongate, £14.99, pp368

Yousefzada’s journey from son of illiterate immigrant parents to artist and world-famous fashion designer is fascinating in itself. But in concentrating on his early years, he explores something more profound and universal: the search for identity. With a documentarian’s eye, he picks apart life in his devout Pashtun patriarchal community in 1980s Birmingham, taking on racism, gender roles, women’s rights, honour-based violence and so much more. The result is a remarkable insight into multicultural Britain and the pain inherent in following your own path.

Julia Blackburn
Vintage, £14.99, pp304 (paperback)

This moving exploration of the huge landmass that once connected the east coast of England to Europe rightly won Blackburn awards nominations a few years ago. The pandemic delayed publication of the paperback, but Time Song is timeless – a beautifully crafted rumination on the strange yet comforting effect the fossils, found objects and vanished peoples have on both her imagination and sense of impermanence. The ethereal, meditative tone is complemented by Blackburn’s simple yet effective narrative poems, illustrated by intricate abstractions from Enrique Brinkmann.

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