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Whichbook of the week

A personal introduction from a Whichbook reader to a book you may not have met before

Blackass

Blackass

Furo Wariboko wakes on the morning of his job interview to find his black body has turned white. As a white man in a black world some doors now open for him as he invents a new identity for himself and turns his back on his family. This book explores race and identity with a light touch and will make you both laugh and think.

Posted by Paul Cowan - more details

Dragonfish

Dragonfish

This novel has all the key elements of a thriller but a backstory about displaced Vietnamese refugees gives it an extra dimension. I really warmed to all of the characters, even the heavies, because they are so compassionately portrayed. Readers hoping for a neat resolution may find themselves disappointed; I thought it the fitting end to a story about a woman who remains elusive to all, including the reader.

Posted by Wendy Smith - more details

Bitter Sixteen

Bitter Sixteen

This first volume of a trilogy introduces Stanly, an introspective loner and pop culture geek, who acquires superhero powers on his sixteenth birthday. So far, so typical for this genre, except for a most unusual wisecracking sidekick, who just happens to be a talking dog. Spotting the cultural references within the engaging interplay and snappy dialogue ensures this is will appeal to a wider age range than the target young adult audience.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

The Good Liar

The Good Liar

This will take you by surprise. Not necessarily every twist and turn. But enough of them to keep you on your toes. Here is a morality tale for our times - the villain is villainous and definitely needs to be caught. It starts off like 'The Sting' but then turns a lot darker, as you are slowly led into the betrayal of the Schroder family to the Gestapo. I couldn't put this book down - hoping that the villain would meet his deserved fate.

Posted by David Kenvyn - more details

The Book of Memory

The Book of Memory

While on death row in a Zimbabwean prison, Memory begins to recount her story, at the centre of which lies her parents and Lloyd, and what may or may not have happened to Memory as a child. It is a story of unfolding revelations set against the backdrop of change in society. Befitting her name, Memory is a memorable character in a story beautifully told that you may want to read all over again once you've reached the final sentence.

Posted by Paul Doyle - more details

A Cup of Rage

A Cup of Rage

A torrent of anger, hatred and contempt flows through 47 pages without a stop. I can't say it made me understand sado-masochism but it certainly brought it to life in the most forceful way. Don't expect soft porn: this is a masterful study of sexual perversion.

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details

The Lauras

The Lauras

Alex is agender and travels around America with 'Ma', a woman with her own agenda. Ma is out for revenge and retribution. She's a woman with a past and Alex witnesses and experiences things no child should see. Nevertheless Alex becomes strong and independent which comes through as the story progresses. This is a book where you never really know what's going to happen next - be it good or bad - and that's what makes it such a great read.

Posted by Karen Pugh - more details

The Well of Trapped Words

The Well of Trapped Words

Talking snakes and otherworldly grandmothers who require spoon-feeding are the stuff of folktales, and unpredictable honorary aunts and local dignitaries driven to extremes by bureaucracy and modernity are hallmarks of a traditional society not coping well with change. Kaygusuz's short stories open windows into Turkish life, brought together by her amazing dreamlike realism.

Posted by Andrew Fitch - more details

The Good Life Elsewhere

The Good Life Elsewhere

A dark humour runs through this tale of an impoverished Moldavian community seeking the utopia of Italy. Comedic elements creep in which made me smile despite the serious undercurrent of the story. A cast of characters attempt increasingly farcical ways of reaching Italy: the land of promise and opportunity. As soon as one attempt is thwarted, another hare-brained scheme is hatched.

Posted by Michelle Jenkins - more details

An Unnecessary Woman

An Unnecessary Woman

A childless divorcee for over 50 years, living in 21st century Beirut, Aaliya assumes most of her world will find her 'unnecessary'. As she faces old age - her biggest challenge yet - will her dry wit, intelligence and love for literature, art and her indomitable city prove enough to make her feel that she isn't completely useless? A fascinating read.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

Welcome to Braggsville

Welcome to Braggsville

Unceasing wordplay deftly probes the thorny issues of identity and American racial conflict with perfectly pitched dark satire and morbid comedy. The shockingly bizarre story may be disturbing but the hypersensitive send-up of academia will also amuse. This misbegotten tale, full of irony and stray cultural references, is awesome in its unpredictable linguistic acrobatics.

Posted by Richard Ashman - more details

The Dog Who Dared to Dream

The Dog Who Dared to Dream

This South Korean bestseller is a beautiful and poignant fable about a dog named Scraggly; an endearing character whose dreams of family and independence captivated me. Foreboding and loss are adeptly entwined with a gentle humour particularly surrounding Sister-in-Law, the illustrations are simple but effective and this short tale is touching and memorable. If you don't like animal protagonists this may not be for you but I found it enchanting.

Posted by Natalie McChrystal - more details

The Body Snatcher

The Body Snatcher

Meet Brazil's answer to Tom Ripley: unnamed narrator who is just as amoral as Highsmith's famous anti-hero but only has one tenth of Ripley's brains. He does, however, have charm, a girl friend who works in a morgue and the luck of the devil. So sit back and enjoy sex, drugs and cadaver kidnapping, whilst hating yourself for smiling.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

Beside Myself

Beside Myself

To fully appreciate this novel the reader is asked to accept that a innocent prank can result in misery and madness and that responsible adults may not appreciate the significance of the joke. Told in the first person by 'Smudge' an identical twin, she describes how the prank results in her descent from delinquency to insanity. Strong characterisation, fast paced, brilliant on family dynamics, extremely disturbing but totally compulsive reading.

Posted by Frances Bell - more details

Look at Me

Look at Me

The repercussions of a father's indiscreet bohemian lifestyle are profound when the love child from his hippy past is contacted and invited to stay. Thus follows a five act tragedy of sibling rivalry, self-deception and simmering tension between the half-sisters, as both clamour for attention. This study of shifting family dynamics will challenge your sympathies for the characters as it unfolds - whose side will you be on?

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

Sea Lovers

Sea Lovers

A wonderful, beautifully written series of short stories about what it is like to be a woman. Two stories refer to mythical creatures - a mermaid and a centaur - but all of them are about how we survive our lives, about the subterfuges that we have to take in order to preserve our privacy, our dignity and our self-respect. And especially about how women have to do these things in what is a patriarchal society. Not easy, but very worthwhile.

Posted by David Kenvyn - more details

If I Fall, If I Die

If I Fall, If I Die

Muddled as to whether it’s trying to be a coming of age story, a boy’s adventure tale or a psychological investigation of anxiety and agoraphobia this, nonetheless, is so beautifully written that you forgive the jumbled themes and simply love the characters. Delicious descriptions and an unsettling mother/son relationship saw me race to the end with a satisfied sigh.

Posted by Ruth Ng - more details

Under the Udala Trees

Under the Udala Trees

A deft balance between love and war, this is a compellingly stylistic depiction of a politically brutal suppression of same-sex relationships, interspersed with allegory, folklore and intransigent religiosity. The dizzying tale powerfully interweaves the internal turmoil and competing societal forces that means choosing between heart and tradition. Determined and daring in the face of hatred and persecution. Gripping storytelling.

Posted by Richard Ashman - more details

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Take a journey around Ireland with 'unnamed man' and One-Eye, his rescued hunting dog. This isn't an adventure of a lifetime - more a matter of survival. While the book is easy to read, I found the subject matter of loneliness, sadness and death difficult and upsetting. Don't read this book if you're not 'in a good place'. Whilst haunting and bleak, the book did contain elements of hope and kindness and love to another living being.

Posted by Karen Pugh - more details

The Mirror

The Mirror

A Venetian nun and an eccentric composer: what can they possibly have in common? Quite a lot, as these two novellas show: a life of order and beauty, a quest for meaning. But their destiny will startle and move you in very different ways. I can say no more without spoiling your enjoyment!

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details