"The narrow alleys of pestilence and poverty run along the walls of the very richest in the land… in our current times, as the gap between rich and poor widens, there are many resonances across centuries to unearth.” Lucy Jago
Bookanista recommends
Starting over

Starting over

Kololo Hill by Neema Shah (Picador, 18 February) starts with Idi Amin’s declaration that all Asians must leave Uganda within 90 days. What follows is one family’s fear, sadness and the uprooting of their whole life. Jaya and Motiband moved to Uganda from India and have built up a successful life and business along with...
Black Britain: Writing Back

Black Britain: Writing Back

Penguin has pulled together a stunning new list of books by writers who have written about black Britain and the diaspora over the last hundred years. The six launch titles, each with a new introduction by Bernadine Evaristo, range from fast-paced thrillers to historical fiction, and showcase a diverse pool of black writing talent. The...
The lives of others

The lives of others

I was expecting more from Sea State by Tabitha Lasley (Fourth Estate, 4 February). I wanted to get a real insight into the lives of an offshore platform in the North Sea, but instead this book was more about the messy life of a 30-something writer who was running away from herself and trying to...
Journeys of the mind

Journeys of the mind

From the strange workings of the brain, life in a care home in France, to the privileged girls of a boarding school in America via a trip to Bosnia to face up to the past, there is plenty for you to lose yourself in as 2021 cranks into gear. With Delphine de Vigan a cult...
Looking ahead by looking behind

Looking ahead by looking behind

“Where did you go to, if I may ask?” said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along. “To look ahead,” said he. “And what brought you back in the nick of time?” “Looking behind,” said he. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit   2020 has been without a doubt, and without exception, an unexpected journey to the...
A year of reading and sharing

A year of reading and sharing

When I started Ultimate Reads and Recommendations as a book group on Facebook a couple of years ago I didn’t think I would have readers from all over the world joining in. It started off with just a few people from my local community in South London and gradually spread through word of mouth. Now...
Keep calm and carry on giving

Keep calm and carry on giving

Christmas books for the young, the very, very young and that lost generation, the ever youthful old   We live in dark and desperate times, we often remind ourselves. And we seem determined, wherever our minds, souls, or ideas may lie, to do our mightiest in order to cast off the hex that has been...
Kingly reads and mistletoes, yule logs, childish games and silent nights

Kingly reads and mistletoes, yule logs, childish games and silent nights

As the year 2018 draws to a dumbfounding or resounding close, the words to speak the tales of both tragedy and joy become perhaps the most precious of gifts. Especially for young – or not so young – ears and eyes searching for a meaningful narrative, a thread of sense through a life whose text...
A perpetual advent calendar

A perpetual advent calendar

Our world is ever more in need of the solace, wisdom and power of books. Good books are often hard to come by, so here is a bumper list of some of the most gripping volumes recently published for the young, the younger and the no longer so young in search of the music of...
Poets, pedants and survivors

Poets, pedants and survivors

Masterful reworkings of Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending, Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living, and Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith transposed to Korea head another bright batch of literary adaptations and biopics opening in UK cinemas in April. Here’s a selection to keep you dazzled in the dark at your favourite film venues for weeks...