As we approach autumn, we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the remarkable books we’ve published so far this year.
We’ve put unmissable classics back into print with Precious Bane and Sunlight on a Broken Column. We’ve been compelled by Lara Thompson’s page-turner set in 1930s New York and in Edith Widder’s Below the Edge of Darkness we took a deep-dive into the depths of the ocean.
Here we have compiled a selection of books not to be missed.
by Edith Widder
A pioneering marine biologist takes us down into the deep ocean in this 'thrilling blend of hard science and high adventure' (The New York Times)
Edith Widder grew up determined to become a marine biologist. But after complications from a surgery during college caused her to go temporarily blind, she became fascinated by light as well as the power of optimism.
Below the Edge of Darkness explores the depths of the planet's oceans as Widder seeks to understand bioluminescence, one of the most important and widely used forms of communication in nature. In the process, she reveals hidden worlds and a dazzling menagerie of behaviours and animals. Alongside Widder, we experience life-and-death equipment malfunctions and witness breakthroughs in technology and understanding, all of it set against a growing awareness of the deteriorating health of our largest and least understood ecosystem.
'A vivid account of ocean life' ROBIN MCKIE, GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE DAY
'Edie's story is one of hardscrabble optimism, two-fisted exploration and groundbreaking research. She's done things I dream of doing' JAMES CAMERON
'A book of marvels, marvellously written' RICHARD DAWKINS
by Lara Thompson
'ONE NIGHT, NEW YORK transports the reader to the glitter and the danger of old New York. A page-turner with style.' ERIN KELLY
'ENTHRALLING' THE TIMES, BEST NEW HISTORICAL FICTION
A THRILLING DEBUT NOVEL OF CORRUPTION AND MURDER, SET IN THE NIGHTCLUBS, TENEMENTS AND SKYSCRAPERS OF 1930s NEW YORK - FROM THE WINNER OF THE VIRAGO/THE POOL NEW CRIME WRITER AWARD.
At the top of the Empire State Building on a freezing December night, two women hold their breath. Frances and Agnes are waiting for the man who has wronged them. They plan to seek the ultimate revenge.
Set over the course of a single night, One Night, New York is a detective story, a romance and a coming-of-age tale. It is also a story of old New York, of bohemian Greenwich Village between the wars, of floozies and artists and addicts, of a city that sucked in creatives and immigrants alike, lighting up the world, while all around America burned amid the heat of the Great Depression.
'An atmospheric portrait of a city in the grip of the Great Depression as well as a compelling crime story' GUARDIAN
'Thompson's impressive debut delivers a beautifully detailed and multifaceted account of Jazz Age New York' IRISH TIMES
'An assured debut so evocative you can almost smell the bathtub gin wafting off the pages' RED MAGAZINE
by Chibundu Onuzo
A REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK
A BBC 2 BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOK CLUB PICK
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION FUTURES PRIZE
AN AMAZON BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
'A captivating story about a mixed-race British woman who goes in search of the West African father she never knew' REESE WITHERSPOON
Anna is at a stage of her life when she's beginning to wonder who she really is. She has separated from her husband, her daughter is all grown up, and her mother - the only parent who raised her - is dead.
Searching through her mother's belongings, she finds clues about the West African father she never knew. Through reading his student diary, chronicling his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London, she discovers that he eventually became the president (some would say the dictator) of a small nation in West Africa - and he is still alive. She decides to track him down and so begins a funny, painful, fascinating journey, and an exploration of race, identity and what we pass on to our children.
'A real pleasure, it's funny, thought-provoking and holds a light up to everything from cultural differences to colonialism' STYLIST
'I LOVED Sankofa SO MUCH' MARIAN KEYES
'Slick pacing and unpredictable developments keep the reader alert right up to the novel's exhilarating ending' GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE DAY
'Onuzo's sneakily breezy, highly entertaining novel leaves the reader rethinking familiar narratives of colonisation, inheritance and liberation' NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
'A really great book, very poignant' SARA COX
by Megan Abbott
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
DAILY TELEGRAPH * DAILY MIRROR * DAILY EXPRESS * WALL STREET JOURNAL * BOSTON GLOBE * LIBRARY JOURNAL * CRIMEREADS
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The mesmerising new thriller, set in the hothouse world of a ballet school, from the bestselling and award-winning writer Megan Abbott.
Dara and Marie were trained as ballet dancers by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents died in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters took over running the school together with Charlie, Dara's husband and once their mother's prized student. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school's annual performance of The Nutcracker - a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration - an interloper arrives and threatens their delicate balance.
'Compulsively readable' RUTH WARE
'A book you will not be able to forget' MARK BILLINGHAM
'My thriller of the year' JAKE KERRIDGE, DAILY TELEGRAPH, BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'A twisting, turning story of revenge and redemption' STYLIST
'The feeling of menace grows stronger with every page' GUARDIAN
'Slow-burning and feverish, with all the intensity of a classic American film noir' MAIL ON SUNDAY
'Charged with foreboding, the novel throbs with gothic tension' IRISH TIMES
'Dark and juicy and tinged with horror' NEW YORK TIMES
'Dark and mesmerising' HARRIET TYCE
'This is Megan Abbott working at the absolute height of her talent' ATTICA LOCKE
'There's no one who captures the atmosphere of a tight-knit hothouse world, in all its feverish beauty and brutality, quite like Megan Abbott' TANA FRENCH
by Stella Duffy
'Faultless storytelling . . . Wise, generous, atmospheric' Observer
Growing up after the war in Westmere, an English seaside town, Kitty has been sheltered by her parents, but meeting Danny changes all of that. She decides to leave everyone and everything she knows to follow Danny to London, in pursuit of glamour and opportunity, and this sets in motion a series of events that will echo down the generations. Over fifty years later, when Kitty's body is found in her beach hut with a suicide note by her side, her great-niece will help to unravel all the secrets which the family has kept hidden over the decades.
'Explores familial legacy, generational secrets and the effects of long-lasting trauma with a distinct tenderness' New Statesman
'A portrait of sisterhood . . . powerful' Daily Mail
'A writer who never lets you down' Ali Smith
by C Pam Zhang
LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2020
A BARACK OBAMA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020
America. In the twilight of the Gold Rush, two siblings cross a landscape with a gun in their hands and the body of their father on their backs . . .
Ba dies in the night, Ma is already gone. Lucy and Sam, twelve and eleven, are suddenly alone and on the run. With their father's body on their backs, they roam an unforgiving landscape dotted with giant buffalo bones and tiger paw prints, searching for a place to give him a proper burial.
How Much of These Hills is Gold is a sweeping adventure tale, an unforgettable sibling story and a remarkable novel about a family bound and divided by its memories.
'A daring and haunting epic' SUNDAY TIMES
'A unique reimagining of the American West adventure' THE TIMES
'A fierce, feminist Western' DAILY MAIL
'Remarkable' HARPER'S BAZAAR
'Reminiscent of both Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison' IRISH TIMES
'C Pam Zhang's arresting, beautiful first novel is filled with myths of her own making as well as sorrows and joys' NEW YORK TIMES
A GWYNETH PALTROW BOOK CLUB PICK
by Mary Webb
'Brighter and better than Thomas Hardy . . . a marvellous writer' Eloise Millar, Guardian
Prudence Sarn was born with a cleft palate, her 'precious bane', for which she is persecuted as a witch by her superstitious neighbours. Hiding from daily ridicule, she takes refuge in the wild Shropshire countryside, developing a profound love of nature. Furtively, Prue longs to be loved and harbours a hopeless passion for Kester Woodseaves, the weaver.
Prue's brother, Gideon, is engaged to her only friend, but in his ambition for wealth at any cost, he incurs the wrath of his would-be father-in-law whose act of vengeance results in Prue being accused of murder. Only Kester, who has perceived her true worth, can defend her from the wrath of her accusers.
Winner of the 1926 Prix Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, Precious Bane is a novel that enchants with its beauty and its timeless truths.
'With the publication of Precious Bane, a substantial readership came to respect Mary Webb's quiet genius . . . When she died at the age of 46, literature lost a voice that promised to speak for Shropshire as poignantly as Thomas Hardy had spoken for Wessex, Emily Bronte for Yorkshire - New York Times
by Attia Hosain
Sunlight on a Broken Column, first published in 1961, is an unforgettable coming-of-age story set against the turbulent background of Partition.
'The deftness with which Attia Hosain handles the interplay of manners, class, culture and different forms of female power is gorgeously done . . . Laila is such a remarkable heroine - sharp, spirited and passionate' - KAMILA SHAMSIE
'An extraordinary novel, with an extraordinary heroine. Laila - even from the confines of the women's quarters - is a sharp observer of the tumultuous politics, and the cultural, racial, and religious conflicts of the dying days of the Raj. There is such richness here, waiting to be rediscovered. And readers will fall in love with Laila' MONICA ALI
'My life changed. It had been restricted by invisible barriers almost as effectively as the physically restricted lives of my aunts in the zenana. A window had opened here, a door there, a curtain had been drawn aside; but outside lay a world narrowed by one's field of vision'
Laila, orphaned daughter of a distinguished Muslim family, is brought up in her grandfather's traditional household by her aunts, who keep purdah. At fifteen she moves to the home of her 'liberal' but autocratic uncle in Lucknow. As the struggle for Independence sharpens, Laila is surrounded by relatives and university friends caught up in politics, but she is unable to commit herself to any cause: her own fight for independence is a struggle against tradition.
With its stunning evocation of India, its political insight and unsentimental understanding of the human heart, Sunlight on a Broken Column is a classic of Muslim life.
Attia Hosain published only two books, but her writing has influenced generations of writers. Discover Phoenix Fled, Hosain's acclaimed short-story collection, also published in Virago Modern Classics.
'Wonderful' MARIAN KEYES
'A gorgeous exploration of the messy and fragile nature of friendship and all the many forms of love' IRISH TIMES
'A perfect page-turner. I loved it' DOLLY ALDERTON
After a tough few years floundering around the British film industry, experimenting with amateur pornography and watching her father's health rapidly decline, Charlie and her best friend Laura journey to her ancestral home of Clipim, an island off the west coast of Ireland. She knows this could be the last chance to connect with her dad's history before she loses him.
But when the girls arrive, Charlie begins to question both her difficult relationship with Laura and her father's childhood stories. Before long, she's embroiled in a devastating conspiracy that's been sixty years in the making . . . and it's up to her to reveal the truth.
'One of the most intelligent, well observed depictions of lust, loss, envy, betrayal, friendship and love that I've ever read' DAISY BUCHANAN
'A moving and extremely funny look at family, roots and the myth of Irishness' THE i, ESSENTIAL SUMMER READS
'Witty, tender and insightful . . . O'Donoghue is a perceptive, clever writer' GUARDIAN
'A darkly humorous, keenly observed blend of millennial drift and murder mystery from a razor-sharp writer' RED
by Sigrid Nunez
**THE BRAND-NEW NOVEL BY THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER**
A woman visits a friend with terminal cancer. Brilliant, strong-willed and alone, the friend, facing death, makes a momentous request. Will she accompany her on a holiday where she will, without warning one day, take a lethal pill to end her life on her own terms?
Shaken and grieving, she finds the strength to agree. What follows is an extraordinary story - profound, surprising and often funny - of a lifelong friendship given the ultimate challenge; to witness its end.
Utterly of our moment and timeless, What Are You Going Through is a deeply moving affirmation of life in its current existential threat and in its ordinary tragedies - the loss, loneliness, and the love that yet survives.