Jesmyn Ward is highly decorated. At a recent reading, the roll call of her awards felt like they’d fill the full hour; that day's shortlisting for The Women’s Prize for Fiction was tagged to the end of an already weighty list.
But this Mississippi author was once rejected by book agents who thought her literary stories of impoverished black lives in America’s Deep South would fail to resonate. Instead, she’s not only articulated the struggles and personalities of those previously stripped of a voice, but found something universal in all of them.
Before the Black Lives Matter movement took hold, Ward had already published her memoir, The Men We Reaped. It told the story of five friends and relatives, including her brother — all young, black and male, all lost to accidents, murder or suicide.
Now, she’s releasing more non-fiction, The Fire This Time, an edited collection of writing about race; and her latest novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, which tells the story of a 13 year-old boy, Jojo, and h...
We gave Amanda Berriman’s debut novel Home a rare ★★★★★ rating on Those Precious Stolen Moments, for “A humbling dose of empathy.” You can read the full review here.
The story is told from the perspective of four-year-old Jesika, whose life is uprooted when her mum and little brother get sick, thanks in part to the mould-ridden, dilapidated flat they’re forced to rent. At the same time, Jesika meets a new friend at preschool, Paige, who tells her a disturbing secret that neither of them really understand.
Amanda Berriman took the time to talk to Those Precious Stolen Moments, and explained to us her original aim with the book:
Amanda: I was trying to explore what ‘home’ is to different people and how it can look one way, but be something else. With the comparisons between Jesika and Paige: Paige lived in the nicer house, but Jesika lived in the safer house. I was deliberately trying to set up that idea of getting people to think about what ‘home’ actually is.
Right until the moment our interview ends, and Nicole Krauss melts with a hug and a kind word into a wonderful dissolvable sweetness, she is hard, formidable, icy. Not bitchy or brash, or any other pejorative descriptor of female inaccessibility, but poised and controlled, intellectually precise and unyielding, pushing right up to the edge of defensive.
Most of my tentative explorations of her latest work were met with a “No,” and a correction. And she has reason to fiercely guard the interpretation of her work. “Women writers have to prove their seriousness and authority and young men are often granted that authority on credit. They only have to disprove it,” she says. This is something Nicole Krauss says she’s acted on, subconsciously, since she wrote her debut novel Man Walks Into A Room at the age of twenty-five. Since then she’s proved it and proved it; through the poetic beauty of The History of Love, the National Book Award nominated Great House, and now with her uncompromi...
Sally Rooney grew up in County Mayo, and started writing her debut novel Conversations With Friends while studying for a masters in American Literature at Trinity College, Dublin. Seven publishers bid for the rights to it, and it is now Faber’s lead debut title for 2017.
Presented from the point of view of 21-year-old Frances, the novel follows four main characters: friends and exes Frances and Bobbi, and an older married couple Nick and Melissa.
From the publisher’s blurb: As their relationships unfold, in person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and, of course, one another. Twenty-one-year-old Frances is at the heart of it all, bringing us this tale of a complex ménage-à-quatre and her affair with Nick, an older married man.
Megan Hunter talks to Those Precious Stolen Moments about her debut novel The End We Start From, released 18th May 2107, published by Picador.
The publisher's blurb: In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.
This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter's The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with lov...
Laura Kaye talks to Those Precious Stolen Moments about her debut novel English Animals, released 12th Jan 2017, published by Little, Brown Book Group UK.
The publisher's blurb: When Mirka gets a job in a country house in rural England, she has no idea of the struggle she faces to make sense of a very English couple, and a way of life that is entirely alien to her. Richard and Sophie are chaotic, drunken, frequently outrageous but also warm, generous and kind to Mirka, despite their argumentative and turbulent marriage.
Mirka is swiftly commandeered by Richard for his latest money-making enterprise, taxidermy, and soon surpasses him in skill. After a traumatic break two years ago with her family in Slovakia, Mirka finds to her surprise that she is happy at Fairmont Hall. But when she tells Sophie that she is gay, everything she values is put in danger and she must learn the hard way what she really believes in.
My review: ★★★★☆ Rural Britain from a fresh and unexpected perspecti...