From A. L. Kennedy’s new collection to novels by Nikita Lalwani and Carmel Harrington and Ingrid Persaud’s debut, this week’s best new fiction
We Are Attempting To Survive Our Time
A. L. Kennedy Jonathan Cape £16.99
Connoisseurs of short stories that pack an emotional punch will find plenty to admire in this fine new collection. The leitmotif is desperation but Kennedy is mistress of many moods.
The title story shows a couple patching up their differences in a bell tower in Cologne, while Everybody’s Pleased To See You paints a lyrical portrait of a quirky Chelsea cafe that has miraculously defied passing fashion.
Nikita Lalwani Viking £12.99
The Pizzeria Vesuvio is a haven for London’s international waifs and strays. Its owner, Tuli, has a finger in every pie, but is he too good to be true?
The moment of truth comes when Shan, a cook who’s escaped persecution in Sri Lanka, learns that his wife and son are in the hands of people-smugglers. While it sometimes lacks subtlety, Lalwani’s third novel pulses with energy.
Love After Love
Ingrid Persaud Faber £14.99
Set largely in Trinidad, this heart-breaking yet hopeful debut novel from the winner of the BBC National Short Story Award spans two decades in the lives of an unlikely trio: Betty, her son Solo and their lodger, a maths teacher named Mr Chetan.
The plot packs in homosexuality, self-harm and domestic abuse, but it never feels cumbersome, unfolding in spare prose spiced with Trinidadian dialect.
My Pear-Shaped Life
Carmel Harrington HarperCollins £9.99
Like her idol Judy Garland, Greta Gale was destined for stardom – until her career peaked with a Christmas ad aged eight.
Ending up in rehab at 33 wasn’t the plan, but it may just be her first step on the yellow brick road to self-acceptance, one that will take her road-tripping from County Wexford to Kansas. What this moreish romcom lacks in surprises it makes up for in heart.