Read a timely thriller examining racial prejudice or pick up a powerful collection of poetry…


1. Three-Fifths by John Vercher is published in paperback by Pushkin Vertigo, Amazon


John Vercher’s debut novel deftly combines suspenseful crime noir with an unflinching portrayal of the complexities of race, class and relationships in modern America. Set in 1995, 22-year-old Pittsburgh resident Bobby Saraceno is a biracial man passing for white, who feels unable to tell anyone the father he has never met is black. But when his best friend is released from prison damaged and radicalised, their reunion ends in a violent hate crime that forces Bobby to confront his sense of loyalty and identity. Right from a powerful opening chapter, Vercher ratchets up the tension that makes this book such a compelling page turner. But his characters are complex and compassionately drawn – like Bobby’s loving alcoholic mother – allowing for a sensitive exploration of notions of love and trust. Three-Fifths is a fascinating mix of thriller, and timely scrutiny of racial prejudice and the toll it takes.
(Review by Tom Pilgrim)

2. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is published in hardback by Fig Tree, Amazon

Ghosts is a solid fiction debut from journalist and podcaster Dolly Alderton, about a millennial struggling to navigate her early 30s, all while being ghosted by a man, dealing with her father’s illness and drifting apart from her friends. The most striking parts are the beautifully written scenes between protagonist Nina Dean and her father, who is slowly disappearing into dementia. With themes reminiscent of her memoir, Everything I Know About Love, Alderton’s voice echoes through the pages — although this does occasionally overpower Nina’s character. Fans of her writing will be pleased, yet Ghosts lacks some of the depth of her previous writing. Ultimately it strikes a good balance between light-hearted and serious, and shows the potential Alderton has as a fiction writer.
(Review by Megan Baynes)

3. The Perfect World Of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan is published in paperback by Scribe, Amazon

View this post on Instagram

Less than a month to go until the publication of The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by @clarissagoenawan and we’re excited! This utterly unique novel set in Japan tells the story of the mysterious suicide of a young, enigmatic girl, Miwako Sumida, from the perspectives of those closest to her. Full of twists and turns and bursting with vivid, nuanced characters, the story is completely captivating and constantly surprising. Early readers on #NetGalley have praised it as ‘a must read for 2020’, ‘my new favourite book’ and ‘extraordinary’. Publishing 8 October! _ #bookstagram #japanesefiction #japan #toberead #bookstack #novels #murakami #theperfectworldofmiwakosumida #booklover #bookshelf #bookreview #readwomen #japaneseliterature

A post shared by Scribe UK (@scribe_uk) on

As a title, The Perfect World Of Miwako Sumida is a misconception: nothing is perfect in this book. The plot is spun around the suicide of Miwako Sumida, a student in Tokyo. Her death particularly affects Ryusei, who was in love with her, and his sister Fumi. Indonesian-born Singaporean writer Clarissa Goenawan’s style is effortless and emotionally charged, and it’s particularly heartening to see a trans character depicted in a lead role, written in a real and sympathetic way. However, although everything is tied together by Miwako, the core characters feel a little disparate, and the introduction of the supernatural later on doesn’t flow particularly well. At times, Miwako feels too close to the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope – you can’t help but wish the book focused solely on the siblings instead.
(Review by Prudence Wade)


4. Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair is published in paperback by Picador, Amazon

Multiple-award winning poet Safiya Sinclair bursts onto the shelves with this richly powerful debut collection. Writing up against The Tempest and its themes of colonialism and otherness, Sinclair’s material interweaves the personal, the historical and the political with language of stunning originality. From an encounter with a white male who sees the narrator’s body as something to colonise to memories of a Jamaican childhood and reflections on slavery and race relations in America, these poems are physical, enraged and sensual, but also reflective and precise. The poems do not always reveal their full meaning on first reading, but reading out loud and reflection is always powerfully rewarded.
(Review by Dan Brotzel)

Children’s book of the week

5. Jungledrop by Abi Elphinstone is published in paperback by Simon & Schuster Children’s, Amazon

This is the second book in Abi Elphinstone’s Unmapped Chronicles, a series that draws comparisons to the books of Roald Dahl and CS Lewis. Twins Fox and Fibber, 11, are lifelong rivals; only one of them can inherit the family fortune and win the love of their parents. They live in the vibrantly whimsical world of Jungledrop, with a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But evil harpy Morg is on the loose again, and if she finds the Forever Fern – the elusive plant of immortality – before the twins do, their whole world is under threat. What follows is a madcap adventure in which the twins must learn the painful but essential lessons of teamwork and cooperation if they are to save the day. This adventure is a follow-up, but reads just as well as a stand-alone book. It’s vividly imagined and pacy, and it’s fun to have two protagonists who initially seem so rude and objectionable. Sometimes it’s a bit wordy though, and the sophistication of the language doesn’t always match the younger feel of the fantastical world.
(Review by Poppy Brotzel)


Wise Living Magazine may receive a small commission to help support the running of this site from purchases made from links on this page, or some links may have been sponsored to be included in the article. Affiliate or sponsored links do not influence our editorial or articles published by Wise Living.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.