Photo: Sarah Lee / The Guardian
Rebecca May Johnson
One, £14.99, pp240
In the beginning of his first book, author, academic, and fearless border-basher Johnson admits to a desire to “blow up the kitchen.” small fire It does exactly that, recreating something epic from funny memoirs, scathing social criticism, and food writing you’ve never read before. Taking its cues from 10 years spent cooking in several different kitchens, it reclaims that domestic space as one of profound materialistic considerations. An ingredients list goes on for fortune cookies and poetry by Rilke for “bad news potatoes” (“for one, apparently”) and apron strings, both literally and essentially serving allegory. Full of joy and revelation, it is a deceptively comprehensive work whose invigorating pages seem to be dotted with hot oil and sour splashes.
Weidenfeld and Nicholson, £14.99, pp288
Even without reading its acknowledgment, you’ll feel that Barnett’s latest novel draws from a profound life experience. And yet the story belongs to its heroine, Christina Lennox, who turns 43 when she is forced to surrender the picture of how she should always see her life. The constant rounds of IVF have led to an agony of miscarriages and dashed hopes, and her husband, Ed, is now living in San Francisco. But what about their final embryo that is deposited at the fertility clinic? Barnett’s well-crafted backlist is big on emotional acuity and this novel is no different, an urge from Christina’s grief that we think more creatively when it comes to happiness, and especially shape that our families can take.
Jean Hanf Korelitz
Faber, £8.99, pp546 (paperback)
Fans of Korlitz’s clever literary mystery you should have known There’s a lot to be enjoyed in this character-driven tale of privilege, family dysfunction, and delayed personal growth. At its center are the Oppenheimer triplets: the smart, arrogant Harrison, the overshadowed oddball Levine and the secretive Sally. The products of the marriage were linked to a tragic car accident years ago, they were conceived through IVF; A fourth embryo was frozen, and upon his departure for college in the year 2000, his mother thawed it and recruited a surrogate, resulting in the birth of Phoebe, who would describe the novel’s closing segment. Each new twist triggers bright, funny insights into the complexities of sibling bonds, as well as art, infidelity, and more.