It’s icy outside. Find a sunny spot behind glass or a fire to warm you – and grab one of these fine books to keep you company.
‘Black and Blue’
A proud Gunai/Kurnai woman, Veronica (Ronnie) Gorrie was gutsy enough to think she could change Australia’s racist and sexist law enforcement system from within. One of only a few Aboriginal police officers in Australia, the job and what she saw took its toll on her relationships and health. Gritty, funny, startling, saddening, Black and Blue: a memoir of racism and resilience traces the painful impact of cultural dispossession and Gorrie’s anger at police brutality and racial discrimination.
Kate breaks her Covid-19 quarantine period to walk on the moor behind her house. When she’s seriously injured, she knows she’ll be blamed for her breakout – which weighs heavily. The Fell by Sarah Hall is fictional, but through Kate (on the moor), her son (at home), her neighbour (who has seen her leaving) and the mountain rescue man (summoned to her aid) we’re given a chillingly close reminder of what we lived through early on in the pandemic.
When I started reading The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, I was sure I’d hate the supposedly bestselling plot, pick the twist in the tale and be bored witless with the literary machinations – but no! When Jacob Finch Bonner steals a story idea from one of his MFA students (now deceased) his book is an overnight success. After Jacob receives an email to say he’s a thief, his ill-judged decision careens out of control … and I was hooked.
Warm to cold
Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au is lyrical novella but it took a second reading for me to warm up to it. Set mostly in Japan, there’s an austerity to the prose that made it feel like wading through snow – a slog at first but then a soft, ethereal delight. Memories swirl as the distance between a mother and daughter fluctuates and while they walk the streets, visit forests and buy gifts to take home. Take a look.
Meal to savour
“But all we have is ourselves,” Kate’s father had once said, “all we have is family”. And yet when Kate’s twin and her father die prematurely she spirals into a hunger she dares not satisfy, and lives with a wound that may never heal. Set between the 1990s and the present day, from a farmhouse in Carlow to Trinity College, Dublin, Dinner Party: A Tragedy by Sarah Gilmartin, is a nuanced debut with much to savour.